Here is a great detailed review we got of the Rocket Appartamento.
Reviewer's Name: Anatoli Dounaevski
Approximate Time Owned15 months
Rating Overall: 5
Reliability Rating: 5
Value for the Price: 4
Usability Rating: 4
Aesthetics Rating: 5
Detailed Review (Include the good and the bad). was a newcomer to the espresso world when I purchased Appartamento and Baratza Forte AP grinder. I learned and experimented with the machine and grinder couple of months before I found the great recipe (combination of dose, yield, and grind settings). Many pounds of beans went to the trash can, but finally I, my wife, and our friends were excited: the taste of espresso I was able to brew was amazing. Usually I brew 1-3 double shots a day, sometimes more, so my Appartamento isn't stressed by everyday heavy load.
Appartamento is built almost only in metal: brass boiler, all internal copper pipes for hot water (only a few thick plastic pipes are inside only for cold water that is reasonable), brass brewing head, stainless steel everywhere else, and chrome on everything that is outside - very reliable and will serve for a long time. Hot water wand and the milk steamer are built in stainless steel, including the hinges while most of the machines in the same price range have the rubber coupling instead. Machine aesthetic (retro) is perfect that makes Appartamento the focal point in my kitchen. Heat Exchange design is great to have only one boiler for both brewing and steaming milk - this considerably reduces the price of the machine in comparison with the double boiler machines of the same quality. However, you pay for this by necessity to flush 3-6 oz of water prior to brewing every cup of espresso. To me this is not time consuming and reasonable trade-off. Steamer is great: it provides very strong steam and as a result milk foam is thick and beautiful. Cleaning is simple and takes reasonable time. The gauge that shows the boiler pressure is very helpful to check that heating works OK.
1. Appartamento does not have PID as some of machines in the same price range. PID makes possible to control and set the target temperature in the brewing group that is, first, a very good tool to check that brewing temperature (temperature of water that comes into the basket with grind) is OK (too high temperature results in bitter shot, too low -> too sour shot) and, secondly, helps when changing bean roast from dark (requires lower than average brewing temperature) to light (requires higher than average brewing temperature). However, it is not critical: I use both medium and light roast beans for my espresso with no change of the temperature and I get very tasty shots even without PID. Possibly, a machine with PID makes better shots. I don't have this experience. I knew before purchasing that Appartamento doesn't have PID and it was my choice to buy well-built machine instead of machine with PID. One of the reasons was there were too many parameters to play with when grinding and brewing that I wanted not to have too many options. Now I am not sure that this decision was right, however, this is a personal choice and a question of your budget.
2. After several cleanings (backflushes) with detergent the main lever didn't move anymore as smooth as it did in the beginning. It is not a big deal, but Rocket knows this weak point for a long time (there are complaints about this weak point in multiple reviews) and it is not fixed yet.
Accessories that come with the Appartamento IMHO are not all useful and optimal:
1. Double and single 58 mm VST baskets are great, however, I don't use the single basket when brewing because single shots are not consistent every time as many reviews state. Both portafilters that came with the machine are spouted (singe and double) and there is no bottomless portafilter (PF) at all. However, the bottomless PF is a must to check and prevent channeling (a major problem for the newcomers). Rocket sells separately ($60) the bottomless PF with the triple 55 mm VST basket and any of these three baskets may be used with any of these three PFs. IMHO the double spouted PF is not needed (but it is a classical), it is much more practical to have the bottomless one. I use single spouted PF only in two cases: first, while flushing water (before brewing a shot) to see that water flow gets stable - flushing may be stopped this moment. Second, when cleaning daily the brew head with the blind basket (that came with the machine just to be used while cleaning). When brewing I use only bottomless PF with triple basket the PF came with.
2. Chrome coat over stainless steel gets scratched in half of year (the scratches are minor, but they are clearly visible on the mirror surface of chrome especially on the tray and on the cup holder/warmer because of the heavy traffic of cups. The good is you can buy the replacement parts (not cheap) from Rocket any time, so the only problem is money.
3. The original cup frame to be mounted on the cup holder/warmer is made of clear plastic and it didn't look sturdy. In several months of use the Appartamento I broke the frame (I am pretty accurate, this was an accident). The good is I was able to purchase the stainless steel frame by Rocket ($90); however only stainless steel frame may be purchased, this part is not available in plastic as the original. So, Rocket knows about this problem and this is a kind of hidden cost.
4. The tamper that comes with the machine is OK, but especially for a newcomer the Espro calibrated tamper makes life much easier. I purchased it and it works great. So, I don't used the original tamper at all.
My final impression is there is no complete perfection in this world including the espresso machines. My Appartamento has very good features and not too good ones, but overall I love taste of espresso it brews (this is the major criteria, isn't it?), it is built well so I believe it will work for many years to come, and it looks lovely. So, I am happy with it. Recommended.
Disclaimer: I never worked for Rocket or any company in coffee industry, I never have got any profit from Rocket or any company in the coffee industry. This review was not paid for by any individual or company.