Rocket Appartamento Espresso Machine Review 2020

Rocket Appartamento Review

If you’re a fan of semi-automatic espresso machines, then you’ll love the Rocket Appartamento. It’s gotten quite the hype in recent years, and rightly so.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Rocket Appartamento is that it has a separate wand for dispensing hot water. This is for making Americanos, a type of coffee that many espresso machines overlook.

After that, you’ll take note of the reimagined brew group that adds more saturation to the coffee grounds. 

But it does have its setbacks. The interface is complicated and monochromatic, and it doesn’t even have a grinder. 

So, is the Rocket Appartamento worth it? Take a look at our in-depth Rocket Appartamento espresso review to find out the answer.

Pros

  • Great for Americanos and lattes.
  • Faster back flushing and descaling.
  • Provides more even saturation.
  • Low-water sensor and auto shut-off.
  • The steam wand does not heat up.
  • Can brew and steam at the same time.

Cons

  • The interface is a bit complex.
  • Does not include its own burr grinder.

What’s a semi-automatic espresso machine? And why should you be looking for one?

The one thing that sets semi-automatic machines aside from the others is that the extraction pump is manual. 

What this means is that you get full control over how much water enters your espresso. So you can fully control how concentrated or saturated the espresso is. This requires you to stand near the machine and manually dispense as much water as you like.

The alternative to that is a super-automatic espresso machine. You simply put in as much grounds as you like, and the machine will dispense the right amount of water. 

It doesn’t give full control, but for the layman coffee drinker, you won’t even be needing it that much. 

A semi-automatic espresso machine is recommended if you own a café or want more control over your coffee.

Comparison Chart:

FeaturesRocket AppartamentoRancilio SilviaDeLonghi La Specialista
TasteBalanced taste, no burning, and more saturation.Balanced taste, no burning.Balanced taste, no burning.
Brewing capacity42 espresso shots.37 espresso shots.34 espresso shots.
User-friendlinessLevers and pressure gauge.Push buttons, steam wand.Push buttons and pressure gauge.
Design and materialsStainless steel, chrome-plated brass, copper.Stainless steel, chrome-plated brass, brass.Stainless steel, chrome-plated brass.
Cleaning and maintenanceEasy to backflush and descale.Easy to backflush and descale.Easy to backflush and descale.
FrothingStainless steel wand, hot water wand.Stainless steel wand.Stainless steel wand.
GrindingNo grinder.No grinder.Burr grinder.
Additional featuresCool-Touch system, E61 brew group.58 mm portafilter.Semi-automatic tamping.
Value for moneyMeets the value.Slightly overpriced.Meets the value.

Rocket Appartamento Espresso Review:

Taste:

The Rocket Appartamento uses a heat exchanger, much like many other espresso machines. A heat exchanger without a PID control means that you don’t control the temperature of the brew boiler. 

Special care has been taken in the Appartamento to prevent the coffee from getting burnt. This means that each shot has a rich and aggressive taste, one that is signature to the Appartamento.

Another thing to note here is the use of a special E61 brew head. What this does is that it provides a more even saturation, meaning your espresso shots will taste much more even.

The Rancilio Silvia also uses a non-PID heat exchanger to heat up the water. You can attach a PID add-on to the Silvia to closely monitor the temperature of the unit. Each shot of espresso from the Rancilio is abundant in flavor and texture.

In the DeLonghi La Specialista, the brew boiler is completely separate from the steam boiler. It means there is zero overheating and you can finely control the temperature independent of the steam boiler.

Brewing Capacity:

Rocket Appartamento Brewing
Rocket Appartamento Brewing

Much like any other espresso machine, the Rocket Appartamento allows you to brew either a single or a double shot of espresso. 

The water reservoir at the top can hold up to 84.53 fluid ounces of water. This means you can make up to 42 shots of espresso if you use a 2-3 ounce espresso cup. 

This is a great machine for use in offices and cafes. You don’t have to refill the water tank often, which means less time in maintenance and more time working. Plus, the espresso shots can be brewed in less than 5 minutes. 

The Rancilio Silvia also offers a double-shot facility. But the reservoir can only hold 74 fluid ounces of water, about 37 espresso shots. This is still a good capacity and doesn’t require you to refill too often.

Concerning the DeLonghi La Specialista, the water tank at the back can hold up to 67/63 ounces of water. That translates to about 34 shots of espresso.

User-friendliness:

Rocket Appartamento User-friendliness:
Rocket Appartamento User-friendliness

This is where the Rocket Appartamento has a bit of a downfall. The user-interface of the Appartamento is quite confusing and harder to acclimate to. A lot of the plumbing is visible on the exterior, including the three-way solenoid valve. 

However, once you get the hang of things, using the Appartamento can be quite easy. There are two knobs on either side: one for dispensing steam and the other for hot water. The hot water dispenser is meant for when you’re making shots of Americano.

One good thing here is that the stainless steel steam wand is designed with special Cool-Touch technology. This ensures that the steam wand is safer to use, and only the tip is heated.

As for the Rancilio Silvia, it has a simpler design. The exterior only consists of the brew head, steam wand, and 4 simple touch buttons. There is a rubber elbow on the steam wand where you can hold it from and not get burnt.

The DeLonghi La Specialista has a more polished and modern design. It features a grinder along with a pressure gauge. It includes a manual tamping station and two separate heads for grinding and brewing. And the interface consists of more pushbuttons than levers.

Design and Materials:

Rocket Appartamento Design
Rocket Appartamento Design

The Rocket Appartamento uses one of the coffee industry’s best materials for its construction. To start with, just take a look at the stainless steel housing and steam wand. Stainless steel is rust-proof, hard to break, and is the best choice for home appliances.

The cup warming tray on top is also made from stainless steel. This allows it to be highly conductive and keep your cups warmer for longer. 

As for the brew boiler, the primary material is copper. This is an ideal metal for use in the boiler. The brew group or brew head is made from chrome-plated brass, which has excellent conductivity and durability.

A similar trend can be seen in the Rancilio Silvia, with its stainless steel housing and cup warmer. The only difference is that the brew boiler is made of brass instead of copper. Brass has lesser conductivity, so it’s the inferior material here.

As for the DeLonghi La Specialista, this machine also uses stainless steel for its main housing. And you also get to see chrome-plated brass in the brew group material.

Cleaning and Maintenance:

Since the housing is made from stainless steel, you can expect a hassle-free cleanup after every use. Spilled coffee is exceptionally easy to clean. It is recommended to use a damp cloth to wipe off any stains.

As for backflushing, the Rocket Appartamento makes it easier through its backflush portafilter disk. Use this disk to capture any residual coffee and dump it into the drip tray. 

The way that the Appartamento is designed is that you don’t need to descale too often. A thorough descaling every 3 to 4 months is sufficient for maintaining the Appartamento’s health.

The Rancilio Silvia uses a similar process for backflushing. Except here, you need to run 5 backflushing cycles instead of 10 with the Appartamento. Descaling is simple as well. It’s nothing too complicated. 

With La Specialista, you have a grinder to clean alongside the main device. This can be done quickly with a brush and a handheld vacuum. Descaling and backflushing aren’t any different from other espresso machines. 

Frothing:

Now let’s talk about milk frothing. The Rocket Appartamento is one of the very few espresso machines that allows you to steam and brew at the same time!

As stated before, the steam wand utilizes Cool-Touch technology. What this means for you is that you can hold the wand from anywhere except the tip. 

The steam wand is fully articulated and slightly bent, which means that you can steam your milk at the side instead of on the drip tray. And it hardly takes more than 20 seconds to steam the milk.

Steaming is similar in the Rancilio Silvia. The steam wand has a rubber-padded elbow to make it easier to move. The steam wand uses a ball-joint, which means it can be rotated not only horizontally but vertically as well. 

The DeLonghi La Specialista also features a steaming wand that allows you to choose between flat steam and foamy steam. The steam comes out instantly, with little to no time required for heating. The steam wand is also fully articulated and can rotate in three dimensions.

Grinding:

There isn’t much to talk about here, as the Rocket Appartamento does not come with its own grinder. And that’s why we only suggest buying it if you use pre-ground coffee or have your own grinder. 

The Rocket Appartamento is only meant for people who use coffee grounds. So if you’re the type to use ESE coffee pods, then this isn’t for you.

If you’re not a professional, it is suggested to buy pre-ground coffee. You won’t have to do the hard work of grinding them yourself. 

However, you can invest in a separate burr grinder if you know what you’re doing. This will be good if you own a café. 

Much like the Rocket Appartamento, the Rancilio Silvia also does not come with a burr grinder built-in. And you can only use it with pre-ground coffee, and not ESE pods or capsules.

We cannot say the same for the La Specialista, though. It comes with its own burr grinder, and there’s a separate head for filling the portafilter with the grounds. And pulling a lever will tamper the basket automatically.

Additional Features:

Rocket Appartamento Features
Rocket Appartamento Features

One unique feature the Appartamento has that no other espresso machine does is the dual pre-infusion brew group. It completely reimagines the E61 Brew Group, which now infuses water into your grounds before brewing. This aids in the extraction and ensures a more evenly saturated shot. 

Aside from that, you get a 1200 watt copper boiler that uses a high power heating element. It has an internal capacity of 1.8 liters, and the passive heat from this boiler is also responsible for keeping your shots warm.

As far as safety features are concerned, the Appartamento has a low-water sensor. This sensor will detect if the water level in the reservoir is too low and immediately shut off the unit.

One of the main features of the Rancilio Silvia is the style and construction of the portafilter. It comes with a 58 mm portafilter along with its own tamper. The wide diameter allows the water to get distributed more evenly and provides more saturated grounds.

The DeLonghi La Specialista has a special feature where the grinding process starts as soon as you lock the portafilter in. This may come off as a surprise the first time you use it. Many people have the habit of setting their grinding preferences after they lock the portafilter in. 

Value for Money:

Lastly, we look at how close the unit comes to matching its price. The Rocket Appartamento is one of the most expensive espresso machines. But is it worth the price?

To answer that, we take a look at the main features. The key feature here is the sturdy steel body and the reimagined E61 brew head. This newer brew head allows your shots to be more evenly saturated, completely ridding them of any “sweet spots.”

What’s more, is that the steam wand uses a ball joint and is double-walled to prevent your hands from burning. Add all the extra safety features to that, and you have a product that’s worth the price.

The Rancilio Silvia is a similar product, but it’s priced lower. This is because it uses a brass boiler material instead of copper. Brass is preferred here for cutting down on standby energy consumption. But it also makes the unit a bit less conductive. 

Coming on to the La Specialista, it’s priced closer to the Silvia, but it does more. For one thing, it includes a burr grinder, which isn’t featured in the other two machines. You also get easy tamping, automatic grinding, and a much simpler interface. 

Who Should Buy The Rocket Appartamento?

For personal and commercial use, the Rocket Appartamento is beneficial. If you’re the type of person who uses coffee grounds, then the Appartamento should be perfect for you.

It’s also recommended if you already own a burr grinder and just want a decent espresso machine. The Appartamento is specialized for espressos, Americanos, lattes, and cappuccinos. 

This is one of the very few espresso machines that includes a separate hot water wand for Americanos. It’s also one of the very few that has a pressure gauge. You can use the pressure gauge for troubleshooting or, if you’re a professional, for monitoring boiler and steam wand pressure.

The Rocket Appartamento provides quick and easy espresso shots, making it ideal for use in the office. 

You may also consider this espresso machine if you’re tired of hefty cleaning and backflushing. It hardly takes 20 minutes to fully descale the unit, and backflushing is even faster.

Who Shouldn’t Buy The Rocket Appartamento?

You should not buy Rocket Appartamento if you have a lower budget. It’s worth the price, but you won’t always be needing a higher-end product. 

Plus, it doesn’t even come with a grinder. There are some other accessories, though, including a cleaning brush and a tamper. But if you don’t have a grinder or don’t use ground coffee, the Appartamento is practically wasted on you.

Also, consider the fact that the Appartamento has an unfamiliar interface. It will take time to work around the multiple levers and unnecessarily exposed plumbing. 

Pros

  • Great for Americanos and lattes.
  • Faster back flushing and descaling.
  • Provides more even saturation.
  • Low-water sensor and auto shut-off.
  • The steam wand does not heat up.
  • Can brew and steam at the same time.

Cons

  • The interface is a bit complex.
  • Does not include its own burr grinder.

FAQs for the Rocket Appartamento Espresso Machine:

What is the gauge for?

The pressure gauge shows the pressure of the steam in the steam wand. Knowing the pressure can be useful for a few different reasons. We know that the pressure is 1 bar. So if it doesn’t reach that level, you know that there’s an issue with the steaming unit.

Is descaling Rocket Appartamento easy?

Yes, descaling the Rocket Appartamento does not require any complicated descaling process. The only extra thing you’ll be needing is a descaling agent. First purge the steam wand, hot water dispenser, and the brew group.
Then fill the reservoir with the descaling agent solution and run a normal brew cycle. Once the head starts to dispense the solution, insert the portafilter. Operate the brew group lever for 3 times in 20 seconds. Let the descaling agent stay inside the boiler for 20 minutes, then flush thoroughly.

It has a Heat Exchanger, so do I still need a PID?

Quite possibly not. The PID in most Heat Exchange units only controls the temperature of the steam boiler. You cannot use a PID with the Rocket Appartamento to control the brew temperature. You can, however, program it into the steam boiler.

The Verdict:

Now it’s time to answer the question: is the Rocket Appartamento really worth it? And the verdict is – yes!

This espresso machine is by far the most versatile, allowing you to make Americanos as well as regular espressos. It’s got a double-walled steam wand and a dual pre-infusion brew group. The only thing it’s lacking is a burr grinder.

So get yourself your very own Rocket Appartamento, and take your barista skills to the next level!