I've had the Appartamento as my espresso machine for over six months now. So I figured it's been long enough to give a proper opinion. In this Rocket Appartamento review, I'll start off with an unboxing, go over it's features, show its coffee making ability, and then conclude with who I think this machine is best suited for.
Rocket Appartamento Review Summary
But if you're looking for a quick summary and don't want to read the full review, I've listed the pros and cons, specifications, and who the machine is for below.
Dimensions: 27cm x 42.5cm x 36cm (W x D x H, including cup frame surround).
Type: E61 Heat exchange machine (can extract and steam milk at the same time).
Build: Stainless steel.
Boiler: Single 1.8 litre copper boiler.
Pump: Vibration pump.
Wand: Cool touch insulation steam wand.
Temperature control: Commercial pressure stat.
Water supply: 2.5 litre water tank.
Who's this machine for?
The Appartamento is for the person looking for a compact espresso machine that looks great and has exceptional build quality. It may not have all the latest geeky features, however it is a joy to use and makes great coffee. It's the classic porsche of the coffee making world.
Rocket Appartamento Unboxing
The Appartamento came in a very big and sturdy box! This box was secured on a wooden crate that I had to remove before taking the above photo. In fact, the box was so heavy I had to help the delivery guy bring it to my door as he couldn’t do it himself. You'll feel confident that it won’t break in transit.
Once you open the box the first thing you will see is the smaller accessory box sitting on top of the machine. Here you'll find all the accessories and some extra goodies.
In the accessory box you'll find the following items:
- Dual spout portafilter.
- Naked portafilter (typically you have to buy this separately).
- A decent stainless-steel tamper (you can actually use this tamp and don’t need to replace it. Most espresso machines come with poor quality tampers that you need to replace asap).
- Plastic cup rail.
- Drip tray.
- Single shot basket, double shot basket, and triple shot basket.
- Blind basket for backwashing.
- Micro cloth to keep finger prints away.
- Cleaning tablets.
- Cleaning brush.
- Two stickers.
- Written manual (has all the standard stuff).
- USB manual.
Next up is the espresso machine. It's found secured in the bottom of the box between two foam binders and wrapped in a dust cloth protector to protect it from scratches. It's snuggly fit so you won't have worries with it getting damaged in transit. In fact, I had to rip open the box to get the thing out.
But once I got the Appartamento out of the box and onto my kitchen bench it was a beautiful sight. It's a show stopper and a statement piece in any kitchen. The first thing that I thought other than "damn that's a sexy machine" is that I was very happy with the size. It fit perfectly in the small section of bench space I had.
Here's my final Rocket set up with my eureka grinder on the side. Both are great choices if you are low on space like I was. They look amazing together. Now lets talk about the features of the machine.
The Features of the Machine: Pros and Cons
The Looks and Size
The Rocket Appartamento is without a doubt a beautiful machine. You've probably seen many photos of it, but in person it's even more striking. My wife on several occasions sees me glancing at the Rocket and refers to it as my new "girlfriend". It's the combination of the stainless steel exterior, oversized knobs, and signature circular cut outs that give its "wow factor".
But its compact size is also a standard out feature. The Appartamento, true to its name, is designed for apartments and small kitchen spaces. When I was looking to buy an espresso machine size was a big deal to me as I had limited space to fit both a grinder and espresso machine. Coming in at only 27cm in width, 42.5cm in depth and 36cm in height is amazing. It has many smart design choices that help it be as compact as possible, such as a removal cup rail, smaller feet, and smart interior design.
The trademark look of the Appartamento is its 9 cut out coloured circles. They look fantastic and really set its design apart from its competitors. You can buy the rocket with three main colours: white, copper, black.
But did you know you can actually swap out the colours? So, if you're not a fan of the circles you bought, you can swap them out with a different colour! You can either put in one of the three original colours or buy aftermarket colours - red, blue, gold and more.
It's also rather a simple job. All you need is a few tools to open up the machine and then you simply swap the colour panel out. Here is a good guide on how to do it.
Moving on from the trademark features, what I also like about the look of the Appartamento is mechanical and rugged features of the machine. The manual switch to turn it on, the simple function lights and branding. They all tie together to give the Appartamento a distinctive aesthetic. It really is the "classic porsche " of the coffee making world.
In terms of looks and size, I honestly believe the Appartamento is one of the best-looking compact espresso machines you can buy. Looks may not be the most important feature for some when buying an espresso machine. But let me tell you - if you live with a spouse, if the machine looks sexy, you will find it much easier to convince your better half to spend a few thousand dollars on a coffee machine. The Rocket Appartamento passes the "wife test".
The Water Supply and Cup Warmer
Moving on from looks, lets now examine the key features of the Appartamento, starting with its water supply and cup warmer.
The Appartamento is a tank only machine, meaning you can't plumb it. The tank has a 2.5 litre capacity and is large enough to last a week if you make a coffee a day without needing to refill. I find that I need to refill it twice a week as I typically make 2-3 coffees a day on it.
The tank access is located on top of the machine on the back of the cup warmer. This means if you store a lot of cups on your machine, you'll need to remove them before being able to fill up the tank. This can be annoying if you like to keep a lot of cups on your machine. Me personally, I don't keep cups on my machine as I like the clean look. I simply pre warm my cups when I purge my group head when making coffee. So I never found this an issue - but something to consider.
In terms of the cup warmer, it can fit 4 cups comfortably on the tray, and you can stack another 4 on top of it. So it's capacity is 4-8 cups without looking silly. If you keep cups on the machine, I recommend keeping them closer to the front of the machine so you have easy access to refill the water tank.
The Drip Tray: Small For Some, Fine For Others
The drip tray of the Appartamento is small. You'll find yourself needing to empty it once or twice a week. However, this was an active design choice to reduce the size of the machine and keep compact. Some people on the web have made this into a bigger deal than it is, as it doesn’t really bother me as it helps keep the profile small which I love.
I do have a good tip in order to reduce the amount of times you need to empty the drip tray. I recommend purging your group into your cup and then emptying it out into your sink. Not only will this warm up your cup, but also decrease the amount of water being stored in the drip tray. Oh and a special mention to the magnets on the drip tray that lock it into place - love the sound it makes when it secures itself!
Cool Touch Steam Wand: A Must Have!
One of my favourite features of this machine is its cool touch steam wand. Honestly, I don't know how I lived without a cool touch steam wand before. It works by passing the hot steam through an inner tube and then enclosing that within the stainless-steel exterior. This means no more burns! You can literally hold the metal of the steam wand while frothing the milk without a worry in the world.
Although beware. You'll forget that other machines don’t have this feature. When I visited my mother's house and made a coffee with her Breville Dual Boiler, I forgot her steam wand wasn't insulated so I got burnt haha.
Another plus is that it makes cleaning the steam wand a dream as the milk doesn't stick right away to a hot wand.
E61 Group Head, Heat Exchange Boiler, And Tempreature Control
Now lets talk abou the technical aspects of the machine. The Appartamento is a heat exchange single boiler, E61 machine with a pressure stat. But what does this mean? And what are the pros and cons of this? Let me explain.
Heat Exchange Single Boiler
A heat exchange simply means that the Rocket is able to steam milk and extract espresso at the same time while using one boiler. They do this by having a "heat exchanger" rod within the single boiler that rapidly heats up the water on the way to the group head to make it perfect for extracting espresso.
The benefit of a heat exchanger is that it only needs one boiler, meaning, it allows the coffee machine to be smaller as it doesn't need two boilers to steam and extract the coffee. Making it a perfect choice for the compact Appartamento. The only thing to note with heat exchangers is if you leave it idle for an hour or two, its best to do a cooling flush to make sure the temperature is right.
The E61 is the brew system used to extract espresso. It's a true and tested method that continually circles hot water through the system in order to keep a stable extraction temperature. The benefit of E61 machine is that they have been around for a long time, meaning, parts are mostly universal and if anything goes wrong with the system, it is easy to fix.
Pressure State Tempreature Control
The Rocket uses a pressure stat to keep the temperature of the boiler consistent. However, most modern machines these days use a PID system that allows you to set the temperature of the boiler with a digital display. The Appartamento doesn't have one. The only way to change the temperature of the Appartamento is if you open it up and manually adjust it. The pressure stat may be a con for some people who want to play around with the brew temperature with ease. However, if you're the type of person who just wants to make good coffee quickly, and not interested in playing around with temperatures, then this will not be a concern to you.
Con: Lack of Brew Pressure Gauge (And Solution)
The Rocket only has a boiler pressure gauge. This tells you when there is enough pressure in the boiler to use the steam wand. But one con of this machine is it doesn't have a brew pressure gauge that tells the extraction pressure.
If I was to recommend one update to the Appartamento, it would be for it to have a brew pressure gauge. I understand that Rocket has tried to keep the look of the Appartamento minimal per its design, but it would be easy to convert the boiler pressure gauge to be a dual gauge reader that shows both boiler pressure and brew pressure. Or even have two gauges like the Appartamento's bigger siblings, the Giotto and R58.
However it is not a deal breaker that it doesn't have one, and there is an easy fix that I think adds to the look of the machine.
The solution is an aftermarket brew pressure gauge from Coffee Sensor. A cheap 20 euro accessory. You simply install it onto the group head of the E61 system. This actually gives a better reading of bar pressure as it measures pressure at the group rather than at the pump. Since the E61 system is universal, there are a lot of attachments and mods that can improve the machine. The reason why I put one on is that I like to see the pressure of the extraction and to make sure it is set right. However I find once my grind is set in, I don't need to look at it, as you can tell if the extraction is correct via the extraction time and flow.
Con: Plastic Cup Rail (And Solution)
Another con that the Appartamento gets a lot of flack for is its plastic cup rail. When you are paying several thousand for the machine, you would expect this to also be stainless steel. If it bothers you can buy a stainless steel version to replace it. Again, not a deal breaker, but I feel as though it should be stainless steel for the start. But the good thing is you can’t really notice it's plastic unless you touch it/pick it up.
And that concludes our features overview and its pros and cons, however the most important question about any espresso machine is "how is the coffee".
How's The Coffee?
Now let's get to the most important question - how does the coffee taste?
The coffee tastes great!
The Rocket Appartamento is a dream to use and it excels with milk based coffee drinks due to the large 1.8L steam boiler. The steam is powerful, consistent, and basically never ending for what you need.
In fact, if you haven't used a prosumer machine before and this is your first upgrade from a consumer latte machine, you'll likely get a shock with how much power it has. It will take you a few goes to get used to the power. But when you do, you'll be bringing your milk up to temperature within 15-20 seconds. Really fast!
Espresso Based Drinks
But if you're not a milk drinker, rest assured that the Rocket also makes great espressos and macchiatos! It's a joy to use. I love making an espresso in the morning before I leave for work with the mechanical features of the E61 brew system.
It is a much more tactical and ritualist experience compared to a consumer type machine that requires you to just push a button. You get the experience the pressure of the lever, the satisfying locking in sound of the heavy stainless steel portafilter, and the powerful steam of the wand.
Oh and if you're a tea or long black drinker, there is also a hot water spout that pours out hot water on demand.
Daily Use and Start Up Time
My machine on average makes 3-4 coffees a day over a span of 4-5 hours, and it consistently extracts quality shots and great tasting coffee. I typically make two coffees first thing in the morning for my wife and I, she makes one during the day herself, and then I sometimes make one when I get home.
In terms of start-up time, since this is an E61 machine it requires a good 20-25 minutes to come to temperature to make sure all the parts of the brew head are hot enough. You want to make sure you have a level temperature to get the best shots.
In order to not be waiting around in the morning, what I've done is hooked my Rocket into a smart plug that I’ve programmed to turn the machine on automatically every morning at 7:30am and turn off by itself at 12pm with an app.
With a smart plug you can even turn on and off your machine remotely, so if you're driving home and feel like a coffee, you can turn on your machine ahead of time. If you’re looking for a smart plug with an app function, I recommend grabbing this one here.
Machine In Action
Below is a video of me using my Rocket Appartamento to teach how to steam milk. It shows how quick you can steam the milk and the great quality coffee it produces.
Who Is This Machine For?
The Appartamento is for the person looking for a compact espresso machine that looks great and has exceptional build quality. It may not have all the latest geeky features (like a PID, shot clocks, and digital displays), however it is a joy to use and makes great coffee. It's the classic porsche of the coffee making world.
I recommend getting the Appartamento if you fall into any of the following categories:
- You need a compact machine as you have limited space.
- You want a great looking machine that passes the spouse test.
- You're looking for a manual machine that lets you make commercial style coffee.
- You're upgrading from a consumer level machine.
- You want a machine that will last for ages and is easy to maintain and fix.
In terms of price, I recommend checking out the following retailers for some good deals:
And there you have it, my review on the Rocket Appartamento. If you have any questions about the machine, make sure to leave a comment below and I'll get back to you!