mandabanker Senior Member Joined: 22 May 2014 Posts: 2 Location: USA Expertise: Just starting
Posted Thu May 22, 2014, 2:22pm Subject: "Upgrading" from DeLonghi ESAM 3300 to a Rocket?
we are considering buying a Rocket machine after 4 happy years with our Magnifica superauto
generally we make 1-3 espressos/day & 1-2 cups of coffee (generally all in the AM before work); we will not plumb the system nor do we want to install a special circuit
big questions I have are: (1) clean-up - how much longer does it reasonably take to clean the Rocket on a daily basis (the Magnifica is very fast); (2) start up - seems like to Rocket takes a lot longer to get going - generally how long?; (3) know this is extremely subjective but - consensus on whether we will see a material difference in quality of espresso (for the record I find the Magnifica with Stumptown or George Howell coffee to be good - not as good as when a pro makes it at Stumptown or Intelligentsia but nonetheless fine); (4) which Rocket?
first time poster so thanks in advance for all of your advice
SStones Senior Member Joined: 24 Nov 2012 Posts: 475 Location: Canada Expertise: Professional
Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket... Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best Vac Pot: No :( Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Thu May 22, 2014, 4:52pm Subject: Re: "Upgrading" from DeLonghi ESAM 3300 to a Rocket?
I am comfortable with the Giotto just based on many years of familiarity with a couple different generations of them, so my advice is nothing but personal adoration for familiarity. Heat-up time is certainly more than a half hour, for real thermal stability throughout and time for the circulation of the thermosiphon effect to really heat the group head up. Probably like 40 minutes if I try to provide a precise estimate. Cleaning time isn't really an issue. You run some water through the grouphead and wipe it off to keep the grounds from settling on the shower screen. You wipe the steam wand up and down with a water-damp cloth to keep milk from drying on it. You give the steamer a 2 second blast of steam to ensure no milk is settling on/in the holes (This steam can dampen the wipe rag when you perfect not brning your hand doing it). If you're only doing a few brews a day, backflushing once a week should be plenty. Descaling will depend on the hardness of your water, you might find you want to do it every 8 months. This is not something that I will say is an easy job. It will take a few hours to descale both circuits of a Heat-Exchange machine. You will get better and faster with practice. You will love the machine enough that you will enjoy this job once or twice a year.
You will probably have seen others stress the fact that pairing this machine with a capable grinder is the only way to appreciate its ability to make significantly better espresso than less controllable machines.
Posted Fri May 23, 2014, 1:03am Subject: Re: "Upgrading" from DeLonghi ESAM 3300 to a Rocket?
There is a significant difference in your upgrade. In coffee quality and as well as coffee prep. The coffee can certainly be good or better than most coffee shops. However, the grinder is more important than the machine and youre going to have to learn how to grind, tamp, prep and clean etc. if you're willing to do all that in the early am then the Rocket is a good choice. However there are other brands that are just as good if not better. Just remember to spend the money on the grinder first though.
May i suggest you see if you can try the machines out at a retailer or at a friends? Not just look, but to actually grind, tamp, pull shots and taste. I love my coffee but sometimes i just have to throw in a nespresso pod and call it a day.... With a busy schedule warm up of 40 seconds and pushing a button is significantly faster than a true connoisseurs shot. I just cant physically pull a shot sometimes because i need to be out the door or watching two kids. I need to allow myself 15 minutes minimum to pull a shot as i need to ensure i purge, wipe, flush, baclflush with water etc all my equipment properly.
Welcome to coffeegeek btw. If you do buy the rocket we expect you to be a regular contributor here!
Posted Fri May 23, 2014, 7:10am Subject: Re: "Upgrading" from DeLonghi ESAM 3300 to a Rocket?
(1) clean-up - how much longer does it reasonably take to clean the Rocket on a daily basis (the Magnifica is very fast);
Daily: Brush off the gasket; clean the screen by pulling a blank shot; backflush; wipe the machine with a towel; leave the pf and basket to soak in a small container -- less than 5min. Clean the pf and basket when you get home from work -- another 2 minutes.
Every other day: Empty the reservoir and refill it with fresh, filtered water of appropriate hardness.
Weekly: "Big clean" with detergent (every other week, if you're using a machine with an E-61 group); soak the pf and basket in detergent; then scour them til they shine; remove the reservoir, wash it with hot, soapy water; wash the drip tray with soap and water; polish the case, etc., 15min in addition to the daily clean.
Quarterly: Clean and re-season the grinder, 10min.
Semi-annually: Remove the panels, check for signs of leaking and scale, 15min.
Annually: Replace the group gasket, and shower screen. Remove the panels, check for signs of leaking and scale.
(2) start up - seems like to Rocket takes a lot longer to get going - generally how long?;
Get a timer. Otherwise, about 40min for it to come to thermal equilbrium.
(3) know this is extremely subjective but - consensus on whether we will see a material difference in quality of espresso (for the record I find the Magnifica with Stumptown or George Howell coffee to be good - not as good as when a pro makes it at Stumptown or Intelligentsia but nonetheless fine);
With practice and a good E-61HX your shots can approach the best shops' quality -- assuming a really good grinder.
(4) which Rocket?
Rocket is just one good brand among many. Unless you have some special relationship or deal lined up, it's a little early in the process to commit to one espresso machine brand.
There are also quite a few options when it comes to machine types. One or two will be better for you than others. It's a good idea to start thinking about some basics of your own use, for instance:
What's your proposed budget for machine AND grinder?
Would you consider anything else?
How much room do you have on the counter (a full size machine is easier to work with than a compact)?
Double boiler, HX, haven't thought about it, don't care, don't know what I'm talking about? And,
The ever popular et cetera.
The espresso machine market is very competitive and similarly specced machines tend to run very close in price. Usually a little extra build quality costs a little extra money. Rocket is roughly in the middle of quality/price. Some brands to consider are Bezzera, Breville, Crossland, ECM, Elektra, Expobar, Faema, Izzo, La Spaziale, Nuova Simonelli, Profitec, Quickmill, and Vibiemme; just to name a baker's dozen -- and there are others.
You can expect much better espresso and and espresso/milk drinks once you have everything in place, and acquire the skill set. However, it's not a seamless transition. Learning to make espresso well requires considerable learning. You may want to consider taking a class if you're in an area where they're offered.
GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER The grinder is the heart of the equipment part of the espresso making process, in ways the machine can't approach. Make sure you leave plenty of budget for the grinder.
Advertisers make a big deal about the superiority of "conical burrs," but in real espresso, conicals only come at the cheapest, "adequate" end or the most expensive, "truly excellent" ends of the price spectrum. You'll almost certainly choose a flat burr grinder.
As a very rough rule of thumb, the bigger the grinder and the bigger the burrs the better.
As a more important rule of thumb, buy the best grinder you can barely afford which you can possibly cram into your space.
You're going to want something which costs between $400 (Baratza Vario refurb) and $1500. If you can't budget $400 on a grinder and still afford the Rocket of your choice, you'd do much better by compromising on the machine than the grinder. A $1300 machine and $1100 grinder will vastly outperform (in the cup) a $2600 machine and a $600 grinder.
Posted Fri May 23, 2014, 7:45am Subject: Re: "Upgrading" from DeLonghi ESAM 3300 to a Rocket?
I have a Giotto and the Rockets machines are beautiful but it does take a while to heat up. You can use a timer in the morning to turn it on before you wake up. I'm going to say it will take a lot of work and practice, but I will say that even your worst shot will still be better than your automatic machine.
I may suggest to take a look at the La Spaziale Dream T which I just recent picked up. It doesn't have the same classic looks of the Rockets but there the ergonomics and performance are a bit nicer especially if you are transitioning from an automatic. It has a faster start up time, front loading water tank, larger drip tray, volumetric buttons, integrated timer, and lots of steam power for milk.
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