An Expert Guide to Rocket Espresso MachinesPublished on 10/01/2023 · 12 min readUnlock barista-level coffee excellence with our expert guide to Rocket Espresso Machines. Elevate your home brewing game with the right machine!
Photo by Photology 1971
TL;DR: Rocket Espresso machines are solid and robust – no matter which model you go with. These machines are extremely well-built, intuitive to use, and are packed with features while being extremely aesthetically pleasing. When looking to purchase a Rocket Espresso machine, consider your budget, available space, and skill level. Rocket offers various models, from compact home machines to commercial-grade ones, all featuring extremely high-quality components. Key features to look for include a traditional E61 group head, PID temperature controllers on select models, various boiler configurations, pressure profiling, and volumetric controls. If you’re a home consumer looking for an E61-style Italian-made machine, look no further than Rocket.
I’m Andrea, and I’ve been working with coffee for the past 9 years. After getting my start as a barista in a pretty well-known coffee chain, I jumped into the world of home espresso, purchasing my first espresso machine – the Rocket Mozzafiato (see the picture below!). This machine was my daily driver for 7 years before I moved to a machine with more features and plumbability. After being in the industry for many years, I can confidently say that Rocket espresso machines are a great option for the home consumer looking for a well-built, sturdy, quality machine and for coffee shops looking for an espresso machine that is dependable for years and years without sacrificing on quality or aesthetics.
Who Is Rocket Espresso?
Rocket Espresso is an Italian espresso machine manufacturer. Established in 2007 in Milan, Italy, Rocket excels in handcrafting premium consumer and commercial espresso machines, known for their exceptional quality, timeless design, and cafe-quality performance. Renowned for innovation, Rocket Espresso balances technology and traditional espresso brewing methods to produce machines that bring cafe-quality coffee into homes and businesses. Rocket buyers choose Rocket Espresso for their commitment to excellence, their machines' robust construction and longevity, and the high-quality espresso they can yield, creating an unparalleled coffee experience.
What to Consider When Buying a Rocket Espresso Machine
1. What kinds of features and levels of control do you want?
Some Rocket machines are more beginner-friendly, with fewer features and straightforward controls, while others offer more features and control over things like brew temperature and brew pressure (pressure profiling). The Giotto and Mozzafiato models, for example, come with adjustable PID controllers (which is a way that the machine monitors and controls temperature) for more precise temperature control—a feature that espresso enthusiasts and experienced baristas may appreciate. Some models, like the R Nine One, come with pressure profiling and other settings like volumetric dosing.
2. Where is it going – how much counter space do you have, and do you want a tank or a direct connect machine?
Rocket Espresso machines vary in size. While models like the Appartamento (at 10.8” wide) are compact and suitable for smaller kitchens, others, like the Rocket Boxer (at 19” wide), require more countertop space. Evaluate your available space before choosing a model to ensure it fits comfortably. Additionally, are you looking for a machine that you can directly plumb into a water line, like the Rocket Boxer? Or maybe you’d like a machine that has a water tank but also can be plumbed in, like the R58 Cinquantotto!
3. Boiler type: dual or heat exchanger? Are you looking for ultra-precise temperature control or more steam power?
If you are looking for the best bang for your buck and want a good-size single boiler for the best steaming power, consider a heat exchanger (HX) machine like the Appartamento or Mozzafiato. If you are deep down the rabbit hole and looking for ultra-precise temperature control, consider a dual boiler machine like the R58 or the R Nine One.
4. How much does a Rocket Espresso machine cost?
Understanding your budget is essential when choosing a Rocket Espresso machine. The brand offers a wide range of budget options, from entry-level models like Appartamento, which costs around $1,850, to premium commercial-grade models such as the R Nine One or Boxer, which can exceed $6,000. Higher-priced machines offer more advanced features, including temperature control, dual boilers, and PID controllers, enabling greater customization and consistency in espresso brewing.
What Are the Rocket Espresso Machine Types?
1. Home Espresso Machines
These machines are designed for home use, balancing quality and ease of use. Key models include the Rocket Appartamento.
Rocket Appartamento Espresso Machine
This is a compact machine perfect for those with limited space but unwilling to compromise on quality. It features a heat exchange boiler, allowing you to brew and steam at the same time, and a classic E61 group head – a traditional system where hot water flows from the boiler through the group head via a thermosyphon – keeping the group head and all brewing components hot and stable. The Appartamento does not feature a PID for temperature control, but the E61 group head means very solid temperature stability.
Rocket Mozzafiato & Giotto
These models are more advanced home machines, offering features like a PID for temperature control, insulated HX boilers, and a shot timer. The Mozzafiato and Giotto come in several configurations, such as either a vibratory or rotary pump – and the rotary pump version can either be used as a reservoir machine or be plumbed in!
Featuring dual boilers, dual pressure gauges, an ultra-quiet rotary pump, a shot timer, and a removable PID, the R58 is ideal for the home consumer looking for flexibility without compromising on quality. The R58 can either be used as a reservoir or a direct plumb machine.
- Compact design, making them suitable for smaller spaces.
- They provide exceptional espresso and milk steaming quality for home users.
- Quality construction ensures durability.
- They offer a balance between cost and functionality, providing excellent value.
- Keep in Mind:
- These machines may not handle heavy, consistent use as well as commercial-grade machines.
- Some home machines may lack more advanced features found in higher-end or commercial models.
- While beginner-friendly, these models still have a learning curve to brewing great espresso – more so than machines that are not E61 group heads or machines that have volumetric espresso dosing.
2. For the Prosumer
While technically a home machine, machines such as the Rocket R Nine One are in a class of their own. Most major espresso brands have a machine like this, which features top-of-the-line specs, high-end technology, and all of the bells and whistles you could ever want for a home espresso machine.
Featuring high-end specs such as massive stainless steel dual boilers, programmable volumetric espresso dosing, programmable pre-infusion, and five programmable profiles for pressure profiling, the Rocket R Nine One is the top-of-the-line home machine for the espresso enthusiast or prosumer. This machine also features a convertible water configuration – use the reservoir or connect directly to a water line.
- Keep in Mind:
- These machines feature top-of-the-line specs, features, and technology – they aren’t as straightforward as other machines and can be complicated to use.
- While these machines have great features, they can be expensive compared to other home-use machines.
- Although some prosumer machines are also commercially rated, the advanced features can be complicated and take more time to use, slowing down a barista in a commercial environment.
3. Commercial Espresso Machines
Built for commercial use, these models have larger capacities and offer a range of professional features. Models in this category include the Rocket Boxer.
A compact commercial machine with volumetric controls, suitable for small cafes or offices. The Boxer is available in a single group running on 110v, ideal for a small, low-volume coffee business such as a coffee cart or trailer, or a 2-group running on 220v, ideal for a small coffee shop or restaurant.
This is a large, multi-group machine built for high-volume environments and equipped with features such as PID temperature control and pressure profiling. The R9 features separate, dedicated brew boilers for ultimate temperature and pressure control, plus temperature and pressure stability. Available in either two or three groups.
- Capable of handling heavy, continuous use, making them ideal for commercial environments like cafes and restaurants.
- Offers professional-grade features, such as volumetric controls, PID temperature control, and pressure profiling.
- High-quality construction and design ensure consistent performance and longevity.
- Commercial machines typically have larger brew and steam boilers, which allows for high-volume environments.
- Keep in Mind
- A larger footprint can be a problem for businesses with limited space.
- Professional machines are usually more expensive, which might be prohibitive for small businesses or home users.
- They require a more experienced barista to operate and maintain.
Features to Look for in a Rocket Espresso Machine
- E61 Group Head: This classic Italian-made component, standard in most Rocket machines, ensures consistent temperature stability during extraction due to its thermosyphon system (hot water constantly running through the group head). If you're after the perfect shot temperature every time, look for a model with an E61 group head.
- PID Temperature Controller: Found in models like the Mozzafiato and Giotto, this allows you to adjust the brew boiler temperature with precision. This feature is great if you want to experiment with different coffee beans, which often require specific extraction temperatures.
- Heat Exchange (HX) or Dual Boilers: HX or dual boiler systems allow you to brew espresso and steam milk simultaneously, which is essential for lattes or cappuccinos. If you're often making milk-based drinks, these systems are a must.
- Pressure Profiling: Higher-end models such as the R Nine One offer pressure profiling, allowing you to control the brew pressure during the extraction process. This is an advanced feature that can help you achieve the perfect espresso shot based on your personal preferences.
- Volumetric Controls: Many of Rocket's professional models, like the Boxer, offer volumetric controls to automate the brewing process, consistently delivering the exact volume of espresso. This feature is great if you like the convenience of not having to watch your shot volumes.
- Cool Touch Steam Wands: Many Rocket models feature cool touch, no burn steam wands, reducing the risk of burns and making cleaning easier. Traditional steam wands are quite hot to the touch, and immediately begin to dry milk on the wand after you are done steaming. The cool touch steam wand is insulated, reducing both of these issues. If you're often steaming milk, this feature is truly a must-have luxury.
- Stainless Steel Body: Rocket Espresso machines are known for their beautiful, highly durable stainless steel construction. Not only do they look fantastic, but they're also built to last.
How to Choose the Best Rocket Espresso Machine
If you’re looking for a classic E61 machine that’s reliable, aesthetically pleasing, and consistent, Rocket has a machine for you! Read below to see various examples of machines for different situations.
Alfred has previously owned a Breville machine. He understands how to brew espresso but wants a robust machine that lets him fine-tune his espresso more than what he has now. He likes a good cortado but doesn’t regularly drink large milk drinks. He is trying to keep to a budget but doesn’t want to have to purchase another machine down the road.
Features to look for: Shot timer, heat exchanger, and a reservoir machine.
Machines to consider:
- Rocket Appartamento: A great machine for someone moving from a Breville. It lets you brew and steam at the same time with solid temperature stability and a compact machine that won’t break the bank but will last a lifetime with proper care.
- Rocket Giotto Type V: A step up from the Appartamento, the Giotto features a PID for control over brew temperature and a shot timer for convenience. The Giotto is still a heat exchanger, so it won’t break the bank, but it offers more features than the Appartamento.
Wendy is opening a small but high-end Italian-style bakery and wants to offer a full menu of espresso drinks. Space is limited, and she needs to have a machine that can run on a standard 110v household plug but wants to directly plumb into a water line. Wendy wants to invest in a machine that she will not need to replace down the road and can hold up to consistent use.
Features to look for: 110v plug, single group, direct plumb machine, and ease of use for a bakery team.
Machines to consider:
- Rocket Boxer Single Group: This is a sturdy, commercially rated single group machine that runs on 110v. It has volumetric dosing for ease of use and dual boilers for consistency when used back to back.
- Rocket R Nine One: While extremely high-end, the Nine One is a commercially rated single-group machine that runs on 110v. This machine could be a good fit for a low-volume bakery looking for high-end espresso drinks.
Thomas is a home espresso enthusiast. He loves being able to fine-tune his espresso but wants a classic E61 group head. Currently living in an apartment but with plans to purchase a home soon, Thomas is looking for a machine that can either use a reservoir or be plumbed in at a later date.
Features to look for: Convertible water source, E61 group head, PID, and dual boilers.
Machines to consider:
- Rocket R58 Cinquantotto: Featuring dual boilers, a classic E61 group head, an adjustable PID, and a convertible water source, this machine is a great fit for a home espresso enthusiast looking for a machine that can be fine-tuned.
Find the Best Rocket Espresso Machine for You
Rocket Espresso makes durable, reliable, and quality espresso machines that can last a lifetime while providing finesse in every drink. There is a wide variety of features available, ensuring that you can find the perfect Rocket espresso machine for your needs with a classic Italian aesthetic. Not sure which machine best suits you? Feel free to chat with me or a fellow Coffee Expert here on Curated for free, personalized advice.