The Math On Coffee: Homemade Vs Store-Bought

When it comes to homemade vs store-bought coffee, one of the most common advice you’ll hear is how much money you’ll save by making coffee at home versus buying a cup of coffee at a store.

But is it really that simple? What about the taste? How about the convenience factor?

Here’s the math on coffee.


I’m as guilty as anyone.

Everyone morning, I preorder my favorite coffee with my Starbucks phone app on the way to work. Nothing beats a grande extra-hot two-pump vanilla soy latte to wake up the ninja in me so I can karate-chop my goals at work.

It also costs $5.51 every day.

It’s not prohibitively expensive for something I really enjoy – it’s even part of The Money’s Ninja’s mantra. You don’t have to nickle and dime your life’s enjoyment in order to save.

On the other hand, the annual expense by drinking a cup of Starbucks (or Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Hortons, Peet’s) every day is nothing to sneeze at either.

So what about making coffee at home? Is it worth it?

Before we delve into that, let’s address the biggest concern most people have when making this decision.

Why is home-made coffee not as good as store-bought ones?

Why Doesn’t Coffee I Make At Home Taste As Good?

Blame The Machine

No offense to brands like Mr. Coffee, but a $20 coffee maker machine isn’t going to come close to the equipment your local baristas use. Those machines costs thousands of dollars and are regularly maintained for maximum taste quality.

This isn’t to say that price equals quality all the time, but the engineering and design justifies it in this case; your 8-cup machine doesn’t have the technology that a real brewer has.

And espresso? Forget it. You’re not going to get the right pressure or temperature control that a high-end machine will have.

Takeaway: Invest in a high-end machine. The upfront costs may be higher, but you can easily make up the costs within the first year.

I’ve been using the Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine. I find it to be the perfect blend of performance and price. It costs more than your average machine, but won’t break the bank like other high-end espresso units.

Ground Coffee vs Whole Beans

Ground coffee is by far the most popular option.

Made from whole coffee beans, ground coffee is grounded and packed at the factory before being sold on grocery shelves.

While you are more likely to choose ground coffee because of its convenience, you’re giving up freshness and quality in return.

Whole bean, on the other hand, is marketed whole and the responsibility of grinding the beans is left to the buyer. Commonly, whole beans are grounded just a few moments before brewing so the taste of the coffee is more complex and fresh compared to ground coffee.

Takeaway: Buy whole bean coffee and grind it at the time you’re making coffee for the best taste.

Personally, I love the taste of Peet’s Coffee, specifically their Major Dickason’s Blend. It’s a dark blend – rich, complex, and full-bodied. I think it’s great for both creating espresso or lattes.

Making Coffee Is A Learned Skill

I have something else to confess.

I was really bad at pulling my own espresso shot for at least a week or two when I first got the coffee machine, and it wasn’t from a lack of reading instructions as a newbie.

I just couldn’t grind the correct amount of coffee I needed or tamp my coffee grinds at the right pressure.

Say what you will about the craft of the barista, but the people who work in coffee shops are trained professionals who make hundreds of coffee drinks a day.

You can’t expect to be perfect on day 1. There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, but once you get it right, oh man does it taste so good!

Takeaway: Practice makes perfect. Like any skill, it’ll take time to be good at it.

The Math On Coffee

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s do some ninja math and compare the costs of store-bought coffee vs homemade coffee.

I’m going to calculate it through my own experience. Some readers may get similar results while others may come to numbers that are a little different than mine.

And that’s okay. The purpose is to learn through example. Here’s the math on coffee:

Store-Bought Coffee

(Image from

In the beginning of this post, I said my go-to drink is Starbucks’ grande extra-hot two-pump vanilla soy latte. It costs $5.51 per cup.

I drink about a cup a day during the work week and once on the weekend on average, so that’s 6 cups a week.

6 cups a week is 312 cups per year (6 cups x 52 weeks).

DrinkCost Per CupCups Per YearTotal Cost
Starbucks’ Grande Extra-Hot 2-Pump Vanilla Soy Latte$5.51312$1,719.12

The total cost of a year’s worth of Starbucks coffee is $1,719.12 – again, not cost prohibitive, but still a sizable chunk of money.

Homemade Coffee

In order to resemble my Starbucks drink as closely as possible, I’ll need the following besides the coffee machine I recommended:

A typical package of whole bean coffee is 12 ounces. To make a medium-sized cup of coffee, you’ll need .54 ounces of ground coffee.

We can now figure out how many cups you’ll get in a bag of coffee beans by dividing .54 into 12, which comes up to 22 cups.

With all the needed information available, we can calculate the total cost per cup of each ingredient by dividing the cost of the product by the number of servings:

  • Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend = $0.44
  • 365 Whole Foods Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk = $0.63
  • Florida Crystal Raw Turbinado Sugar = $.04

The total cost per cup of homemade coffee is $1.11, which is almost an 80% decrease compared to its equivalent Starbucks cup.

DrinkCost Per CupCups Per YearTotal Cost
Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk Latte$1.11312$346.32

The total cost of a year’s worth of homemade coffee is $346.32.

Compared to Starbucks, making coffee at home results in an annual savings of $1,372.80!

The Bottom Line

The first reaction I get when I recommend making coffee at home with the machine I use is shock.

The price of the espresso machine is higher than what they’re expecting, but when you run the math on coffee, you can easily see that you can recoup the cost of the machine well within the first year (and then some).

It’s a long-term investment that pays back in spades.

Hopefully this post helps fellow ninjas on things to consider if they’re thinking about making coffee from home instead of buying it from a coffee shop.

Has anyone made the switch (especially now that a lot of us are working from home)? Is what I said more or less true? Disagree?

Let me know with comments below.

About John Pham

John Pham is a personal finance expert, serial entrepreneur, and founder of The Money Ninja. He has also been fortunate enough to have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and U.S. News & World Report. John has a B.S. in Entrepreneurship and a Masters in Business Administration, both from the University of New Hampshire.

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2 years ago

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine. This is the best machine in the business, I have had mine for 14 years.

You will never want to go to starbucks again.