A luxury gift that can save you big bucks
This year who wouldn't love to give a luxury item that actually saves money in the long run?
If you are an espresso drinker, maybe it's time to buy your own home espresso maker. Financial planners love to tell us how much money we can save if we give up our Starbucks purchases all together, but by itself, that's no fun. The good news is that you really can have your latte and save money, too. I finally bought a machine last year, and given that Michael and I each drink at least one cappuccino and latte a day, it ended up saving us over $1000 in six months, above and beyond the cost of the machine and beans. I still get an occasional drink out as a treat, but it's not a habitual $5 a day habit any more.
(And to paraphrase linguist Geoff Nunberg, I am a Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Prius-Driving, New York Times-reading, True-Blue Democrat, and proud of it!)
Right now the excellent specialty site Whole Latte Love is offering 10% off sitewide (coupon code SEASON08), plus free shipping and no sales tax. They also say they'll match competitors' prices, but I couldn't find the details of the policy. It would be worth calling to ask about it, because I had a good experience buying my machine from them.
Last year Michael saw an ad for a super-automatic machine on sale, one recommended by a friend. So we thought, great, just get that. Well, that offer had sold out, but the idea had taken root in my mind by then. So guess who spent hours doing the research to choose among the vast selection of machines? Me, of course. That's why I like Whole Latte Love so much--they make the research much easier.
I recommend looking at the super-automatic espresso makers. I am the laziest person in the morning and I don't need to show off my prowess as a barista (because I have none). I just want a delicious, hot shot of espresso with a nice latte foam on top. With a super-automatic machine, you put in fresh beans, push a button, and out comes the espresso. Then you foam the milk and you're done.
My bottom line was that I didn't want to spend too much money. These machines are not inexpensive in any case, but I could not see a significant difference between the middle of the line (around $750) and the top of the line ($1500+) super-automatic models. We ended up getting the DeLonghi Magnifica 3300, which as been great--here's my Amazon.com review.
The machine has worked well for a year with no problems. To be completely honest, up close this machine is a little bit cheap looking if you are picky about that sort of thing, but it looks nicer than our old plastic Mr. Coffee maker. The good news is that the internal mechanism is the same direct "beans to brew" system that the more expensive DeLonghi machines use. That means beans are ground fresh for each shot (as opposed to grinding a lot of beans at once and storing it that way, like some brands do).
You can order this particular machine online at Whole Latte Love, Amazon.com, and sometimes it's even in-store at Bed, Bath & Beyond, which often sends out 20% off coupons. Shop around for the best price, and enjoy!
P. S. Finance Whiz David Bach does have a great point with "The Latte Factor," and he can show you how to turn $5 a day into almost a million dollars in your golden years, if you start saving now. Check out his Latte Factor calculator.