Little pricey, but a beautiful machine that delivers!
Positive Product Points
Beautiful machine!! Definitely a conversation starter (but that's just one reason why you will buy this!)
Easy to set up whether using reservoir or inline. Also easy to start up for the first time.
Rocket provides nice amenities within the package.
Easy to use.
Negative Product Points
Pricey! I do think there is a bit of a premium on the looks of the Giotto and Rocket machines in general.
If you are not careful with the water wand, you can get a little burnt by the water/steam as you have to cant the cup to get water into it.
The reservior can be difficult to remove. You have to pull up hard with the handles. I fear that it places undue stress where the handles are fitted in the reservior. There is not a lot of plastic between the top of the reservoir and where the handles reside.
The drain pan is a bit on the smallish side. You may wind up dumping it frequently.
Heavy. 68lbs heavy.
The Giotto comes with the plastic cup guard that sits on top. I feel because of the premium you pay for the Giotto, Rocket should have the metal cup guard to set it apart from other machines in the line. As it stands, if you want it, you will have to pay an extra $100.
I won't go into detail of how I arrived at the decision of purchasing the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione V2. All I will say is get over the analysis paralysis, pick a machine, buy it, learn it, enjoy it.
I already summarized my buying experience from Chris's Coffee. If I had to make the same decision again, I wouldn't hesitate to buy from Chris's Coffee.
I received the package and it was very well packaged. The machine was boxed within a box and lots of molded foam to protect it. Unless UPS is throwing the box out of the truck, which at 68lbs, is not an easy feat, it will get to you in one piece.
Unpacking: Have a strong back or get a friend to help you get it out of the box. You will find a small box with all the accessories. This is where Rocket shines and where they fall just short. Included is a nice aluminum tamper as opposed to plastic like other machines. Very usable until you find one you like. A nice, clear to understand spiral bound owner's manual plus DVD on operation. A single and double portafilter with baskets and blind filter for cleaning. Very well made and beefy. Group head cleaning brush and some hoses to get you started for inline water supply should you go that route. A nice dust cover with the Rocket logo in case of long periods of inactivity. TIP: Get yourself a bottomless portafilter and a 18g VST filter basket. Helps diagnose your shot pulls and trying to keep the variables down. Where Rocket fell a little short in accessories is the plastic cup guard. As I mentioned in the negatives, this is one of their premium line machines. They should include the metal cup guard to really set it apart.
Setup: Straighforward. Set it where you want. Choose reservoir or inline. There is a toggle inside the water cover. Fill it water and follow instructions for first time use. TIP: Get yourself a WEMO Insight wireless plug. You can program Rules, i.e. turn of the machine an hour before you get up. Turn off when you leave for work. Turn on again an hour before you get home. Set weekend rules. I know everytime that the machine has had at least a one hour warm up before I pull a shot. I can also control the switch from my iPhone anywhere.
Operation: I am new to espresso making so my skills will be lacking. If you are new, you will want to eliminate as many variables as you can. A fixed filter basket, maybe a calibrated tamper, etc. All I can say here is it operates like a charm. It is relatively quiet. I have never heard the vibratory pump as opposed to rotary. This rotary seems quiet to me. The steam and water wands are relatively easy to use. A joystick handle to operate the wands would have been nice but the rotary knobs work. Chris's coffee included a 4 nozzle tip so I put that on instead of the included tip. I am still learning the art of steaming milk so I cannot comment on operation. I think I got close a couple of times.
To fill the reservoir, there is a two thumbholed lid on top towards the back. LIfts straight up and out. I use a pitcher to fill. The reservoir can be difficult to take out.
The cup warmer is adequate. My cups are warm to the touch. Not hot.
Cleaning the drain pan is easy enough if on the smallish side. Comes right out. You rinse and put back.
Other than that, the Giotto operates like an espresso machine should.
TIP: Get yourself the EricS thermometer that screws into the group head. It really helps elimiinate the what temperature your group head is at when you pull the shot.
TIP: Get yourself Full Circle cleaner. I clean my group head once a week. Natural too. Won't harm anything.
TIP: As I said above, get the bottomless portafilter.
BIG TIP: DO NOT skimp on your grinder. I will say it again. DO NOT skimp on your grinder. I paired my Giotto with an HG One hand grinder as I like to single dose. I have a Vario as a backup. If you like power, there are great options too. At bare minimum, consider a Baratza Vario and go up from there. Grinder and your machine have to work together. If you get a crappy grinder, expect crappy shots from a great machine.
It's an absolutely beautiful machine to look at. Aesthetics should play a role in your buying decision. YOU have to look at it for years to come. I have not had any buyer's remorse. While I am learning the craft of espresso making, I am enjoying the quiet, easy to use operation. I pull shots for espresso, americanos and lattes. So I use all the functions of the machine. There are machine that are several hundred dollars cheaper however if you can up your budget, put this machine on your short list!.
Like many, i considered several Vendors. Because I live on the east coast, I wanted to keep it east of the Mississippi if I could. I narrowed it down to Chris's Coffee. They received excellent reviews for customer service and prices. I emailed them about a couple of machines I was looking at. They returned my email promptly and answered all my questions. I placed my order online, received my confirmation email and then shortly, shipping notice! Now THAT is fast. I think I had the machine within a day or so. But keep in mind, I am located reasonably close (within 6-8 hours) as the crow flies. However, even if you live in California, if it is in stock, they strive to ship same day. Since then, I have made other purchases from Chris's and haven't been disappointed. Put them on top of your short list of Vendors, if not #1 on that list.