Introducing My Money-making Machine

In an earlier post, I talked about finding happiness in a simple cup of coffee. It's truly one of my favourite rituals of the day.

I grind the beans, set up the brew head, turn on the machine and hear and smell the pressurized hot water mix with the ground coffee to create my amazing morning elixir. The smell is delightful. Even the high-pitched sound of the steam wand that allows me to froth and warm my milk is soothing. I get to create my perfect cup of coffee every time. It almost feels like I'm creating a small piece of consumable art, framed in one of my favourite cups.   

It's not rocket science. It's just great coffee...oh, and a 1,000+% yearly return on my investment.

Over 2 1/2 years ago, I took the plunge and bought myself an espresso machine. The Cuisinart EM-100* to be exact. Little did I know how much it would be worth over the long run. It's practically a money-making machine.

I bought it before I became my current frugal self. It was yet another fancy kitchen appliance, stainless steel of course, that would embellish my kitchen counter and make my kitchen just that much more "perfect" -- that is until I found that something else was lacking and needed to purchase it.

I'm glad I bought it when I did because I might shy away from dropping $160 on such a seemingly frivolous purchase today...or would I?

Not so frivolous when you start to do the math.

I started out feeding my 2-coffee-based-drink habit for years with Tim Hortons or Starbucks every day. When I was at work, it was Starbucks because the Timmies store was a 20-minute walk plus long lineup and I couldn't afford the time. So, my daily habit cost me a considerable sum:

  • 270 work days at $3.70 at Starbucks X 2 = $1,998 per year
  • 95 other days at $1.65 at Timmies X 2 = $313 per year
  • Total for a year: an astounding $2,311**...for COFFEE!?
 My current bag of whole bean coffee from Costco. I also enjoy other lower-cost brands. I switch it up once in a while if I get tired of having the same too many days in a row.

My current bag of whole bean coffee from Costco. I also enjoy other lower-cost brands. I switch it up once in a while if I get tired of having the same too many days in a row.

What the heck was I thinking? I really needed to clean up my act, but habits are tough to change and I worked at it in steps. Step #1 of the Expensive Coffee Habit Rehab

I started my coffee purchasing rehab by making my first cup of the day at home and pouring my espresso-based beverage in a to-go cup. So, my first year of espresso machine ownership looked like this:

  • 270 work days at $3.70 X 1 = $999
  • 95 other days at $1.65 X 0.5 = $78
  • Plus cost of making it at home*** = $103
  • Total for a year: $1,180 or a 49% reduction over the previous year

Better, but today, I would still think it's rather excessive.

Step #2 of Expensive Coffee Habit Rehab

I left my workplace and now don't go out for coffee very often, making full use of the once-purely-frivolous purchase. Ok, it still is, but humour me:

  • 365 X 2 X $0.25*** = $183
  • Occasional coffee purchases for free WiFi to work on this blog when on the go: 
    • 20 X $1.65 at Timmies = $33
    • 12 X $2.00 at Starbucks (I've switched to brewed coffee) = $24
  • Total for a year: $240 or an 80% reduction from a year ago and a 90% reduction on over two years ago. 

A 1000+% return on investment yearly.

By making my own and limiting my on-the-go coffee-related expenses, I make more than a 1000% return on my initial investment. Don't believe me? Here are the numbers:

  • Initial cost of the espresso machine: $160 + tax = $181
  • Difference between initial yearly cost and current cost = $2,071
  • The investment in the machine pays for itself 11 times per year

If you want to argue that I would only go to Timmies now and not Starbucks, given I'm not constrained by location anymore, that would still be:

  • 2 X 365 X $1.65 = $1,205, which means the investment would pays for itself over 5.5 times per year...and it gives me better coffee than I would get for $1.65 on the go.

It's staggering to think that I get a better coffee experience twice a day and have avoided spending over $2,500 so far. 

Could I say this machine is more expensive than my $20 coffee maker? Absolutely. The question is whether I would make that much use out of my coffee maker. Knowing me, my taste buds would seek out the better coffee and I'd be going out and fetching my fresh, ready-made coffee again in no time. It's happened before.

To me, the benefits of my espresso machine are clear:

  • Intrinsic benefit: I take pride in making myself a great cup of coffee and enjoying the fruits of my labour. It never gets old.
  • Cost savings on coffee: I hope I've convinced you of these.
  • Convenience: I make a coffee in 1 - 2 minutes whenever I want one. 
  • Time savings: I don't spend the time walking/driving/biking to get coffee and waiting in line to be served.
  • Other cost savings: driving to get coffee is ridiculous. The extra distance or unnecessary distance covered in the car is unjustifiable, as is the wasted gas, but we do it all the time in the name of efficiency. Not a reality for me anymore, thank goodness!
  • Better for the environment: I've spared the use of so many paper cups. I often had a travel mug with me, but I'd say that 20% of the time I didn't have one (forgot it or getting an impromptu coffee). Also, my espresso coffee grinds go into the compost bin at home, ready for next year's garden. 

Do you share my appreciation for the espresso machine and the associated savings? Do you have other homemade habits that bring you joy and help you save money at the same time?


*The Cuisinart info is an affiliate link to amazon.com. Purchases made via these links help support the F2P blog. It does not cost you anything and helps cover ongoing expenses associated with maintaining this blog. Thank you for your support. 

**And that did not include additional coffee outings with friends in the afternoon or on weekend. To counter that, I did get every 12th or 15th or so coffee for free, but that often meant I treated someone or that I just drank, or bought more, stuff.

"Going for coffee" with someone is a pretty typical social activity in my circle of friends and, I have to say something I still enjoy, given it's a lot less expensive than going out for lunch or dinner.

***Generous estimate of one 40 oz bag of Starbucks dark french roast beans from Costco every 2 months and 1L of 18% cream per month when making it all at home, which turns out to cost $0.25/coffee serving. I often use less expensive ingredients that are equally as good or even better.