But the me of three months ago could have never fathomed how much better my life is (really!) with said espresso machine, the Breville Bambino Plus ($400), in it.
My coffee woes started at the end of the summer, during the transition from cold brew season back into hot coffee season. (This can't just be a food editor thing, right?) I took out my trusty coffee machine that I'd had since I first moved to New York from its resting place in the pantry. But when I plugged it in, nothing happened. It was officially kaput.
I need coffee, but I didn't feel like investing in a new machine less than a year before getting married, when I could just put a new, nicer coffee maker on my registry and have someone else get it for me. (See? Practical. Or...cheap. Your choice.)
Instead, I started buying my daily coffee. That is far from practical given that I live in New York, a city where nothing comes cheap. Just a drip coffee with milk can cost $3; a latte is more like $5 or $6 per cup. And I was buying one every day, which translates to $168 a month. If I kept this up all year round, that's $2,016. Factor in my fiancé's coffee drinking habits (since he too is affected by said faulty machine), and you have us potentially shelling out $4,032 every year on coffee.
After a month of this, my fiancé suggested getting an espresso maker. After all, we both love our coffee, and it would be a major upgrade from our existing situation. And unlike the $20 coffee maker I had loved for so long, making an investment in a nicer machine ensures it would last longer than a few years—meaning it would likely start to pay for itself in savings, too.
We ultimately settled on the Breville Bambino Plus ($400), because it does the key things we wanted it to do: make a single or double shot of espresso, and also steam and froth milk. That way he can have Americanos and I can have lattes. Plus, it's a compact machine that fits on our tiny Ikea kitchen cart while still leaving room for the blender and the coffee grinder.
Shop Now: Breville Bambino Plus
There is definitely a learning curve with this machine. You have to grind espresso beans in a separate grinder, press the grounds into the portafilter, then attach it to the machine and make the espresso. If you want to have a latte, you then pour milk into a separate metal jug, steam it, and pour it into your espresso.
That is admittedly a lot of steps in the morning, especially when you're first getting used to it. But the Breville is very user-friendly thanks to a streamlined system with only five buttons: one for a single shot, one for a double shot, one to steam the milk, and then a button each to adjust milk foam and temperature. The machine is also super efficient at bringing things up to temperature, which makes the entire above-mentioned process take only about five minutes.
And my god, are the results worth it. The stuff I drink at home every day tastes as good as what I was buying from the fancy coffee shops in my Brooklyn neighborhood—and far superior to the stuff I had been making in my old coffee maker. It's never burnt, always smooth, and it definitely packs a caffeine punch.
Yes, we had to cough up $400 up front. But it is so worth it—literally. We buy a $15 bag of nice espresso beans from our favorite coffee shop every three weeks. We buy a new carton of Oatly ($5 in my neighborhood) for lattes about every five days. If we both are drinking coffees five days a week during those three weeks (which, we are), that makes each drink cost between $0.50 and $1.10, depending on if its an espresso or a latte. There's truly no better deal in town than that.
Speaking of coffee, is drinking it before a workout a good idea...or a terrible one? And here's the time of day you should stop drinking coffee for optimal sleep.
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