Every year, and particularly during the cost-of-living crisis, we have heard politicians telling us to “cut down on the high street coffee shop visits” if we want to save money.
Whilst many guffaw at this and view coffee out as a very occasional treat (and only a few quid anyway), for many people, your coffee out is a part of your every day.
When you actually look at the stats behind this claim, WOW: we are all buying a lot of coffee! According to consumer finance experts AO, the average price of a shop-bought coffee is currently £3.80 a cup, which if you’re in the habit of buying a daily coffee before or during work, amounts to £836 a year.
Therefore, while the occasional coffee out is worth it for the socialising alone, if we want to seriously save some cash, then we really need to invest in a reusable cup and start taking our morning coffee from home. According to the above stats the machine will pay for itself within a year.
First off, let’s have a look at some of the machines. Bearing in mind the above facts, we’ll start at the affordable end of the scale:
The best of the budget machines
You can’t go wrong with the Swan Stainless Steel Coffee Maker (£89.99 at time of writing, RRP £149.99). It’s not only a neat, sweet little machine that fits tidily on your kitchen surface, nestled away discreetly by the microwave or pride of place on a counter, but it really does feel like a coffee shop experience using this one.
It takes pre-ground coffee for two sizes of espresso shots, and has a powerful milk frother so you can treat yourself to frothy cappuccinos or flat whites. And it pretty much costs the same as just a couple of months’ coffee shop budget!
At £99 there’s the Nespresso Vertuo Pop, a nifty little pod machine that’s clean and easy to use, with various coffee styles available at the touch of a button. Using pods is a cheaper way to enjoy your professional-tasting coffee, at under a cost of under £1 a cup on average
A standard box of pods will cost £5.88. One pod a day over the course of a year will set you back £149.60. That’s a massive saving of £619.40 in a single year! Beans work out even cheaper, with most 1kg bags of coffee beans setting you back about £13.84, or 13p a day on coffee beans, which translates to £41.50 a year, says Donald Imrie at AO.
So we can already see how we’d be making huge savings on those coffee ship trips. We’ll come to coffee beans after this list of great pre-ground coffee machines (that is, you’ll need to grind your own beans or buy ground coffee):
At £200 the Morphy Richards 172023 Espresso Coffee Machine is an affordable workhorse in terms of recreating the coffee shop experience at home.
You can make the perfect espresso, cappuccino, or latte first-time and every time, and it comes with a 15-bar powerful pressure pump, built-in milk frother and a 1.5L water tank/500ml milk tank which saves the constant change over.
Then there’s this mid-priced machine which boasts really great looks and extra features:
At £359.20, this has dual, smart temperature sensors which maintain the same temperature between drinks, just like your local coffee shop. The mark of a well-made shot is a dense, hazelnut-coloured crema on top, and this machine has an Italian 15-bar pump for that pressure sweet spot to create a professional-quality, rich, full-flavoured espresso shot and a creamy layer of crema. YUM!
For the person who would burn water we recommend…
While they are all well and good and, within reason, very easy to use, we don’t want to forget that some people will feel a tad scared of using ANY type of machine.
Enter (admittedly at the top end of the scale) the Phillips 5400, which is one to treat yourself to if you’re a hardcore coffee drinker, and fancy spending a bit more on a machine that’s literally bean to cup. The beans go in the top, are ground up and dripped into your waiting mug below, plus the milk frother does the milk work for you!
There’s a huge selection of drink styles, from flat white to cappuccino and everything in between. This machine is the most close-to-coffee-shop experience, partly due to it doing all of the work, getting the temperatures and quantities to a tee and even programming your personal preferences.
Whilst a bit of a treat, you technically won’t reap the rewards to “save money” until next year. But as an investment piece, it is well worth it!
We spoke to coffee connoisseur Ashley Palmer Watts of Artisan Coffee Co., who explained that the biggest reason people often buy coffee out is for the flavour. If, like lots of people, you are as happy with an instant over a high-end flat white, then this level of expertise may wash over your head. However, for that true coffee lover experience – it’s all in the beans.
We did a taste test in the MoneyMagpie office out of over 50 different brands. These were our favourites:
Paddy & Scott’s offers eco-friendly coffee pods, brew bags (like a tea bag but with coffee), as well as whole bean and ground coffee. The brand is fully sustainable and supports its own farm in Kenya, as well as providing free school meals to coffee-growing countries. And with fun names like Wakey Wakey, Easy Days and Chit Chat, they have beans for every time of day.
Roasting Plant’s at home coffee is freshly roasted in store and they have x8 single origins available and x1 house blend, each with a unique combination of tasting notes from toasted peanut brittle and chocolate to apple blossom and mango lassi. Once you complete your order, beans are roasted in-store and shipped to you no later than 48 hours after the beans have been roasted – nice and fresh.
The UK’s oldest coffee roaster John Farrer & Co in the Lakes. We tried their New England Blend – a 250g bag priced at £6.75, and the Colombian Espresso – 250g bag priced at £6.75. Both coffees are Great Taste Award winners, and rightly so. Rich, warm flavours with a full, satisfying taste at any time of day.
Made using premium beans which are expertly roasted and freeze dried, Little’s will get you as close to a cup of specialty coffee as possible from the comfort of home, for as little as 64p a cup. With flavours ranging from classics like Rich Hazelnut and French Vanilla to richly spiced Cardamom Bun and Chocolate Chai, Little’s variety will inspire you to be your own barista, for a fraction of the price and without the hefty dose of sugar.
Caravan, the craft coffee and all-day dining pioneer, has recently launched its new compostable coffee pods, ground and beans to Waitrose. The delicious and sustainable coffee is the brands first foray into supermarkets and makes an ideal at-home coffee to save some money this winter.
Whittards Elephant Coffee is as strong and robust as you’d expect from the name: a gutsy coffee that deserves to be enjoyed as a strong espresso. For milk lovers there’s also the classic Breakfast Blend with a strong but subtle taste profile, with notes of sweet almond and the boozy lightness of white wine.
Japanese coffee culture is the art of slowing down and savouring the natural flavours of the drink: Ueshima has three distinct blends Tokyo Roast, House Blend and Fuji Mountain. All characteristically smooth, bold in flavour and low in acidity, reminiscent of the coffee enjoyed in coffee houses and homes across Japan. And we can confirm that they’re DELICIOUS. Each blend is available in a range of formats from £3.50 to £8.
Over now to Sweden, and Swedish culture is amongst the most influential in the UK, with traditions like Hygge making their way into homes across the country. Löfbergs has been highly regarded in Sweden since its inception in 1906 and has grown to become the nation’s first choice when it comes to a caffeine fix. With Colombia Roast & Ground Coffee 450g, Brazil Roast & Ground Coffee 450g and Brazil Whole Beans Coffee 1kg all stocked in Waitrose, Tesco and Ocado, there’s a lot of choice.
Bodum is one of the leading cafetiere makers, and a terrific investment for your ‘French press’ moments, where you want a long coffee without going to the machine.
We recommended the CHAMBORD French press coffee maker (£35.95 at time of writing; RRP £60), an iconic coffee maker that brings out the full flavor and aroma of your brew.
It’s made of the most durable materials to last a lifetime, and is more environmentally friendly than many coffee-brewing methods – no paper filters or plastic capsules required.
If we want to really get down to the barista nitty-gritty. Half the experience, for those who take it, is the milk and how you treat it, so we can also recommend Trewithen Dairy’s new Cornish Barista Milk: the first non-UHT barista milk on the market and its clever protein and butterfat ratio is what enables people to produce a perfect barista micro-foam at home.
We added this milk to our machine experience at home and WOW… usually we’d use whole milk from our milkman (which is a fine go-to most of the time) but this rich, creamy milk with a suggestion of sweetness – created in partnership with skilled baristas and industry specialists – really adds a special dimension.
And finally, if this all seems well and good, but what about your cheeky spiced latte at Christmas, then why not stock up on some syrups. My personal favourtie is by a company called Sweet Freedom. And why? Because It’s all completely natural – the sweetness comes from fruit (apple & carob) and they do not contain any refined sugar or artificial sweeteners.
They are available in 3 flavours: vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut (hazelnut has already won a Great Taste Award). They cost £3.75 for 250ml premium glass bottle and £8.99 for a 1litre… and they’re are vegan friendly too! And while they scrimp on nasties, they don’t scrimp on flavours.
So there we have it. We hope you’re now on your way to becoming a coffee expert at home. It’s way less terrifying than it at first seems, thanks to these user-friendly machines and the abundance of coffees out there. Invest in the easiest, most affordable machine for you and before you know it, you’ll be a home barista!