The Rocket Espresso Appartamento has become a hugely popular home espresso machine over the last 2 years. Its compact design, sleek finish and price point all contribute towards its success. But 2 years on, do we still think it's a good option for great home espresso? Read on to find out more...
Why the Rocket Appartamento is still the best compact HX
An HX espresso machine, or Heat Exchanger, describes the function of the boiler. Rather than housing two separate boilers (one for brewing espresso, one for hot water and steam), a heat exchanger only needs one boiler that can send hot water to both places at the same time via a coiler pipe, while still maintaining the specific temperatures needed for both functions. Heat Exchangers are more affordable than Dual Boilers, and higher quality than Single Boilers.
The Rocket Appartamento has really stood its ground since its original release back in 2017. There are many other HX espresso machines on the market offering the classic E61 group head; so why has the Appartamento remained so popular?
Well, first and foremost, it's proved very reliable and delivers very few (if any) issues to the majority of owners - so the build quality is very good. It's also got a level of finish / detail that very few other brands can match, with its super clean lines, slick branding and unique cut-out design on the side panels.
Secondly, it's a proper compact espresso machine, meaning it will fit comfortably in a small space or under a kitchen cupboard.
Lastly, the price point is competitive. Yes, it's still a reasonable expense, but compared to many other options such as Expobar, La Marzocco, Victoria Arduino and Profitec, it delivers better quality per £ than many of its competitors.
Who is the Rocket Appartamento suited to?
The Rocket Appartamento is aimed at people who have limited space and a lower budget, but still want a beautiful, high performing espresso machine at home or for the office.
We find it's very common for people to upgrade to an Appartamento form the likes of a Rancilio Silvia or Gaggia Classic - plus a string of other entry level brands like D-Longhi, Morphy Richards, Dualit and Sage. This is usually due to owners of those machines 'outgrowing' them in terms of capability and recognising that they can get much (MUCH) better espresso when they go a little further down the coffee machine journey.
Is the Rocket Appartamento easy to use?
The Appartamento is a fairly easy espresso machine to get to know and make great coffee with. But like all manual coffee machines, it takes a little while to refine your technique! Due to its HX (heat exchanger) design and professional 58mm portafilter & basket, it makes it much easier to produce fantastic espresso, so long as your grinder is of a decent quality and your tamping technique (flattening your puck of coffee in the basket) is fairly consistent.
The actual process of creating a shot of espresso is a manual one, activated by lifting the lever to the right of the group to start the shot, and lowering it back down after 25-32 seconds to end your shot (we recommend using scales to weigh and time your shot so you know you are in the right ball park). Before your first shot, you should run some water through the group-head (known as flushing) so that you are not using the water that has sat in the group during heat up time. You should also do this if you have left your machine sitting on for more than 20 mins without use.
How long does the Rocket Appartamento take to heat up?
From turning on, the Rocket Appartamento takes around 10 mins to get up to pressure (shown on the gauge at between 1-1.3 bar) and heat (ideally at the level that you can touch the E61 group-head but not keep your finger on it!), but best left for another 10 mins to get the heat really consistent around the machine (thermal mass). Waiting this extra 10 mins really does make the difference to getting better tasting coffee, as once the portafilter and group-head get up to heat too, it helps the coffee extraction perform better.
TIP: Lots of Rocket owners tend to put their machine on a timer switch, so that it's heated fully by the time they are ready to use it in the morning.
How does the Rocket Appartamento compare to other espresso machines?
When compared directly to the likes of your average single boiler, or 'cycle' machine such as the models / brands listed above, it's really a case of night and day. No single boiler machine comes remotely close to achieving the same quality of coffee as an Appartamento, due to their lack of control over temperature and pressure. The design allows you to use espresso ground to the same level of fineness as most commercial machines, which really helps deliver that rich espresso / crema that you are looking for.
The Appartamento's HX (Heat Exchanger) design means it can deliver very stable temperature and pressure, which delivers both sweet tasting and espresso and repeatability, which is why the price jumps from £500 to £1250. The cause of this is down to the cost of key components such as a high grade copper boiler (See image below of internal boiler design), quality pump, chrome plated body and a hardened steel chassis. Considering that single boilers cost between £100 - £800, the Appartamento is definitely more expensive, but arguably a much better investment if you want seriously great coffee.
What are the Nero or Serie Nera versions of the Rocket Appartamento?
After the initial success of the original Rocket Appartamento design, Rocket chose to release a custom version, with the outer panel powder coated in matt black, which is officially referred to as the Serie Nera, but we opted to call it Nero instead to keep it simple!
This version is currently only available in Black, and the rest of the machine, such as the front face, cup warmer area, drip tray etc are all still chrome - not powder coated.
- Reduced footprint, making this one of the most compact prosumer espresso machines on the market
- Single, large manometer showing boiler pressure
- Low-profile feet, meaning lower overall height (~20mm shorter)
- Updated steam and hot water knobs (same as R58, with large ‘R’ on steam)
- Choice of copper or white inlaid side panels
- Choice of classic or 'Nero' versions
- Vibratory pump
- 2.5L water reservoir
What’s in the box?
- User guide
- Plastic cup surround
- Drip tray
- Lightweight metal tamper
- Group-head cleaning brush
- Back-flushing disc
- Boiler size: 1.8L
- Reservoir Capacity: 2.5L
- Power (UK/Watts): 1200w
- Dimensions (mm): 274W x 425D x 360H
- Weight: 24kg