You might notice me tossing around the phrase "prosumer" in this Rocket Appartamento review. Let me just say that I didn't come up with that word and I don't particularly like it.
You might notice me tossing around the phrase “prosumer” in this Rocket Appartamento review. Let me just say that I didn’t come up with that word and I don’t particularly like it.
However, prosumer is commonly used to describe espresso makers like the Rocket Appartamento, so I’ll reluctantly get on board. We’re talking about machines that represent a step up from “appliance-grade” coffee makers.
With that in mind, this Rocket Appartamento review is aimed at those of you who are serious about raising the stakes in your espresso game. Even so, if you’re a beginner, there’s nothing to be afraid of! In fact, making espresso with this beautiful machine is remarkably straightforward.
So, let’s get the ball rolling by taking a first look at what the Rocket Appartamento is all about!
It doesn't get much better than this!
Heat exchanger boiler
Makes superb espresso
Might seem intimidating
Small drip tray
Table of Contents
Rocket Appartamento Review Overview
As a former professional barista, this type of espresso machine is as close as I can get to a commercial experience without having to completely redesign my kitchen.
First impressions aren’t everything, but the Rocket Appartamento does make quite the visual statement. I’m a total sucker for this kind of design – all the mirrored stainless steel and chunky knobs and dials really float my boat. Plus, the laser cut circles on the side of the machine add a touch of sophisticated flair.
The retro-industrial vibe is accentuated by the sheer heft of the Appartamento, too. Although this is the manufacturer’s entry-level machine, it’s still a bulky hunk of a thing. Let’s just say the Rocket Appartamento will bully its way into being the centerpiece of your kitchen.
So what makes the Rocket Appartamento a prosumer machine? Well, aside from the obvious impressive quality build and attention to detail, this machine uses internal components commonly found in commercial machines. That means you’ll get unparalleled consistency and a real sense of control over your espresso.
Of course, it also means the Rocket Appartamento ain’t cheap. Costing $1,850.00 on Amazon, this machine is a fairly serious investment. Still, I think the Appartamento represents really good value, especially considering what you get for the money.
Rocket Appartamento Features
I’ve got a lot more to say in this Rocket Appartamento review, so let’s dive into the features that make this espresso machine so special.
I happen to love the laser-cut circles on the Rocket Appartamento’s side panels. This design feature adds a fun, modern twist to the Appartamento’s overall aesthetic and really sets the machine apart. Currently, the Rocket Appartamento is available in three colors:
As far as I can tell, customizing the side panel yourself won’t be too difficult. You can access the panel insert by removing a few screws, then wrap it in any color vinyl you want. Go ahead, express yourself!
While the Appartamento was designed to be the manufacturer’s most compact offering, it’s still a fairly bulky proposition. Plus, clocking in at 44 pounds (20 kilograms), this isn’t exactly a lightweight machine.
Still, as long as you’re fully committed, you shouldn’t have a hard time fitting the Appartamento into your kitchen. I mean, the toaster and the blender might have to go into storage, but sometimes you’ve got to prioritize!
Anyway, what’s really cool is that the manufacturer didn’t compromise on quality just to make the Appartamento smaller. In fact, you’ll get the same boiler and pump that’s in the much larger and more expensive Cronometro Type V models.
The only downside worth mentioning is the Appartamento’s limited water reservoir. Seeing as the water tank only holds 84.5 ounces (2.5 liters), you’ll need to refill it more often than you might like.
If you’re accustomed to an espresso machine with buttons, screens and menus, get ready for a completely different user experience. As with most prosumer machines, the Rocket Appartamento eschews modern trappings in favor of a more traditional and tactile approach.
However, if the prospect of using knobs and levers seems a little intimidating, don’t be alarmed. As I mentioned earlier in this Rocket Appartamento review, using the machine is actually very straightforward. Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll go into more detail later on.
Suffice to say that this manual approach to pulling shots and steaming milk quickly feels like you’re in complete control over the outcome, and you’ll never look back!
Although there’s a gauge for monitoring boiler pressure, there’s no way to keep an eye on pump pressure. That isn’t a huge deal, but it’d be nice to have the option when you’re pulling lots of shots in a row. That way, you’d be able to see how quickly the machine can recover in between.
In keeping with the Rocket Appartamento’s high-end vibe, the included 58 millimeter spouted portafilters are commercial grade. You’ll get a single and double shot portafilter with single wall filter baskets. Although I prefer bottomless portafilters as a rule, I’m certainly not complaining!
The Rocket Appartamento is equipped with a 61 ounce (1.8 liter) copper heat exchanger boiler. I can sense a few blank stares and slack jaws, so allow me to elaborate.
This type of boiler features a small isolated section within, that constantly circulates water out and around the group head. This cools the water to a temperature appropriate for brewing.
Meanwhile, the rest of the boiler’s water is kept at the right temperature for steaming milk. The end result? You’re able to simultaneously prepare espresso and froth milk to your heart’s content!
These days, lots of machines rely on a digital PID controller to maintain precise temperature for brewing. However, the Rocket Appartamento uses a more old-school device called a pressurestat. While this doesn’t offer the precise control of a PID, it isn’t a disadvantage. In fact, many baristas prefer using a heat exchanger with a pressurestat.
The Rocket Appartamento’s beautiful exposed group head is one of the machine’s most instantly recognizable features. One look and you know this thing means business.
As it happens, this is called an E61 group head, and it’s a common sight on many prosumer machines. As I already mentioned, water circulates through the group head, meaning it’s always at a consistent temperature. And you don’t need me to tell you that consistency is key to good espresso extraction!
Incidentally, the group head is going to be very hot to the touch, evidenced by the manufacturer’s warning label stuck on top. If you want to remove the label, do yourself a favor and do so before the machine heats up for the first time. Trust me on that.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve chided a reputable manufacturer for including a flimsy plastic espresso tamper with its expensive machine. Seriously, that drives me crazy! That’s why I’m positively over the moon to see a solid and weighty tamper included with the Rocket Appartamento. Not that I’d expect anything less mind you.
Anyway, aside from offering a welcome relief from plastic junk, the aluminum tamper features a classy Rocket Espresso decal, so you can fully represent!
I already mentioned that you can make espresso and milk foam at the same time with the Appartamento. Believe me, if you’ve only ever used a single boiler machine, this feature will blow your mind!
What’s more, the robust boiler means you’ll have a ton of steam pressure at your disposal. You might find that the steam wand feels too powerful at first. However, once you get used to it, you’ll be able to pull off incredibly silky microfoam for that signature espresso macchiato of yours.
Both the steam wand and the hot water wand can fully rotate, making them easy to position. Plus, their double wall design means you won’t burn your fingers in the process. The only downside is that you’ll need to buy a milk steaming pitcher separately. Still, that’s not a huge investment.
If you’re planning on brewing into a travel mug or latte macchiato glass, I’ve got some bad news. With only a 3.5 inch (9 centimeter) gap between the portafilter spout and the drip tray, the Rocket Appartamento is only really suitable for espresso cups. Even then, if you’re the kind of coffee nerd that likes to brew onto a coffee scale, things could get tight under there.
Speaking of the Appartamento’s drip tray, it’s certainly not the biggest I’ve ever seen. That said, it does have magnets to help it stay firmly attached to the machine. And you just know little touches like that get my heart all aflutter!
Rocket Espresso is known for producing super high-quality coffee equipment. Still in the unlikely event that your machine is faulty, the manufacturer has you covered. The Rocket Appartamento comes with a three year warranty that covers all parts and labor. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me!
How To Use the Rocket Appartamento
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this Rocket Appartamento review, there shouldn’t be a steep learning curve involved in using this machine. After all, the Appartamento is intended as an entry level espresso machine, so newbies can rest easy.
Anyway, remember that the Appartamento is equipped with commercial grade components. That means you’re way more likely to get consistent results than from a seemingly more approachable appliance grade device.
With all that said, you’ll need to learn the ropes and accept that there’ll be some trial and error involved. Not only that, you’ll need to invest in a good coffee grinder. And by good, I mean something along the lines of the Baratza Sette Wi. Otherwise, maintaining consistency will be an uphill battle.
While you’re at it, Rocket sells a few other accessories that’ll come in mighty handy. For starters, you’ll quickly realize that a knock box will make your life easier and less messy. Plus, a tamping mat really works to ensure stability while tamping.
Getting started with the Rocket Appartamento couldn’t be easier. Simply fill the water tank, plug in the machine and flip the on switch. You’ll need to wait around 20 minutes for the machine to warm up.
So, feel free to take a shower, check your emails or do anything else that takes just under half an hour! Oh, and don’t forget to put your espresso cups on top of the machine so they’ll be nice and warm.
Once the Rocket Appartamento is at the right temperature, you’re ready to make some espresso. The user manual has a really comprehensive guide, including tips, tricks and illustrations. Still, because I care, I’ll give you a quick rundown on how to pull a shot.
By the way, remember the pressurestat I mentioned earlier? Well, seeing as it isn’t as precise as a PID controller, you’ll need to perform what’s called a cooling flush before pulling a shot. That’s especially important if the machine has been sitting for a while.
Simply insert a portafilter into the group head and push the lever up to engage water flow. If the water comes out crackling and hissing, it’s flash boiling. All you need to do is wait a few seconds until the water runs smoothly and noiselessly.
Once that’s done, grind coffee into your portafilter, level the bed of ground coffee and tamp. Insert the portafilter into the group head and push the lever up to the midpoint. This allows water to flow slowly and without pressure for pre infusion. What’s great is that you’re fully in control of how long the pre infusion stage lasts.
Once you’re ready, push the lever all the way up to engage the pump. Now it’s game time, and the espresso extraction will begin in earnest. Again, you’re fully in control of what’s happening. In other words, it’s up to you to keep an eye on your shot and to stop the extraction when you’re satisfied with the results.
Rocket Appartamento Cleaning
Many of you will know that I’m pretty obsessive when it comes to cleaning and descaling coffee equipment. Listen, I don’t expect you to be as dedicated as I am, but regular maintenance is key to keeping the Rocket Appartamento in good working order.
Anyway, there really isn’t that much to worry about, aside from always using filtered water. That way, you’ll minimize nasty buildup in the boiler and plumbing. What’s important to note is that the manufacturer doesn’t recommend descaling the Appartamento. That’s because the copper boiler is particularly susceptible to damage from descaling agents.
At the end of each day’s use, make sure to backflush the machine with water only. You can use the blind filter basket for this. Once a week or so, backflush using espresso machine cleaning powder. That’ll thoroughly clean the group head of coffee oil residue. You can use the same powder mixed with water to soak the filter baskets and shower screen.
As for the steam wand, you should keep a damp cloth handy to wipe the tip of any excess milk after each use. Once a week, submerge the steam wand in a solution of dairy cleaner and water and let it soak for a few minutes. That’ll take care of any stubborn buildup that might have escaped your attention.
Rocket Appartamento Specifications
|Rocket Appartamento Espresso Machine|
|Water tank capacity||84.5 oz / 2.5 l|
|Removable water tank||Yes|
|Water level indicator||Yes|
|User interface||Knobs, switch, lever, gauge|
|Digital PID Water Temperature Control||No|
|Milk frothing system||Manual steam wand|
|Dedicated hot water spout||Yes|
|Removable drip tray||Yes|
|Double espresso option||Yes|
|ESE pod compatible||No|
|Housing material||Stainless steel|
|Boiler type||Heat exchanger with pressurestat|
|In-the-box accessories||Instruction manual, tamper, 2 x portafilters, tamper, cleaning brush, cleaning tablets|
|Weight||44.0 lb / 20.0 kg|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||14.2 x 10.8 x 16.7 in / 36.0 x 27.4 x 42.4 cm|
|Current price on Amazon||$1,650.00|
Rocket Appartamento vs Others
By now you will have cottoned on to how impressed I am by this machine. In fact, I’m having a hard time stopping myself from going online to buy one right away! Still, I want this to be a fair and balanced Rocket Appartamento review, so let’s see how the machine measures up to the competition.
Rocket Appartamento vs Diletta Bello
Costing $1,699.00 on Amazon, the Diletta Bello is almost identical to the Rocket Appartamento. There’s the same glossy stainless steel finish, timeless design and boxy shape, as well as an exposed E61 group head. The only thing that’s missing is the laser cut circles on the side.
Under the hood, there’s a heat exchange boiler, although this one is made from stainless steel rather than copper. Other than that, the main difference is that the Diletta has a slightly larger water reservoir.
Rocket Appartamento vs Nuova Simonelli Oscar II
Visually, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II represents a huge departure from the Rocket Appartamento’s classic design. Seriously, the Oscar II looks like it was designed by caffeine-loving aliens!
Featuring a minimalist aesthetic and a simple control panel, the Oscar II offers a less tactile user experience than the Appartamento. Still, its heat exchange boiler, articulated steam wand and programmable volumetric control make the Nuova Simonelli a powerful and high-performing contender. Plus, the Oscar II costs just $1,495.00 on Amazon. What a fantastic deal!
Rocket Appartamento vs Rancilio Silvia w/ PID
I’ve long been a fan of the Rancilio Silvia. This timeless classic is one of my favorite machines for really geeking out on espresso preparation. Still, the thing has its limitations, which is why I’m happy to see the Rancilio Silvia PID Espresso Machine.
For $1,195.00 on Amazon, this upgrade features a small digital screen for programming temperature, pre infusion time and shot times. Plus, as the name suggests, there’s a PID controller on board to help maintain consistent boiler temperature. Honestly, I don’t think you’ll find a prosumer espresso machine at this price point that’ll come close to what you’ll get from the PID Rancilio Silvia.
Related: Rancilio Silvia Hands-On Review 2022
Rocket Appartamento vs Others Comparison Chart
|Rocket Appartamento Espresso Machine||Diletta Bello Espresso Machine||Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine||Rancilio Silvia PID Espresso Machine|
|Manufacturer||Rocket Espresso||Diletta||Nuova Simonelli||Rancilio|
|Name||Appartamento||Bello||Oscar II||Silvia PID|
|Water tank capacity||84.5 oz / 2.5 l||101.4 oz / 3.0 l||94.7 oz / 2.8 l||67.0 oz / 2.0 l|
|Removable water tank||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Water level indicator||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|User interface||Knobs, switch, lever, gauge||Knobs, switch, lever, gauge||Buttons, lever||Switches, dial, digital LCD screen|
|Digital PID Water Temperature Control||No||No||No||Yes|
|Milk frothing system||Manual steam wand||Manual steam wand||Manual steam wand||Manual steam wand|
|Dedicated hot water spout||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Removable drip tray||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Double espresso option||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ESE pod compatible||No||No||Yes (with adapter)||Yes (with adapter)|
|Housing material||Stainless steel||Stainless steel||Stainless steel||Stainless steel|
|Boiler material||Copper||Stainless steel||Copper||Brass|
|Boiler type||Heat exchanger with pressurestat||Heat exchanger with pressurestat||Heat exchanger with pressurestat||Heat exchanger with PID controller|
|In-the-box accessories||Instruction manual, tamper, 2 x portafilters, tamper, cleaning brush, cleaning tablets||Instruction manual, tamper, 2 x portafilters, tamper, cleaning brush||Instruction manual, 2 x filter baskets, tamper, measuring spoon||Instruction manual, 2 x filter baskets, tamper, measuring spoon|
|Weight||44.0 lb / 20.0 kg||52.9 lb / 24.0 kg||39.0 lb / 17.7 kg||30.0 lb / 13.6 kg|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||14.2 x 10.8 x 16.7 in / 36.0 x 27.4 x 42.4 cm||14.5 x 11.0 x 17.8 in / 36.8 x 28.0 x 45.2 cm||16.0 x 12.0 x 16.0 in / 40.6 x 30.5 x 40.6 cm||13.5 x 9.5 x 11.0 in / 34.3 x 24.1 x 28.0 cm|
|Current price on Amazon||$1,650.00||$1,699.00||$1,495.00||$1,195.00|
Verdict: Rocket Appartamento Review
It doesn't get much better than this!
Heat exchanger boiler
Makes superb espresso
Might seem intimidating
Small drip tray
If you check out my home espresso machine guide 2022, you’ll find plenty of rave reviews of so-called appliance-grade coffee makers. Just because I’ve been blown away by a prosumer machine in this Rocket Appartamento review doesn’t mean I’m going to revise my opinions.
However, I will say that this espresso machine represents a significant jump in quality and consistency from a Breville or DeLonghi. Seriously, if you want to develop your barista chops and you can swallow the price tag, the Appartamento is a great investment.
Best of all, I feel like the Rocket Appartamento will satisfy beginners as well as seasoned pros. And let’s not forget that it’s gonna really enhance your kitchen! After all, who really needs a toaster and a blender, anyway?
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Rocket Appartamento review. Have you made the jump to a prosumer espresso machine like this? I’d love to hear about your experiences, so keep the comments coming!
Rocket Appartamento FAQ
Based in Milan, Rocket Espresso is known for producing high-quality coffee equipment in its small manufacturing facility.
Although there’s a slight learning curve involved, the Rocket Appartamento shouldn’t pose many problems to the newbie home barista.
Thanks to its simple user interface and high-quality components, the Rocket Appartamento is actually very easy to use.
The best way to keep fingerprints off the Rocket Appartamento’s chrome is to wear gloves when you touch it.
Although you can use pre ground coffee with the Rocket Appartamento, you’ll get the best results when using freshly ground coffee from whole beans.