Cost of Renting or Purchasing a Coffee Machine vs. The Regular Way of Making Coffee

Cost of Renting or Purchasing a Coffee Machine vs. The Regular Way of Making Coffee Cost Comparison

Using dry ingredients or making coffee the regular way using instant coffee and tea together with kettles and urns can work out cheaper, pretty much the same or significantly different depending on which coffee machine solution you opt to go for. In this post I’ll compare the cost of operating the 4 most common types of coffee machines vs. making coffee the regular way.

What Does Using Regular Coffee Cost?

Funny enough, 85% of companies do not what they spend on a monthly basis on their coffee, sugar, tea and milk groceries. Why? Well most companies don’t worry about it as there are often 100’s of other things more important to focus one’s time on and then one day the account or financial officer see the milk bill, and typically has the following reaction:

fall off chair
Actual Accountants Reaction

Yes, that’s right! Milk costs a lot of money, and people use a lot of it! In almost every company, the cost of milk makes up approximately 90% of a companies spend. The next culprit in high cost percentage terms is coffee, followed by sugar and then followed by tea.

The cost which a typical company spends can vary greatly but the three main factors which determine a companies coffee and related product spend are:

  • Number of people
  • Whether or not a tea or coffee trolley is used to dish out coffee (if you are still doing this stop immediately as this is by far the most expensive way to do things)
  • How well or badly milk, sugar and coffee is controlled
  • How many visitors come through on a daily basis
  • How prolific the staff are at not returning tea spoons (believe it or not this Is one of the number one complaints we get from customers 🙂 )

Comparing the 4 most Common Types of Coffee Machines vs Using Regular Coffee

There are essentially 4 categories of coffee machines, each with a considerably different impact on cost. These 4 are:

  1. Filter Coffee Machines
  2. Capsule Coffee Machines
  3. Automatic Coffee Machines
  4. Coffee Vending Machines

Each of the above 4 have varying cost implications, not only on one’s actual coffee spend, but also on milk, sugar and tea spend.

Filter Coffee Machine Cost vs Regular Coffee Costs


Filter Coffee along with capsule machines, only directly impact one’s coffee spend as the usage volumes of milk, sugar and tea usually don’t differ when using a filter machine when compared with using kettle or urn. One, not too-heaped, tea spoon of ordinary run of the mill instant coffee costs around the 50c mark. The reality is however that on average most people use 1.5 tea spoons making the true cost of a cup of ordinary instant coffee 75c.

Filter coffee, made in the standard proportions and bring priced at the average price of around R12.50 per pot results in a price per cup of about R1.00. So filter coffee, which is one of the easiest to compare against instant coffee, typically will cost about 30% more than using plain old standard instant coffee.

If one uses a better instant coffee, like Nescafe or Jacobs then in most cases filter coffee works out a little cheaper (usually 10% cheaper)

There is no affect on milk, sugar and tea spend when using a filter coffee machine.

Capsule Coffee Machine Cost vs Regular Coffee Costscapsule coffee machine

Capsules are one of the best solutions for having great coffee at home but unfortunately due to cost constraints they typically work out way too expensive for office use. There are a number of coffee capsule brands out there today with most ranging anywhere from R4.00 on the cheaper end to R8.00 on the more expensive side. We will take an average of R6 to make our comparisons.

Again using the average cost of a standard instant coffee of R0.75 means capsules are 8x more expensive. Yup, that’s not a typo! Capsules are seriously expensive especially used in high usage environments. To reiterate one more time, if you are spending R1000 on coffee, you will then spend around the R8000 mark when making the switch to capsules!

And on top of that, capsules, like filter coffee has no effect on one’s milk, sugar and tea spend so one needs to add these costs on top of the capsule costs.

Automatic Coffee Machines Cost vs Regular Coffee CostsPrice-Jura-XS9

Automatic coffee machines fit somewhere in between capsule and filter machines when comparing costs. Automatic machines are any machines which use all fresh ingredients to make ones coffee. They go by many names including: one touch machines, bean to cup machines and super autos.

Automatic coffee machines do not contain the milk inside the actual machine but rather connect to some sort of milk container by a piping system or by using an on-board carafe. Auto machines do more than just coffee and can typically make the big 4 at the touch of a button (espresso, coffee, cappuccino and latte)

Given the choice, 85% of people typically choose either cappuccino or latte. The good part of that is that most people will absolutely love you for getting a cappuccino machine; The bad part is that your accountant will not.

The cost of a black coffee from an auto machine is around the R2.00 mark making it comparable to filter coffee and higher end instant coffees. This is the good news.

The effect of one’s milk bill, when an auto cappuccino machine is installed is often quite drastic. An office’s milk bill typically doubles when installing a bean to cup cappuccino machine. This is the bad news.

Sugar and tea, is not a feature of most automatic machines and therefore sugar and tea costs remain unchanged.

Coffee Vending Machines Cost vs Regular Coffee CostsPrice-Instant-Vending

For many years we resigned ourselves to the fact that coffee machines are purely a luxury purchase for offices. They always work out more expensive than using kettles, urns and dry ingredients. That was until we discovered coffee vending machines.

Coffee vending machines for us were the biggest discovery since sliced bread (although companies were using them already for years before we found them…to say we were a little late to the party is an understatement)

The reason why we were so excited about coffee vending machines was that coffee vending machines finally offered a solution to controlling offices high milk spend.

Coffee Vending Machines Operate Along the Following Guidelines:

  • If you want to get a coffee with milk, no problem.
  • If you want to dispense more milk with your coffee, no can do on a vending machine.
  • If you want to dispense milk just for cereal and porridge on a vending machine, you can’t.
  • If you want to use 4 heaped tea spoons of coffee or sugar on a vending machine, well, you cant.

Coffee vending machines cut down on milk, sugar and coffee usage but controlling how people can dispense hot drinks. They do this by dispensing the required ingredient, lets say milk, at the same time as it dispenses hot water thereby filling the cup up simulataneouly with both. There is no “add ingredient only without water button”. This is how vending machines save companies bucket loads on their coffee, sugar and milk bills. To view some case studies of where customers have save considerable amounts of money please view our section : Case Studies of Companies Saving Money

Do they work for everyone, to save costs? Short answer is NO. We have found that coffee vending machines (especially those of the instant type) save on average 70% of companies money. 10% experience little or no change in their consumables spend whilst 20% actually reported an increase in spend. The main thing which predicts whether a company will save money or not is how good or bad their control of milk,sugar and coffee was before implementing a machine.

Try a Machine for A Month to See for Yourself

For many years we gave predictive quotes to companies where we would estimate how much they would spend using any of the above machines. The challenge was that although the per cup price was relatively easy to give, peoples usage of different machines differed quite greatly.

predicting whether a company will save money
Not the Best Way to Estimate Coffee Costs

If people would typically drink 2.5 cups on average per day before a coffee machine was installed it didn’t always mean that they would drink exactly the same amount once a machine was placed.

For this reason we started our relatively famous (at least in the coffee world) one month test period where a company could see exactly how much a machine would cost them an ongoing basis before committing to a long term rental or purchase.

To try a machine in your office or business please complete your details below: