Rocket Espresso – return on investment study

If you can’t survive without your morning espresso, you have a $1,600 a year habit.

If, like me, you often need a 2nd one, and your other half does too, that’s more than $6,000 off your household’s bottom line.

If only there was some way you could make real coffee at home. Plunger coffee just isn’t the same. Instant? Pah-leese. And those pod machines just don’t give you the oomph of a real espresso from that nice café up the road…

…but wait, what’s this?

It’s called the Rocket, and the coffee YOU can make with it is BETTER than you can get from most cafés. 

I’ve had this machine for 10 years and it’s still going strong. Yes, it still is this shiny. 

They involve a bit of an outlay to get started, but it provides an amazing return on investment. Stay with me. 

Last time I looked, you could get a Rocket from Atomic for $3,650. As soon as you get it home and try pulling a shot using supermarket-bought, pre-ground beans, you’ll appreciate that what you really need is a proper burr grinder (which will set you back another $875) and some freshly roasted whole beans (allow $50 per kg). Finally, you’ll want to factor in maintenance costs (I estimate we’ve spent $1,235 over 10 years). 

Could there possibly be a business case to justify such an extravagant spend-up? Well…

A double-shot long black uses about 90 cents worth of beans. If you’re a latte drinker, add 27 cents to that for milk. Compare that to the $5 you’ll pay at Auckland or Wellington cafes! Each latte you make at home saves you $3.83. 

At that rate it doesn’t take long for the machine to pay for itself. The ‘break-even’ point is 1,506 lattes. This is the point at which the cafe curve and the Rocket curve intersect on the following graph. At this point, the cumulative cost of cafe-bought lattes, and the cumulative cost of Rocket-made lattes, is the same, $7530. In our household, it took less than a year to get to this point. From this point on, your Rocket is printing money. 

Over the last 10 years, I estimate we’ve saved $50,000: total Rocket costs of $23,000, offset by $73,000 in café savings.

If, instead, we’d invested our initial outlay in the sharemarket, we would have needed a return of 27% per year to turn it into $50,000 over 10 years. 

Disclosure statement: I have no pecuniary interest in Atomic Coffee – but they’re a great team and I love their Veloce roast.

Follow-up

One of the common criticisms of this analysis has been “yes, but that assumes you make all your coffees at home and stop buying them when you go out”.

True. And I do confess to buying the ‘occasional’ caffeine hit when I’m out and about.  

But I am pleased to report that overall, our coffee consumption habits have changed since the Rocket came to live with us. Having good quality coffee at home really does provide a return on investment. After all, there are only so many coffees you can drink in a day. Making them is so much fun I’ve usually had my 2nd or 3rd before I leave the house. And (even if I do say so myself) it’s a rare and special café that can match my home made espressos.

February 2011 / Updated January 2021

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