The Rocket Appartamento is a beautiful E61 espresso machine with classic Italian styling and a premium build. As the name would suggest, the machine is designed with a small footprint to fit into an apartment lifestyle. If you are considering upgrading to a prosumer espresso machine, the Appartamento should at least be on your list.
About Rocket Espresso
Rocket Espresso is a well-reputed brand known for producing premium home and commercial espresso machines. Their machines feature traditional Italian styling, excellent build quality, and beautiful aesthetics. The Rocket Appartamento espresso machine was released several years ago as their entry-level model- but don’t let the name fool you; it is still a classy machine that has proven to be very popular.
Rocket Espresso Appartamento Review
Specs: Dimensions: 10.5” W x 17” D x 14.25” H | Weight: 24 kg | 1.8L boiler | Power 1200w | 2.25L Water Tank | Steam and hot water wands
The Rocket Appartamento is a stunning machine with an almost industrial feel. It has the classic E61 style, modernized with laser cutouts on the sides of the machine. You can choose between a white or copper side panel color or the newly released black powder coat on the Rocket Appartamento Nera. It is a compact machine, which is part of its appeal- aimed at those with limited bench space.
The Appartamento has the impeccable build quality common to Rocket espresso machines. With a stainless steel casing, a quality boiler, and a 58mm double spout portafilter- this baby is built to last. The only gripe some users have had is with the cup warming tray, which has plastic rails. But not a biggie and you can upgrade to a metal rail if you so desire!
So let’s take a look inside.
Heat Exchanger Machine: The first thing to note about the Appartamento is that it is a heat exchange machine that allows you to brew and steam simultaneously. Heat exchange machines have a single boiler set to steam temperature, with a coil running through that rapidly heats water for brewing. The only downside of the heat exchange system is that these machines can sometimes struggle with temperature stability. If the machine is left on for a while the water in the coil gets very hot and needs to be flushed before pulling a shot.
E61 Group Head: An E61 is a classic design that has been around for almost 50 years. With an E61, hot water from the boiler is constantly cycled through the group head. While it takes a long time to heat up and cool down, an E61 has excellent temperature stability and is known for its durability.
Copper Boiler: The Appartamento is fitted with a 1.8L copper boiler. Copper is good at retaining heat and is long-lasting, making it an excellent boiler material. The boiler is not insulated (unlike some of Rocket’s other models), making it less energy-efficient and slightly louder.
Vibratory Pump: The Appartamento has a vibratory pump, which is common in home espresso machines. This means the espresso machine can only use a water reservoir- it doesn’t have the option to be plumbed in. Vibratory pumps are also slightly louder than their rotary counterparts.
Pressure Stat: The Appartamento does not have PID temperature control, but a pressure stat, which may be a deal-breaker for some. A pressure stat regulates the temperature of a boiler by switching the heating element on and off when it reaches certain pressures. While a pressure stat offers less control over boiler temperature, it is still possible to change it manually (see this helpful guide by Clive Coffee if you want to do this).
In contrast, a PID controller continuously adjusts the heating element’s power providing more stable and precise temperatures. There is some debate over whether PID control is necessary for a heat exchange machine. If you don’t intend to adjust temperatures, then the pressure stat will be more than sufficient- so long as you give the machine plenty of time to heat up to offset the lack of temperature control.
Pressure Gauge: The Appartamento has one pressure gauge, showing the pressure of the steam boiler, not the brewing pressure. This helps see when the machine is ready for use- around 1 bar.
Overall the Rocket Appartamento has a premium fit and finish. Like all Rocket Espresso machines, it is built from high-quality components and looks stunning.
Ease of Use
Moving from a consumer to a prosumer espresso machine will require a learning curve for anyone. However, the Rocket Espresso Appartamento is a straightforward machine to master. There are no features, and espresso is brewed by manually lifting or lowering the lever. The main thing you need to get used to with the Rocket Appartamento is the cooling flushes. The machine requires at least 20 minutes to warm up before using it. When it is ready to use, it is recommended you flush out the overheated water before brewing.
The quality of espresso produced from the Rocket Appartamento is impressive. The E61 maintains a stable temperature and produces repeatable, well-extracted shots. The Appartamento has a mechanical pre-infusion resulting in complex and flavorful espresso.
As mentioned above, purging the group head before brewing, especially if it has been sitting idle for a while, is essential to remove any overheated water. Then to brew a shot, you lift the lever to start it and lower it when you want to end your shot. We recommend using a coffee scale to weigh or time your shot. As a side note, the Appartamento has a low cup clearance, so it is designed to brew into a shot glass or small cup.
The Rocket Appartamento has excellent steam pressure and is a step up from your entry-level machine. It quickly and easily produces microfoam, perfect for latte art. The steam wand has a two-hole tip, but this can easily be swapped out for a 4 hole tip if you want to steam faster. It is fitted with a no-burn steam wand, so the wand doesn’t get too hot when in use, and then makes it easier to clean after as the milk doesn’t stick to the wand.
Cleaning and Maintenance
The Rocket Appartamento comes equipped with some essential cleaning products; a blind basket, some cleaning tablets, and a microfibre cloth to keep that stainless steel case gleaming. Your daily cleaning involves wiping and purging the steam wand and backflushing the group head.
Unfortunately, the Appartamento has a small water reservoir and drip tray, which is the tradeoff for the compact size. So managing the water can be a bit of a hassle. With the cooling flushes required with the heat exchange, you have to be vigilant about emptying the drip tray and refilling the water reservoir.
In terms of long-term maintenance, Rocket does not advise you to descale the machine yourself- so we won’t complain about that! To keep mineral buildup to a minimum, ensure you use filtered water.
Breville Dual Boiler
The Breville Dual Boiler does not have the same flair as the Appartamento. However, it is a fan favorite in the coffee world. The Breville Dual Boiler is packed full of features allowing you to customize almost every brewing parameter. It has PID temperature control, and a shot clock, and allows for modding. See our full review here.
Who Is The Rocket Appartamento For?
The Rocket Appartamento espresso machine is an excellent option for the person who wants to transition into the world of prosumer espresso machines, particularly if you have limited bench space. The Appartamento offers the ability to pull shots simultaneously to steaming milk. It looks beautiful, is exceptionally well-built, and produces a decent espresso.
Rocket Appartamento- The Verdict
The Rocket Appartamento is a stunning machine that is built like a tank. And don’t let the small size fool you; this little beauty packs a punch! Being a heat exchange machine, it can brew and steam simultaneously. The E61 group head has excellent temperature stability producing consistently good espresso. All in all a perfect option if you are looking to step into a prosumer machine.