Best Rocket Espresso Machine (2023 Honest Reviews)
Looking for an Italian-made espresso machine that pairs fantastic coffee with stunning good looks? Then you’ve come to the right place. Every Rocket espresso machine offers that and so much more.
In this round-up, we’ll look at six of the brand’s top models this year, including some of the finest espresso machines on the market. Each one has a unique selling point, so one of them is sure to meet your needs.
The 6 Best Rocket Espresso Machines in 2023
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|Mozzafiato Cronometro Type R||
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|Rocket Appartamento Espresso Machine||
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Ready to learn all about the top six Rocket machines this year? Then let’s get started. No matter your budget, counter space, and performance demands, there’s a perfect model for you
R 58 Cinquantotto is the new-and-improved Rocket R58 (cinquantotto is Italian for 58) semi-automatic espresso machine, a longtime favorite among serious espresso enthusiasts.
R Cinquantotto contains much of what you would expect from a premium prosumer espresso machine. It’s a dual boiler, with the two copper boilers independently controlled by PID, ensuring impressive temperature accuracy and stability (1). Classic E61 grouphead aids this. The E61 uses a thermosiphon for cycling hot water between the boiler and the group (2).
Like most of Rocket’s line-up, this model includes their patented dual pre-infusion system, not found on other espresso machines. It uses a chamber and a mechanical piston to saturate the puck better and improve extraction (3). A commercial-grade rotary pump means you can run it from its internal water reservoir or plumb directly to a water line.
But the Cinquantotto also includes some impressive upgrades you might not expect.
First and foremost, you operate Cinquantotto via an impressively high-tech touchscreen, making it easy and intuitive to use.
This allows you to program boiler temperatures, but even more exciting, you can program it to turn on at a particular time. So your R Cinquantotto will be hot and ready when you roll out of bed. When you’re not programming, you can remove the touchscreen to maintain the more traditional look of this stainless steel machine.
Want to learn more? Read our complete Rocket R58 review.
Cronometro Type R, previously known as the Evoluzione R, is Rocket’s higher-end heat exchange machine, featuring much of the same technology afforded the more expensive dual boilers. Like the Cinquantotto, it’s a semi-automatic espresso machine with a PID temperature controller and a rotary pump, making direct plumbing an option.
Cronometro Type R has an E61 grouphead featuring the special dual pre-infusion chamber to ensure a more flavorful extraction. While it doesn’t have the fancy touchscreen of the dual boiler, it does have two pressure gauges and a subtle shot timer, hence the name Cronometro. The PID display is tucked away behind the drip tray in keeping with the Rocket aesthetic.
Cronometro Type R is available in two styles, Mozzafiato and Giotto. They have identical internal components and differ only in aesthetics. While the Mozzafiato has classic straight sides, the Giotto has unique angled side panels for a slightly more modern look. Both have the same build quality, including height adjustable stainless steel feet and no-burn steam wands, so you really can’t go wrong with either.
For more details, check out our in depth Rocket Giotto review.
Cronometro Type V is the vibratory pump version of the Cronometro Type R; thus, the R and V designations. It is available with either the Giotto or Mozzafiato design like the Type R.
It shares many of the same features as the Type R model, including the 1.8 L copper heat exchange boiler, updated E61 group with dual pre-infusion, and PID control of temperature (4). Given all that, it is just as capable as the Type R when it comes to producing delicious espresso, but without the rotary pump, it is several hundred dollars less expensive. That’s why we think it’s an incredible value.
True to its Cronometro name, Type V includes a subtle shot timer that activates automatically when the pump kicks in. It also offers the rest of the classic Rocket aesthetic, including height-adjustable feet, the R-logo knob on the stainless steel steam wand, a pressure gauge, a hidden PID display, and a mirror-finish stainless steel casing.
For more details about this great machine, read our full Rocket Mozzafiato review.
Rocket Appartamento espresso machine is a relatively new addition to the line-up. Still, it has quickly become one of the brand’s top sellers thanks to its compact size, affordable price tag, and beautiful design. Not to mention, it still sports much of the same technology as the larger models.
Rocket Appartamento is a heat exchange machine, and despite being only 10 inches wide, it has the same size boiler as the Cronometro models, and is comparable to 969 Coffee’s Elba model. The internals have been thoughtfully engineered to maximize space.
The main capacity difference comes in the size of the water reservoir, which is about 14 ounces smaller. Rocket Appartamento uses a vibratory pump, which makes sense from a cost standpoint, but does require that you keep the tank topped up as you can’t plumb it in. Fortunately, it is equipped with low-water sensors and an emergency shut-off, so you don’t need to worry about it running dry.
Rocket Appartamento has the same advanced E61 grouphead as the larger models, so you can pull the same high-quality espresso using dual pre-infusion. It lacks the shot timer and PID controller of the Cronometro models, but it does have a boiler pressure gauge and no-burn steam and hot water wands.
Aesthetically, the Appartamento distinguishes itself from the other Rocket espresso machines with laser-cut side panels, available in a variety of colors and finishes so you can make it your own. Rocket recently released the gorgeous but slightly more expensive Nera version, which has matte black rather than stainless steel sides.
Want to learn more? Check out our Rocket Appartamento review.
Porta Via is a unique espresso machine, and I definitely won’t claim it’s right for everyone. Its target market is probably relatively small. But for those who want a fully portable prosumer espresso machine that doesn’t skimp on functionality, it’s the only game in town.
Porta Via was designed for travel, but only specific types of travel. We’re not talking about backpacking here; it still weighs about 70 pounds. However, it packs away into a hard shell case that makes it easy to take in your car or RV, and it’s even designed so that you can put it away while still warm.
What distinguishes Porta Via from the myriad other “travel” espresso makers out there, like Flair or Wacaco’s mini models, is that it has all the components of a high-end espresso machine. It has a PID-controlled heat exchange boiler for simultaneously steaming milk and brewing espresso. It has an E61 grouphead for a very stable temperature and uses an Ulka vibration pump. It even has a 2.9 L water reservoir.
This isn’t so much a travel espresso machine as it is a good espresso machine that happens to be packable.
If a vacation just isn’t a vacation without the guarantee of the perfect espresso, then this is the machine for you. For more, read our full Rocket Porta Via review.
Rocket R9 is one of the more high-tech commercial espresso machines on the market, capable of delivering shot after perfect shot of espresso even in high-volume situations. It is available with two, three, or four group heads, though it’s efficient enough that even a mid-sized cafe could get by with the two-group model.
What sets the R9 apart from many other commercial espresso machines is that it is essentially a multi-group dual boiler machine instead of the more common heat exchanger design. The groups share a single large steam boiler, but each has its coffee boiler. And each coffee boiler has its own independent PID controller so that you can dedicate each group to a different style of coffee.
The group heads are a saturated design rather than the more common E61. Saturated groups are less common because they are more expensive, but they also offer improved temperature stability versus thermosiphon groups like E61. For this reason, they tend to be found only on higher-end brands like La Marzocco, Kees van der Westen, and Rocket.
Rocket R9 has a few other efficiency tricks up its sleeve beyond just having multiple groups. It uses pressure transducer technology to speed steam boiler recovery times, and it relies on programmable volumetric dosing rather than shot timing. This gives baristas more time to interact with customers, further facilitated by this machine’s low-profile design.
If all this sounds appealing, but you don’t own a cafe to justify a multi-group machine, you’ll be happy to hear that Rocket also makes a home version of this model called the R Nine One.
How to Choose the Best Rocket Espresso Machine
Rocket espresso machines are known for their impressive build quality, attention to detail, and impeccable style. These traits are common to every model, thanks to the vision of co-founder Andrew Meo (5).
The machines had to become more appealing in terms of design. As a company we had to build a strong contemporary brand with a global feel.
Rocket Espresso makes some of the finest espresso machines on the market. When it comes to finding the best model for you, you need to dig a little deeper into the key specs. This buyer’s guide is here to help you do exactly that.
Boiler designs and why they matter
Rocket machines have two boiler designs: dual boiler or heat exchanger. There are pros and cons to both designs. So while dual boilers are generally more expensive, they aren’t necessarily better for everyone.
With dual boilers, especially those with PID boiler temperature control like the Rocket R58, you can independently set the temperature of each boiler. You can precisely control brewing temperature without impacting steam pressure and vice versa. If you like to experiment with different single-origin specialty coffees, especially lighter roasts, you’ll get your money’s worth. Playing with temperature can be the key to unlocking the more subtle and unique flavors of different coffee beans, according to barista trainer Andrew Easthope of Five Sense Coffee (6).
Taste wise, hotter temps result in increased body and sweetness with a greater chance of astringency and bitterness, while cooler temps emphasize less bitterness, body and sweetness resulting in a sour, bright shot.
With a heat exchange machine, you only control the steam temperature, either with a PID or a pressure stat. The brew temperature is then automatically adjusted as a function of the boiler design, and you don’t have the same degree of independent control.
However, heat exchangers have their advantages. They are smaller and less expensive. And by using cooling flushes, you can adjust the temperature much more quickly than you can with a PID.
The pros and cons of direct plumbing
Some Rocket Espresso semi-automatic machines have vibration pumps and rotary pumps. Which is right for you? Well, both pumps can produce the pressure needed for a proper espresso. One difference is that a rotary pump is a bit quieter, and another is a bit more expensive.
But the most significant difference between them is that a rotary pump allows you to direct plumb your espresso maker to a water line. Direct plumbing is convenient because you don’t need to worry about keeping the water reservoir full. However, the downside is that it limits the locations you can put your espresso machine, and once you install it, it’ll be an ordeal if you want to move it to a new place.
The importance of size and capacity
Size is rarely an issue when buying a standard home kitchen appliance; they’re designed to fit in home kitchens. But prosumer semi-automatic espresso machines can be huge (and commercial machines are even bigger), so it’s essential to measure your space and buy accordingly.
If you’re limited in counter space, a heat exchange machine will always be smaller than a comparable dual boiler because it only has one boiler. In particular, the Rocket Appartamento is the perfect choice for smaller kitchens or office break rooms from the Rocket brand. It is an incredibly compact machine by design. The name Appartamento refers to the fact that it was made for apartment dwellers.
If you’re looking for a handmade Italian espresso machine that combines quality espresso with great style, look no further than Rocket. The company makes a range of models to suit espresso lovers, from commercial behemoths to compact designs.
Our favorite this year is the impressive Rocket R Cinquantotto. With two boilers, independent PID temperature control, a rotary pump, and touchscreen controls, there’s little this espresso machine can’t do.
Rocket espresso machines are made in Italy, and the brand is a collaboration between New Zealander Andrew Meo and Italian Daniele Barenbruch. Each Rocket espresso machine is handmade by skilled craftsmen in their small factory in Milan.
No, Rocket does not make anything that would be classified as an entry-level espresso machine. The least expensive model is the Appartamento. But with a heat exchange boiler and E61 group, it falls above the entry-level category.
No, Rocket does not make a lever espresso machine. All their machines are either automatic or semi-automatic espresso machines. If you’re interested in lever machines for home or cafe use, check out Elektra espresso machines or the Hybrid from 969.coffee.
- La Marzocco USA. (2015, October 15). A Brief History of the PID. Retrieved from https://home.lamarzoccousa.com/history-of-the-pid/
- Morris, J. (2020, December 23). The Faema E61 Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://www.historians.org/research-and-publications/perspectives-on-history/january-2021/the-faema-e61-espresso-machine
- Aloe, R.M. (2020, May 7). Espresso Parameters: Pre-Infusion, Pressure, and Water Temperature. Retrieved from https://towardsdatascience.com/espresso-parameters-pre-infusion-pressure-and-water-temperature-f543a3c4044e
- Fekete, M. (2019, February). How brew water temperature effects espresso extraction. Retrieved from https://www.beanscenemag.com.au/brew-water-temperature-effect-espresso-extraction/
- Velits, M. (2017, July 18). Andrew Meo founder of Rocket Espresso interview. Retrieved from https://isadore.com/blog/article/andrew-meo-founder-of-rocket-espresso-interview
- Easthope, A. (2015, April 8). Brew Temperature and its Effects on Espresso. Retrieved from https://fivesenses.com.au/blogs/news/brew-temperature-and-its-effects-on-espresso/