Rocket R58 Espresso Machine Review (Read Before Buying)
The Rocket Espresso R58 is a sleek, stylish, and spectacular way to bring café-quality espresso into your home. This is the semi-automatic espresso machine for those who want barista-quality espresso at a reasonable price point.
Could that be you? Read on to find out if this machine is the best choice for your home coffee bar.
Summary Box: The Rocket R58
- Dual boiler semi-automatic prosumer espresso machine
- Updated touchscreen controls make it easy to use
- Handmade in Milan, Italy, to exacting standards
“This is an awesome espresso machine, a combination of beauty and performance. The dual boilers make a notable difference over heat exchange type of machines.”– Carlos, R58 Owner
A Full Review of the Rocket R58 Espresso Machine
The Rocket Espresso R58 (also called the R Cinquantotto as cinquantotto is 58 in Italian) is a sweet machine. It’s one of the more popular semi-automatic commercial machines, providing café-quality espresso in the comfort of your home.
It has dual boilers, impressive steam pressure, and a quiet rotary pump. These features make it suitable for a small cafe, but the price point is approachable for home espresso enthusiasts. Let’s get into the details.
Brewing Capacity – 4.5/5
The R58 is a double boiler espresso machine, which means there are separate boilers for steaming milk and brewing coffee. This has the advantage of allowing you to pull a shot and steam milk simultaneously – a must for lovers of milk-based drinks.
The latest edition of this machine offers independent PID temperature control of the 1.8 L steam boiler and 0.58 L brew boiler.
Compared to a heat exchanger espresso machine or a double boiler with a pressure stat, a dual boiler with two PIDs offers much more precise and accurate brew temperature and steam pressure (1). Plus, Rocket uses patented “inclined boiler technology.” The details of this are top secret, but they claim it offers best-in-class temperature stability and more precise temperature adjustment. If you’re serious about lattes and cappuccinos, this espresso machine is as serious as you are.
The Rocket Espresso R58 uses a commercial-quality rotary pump, which provides a smoother water flow than lower-cost vibratory pumps and much quieter operation. Another perk of the rotary pump is that it allows this machine to be plumbed directly to a water line, a great benefit for heavy users who don’t want to refill the 2.5 L reservoir constantly.
The front of the machine sports the classic E61 grouphead, an iconic Italian design that has been in use for over 60 years. It uses a thermosiphon system to keep hot water flowing through the group to maintain temperature stability.
With the E61, a manual lever starts and stops the shot. It also permits a low-pressure pre-infusion stage, which improves extraction, explains Five Sense Coffee’s technical services engineer Graeme Burton (2).
“[Pre-infusion] is supposed to gently wet the coffee and allow it to stabilize before receiving the full force of the pumped brew pressure. This should lead to a more even espresso extraction by improving the uniformity of the coffee density in the basket.”
There are two pressure gauges under the group. One allows you to monitor brew pressure during a shot, while the other tracks pressure in the steam boiler. If you’re serious about espresso, these little windows into what’s happening while you make a drink are crucial for the most consistent and delicious results.
In short, the R58 is top-of-the-line. It has all the features and technology expected of the best prosumer espresso machines.
The main thing that separates it from the more expensive model, the R60V, is that it lacks an in-built flow control system (3). So the fact that it is about £2000 less expensive than the R60V makes it a great value.
User-Friendliness – 4/5
Previous versions of this machine may have scored lower in this category, but recent upgrades have improved the user experience.
The biggest change is the new touchscreen interface, with which you can change the boiler temperatures and access other settings and controls. Rocket refers to this as a “communication pod,” which is both cute and apt. The “pod” attaches to the side of the machine for easy access, but if you don’t need to change your settings often, it can be removed to maintain a more traditional aesthetic.
My favourite new addition? The automatic on/off function, which is also accessed via the touchscreen pod. You can program a turn-on time for your espresso machine. This feature is available on almost every cheap coffee maker, yet it is strangely absent from expensive espresso machines. It is especially valuable on these big dual boiler machines because they can take upwards of 30 minutes to reach temperature stability. With the auto-on, you can go to bed at night confident that a hot and ready R58 will be waiting when you wake up and need that first caffeine hit!
Another long-awaited new feature is the shot timer, located just above the power switch.
I mention its location because you could easily miss it. It’s very subtle, with a silvery colour that blends seamlessly with the stainless steel exterior. It’s only once you start a shot and the numbers illuminate that it becomes obvious. This is yet another demonstration of Rocket’s commitment to a more old-school aesthetic.
The top of the R58 acts as a passive cup warmer. While this isn’t a glamorous or high-tech feature, it’s certainly user-friendly. Pouring espresso into a warm cup ensures it stays the right temperature and keeps the crema from breaking up, which you’ll want if you plan to pour latte art.
Milk Frothing – 4/5
Speaking of latte art, let’s talk about the milk frothing system. The large 1.8 L steam boiler with PID temperature control means you can get tons of steam pressure if you want it – up to 2 bar. But unless you’re in a milk frothing race, we’d recommend keeping it in the 1 to 1.5 bar range to avoid splattering milk on the ceiling. The pressure gauge makes it easy to monitor steam pressure.
The steam wand is controlled by a knob. The knob is nice if you want to ease the pressure on and off. Personally, I like the feeling of control afforded by a knob. However, some users prefer the more instantaneous on/off of a joystick control. Many dealers will swap the knob for a joystick for a fee.
The steam wand has a double-wall design, so the outside stays cool as you steam. Of course, keep your hands away from the tip, which still gets steaming hot (pun intended). Americano lovers will appreciate that there is also a separate tap for hot water.
Build Quality – 5/5
Build quality is something the Rocket brand is known for. Every Rocket Espresso machine is handmade in Milan, Italy. The quality of the craftsmanship is spectacular; the Rocket R58 is as much art as it is technology (4).
A commitment to aesthetics has long been a hallmark of the Rocket brand (5). They have modernized their technology without modernizing their style. Hence the detachable communication pod and hidden shot timer.
The exterior of the Rocket R58 is a beautiful mirror-finish stainless steel wrap. The steam wand control knob sports the iconic Rocket R that immediately identifies the premium Italian brand. Sadly (or not, depending on your taste), the R58 lacks the rocket booster-shaped feet that grace many other Rocket machines. Instead, the R58 has angular feet with a more modern feel.
It’s a good thing the R58 is so beautiful because it is not subtle. Like all dual boiler espresso makers, this is a big machine that is likely to be the focal point of your kitchen. With the portafilter and PID controlled installed, it measures 31 cm wide by 38.5 cm tall by 44 cm deep. I wouldn’t plan on fitting it under your upper cupboards, especially if you hope to take advantage of the cup warmer.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 3.5/5
Maintaining the Rocket R58 isn’t difficult compared to other prosumer espresso machines. The fact is that all prosumer espresso machines take a bit of work in this category. But if you keep up to date with cleaning and maintenance, this machine can last decades.
My biggest tip for this model, in particular, is to use filtered water to avoid the build-up of scale, and this goes double if you live in a region with hard water. The R58 has copper boilers, which offer better thermal properties than stainless steel boilers but are also more prone to the build-up of scale. And descaling a big dual boiler like this is a task best left to professionals.
Other than that, stick to the manufacturer-recommended maintenance depending on frequency of use. To keep the group and shower screen clean, backflush with water at least once a week and with a cleaning solution less frequently. Never leave the dirty portafilter sitting in the machine after pulling a shot.
Keep a microfibre cloth on hand to wipe the steam wand after frothing. Always give it a quick purge with steam before and after use to avoid any leftover milk in the plumbing. Yuck.
The update to PID temperature control from older pressure stats adds to the longevity of this model. Once upon a time, mechanical pressure stats were an early point of failure, but the solid-state PID is much more durable. The E61 group is another perk in the longevity department. The E61 group has been so well refined through six decades of use, that it rarely falters. And when it does, it is easy to find spare parts and skilled technicians.
Things we liked:
- Dual copper boilers with PID temperature control
- Durable stainless steel build
- Quiet rotary pump allows for direct plumbing
- Iconic Rocket style
Things we didn’t like:
- External PID can get damaged
- Water reservoir is on the small side
- The water tank can be hard to remove
Don’t Buy The Rocket R58 If…
You have the budget for more bells and whistles: If you can afford to spend more, the Slayer Single Group is guaranteed to please with patented flow control technology and gorgeous design (6). It’s even tagged as the Lamborghini of espresso machines. Read our Slayer espresso machine review to learn more.
You don’t need a dual boiler: If temperature stability isn’t something you live or die by, Rocket’s heat exchanger espresso machines offer better value. They have the same classic aesthetic and outstanding build quality with a smaller footprint and lower price. Check out our Rocket Giotto Evolutione review and Rocket Espresso Mozzafiatto review.
You’re short on space: If counter space is at a premium, the Rocket Appartamento is made for you. It’s right there in the name; it was designed with apartment dwellers in mind. This heat exchange espresso machine has a small footprint and noteworthy style, with attractive circular side cutouts unique to this model.
You want a portable machine: If you like the sophistication of a Rocket espresso machine but want something you can take anywhere, check out the clever Porta Via model. Touted as the first portable prosumer espresso machine, it disassembles for packing into a rugged carrier. To learn more, here’s our Rocket Espresso Porta Via review.
Here’s the deal – the Rocket Espresso R58 is a fine machine that any kitchen would be proud to host. It’s an impressive machine with the features you need to make café quality espresso at home. Sure, the price is high, but the value is higher. With dual PID-controlled boilers, a commercial-grade rotary pump, E61 group head, and stunning design, the serious espresso enthusiast will have no regrets bringing home the Rocket R58.
- Partida, V. (2017, December 5). PID vs. Pstat. Retrieved from https://coffeetechniciansguild.org/blog/2017/11/21/pid-vs-pstat
- Burton. G. (2011, January 11). The E61 Grouphead: An Oldie but a Goodie. Retrieved from https://fivesenses.com.au/blogs/news/the-e61-group-head-an-oldie-but-a-goodie
- Grant, T. (2020, July 29). How Flow Profiling Impacts Espresso Extraction. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/07/how-flow-profiling-impacts-espresso-coffee-extraction/
- Farmer, A. (2022, January 8). The Alchemy of Rocket Espresso. Retrieved from https://www.pelotonmagazine.com/features/the-alchemy-of-rocket-espresso/
- Velits, M. (2017, July 18). Andrew Meo found of Rocket Espresso Interview. Retrieved from https://isadore.com/blog/article/andrew-meo-founder-of-rocket-espresso-interview
- Wolfson, J. (2018, May 4). Behind the Scenes with Slayer Espresso. Retrieved from https://coolhunting.com/food-drink/slayer-espresso/