Vending Machine Costs: The Best Features to Choose

Vending Machine Costs: Which Features to Choose and Which to Forget

There are vending machines for everything these days. If you want a Ponado or an iPad you can now buy it in a vending machine. In this post we will speak specifically about coffee vending machine prices and what features and aspects affect their end costs.

There are a number of things which affect the final price of a vending machine and because of the plethora of vending machine brands out there, we have listed the average price that one can expect to pay for different features of vending machines across a multitude of brands.

Consideration 1: Size does matterVending Machine Size

The number one factor affecting price is size and capacity. In vending size definitely does matter (especially when it comes to price). An entry level table top vending machine would cost around R15, 000 whereas an entry level floor standing vending machine would cost closer to R30, 000. You are essentially paying double the price for the steel frame rather than paying for more components or features.

Buying Tip #1: Where possible opt for a table top vending machine with a stand where need be instead of a floor standing unit.

Consideration 2: Free or coin operated vending

Coin or token operated vending machines add about R10, 000 onto the price of a vending machine. If the intention behind getting a coin operated machine is to make money, then you often can’t avoid it however if the intention is to control abuse of certain products within a company then you are often better off with a free vend machine and bearing the cost of those bad apples (people often abuse a vending machine and your generosity far less than you imagine)

Buying Tip #2: Go free when you can

Consideration 3: Fresh milk or powderPowder Milk

Powder milk has a bad rap, and for the most part it is not its fault. Over 90% of “instant milk” coffee vending machines in South Africa utilise creamer instead of proper powder milk. Creamer is essentially a milk substitute and makes coffee taste nothing short of rotten. Pure powder milk contains nothing but milk (usually the fat free type) and tastes almost identical to normal milk. Vending machines which use fresh milk immediately start from R40, 000 upwards whereas powder milk options start at around the R15, 000 mark. Powder milk vending machines also are cheaper to run on an ongoing basis than fresh milk machines.

Buying Tip #3: Choose powder over liquid but use proper powder milk

Consideration 4: Beans or Instantbean vs instant

There is no right and wrong answer to this question and it depends solely on what your goal is. Instant coffee machines use instant coffee (as the name suggests) and provide an economical way of getting cappuccinos, albeit in the instant form. Instant vending machines are cheaper than the bean variety and are also cheaper to run. Bean-to-cup vending machines are classified as any coffee machine which grinds the beans automatically for you. These vending machines give the best quality coffee but at a price. You can add on approximately R10, 000 for a bean version, compared to an instant type, and an additional R1.00 per cup thereafter. Again, there is no right or wrong decision here; it depends entirely on what your goals are. For a detailed difference between beans and instant, see this great article – beans vs instant coffee

Buying Tip #4: Understand what you are looking for and the implications

Consideration 5: Short term or long term thinkingShort Term Thinking

Like with everything, quality comes at a price. There are 2 types of vending machines:  Those that are made in China and India and those that are made in Europe. You can get an entry level Chinese or Indian machine for around the R10, 000 mark but they always come with a guarantee between 3 – 6 months. This isn’t to say they will always bomb out after this period but if they do you aren’t covered.

European made vending machines always carry at least a 1 year guarantee (and often 2) and will likely last about 5x longer than their Indian or Chinese counterparts. A like-for-like European built vending machine will cost about R10, 000 more than the Chinese version

Buying Tip #5: Pay more upfront to save money in the long term


There are many options when it comes to vending machines but the above five tips should lead you down the right path.