Are $1 Servo Coffees as Good as $4 Cafe Coffees?

Long time coffee drinker, first time coffee question writer.

While I love a latte or flat white from a nice little coffee shop and the ambience, of I’m on the go I find it hard to not save 75% and get one from Coles Express, 7/11, etc

Do you guys reckon you could tell the difference in a blind test? To be honest, I don’t think I could. Even if you could slightly tell, is 400% price increase enough to buy the $1 Latte?

As noted by a commenter, most things cost more when it comes to food and perception of quality, but I think the difference here is the 400% markup for coffee shop coffee. Over a year that’s a lot. $1 x 365 = $365. $4 x 365 = $1,460.

Poll Options

  • 275
    $1 Coffees do the job
  • 129
    I only go for the expensive stuff
  • 106
    Coffee tastes like dirt


  • +11

    The more milk, the less the difference IMO.

    I like a small latte and prefer barista coffee. But it's a rip at $4-5. Happy with a $1 servo when an urgent caffeine hit is required.

    • +1

      Interesting re the milk.

      I feel like the $4 is paying for the nice environment… so if I’ve got time I don’t mind Ponting up the cash to soak it up. But if it’s a take away, then $1 does the trick.

    • +4

      As someone who loves well made coffee and has invested heavily in it.

      IGNORANCE IS BLISS. You don't know what you're missing till you try it.

      This works with almost everything in life food, sex, vehicles, housing, nature, travel, jobs, realtionships, children, culture, entertainment.

      • +2

        There's a Japanese saying, chie no fukou. It describes this more specifically. Literally unhappiness of the mind. I always thought ignorance is bliss more describes stupid but happy people

      • I like this, it also wirks with high end headphones, oled tv, massages, etc.
        Not sure how it applies with children tough.

        • I've heard of many women who will say "I want another one" while still in the birthing suite. I don't think it's fathers who are saying that.

    • +1

      Can confirm. If you really want to compare coffees, don’t add milk or sugar. Go to a more reputable coffee place and order a long black and you will notice the difference.

    • I knew I wasn't the only one! Wife thinks I'm crazy when I tell her why I prefer small lattes due to the coffee/milk ratio

  • +39

    Answer is no, $1 coffees are not as good as coffees made on an espresso machine by a skilled barista, but if I need coffee and I am stopped at a service station that sells them I am quite happy to have one

    • +2

      @ QuantumCat do u get your latte served in a saucer? I thought that too, do u think you’re used to a particular coffee shop’s coffee taste or it’s across the board for all coffee shops being better?

      • +11

        I would say all coffee shops' coffees are better except the sorts of coffee shops you find in small country towns where they have never had any training and they burn the milk and overextract etc. In those cases I would choose 7 Eleven coffee over that even if same price.

        • +1

          7 Eleven use a lower grade bean from Toby's Estate, hence why they are so smooth!

        • +8

          Yes! The more distance from a city the worse the coffee. Generally.

          • +4

            @ademiix: Last easter I was in Melbourne CBD, I got a short black from a little hipster guy in a hole in the wall place. It was terrible. I thought I checked all the boxes: Melbourne, tiny shop with just one coffee machine and a hipster who just makes coffee. Nope.

    • +5

      $1 coffees at 7/11 are usually far better than backpacker made cafe coffees

  • +33

    There's a major difference in flavour but if you're asking this question then you probably won't be able to tell.

    • +1

      Between one particular coffee shop and servo lattes or all $4 coffee shops? I would argue that some coffee shops serve coffee that’s not as good as servo coffee. I know of one locally. Maybe it’s subjective

      • +21

        They'd have to be an absolutely terrible coffee shop to sell anything worse than servo coffee.

        • +2

          Did you mention Coffee Club?

          At least the servo $1 coffee was hotter than the junk that i've been fortunate to drink from the Coffee Club.

          • +8

            @serg3: Coffee Club is staffed by teenagers in their first job who have had zero training so it makes sense that their coffee is consistently terrible.

            • @Quantumcat: They don't need training - as their machines are fully automatic. You're basically just paying $4 for a $1 servo coffee.

              • @macrocephalic: Are you sure? The couple I had, the milk was overcooked. Would a machine do that?

          • @serg3: Two for One coffees at Coffee Club are very common. Two small coffees become about $2 each.

            I prefer CC at $2 each than a $1 machine but each to their own.

            • +1

              @arcticmonkey: i gave them the benefit of the doubt as i had their membership and used it a couple times, but it was consistently disappointing as
              @Quantumcat alluded to makes sense.

        • +6

          Not really. Servo coffees are made by automated machine, thus quality is relatively consistently irrespective of how bad you think they are.

          Coffee shop ones however, there's the bean, how it's extracted, barista's skill, milk frothing, etc etc variables that can all fk things up. I'm used to getting rubbish coffee club and star bucks coffee

          • @berry580: 7/11 machine is rather expensive and has a high turnover of beans so are quite fresh, it’s quite good and constent

          • +1

            @berry580: I would honestly be doubtful that the servo coffee machine gets cleaned regularly enough.

            I've seen enough of those milk tubes after a few days of use to never touch an automated milk pump coffee again.

            • +1

              @Rumstein: They would be cleaned according to process and on a fixed schedule.

            • @Rumstein: The machines that I have seen will warn of service and if not done will lock out the use until it’s been completed

      • +4

        A quality cafe will use different beans to what a servo would use. The beans will cost a lot more as well and have a different taste.

        People who are used to drinking finer beans should be able to tell the difference to a servo coffee. $1 coffee drinkers (just to get a hit) are like those people who can’t tell the difference between a $500 bottle of grange and a $10 merlot.

        You’d also need to factor in the barista and how the coffee is extracted but like for like it should be a no brainer.

    • -3

      May I interject, out of all the coffee shops I went to including the Lindt cafe. Even though Lindt has very good coffee, it I prefer mcdonald’s Mocha if made correctly that is hot with extra chocolate powder(otherwise too bitter for me I prefer sweet coffee)k

    • I know the difference and i often pay $4 for a terrible coffee near my work.

      Lazyness trumps all I guess

  • +6

    It depends how clean the servo machine is, I prefer the foodary at Woolworths or 7/11
    And depends on the barista at cafe I’ve had really bad $5 coffees and really good ones.
    I drink both cafe and servo but so many variables, hard to give a fair comparison.

    • I guess the big difference is the cost then. Is the taste worth the markup and cost?

      • No, but you could say that for most taste based things, clothes, wine, cars, water.

        • +1

          why buy a Bugatti when you can get a Toyota Camry with cheaper insurance and fuel consuption

  • +8

    Bought my own rancilio set up so always make my own now. Compared to my home coffee, 7-11 tastes like dirt.

    • What rancilio do you own and how does it compare to something like the breville bes920?

      • +6

        I'm gonna guess they have the Sylvia, the main difference is one is dual boiler and the other is not meaning you could extract coffee and steam milk at the same time.

        Another consideration is that the Sylvia is well documented and parts readily available, they should last a long time but if it breaks, easy to get parts and repair yourself if need be.

        If a Breville dies you may not have the same success finding parts.

        Check out the coffeesnobs forum, someone will have compared the two machines I'm sure.

        • +3

          Nailed it :) Also, it's just a workhorse, i have had it over 4 years with no problems with it, i have replaced some washers on the steam tap, that's about it.

          I also had a PID put on mine which helped a lot more with temp control.

          I'd love to upgrade to a Linea Mini or something along those lines but don't think the Mrs will let me spend that amount haha.

          • +2

            @crashloaded: Silvia owner here too. Our machine was shorting out for some reason so I ended up buying a new water pump and replacing it thinking that was the cause. However, I think it was just a loose earth somewhere as some screws were a little loose. Anyway, point being is that I’m not usually handy with appliances but the Silvia is quite easy to dismantle and put back together.

          • +4

            @crashloaded: Another Silvia owner here. Ours is about 10 years old and still going strong. Never had it professionally serviced as nothing has gone wrong with it so far. I just undertake regular descaling and replacement of rubber washer above the grouphead. The Mrs won't let me upgrade either. I secretly want it to break down so I can upgrade, but this thing seems to be built like a tank!

            Happy barrista-ing everyone.

            • @ozkiwi75: Upgrade to what? I might buy one. I'm in the market for something new.

          • @crashloaded: How much did it cost to install PID?

  • +5

    I usually get long black/ice long black. To me the 7-11/caltex ones are as good as any other barrista made ones. The coles ones were by far the worst Ive ever had though. Like ground up chicken bones in a brown broth and children's tears.

    • +2

      Fking hell 😂😂

    • Lol!

  • +2

    The options are not what the questions asking…

    $1 Coffees certainly do the job, but I could certainly taste the difference between a local cafe coffee and a Coles Express Coffee.

    Between a random cafe, a machine made (ie ALDI or Nespresso) and a Coles Express Coffee would be interesting though. Depends on the cafe.

    • -1

      True. Would like to see a blind test. Results would be similar to the wine aficionados I think

    • We have a Nespresso and my sister has the Aldi one. The Nespresso is far better but, of course, everything is far more expensive too.

  • +3

    The beans/blend and the barista can make coffee taste different, even between coffee shops.
    Taste is personal, so if you like 7/11 coffee then just buy it from there. If you worry about workplace perception, use a reusable cup and it could have came from anywhere.

    • +1

      I could not possibly care less about what my colleagues think about the cost of my coffee 😂

  • if saving $3 makes a difference then definitely same thing. I drink coffee only for caffeine and happy with coles express $80 cents deal.

    • +2

      I drink coffee only for caffeine

      Why not just buy this? 8c a hit, surely a much cheaper delivery mechanism than the cheapest coffee.

      • +3

        Funny that the 200 pill bottle costs more than twice the 100 pill bottle. Maybe everyone is too hepped up on caffeine to notice.

  • +22

    I like my coffee just like I like my women.

    Cheap and from a service station.

    • +1

      This could have escalated quickly :D

    • I like my coffee just like I like my women.

      Strong and black.

      • +1

        Flat and white for me

        • +1

          I like 'em dense and muted.

    • Lmao, thanks for the laugh 😂

    • Careful with those cheap coffees…

    • I like my coffee like I like my women…. black, bitter and cold.

      Just kidding! I actually prefer both to be strong , hot and with a touch of sweetness :)

  • TL:DR No

  • +1

    They are certainly not on par. I would easily know which is the 7-11 and which is a cafe coffee. In fact I would be able to tell the difference between a 7-11 and coles express. Having said that, the $1 coffees do the job and I would choose them unless I felt like treating myself.

    • I’m on the same boat here. On the go; who cares. A bit of self care; at a coffee shop and soak it up

  • +6

    In my experience servo coffees are or close to instant coffee and that's disgusting. Barista all the way.

    • -1

      Haha surely not!

      • +2

        Though my office has a cafe so it's also the convenience 😋

        • Free office cafe? Omg

          • @Bellpop: Free on your Birthday. They knock like a dollar off coffee.

          • @Bellpop: I've heard PWC had an onsite barista

          • @Bellpop: We get 1 free hot drink per day from the local cafe, which is a short stroll away. The catch is that we can't have it to take away. It's part of the 'health initiative' at my workplace. The idea is to get us away from our work environment and out into the fresh air for a mini-break.

            • @DisabledUser102420: Wow. That’s really cool.

              • @Bellpop: In theory , it is …but in practice, it doesn't quite work for me. I'm more addicted to work than to coffee.So I often miss out on my free coffee :(

  • +1

    If I just want a pick-me-up, $1 coffee is fine. But to sit down with a friend or read a paper, which isn't something you can do at 7 Eleven, I'd get a $5 coffee,

    • Yep, I think this is about me too

    • You can sit down with friends opposite the Eddy Ave 7- Eleven at Central Station and have a chat with the friendly hobos, and still have $4 to spare.

  • +1

    lol depends where you go

  • -3

    Taste is largely determined by pre concieved notions.

    So coffee drinkers will taste "barista" coffee or "pod coffee" and taste differences even though they are drinking the same thing for example.

    Wine drinkers taste red wine when drinking white wine with red food colouring if they are none the wiser.

    • +2

      Really haha that’s so funny

    • +3

      While I agree that your mind can influence your taste, I disagree with your sentiment that all coffee tastes the same.

      There are multiple variables with coffee, they can taste quite different.

      Also, that white wine/red wine story is fake news.

  • +4

    I've been an auditor for 7-Eleven and I can tell you that all franchisees are not created equal - with some of them not changing the milk as often as they should.

    • +1

      Wow, gross! Let’s hope their popularity keeps the milk fresh 😳

      • -1

        The term you're looking for is high turnover. And milk going off due to low turnover is horrifying to think about…

    • +1

      How often were stores audited and was there a sign of a recent audit, ie certificate or customers won't know?

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