Coffee Calculations

My first “super automatic” coffee machine was a Christmas present from my former boss in Germany. What’s a “super automatic” you ask? That’s the machine that grinds the coffee and brews it for each cup individually. Now once you’re arrived on that level, there’s no turning back – so after moving to San Diego, I had to get that machine again (since I couldn’t bring mine, different voltage, too much hassle).

Now people always think “that stuff is expensive!” We have that machine for ~five years now. Time to take a look how expensive it actually is.

I haven’t really tracked our coffee consumption but I’d say we need a 2.5-pound (1.13kg) bag of coffee per month, since we’re drinking 4-5 cups per day. If I’m assuming that we’re on vacation sometimes, sometimes drink only 1-2 cups per day since we’re out for hiking a whole day etc., I’d say that’s ~8500 cups of coffee in 5 years, or 1700 per year. Which equals 150 pounds (67.8kg). Whew, that’s a lot of coffee! ๐Ÿ™‚

So that’s the base for a comparison. 8500 cups in five years, and 150 pounds/67.8kg of coffee in five years.

Our machine is a simple Saeco/Phillips “Odea Giro” and it costs ~$500. The 2.5-pound bag of organic medium-roast whole bean coffee at Costco is $13. That means the total cost over 5 years is $1280 now, or $256 per year. 15 cents per cup. This excludes water, electricity and the few cleaning materials it needs (namely citric acid to descale it 2-3 times per year – just to be safe, since we’re using filtered water anyway)

But the coffee price really does make a lot of difference:

Say I’d go for the most expensive coffee option that I like, Illy Caffe Normale. I’d need 272 cans of it (it comes in 250g/8.8oz metal cans only as far as I know). The 6-pack of these is $75 on Amazon ($12.50 per can). For our 5-year supply, that’s $3400, plus the $500 machine, equals $780 per year or 45 cents per cup – three times the Costco coffee price. And 272 cans of trash!

Lavazza Quality Oro. ~$30 per 2.2-pound bag on Amazon, 69 bags, $2070 in five years, plus the machine again, comes out at $514 per year or 30 cents per cup. Twice as much as the Costco coffee.

Let’s compare that to  Nespresso, from my great friends at Nestlรฉ. The “Inissia” coffee maker is ~$120 on Amazon. I didn’t look too hard for the coffee, but the cheapest organic variety that I could find on Amazon is 30 capsules for $19. 8500 cups of coffee in 5 years means we need 284 packs of these, which equals $5396. The total cost of five years of Nespresso thus is $5516, or $1103.20 per year or 64 cents per cup. That’s about 4.5 times more than the total cost of the “expensive” super automatic with Costco coffee. And you’ll have produced 8500 aluminum capsules of trash. (thanks, George Clooney!)

What about Keurig? Coffee maker is ~$120 on Amazon (such a coincidence, about the same as the Nespresso thing!). Organic coffee with a subscription (haha, seriously… a coffee subscription, that’s too good) is $15.19 for the 36-pack. For our 8500 cups in 5 years we need 237 of these.  That’s $3600, or a total of $3720 in five years, including the coffee maker. $720 per year or 42 cents per cup. About 2.8 times more expensive than the super-automatic – and with 8500 capsules of trash, once more.

Your mileage may vary depending on which coffee you drink and machine you use. Unless I’m drinking Illy coffee, the super-automatic machine will always be cheaper than Keurig or Nespresso, and produce a whole lot of less trash.

And yes, you can drink drip coffee, and yes, it will be cheaper than any of the above. Well, what can I say – it will have no crema, and taste just like drip coffee tastes… ๐Ÿ˜›



  1. I don’t know why more people don’t do this kind of math on the disposable crap they buy. I don’t drink coffee (the ultimate way to save money on coffee!) but if I did – a machine like yours would be how I’d go about it. My parents always had drip coffee machines, but always ground the organic beans at home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I had one like yours! ๐Ÿ™‚ I still love my French press.
    I have it down to a science, and the grounds go right into the compost.


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