Rocket Espresso Giotto Evoluzione Review
You’re here because you’re ready to upgrade your espresso bar with a top-of-the-line, Italian-made machine. That’s why Rocket Espresso caught your eye. We get it.
The brand has a well-founded reputation for remarkable style. But do their machines have substance too?
Let’s find out in this in-depth review of the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione R.
SUMMARY: The Rocket Espresso Giotto Evoluzione
- Heat exchanger (HX) espresso machine with PID temperature control and rotary pump
- Innovative automatic pre-infusion for more flavourful shots
- Iconic Rocket style, including R-branded knobs and hidden display
The Rocket Giotto R takes espresso making to a whole new level. Amazing espresso and cappuccino without any bitter taste. Easy to pull a great shot every time.– Steven F.
The Rocket Giotto Evoluzione R Review
First, there are some things we must clarify. So many different models and sub-types can create a lot of confusion for the buyer. So, we present you some basics about this line of Rocket machines.
The Rocket Evoluzione comes in four variations. The Giotto and the Mozzafiato terms refer simply to the shape of the sides. That is, Giotto models have eye-catching angled sides and the Mozzafiato the more classic straight sides. There are also R and V models, and these have more substantial internal differences, namely the inclusion of either a rotary (R) or vibratory (V) pump.
In this review, we’re focusing on the R-type machine, the latest model of which is a nice step up from previous versions. The boiler is now insulated, and the internal layout has been re-tooled for better noise dampening. Keep reading to find out what else you can expect.
Brewing Capacity – 4/5
The Evoluzione R is not your average heat-exchanger espresso machine. This is thanks to its rotary pump and PID controller for temperature.
The Rocket was one of the first companies to use a PID with a heat exchange boiler, a 1.8-litre insulated copper boiler. There has been some debate about its effectiveness in this machine style; it certainly has more of an impact in a double or single-boiler espresso machine. But it seems clear at this point that it does offer improved temperature stability versus the traditional pressure stat, and it lets you get away with fewer cooling flushes.
Solid-state PIDs will last longer than mechanical pressure stats.
The rotary pump is another pleasant surprise as HX machines more often rely on vibratory pumps. With a rotary pump, you can plumb this machine into a water line. Direct plumbing removes all the hassle of water management and allows for line-pressure pre-infusion. An added benefit is that rotary pumps are MUCH QUIETER.
Rocket also makes a vibratory pump version of this machine, the Type V. You can read about it in our Rocket Mozzafiato review.
The Evoluzione sports the tried-and-true E61 group, found on most higher-end espresso machines. However, Rocket is one of few companies to introduce an update. They innovated an automatic dual pre-infusion system that fully saturates the puck for better extraction (1).
There is now a new model of this machine, the Giotto Cronometro R. It’s known in North America as the Giotto Timer R, which adds a shot timer to the front panel. But you can still find the Evoluzione R at select retailers.
The Evoluzione R is as easy to use as any heat exchanger espresso machine. Still, it doesn’t seem that Rocket has gone out of its way to install many extra user-friendly features. This brand seems to prioritise build quality and aesthetics over ease of use. However, the addition of the shot timer to the new Giotto Timer model improves user experience.
I like the easily accessible water control switch, which lets you switch seamlessly from the water tank to a plumbed-in line. Likewise, the OPV for adjusting pump pressure is quickly accessed.
The auto-filling boiler is an excellent feature for making a lot of back-to-back drinks. And speaking of back-to-back drinks, there are integrated sensors to alert you if the water level is too low in the boiler or the water reservoir, and it will shut down automatically before you can do any damage.
One complaint is the low 8.8 cm cup clearance beneath the spouted portafilter. If you’re making a larger drink, you may need to pull the shot into a small espresso jug first. Or consider investing in a bottomless portafilter. That’s a great tool in the espresso lover’s toolbox regardless.
Milk Frothing – 4/5
With the 1.8-litre boiler, the Evoluzione R has ample steam pressure and recovers rapidly. In tests, it takes about 16 seconds to steam 175 ml of milk to a standard 60 °C using the included 2-hole tip on the steam wand.
This is an excellent rate; it’s slow enough not to intimidate the novice barista but fast enough to churn out rapid lattes.
After steaming, recovery time is only about 15 seconds. Because it uses a heat exchanging boiler design, you can both steam milk and pull a shot simultaneously.
The stainless steel steam wand and hot water wand have a good range of motion and double-wall no-burn construction. The latest model uses a Teflon rather than a silicone insert, which maintains drier steam. While it seems like a no-burn steam wand is designed to keep your hands cool, the best part is that you won’t end up with burnt milk glued to the outside of the wand.
Build Quality – 5/5
You’ll see this in all our Rocket Espresso reviews. If there’s a category where Rocket always hits it out of the park, it’s build quality and design!
All their machines come with an instantly recognisable aesthetic. A conscious decision by owner Andrew Meo was to make Rocket STAND OUT in the storied Italian espresso machine industry (2).
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.
The exterior is high-grade stainless steel, with either the angled sides of the Giotto or the straight sides of the Mozzafiato. The steam and hot water knobs feature the iconic R logo, and the pressure gauges have a sleek new black background.
Rocket’s design team prefers a cleaner and more classic look, so they hide the PID display behind the drip tray and keep the controller separate. This is aesthetically beautiful, but if you adjust the PID a lot, you might get tired of pulling the tray in and out. That said, the drip tray is well-designed, too, with smooth rails and a satisfying magnetic catch.
The feet are height adjustable, an upgrade to the latest model. So you can squeeze it under the counter or lift it to accommodate the tubing when plumbing in.
Rocket has also updated the mushroom valve from chrome-plated brass to a ceramic version. This solves chrome plating flaking off that has plagued some E61 groups, making the machine more durable.
This machine comes with a nice collection of high-end accessories, including single and double spouted commercial-grade portafilters, a stainless steel backflush disk, and a nice branded metal tamper.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 4/5
As with all prosumer espresso machines, cleaning and maintenance are paramount to avoid problems down the line. Though, in general, HX machines have fewer parts and are easier to manage than bigger dual boilers. And the E61 group is widespread, making it easy to find skilled technicians and spare parts should anything go wrong.
Inside the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione R, you’ll find primarily stainless steel commercial grade parts. They’re well-positioned to avoid moisture damage. As long as you’re proactive rather than reactive with your maintenance, you should be able to get a lot of years out of this one.
Always use filtered water, and consider adding a water softener if you live in an area with hard water (3). Descaling the boiler is a task best avoided since it generally requires professional help. Backflush with water regularly and with a cleaning solution occasionally.
Don’t Buy the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione R If….
- You make a lot of milky drinks: If you’re regularly making a series of lattes, it’s probably worth upgrading to a dual boiler to handle the load better. To keep the Rocket aesthetic, check out the R58. Or consider a cheaper option from another brand, like the Izzo Alex Duetto IV Plus or the Lelit Bianca espresso machine, which adds the bonus of flow control.
- You’re short on space: If counter space is at a premium in your kitchen, take a look at some of Rocket’s more compact models. The very popular Rocket Espresso Appartamento was explicitly designed for apartment living, or there’s Rocket’s Porta Via espresso machine, the first prosumer machine intended for travel.
- Aesthetics don’t matter: If we’re honest, Rocket espresso machines come at a premium. You pay extra for that iconic Rocket Espresso design. If that doesn’t interest you, you can save money with an equally excellent HX machine from another brand. Take a look at the Profitec Pro 500 or the Lelit Mara.
The Rocket Giotto Evoluzione R is an excellent heat exchanger espresso machine, with the PID and rotary pump putting it ahead of many others in its class. If you love the Rocket Espresso aesthetic and don’t mind paying a little extra for the look, you’ll be thrilled with this addition to your coffee bar. Your only concern will be resisting the desire to pull shots all day, every day.
- Lee, J. (2017, April 28). Espresso-Making Skills: What’s Pre-Infusion? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/04/espresso-making-skills-whats-pre-infusion/
- 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
- Kornman, C. (2018, August 15). A Practical Water Guide for Coffee Professionals (Part 1). Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2018/08/15/a-practical-water-guide-for-coffee-professionals-part-i/