Expert Review: Rocket Espresso Appartamento Espresso Machine
This review is my honest opinion of the espresso machine, which I tested for 25 days in July of 2022.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the espresso machine, which I tested for 25 days in July of 2022.
For the person who is looking for a prosumer machine to make several milk drinks a day (or back to back), but is not overly concerned with things like exacting shot temperature controls (i.e. a PID) or volumetric controls, then the Rocket Appartamento Espresso Machine is perfect. And, it's beautiful!
About the machine I tested
- Model: 2020 Rocket Appartamento
- Boiler Type: Heat Exchanger (HX)
- Pump Type: Vibratory
- Experience: I’ve been making espresso for roughly five years now—first with a Rancillio Silvia, then with a Moka Pot (if that counts), then with a Breville Barista Express, and finally with a Rocket Appartamento. Espresso can be frustrating, but it's a beautiful thing when done right—and the setup has everything to do with that.
- When I tested it: July 2022
- Days used: 25
- Cups per day: 2
- Grinder used: Rocket Faustino
- Coffee beans used: Home-roasted light/medium roast
- Milk Used: Whole milk some days, and almond milk on others
- Drink Made: Straight espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, and chai lattes (for my wife)
How it performs
What I was looking for
Though I was primarily just testing the machine (because I normally only do straight shots and don’t really need a heat exchanger), what I wanted to see out of this machine was 1.) high-quality steam power and 2.) high-quality espresso shots—even if I couldn’t control the temperature. This is the type of machine I’d recommend to somebody who mostly makes milk drinks and not straight shots, and I wanted to make sure it could deliver those exceptionally.
Why I chose to test this machine
I chose to test this machine because it seems to be an ideal option for certain people. The fact that it doesn’t have PID reduces costs compared to other Rocket machines (such as the Rocket Espresso Giotto Timer Type V at $2,350) which makes it an ideal choice for somebody who is making more milk drinks than straight shots. Also, I like the Appartamento for its aesthetics and size.
What I love about it
- Build quality & aesthetics: There are certain machines that I am more inclined to hide rather than display. That is not the case with the Rocket Appartamento, though. This is the type of machine that I want to display in the kitchen. On top of that, it’s incredibly well built. These things will retain their value incredibly well.
- Steam Power: Having been used to a single boiler machine, the heat exchanger in this machine was honestly a real treat. I had convinced myself that I didn’t really need a HX machine or dual boiler because I primarily do straight shots. The truth is, though, that if I kept this machine, I’d do way more milk drinks! The steam power was really impressive and it produced beautiful milk consistency, and the fact that I didn’t need to wait for it to get up to temperature (like on a single boiler) made me want to use it all the more.
- Size: The Appartamento’s size was something I particularly liked about it. It is relatively small compared to similar machines such as the Profitec Pro 500 or the Breville Dual Boiler, yet it still delivers everything I want out of a prosumer HX machine. (I’ll also say that it is slightly more aesthetically pleasing than the very comparable Lelit Mara X. It seems to be more “proportionate” to my eye, although I like the Lelit’s variable temp controls.)
- Ease/enjoyment of use: Ease of use is one thing. Buttons are plenty “easy” to use. But the real bonus of this machine was how pleasing it was to use. The industrial and professional feel of the lever to start extracting just felt nice; it felt professional, and I enjoyed every second of it. So did the knobs for steam and hot water. 10/10 in terms of enjoyment of use!
- Great extraction and consistency of temperature: Though the Appartamento doesn’t have PID temperature controls, the extraction was still fantastic and the temperatures were consistent. With the Rocket Appartamento, my shots were impressively smooth and consistent.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Time to heat up: This isn’t something that is specific to the Rocket Appartamento, as all E61 group head machines will take 20–30 minutes to heat up. With that said, waiting 20-30 minutes can still be a bummer if I am really in a hurry.
- Lack of features: This was the biggest downside of the Appartamento, even though the exclusion of certain features clearly led to some cost savings. However, having things like programmable start-up times or broad temperature controls (like the Lelit Mara X) would have been nice additions.
Favorite moment with this machine
My favorite moment was pulling my first shot with this machine. I had been pulling shots with my Breville Barista Express for years. It was fine, but I didn’t know what I was missing. I flipped the lever for the first time and thought to myself, “Wow, that felt good.” Fortunately and unfortunately, that moment has made me want a beautiful lever machine like this.
Value for the money vs. other options
If the PID temperature controls aren’t necessary, then the Appartamento is a great value compared to the Rocket Espresso Giotto Timer Type V at $2,350. However, for a PID and a little bit of extra space, then I’d personally save $150 more and purchase a Profitec Pro 500. While I really loved this machine, I’d say that anybody looking at it should also consider the Lelit Mara X. At $1,699, it comes in at $150 less than the Rocket Appartamento but provides the same industrial feel and build quality. It also has three temperature settings (low, medium, and high—which is not as nice as a PID, but it's something). It’s also worth noting that the Lelit Mara X is even slightly smaller than the Appartamento. However, the Lelit Mara X does have a slightly smaller boiler (1.6L instead of 1.8L), so it loses out on a bit of steam power. All the same, it’s worth considering. Lastly, anybody in this price range should also consider a dual boiler such as the Lelit Elizabeth, the Profitec Pro 300, or the Breville Dual Boiler. While these dual boilers have less steam power than the Rocket Appartamento, they will provide more exacting shot temperature controls (as they’ve got a boiler that is exclusively for shots and a boiler that is exclusively for steaming). That doesn’t make these machines better; it just means they are better for certain people and their needs. For more steam power, go with a HX machine like the Appartamento. For someone who is only making a few drinks a day and who’d like more control, then consider a dual boiler.
For somebody looking for a prosumer machine to deliver super high-quality milk drinks and who isn’t concerned about having a PID, the Rocket Appartamento is a great choice.