The Flawed Consumer brings you the Switch Off series, post 1 - how to save money on coffee

Switch Off: 1. Coffee + Convenience = Stupidity

Switch Off is a new regular series that focuses on how switching off from the ploys of corporate marketing can save you money. Each month, we’ll post an article that explores marketing concepts and the genius ways in which corporations use clever marketing tactics to make you spend money on products and services you don’t need, or don’t need to pay as much for.


Our first article in the series focuses on just how much that fancy capsule coffee machine will cost you.


Coffee is great

I love coffee. Like, really love coffee. I start each day with a nice coffee to wake me up and get me going for the day. Up until last weekend I started each day with a coffee from our coffee pod machine.


In 2013, I bought my beloved a pod based coffee machine for Christmas. The idea of a coffee machine that made fresh espresso coffee at the touch of a button and insertion of an aluminium coffee pod was exciting.


Like a lot of people, we were sucked in by the glossy advertising. The messaging was all about exclusivity, ease and aesthetics… And we were buying it.


The marketing strategy

  • Firstly, select a certain silver-haired fox that every man wants to be and every woman wants to be with as the face of the brand – you’ve got our attention.
  • Secondly, introduce a ‘convenience’ product that is going to make our lives richer and more fulfilling, but can easily fit into our busy daily schedules.
  • Thirdly, appeal to our desires to keep up with the Jones’ by creating a ‘business class’ experience consisting of an exclusive club, airport lounge-like type store experience, in-store tastings, exclusive merchandise and ‘rare’ bean selections.
  • Fourthly, watch the dollars roll on in. Using the three strategies above almost guarantees success!


Enjoying the fancy smancy coffee pod machine

Over the next 4 years we greatly enjoyed our coffee pod machine every day. We tried the exclusive, time limited collections… And, we loved it. In fact, we loved it so much that just before Christmas time we broke our machine. The pod insertion area got stuck and wouldn’t open. Given that the machine relied on the insertion of a pod to make coffee, this was somewhat of a conundrum. So, I decided to pull the machine apart and put it back together in an attempt to resolve the problem.


I discovered that some of the plastic components had broken and couldn’t be fixed, so I had to put it back together without a couple of key parts. As a result, I was able to get the pod insertion area to work again, but we would now be required to tilt the pourer each time we used the machine to avoid the espresso shot running into the back of the machine.


Window shopping for new coffee machines

After dealing with our partially broken coffee machine for a few months, my beloved was starting to grow tired of losing coffee by forgetting to tilt the pourer each use. As a result, I got dragged to the shops to have a look at new coffee machines. I played along, humoring my beloved along the way. In doing so, I said a throw away line, “do the maths and we’ll see”.


Doing the maths

I should have known that my beloved would take my throw away line and run with it. So, when we got home from the shops, I had a bunch of figures read out to me to support my beloved’s case for a new coffee machine.


Intrigued and a little surprised, I decided to do the maths properly…


The costs @ 730 coffees per year

Coffee machine & coffee quality Cost per coffee Coffee cost per year Descaling costs per year Total cost over 5 years
Pod machine – pods $0.74 $540.2 $23.6 $2819
Other machine – cafe quality $0.21 $153.3 $0 $766.5
Other machine – mid-range $0.14 $102.2 $0 $511
Other machine – ALDI $0.10 $73 $0 $365


The savings by buying a new, non-pod coffee machine now

  Savings over 5 years Average yearly savings
Cafe quality coffee $1830.50 $366.10
Mid-range coffee $2086.00 $417.20
ALDI coffee $2232.00 $446.40


The outcome…

Yep, we went back to the shops the next day and bought a new non-pod coffee machine.


As our pod machine is just over 4 years old and is still going, I used this as a lifespan benchmark for the new coffee machine and calculated average yearly savings across 5 years, including purchase price of the new machine.


Both of the machines have a 4 star energy efficiency rating and use similar amounts of electricity, so I didn’t bother to figure out the difference in electricity consumption between the two of them.


As you can see from the tables above, the difference in coffee costs between the pod machine and non-pod machine were huge. Even when you factor in the cost of the new coffee machine, it still paid itself off in less than a year.



If espresso coffee is a daily must in your home, have a think about the true costs of pod machines before you buy one (and, I haven’t even mentioned the environmental impacts of the pods!).


Pod coffee companies have their marketing strategies down-pat and will have you believe that you ‘need’ the convenience, luxury and exclusivity of pod machines. But, the simple fact is, you don’t. Non-pod espresso machines are easy to use and almost as quick.


Additionally, you can control the type of bean and how much of it you use, giving extra freedom and opportunities to save money on coffee or enjoy a luxurious coffee experience at home.


As a coffee lover and Financial Independence seeker, switching off from the pod machine marketing hype has enabled me to have my cake and eat it too.


Cheers, TFC.


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The Flawed Consumer is a Gen Y consumer that is on a mission to achieve wealth simply by changing spending and lifestyle habits.

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