Rocket Porta Via Review: The First Portable Prosumer Espresso Machine
Are you so keen on your espresso machine that you can’t imagine a vacation without it? You’re not alone. The team at Rocket Espresso knows precisely how you feel, and that’s why they designed the Porta Via.
It’s billed as the world’s first truly portable espresso machine. But what does that really mean in the context of prosumer espresso machines? Let’s do a deep dive and find out.
Summary : The Rocket Porta Via
- The world’s first truly portable espresso machine.
- Prosumer components like an E61 group, commercial steam wand, heat exchanger, and Ulka vibration pump.
- Comes with an impressive array of accessories.
Every little bit of space has a reason or is filled with needed materials. When all is taken out of the case, the machine makes instant sense, and suddenly becomes highly functional.– Gary D., Customer
A Full Review of the Rocket Porta Via
The Rocket Porta Via is designed for the espresso lover on the go. Indeed, the name is Italian for “take away.” But this isn’t the sort of portable espresso machine you toss in your backpack for the weekend; it’s a full-blown prosumer espresso machine in a box (1).
Keep reading for all the details about this unique brewer and find out if it’s the travel companion you’ve been waiting for.
Brewing Capacity – 4/5
The brewing capacity on the Porta Via is really outstanding. It doesn’t just make good espresso for a portable espresso machine; it makes good espresso — period.
Rocket guys facilitated this with the innovative 40-ounce heat exchange boiler. They redesigned it to have two separate chambers, a 0.5 L brew boiler and a 0.8 L steam boiler.
With this clever setup, you can brew and steam simultaneously while still maintaining a tiny footprint.
You control the boiler temperature via PID, which provides improved temperature stability and accuracy compared to a pressure stat. However, be aware that it isn’t user adjustable.
Along with the heat exchange boiler, you’ll find the traditional E61 group head and a high-end Ulka vibration pump (2). These are components commonly found in prosumer machines but never (until now!) seen in portable options.
The front of the Porta Via has a professional quality pressure gauge to monitor the boiler pressure. This is a nice feature that some manufacturers tend to skimp on. It provides valuable feedback when dialing in a shot and helps ensure consistent results.
User Friendliness – 3.5/5
The only thing that makes the Porta Via less user-friendly than some other Rocket Espresso machines is that it requires some assembly before use. However, assembly is quick and easy.
With its compact size and 1050 Watt heating element, you can set up this portable espresso machine and it is ready to brew in as little as 10 minutes. Impressively, when you’re done using it, you can safely pack it away while it’s still warm, a huge time saver.
Note: The overall weight of the Rocket Porta Via in its carrying case is about 65 pounds, and it measures 17.5″ deep by 21.7″ tall by 9.2″ wide. So for smaller users, it might not be that “friendly” to move it around. It’s a portable espresso machine in the sense that it is packable. You’ll still need a car to move it and a socket to plug it in.
The water reservoir is unusual. Most espresso makers have a plastic tank hidden at the back of the machine; the Porta Via has a stainless steel reservoir protruding from the top like a chimney. This is smart because the water tank can be large (2.9 liters) without forcing a more significant footprint for this espresso machine.
One of the more impressive aspects of this design is the number of accessories included, all of which slot cleverly into the carrying case.
While most manufactures might toss in a cheap plastic tamper, the Porta Via comes with a hefty metal tamper, a set of porcelain cups and saucers, and a 12-ounce frothing pitcher.
Milk Frothing – 3.5/5
Steam power isn’t a high priority for this espresso machine, which is no surprise, but the milk frothing system is perfectly adequate. You get a commercial grade swiveling steam wand with a three-hole tip and plenty of pressure to yield creamy microfoam for your latte. And, of course, you can brew and steam at the same time.
Unfortunately, there is no dedicated hot water wand nor means of getting hot water from the steam wand, so Americano lovers will have to travel with a kettle as well (3).
Build Quality – 4/5
Rocket’s well known for their build quality and stylish branding, with the iconic R logo and rocket-styled feet. This is no accident, according to founder Andrew Meo. Rocket is a relatively new brand, and he wanted to go above and beyond to stand out from their more established competitors.
We felt we had to lift our game, to elevate the Rocket Espresso brand a little more.
That commitment to quality is apparent in the Porta Via espresso machine, which features stainless steel throughout, including the casing, drip tray, and even the water reservoir. Likewise, the included chrome-plated brass bottomless portafilter is commercial grade and a standard 58 mm diameter size. The hard shell carrying case is incredibly durable when packed away, with heavy-duty clasps locking it in place.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 3/5
The day-to-day cleaning and maintenance involved with the Rocket Porta Via are the same as you would expect for any prosumer-grade espresso machine. You want to backflush as recommended by the manufacturer, use filtered water, and generally keep the exterior tidy and free of coffee residue.
The only challenges arise if something goes wrong. While the E61 group head is widespread and accessible to service, the internals of this machine is unique. Because it’s designed to be so compact, things are pretty cramped, making service more of a challenge, especially if you hope to DIY. Likewise, the unusual boiler design will be foreign to many technicians, so you’ll probably want to deal with the manufacturer or distributor directly if something goes wrong.
Don’t Buy the Rocket Porta Via If…
You don’t care about portability: If you don’t need a portable espresso machine that can hit the road with you, the novelty of Porta Via’s design will wear off pretty fast. Instead, look at the Rocket Espresso Appartamento, another compact heat exchanger machine designed for home use. Or upgrade further to something like the Rocket Mozzafiato, Rocket Giotto, or Rocket Espresso R58.
You care a lot about portability: On the other hand, if you want a portable espresso machine you can toss in a backpack or carry around in your pocket, the Porta Via is not the one. Consider something like the Flair or the even tinier Wacaco Nanopresso.
The Rocket Porta Via targets a particular niche. It’s for the frequent traveler who values great espresso as much as a comfortable bed in their hotel room, AirBnB, or RV. If that’s you, then this is the only portable espresso machine on the market to meet your needs. But if it’s not, the Porta Via is more of a novelty, and you’re better off spending your cash elsewhere.
- Bryman, H. (2017, December 11). Rocket Espresso Unveils Two High-End Concepts with the Portavia and R9 Single. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2017/12/11/rocket-espresso-unveils-two-high-end-concepts-with-the-portavia-and-r9-single/
- Morris, J. (2020, December 23). The Faema E61 Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2021/the-faema-e61-espresso-machine
- Clayton, L. (2021, April 15). What Is An Americano? Espresso, Hot Water, and History. Retrieved from https://sprudge.com/what-is-an-americano-espresso-hot-water-and-history-176210.html