Rocket Espresso Appartamento Review
Do you want to channel your inner barista at home? You might be considering this Rocket Espresso model. Find out if you should buy it right here in our Rocket Espresso Appartamento review…
The Rocket Espresso Appartamento was built with the same philosophy that Rock Espresso applies to all of their coffee machines – ‘Fatta a Mano’, which translates to ‘Made by Hand’.
This is the sort of thing that excites us at Ideal Grind. For all of the technological advances that have empowered companies within the coffee industry to create new and inventive easy to make coffee, sometimes you just want a traditional, hand made machine to make a delicious coffee – and that is what the Rocket Espresso Appartamento is designed to do.
But does it live up to these lofty ambitions? Today we find out in this Rocket Espresso Appartamento review.
For a relatively new company, founded in 2007, they have quickly built up a great reputation, but we wanted to put the Appartamento to the test to see for ourselves. In this article we are going to be looking at the specifications of this machine, before running through what it is like to use, conducting a taste test and finally, delivering our verdict.
As one of the more expensive espresso machines, we are expecting a lot – let’s see how it performs.
Rocket Espresso Appartamento Specs & Features
Before we get on to what the Appartamento can do, let’s just take a moment to consider what it looks like – after all, the aesthetics of a machine that will be living out, on display, is incredibly important, and often overlooked.
It also happens to be a major selling point of this particular machine, because it looks stunning. It’s a work of art – a classic steampunk vibe, combined with a cool, stylish sophistication. The chrome finish is crisp and smooth, the circular detailing on the side is modern and funky. It glistens and it shines. This would look great in any kitchen.
What’s more, it could probably fit in almost any kitchen. With dimensions measuring just 27.4cm x 42.5cm x 36cm (WDH), it is surprisingly small for an espresso machine. Considering the functionality, which we will come onto in a second, this really won’t take up too much kitchen counter ‘real estate’. The name Appartamento comes from the fact that it can fit into many smaller homes.
Right, now onto what it can do. In terms of capacity, there is a 2.5 litre internal water reservoir, which is more than big enough for domestic use. To put that into context, that’s enough water for over 40 single espressos. To be honest, we wouldn’t recommend filling it up to the top every time it needs water, as you don’t want to leave water just sitting there for too long – stale water will impact the taste of your coffee, and fresh is always best.
However, having a large water tank is great for when you are entertaining. It’s always good to have the extra capability, and there is a warning system for when you are low on water. The reservoir is removable for filling and cleaning.
The pressure to extract your coffee comes from a high-grade vibration pump – as you would expect from a machine in this sort of price category, a lot of thought has gone into how to extract your coffee, and Rocket Espresso have built their reputation on getting this right. The internal design mimics the design of commercial espresso machines, so the aim here is to be able to produce coffee shop-quality drinks in your own home.
A key aspect to being able to make truly great coffee drinks in your own home is the preparation of the milk. The Appartamento is equipped with a powerful steam wand, deceptively so, when you consider how small the machine is in general. The boiler is a 1.8l insulated pure copper boiler, with brass end plates, which is the same sort of boiler you will find on much larger machines. It means you will be able to steam and brew at the same time, and you can get a lot of power from the wand.
The wand itself is made from ‘anti-burn’ stainless steel, so it is cool to the touch when you are using it, and it has a two-hole tip, which is designed to distribute the pressure effectively. You can move the wand around as much as you need to, to get the right angle for your milk – the same as the hot water wand on the other side of the machine.
Crucially, the milk wand will never get your milk so hot that it burns, which is not only great for the taste of your drink, but it also means it will be easier to clean. If you have ever tried to clean burnt milk off a steam wand, you will know exactly what I am talking about here. It’s a nightmare!
While we’re talking about cleaning – you will receive some cleaning tablets when you buy the machine, along with some instructions on how to use them. You will find that you will need to keep on top of emptying the drip tray – excess water will often be released, as well as a cooling flush through the milk wand, which will fill up the tray. It is easily removed, but you need to check often to make sure it doesn’t overflow.
One word of caution, and it is only a minor one. Due to the diminutive nature of the Appartamento, the internal workings are all tightly packed in together – beautifully and creatively designed to keep the machine’s footprint so small. However, if you ever needed to take a look ‘under the hood’ to fix a small problem, it is very difficult to see what is going on – your best bet is to just leave it to a professional as it is just far too complicated there. This is just a minor issue though, and the great thing about machines like this is that they are so well built, it is very unlikely that you will have any issues as long as you keep on top of the general maintenance.
What It’s Like To Use The Rocket Espresso Appartamento
All of the above is the theory behind the Rocket Espresso Appartamento, but what is it like in practice? Well, the best way to get across what it’s like to use this coffee machine is to walk you through the process of making a drink. So what do you fancy? Let’s go for a latte.
Before we begin, we need to turn the machine on. Now, this probably sounds like a very basic instruction, but with traditional espresso machines, it’s very important that we do this a good 10-15 minutes before we want to make our drink. You need to wait until the brew group is hot enough for the water to get a proper extraction through the coffee, which can take a little while. While I appreciate that in the current age of instant gratification, this can seem like an age, but for a great coffee, it is well worth the wait, even if it means slightly altering your morning routine so that you have the time. You can warm up your cup on the machine while you wait for the water.
You’ll also need to ensure that the water tank is full. As we mentioned above, with a 2.5 litre capacity, you shouldn’t need to fill it every time you want a coffee, but try not to let water just sit there for too long.
Next, load up the portafilter with coffee. We have gone for Peruvian coffee beans, which we grind in our burr grinder. We have mentioned many times before that the only way to get the best possible coffee is to use freshly ground coffee. Fresh is best.
The Rocket Espresso Appartamento comes with an aluminium tamper, a really well made one and much better than the plastic ones you tend to get lumped with as a ‘bonus’ extra’. Use this to tamp down your coffee grounds into the, again, very well made portafilter. It is reassuringly weighty, and basically the same as ones you would find on a commercial machine.
When you are ready to start extracting the coffee, you pull down on a lever. This is incredibly satisfying, and really hits home the traditional aspect of the design – you literally pull the shot. It will take some practice to perfect, but ultimately you will find that the user experience is far greater than when you just press a button. You have more control.
When you have brewed your coffee, it is time to make the milk. If anything, the steam wand might be too advanced for some people at first, and that is the only drawback I can come up with at this stage. It is so good.
For our latte, we want to create a microfoam with our milk, so we’ll position the milk so that the wand comes just below the surface, holding at a 45-degree angle for around 30 seconds until we’ve got the perfect consistency. This is a skill, obviously, and one many will have to work at to perfect, but you won’t be buying a machine of this quality if you have no interest in learning how to froth milk correctly. Look up videos on YouTube if you want to get better as there are loads and loads on there, and it is well worth your time.
When you have the right consistency, simply add the milk to the coffee in your favourite cup, and there you have it. You can add a little flourish with some latte art, if you have that in your locker. Again, you will probably get a lot more out of this machine if you practise creating patterns.
Rocket Espresso Appartamento Taste Test
So we have made our coffee without too much fuss – now what does it taste like?
Our latte was delicious. Light and creamy, with a delicious hit of smooth coffee. Perfectly balanced.
However, if we may say so ourselves, we are pretty good at making coffee, so we knew what we were doing. We put in some fantastic fresh coffee, which is perfect for lattes, and we frothed our milk exactly how we like it. If you are unsure how to make great coffee in a traditional espresso machine, and you don’t think you have the will to learn how to, then you may find that your coffee isn’t as good as you want it to be.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a latte – one of the beauties of this machine is that there are no limits to what coffee drinks you can make. The Rocket Espresso Appartamento will give you all the tools you need. The rest is up to you.
There is something a little bit extra about a traditional espresso machine. It is more than just a way to make great coffee, it is a show of class and quality. A nod to the ‘proper’ way of doing things, not just expecting things immediately. The process is as important as the result. It’s a philosophy I heartily endorse.
With this in mind, the Rocket Espresso Appartamento is a wonderful example of a traditional espresso machine that has been carefully designed for use in the home. How they have managed to get this much machine into such a small space is incredible. The performance is as good as any espresso machine I have used, particularly with regards to the milk wand – it is like any you would find in a decent coffee shop.
As we mentioned above, though, this won’t be for everybody. In order to get the most out of the Rocket Espresso Appartamento, and therefore justify the expense, you are going to have to put the effort in. You need to learn how to extract the coffee and steam the milk, and you should use the finest coffee with it as well. This machine is all about getting the best coffee, and you need to work with it to do that.
If you are willing to do this, the Rocket Espresso Appartamento is one of the best espresso machines on the market and is worth your serious consideration.