A beautiful machine, taking the art of espresso to the next level.
Positive Product Points
This is a review for the V2 of this machine
- Aesthetically, probably the finest domestic espresso machine on the market - Extremely stable temperature management - Rotary pump means this machine is quiet; insulated boiler means less heating activity - this machine should last longer - Build-quality is outstanding, both internally and externally - Clearly manufactured by a company who love what they do - Sold by a company - the UK's Bella Barista - with a passion both for espresso and for customer service
Negative Product Points
- The drip tray is a mite shallow, but this will be resolved when I plumb in the machine
While I have always lusted after the Rocket range, I had intended to move from the trusty and ten year old Rancilio Silvia to an Izzo Duetto Mk III. I was just about to purchase when the Mk IV came out and the price went beyond what I thought I could justify on an espresso machine. I rang the fantastically helpful Claudette at Bella Barista and had an extremely useful conversation about the virtues and vices of DB versus HX machines that cut through a lot of the hot air regarding the supposed benefits and shortcomings of either. The R58 tempted me but it's a first generation machine and, again, the value of a DB seems to me to have been exaggerated. I then asked a coffee shop owner and espresso aficionado locally about his home machine and he offered to show me his Duetto Mk II (one of a number of machines he owns). Not only was it a hulking monstrosity, but the metalwork was poorly finished and the interior lay-out was chaotic - it just didn't, to my untrained eye, seem to have the same fit and finish internally as Rocket's machines. He then pulled me a couple of shots, one from a HX and one from a DB. The difference was negligible. In turn, he said the magic words that sold me on the HX: there's still some guesswork, still some romance in cracking the perfect shot on a HX.
My first machine was a La Pavoni Europiccola, a thing of beauty that occasionally made decent coffee if one followed an arduous routine. Miss Silvia took years to crack: I had a temperature-surfing routine down to sense-memory and could pull reasonable shots and steam good microfoam. But Silvia was leaking and rusting and I wanted something else. Initially, the PID-programmed ease of a DB machine nearly had me: it promised to take everything out of the routine. Turn it on, let it warm up, pull perfect shots. But I realised that part of my pleasure in espresso is the uncertainty: the average shot followed by excellent shots, followed by the god shot. I approached the Rocket with some trepidation as I suspected the 'cooling flush/ water dance' was temperature-surfing in disguise. I'm delighted to say that that is not the case at all: a 18-20 sec flush (or the equivalent of a filled Italian cappuccino cup), the 'water dance' at an end, and load the portafilter. Pull the shot, with 3 secs of pre-infusion. The result, depending on the bean - and I use the 'formula rosso' blend from the Algerian Coffee Stores in London - is a revelation. It was particularly instructive to go from this bean on the Silvia to the Rocket. What a difference in terms of the breadth of palette and complexity of flavour.
Steaming on the Rocket initially struck me as weak after the single-tipped, surfed-to-the-brink-of-explosion Silvia. Indeed, I wonder if a considerable amount of negative comment on the steaming abilities of prosumer machines may come from a misrecognition of their steaming power. I'm still finding getting consistent microfoam tricky, but I'm getting there.
I have no regrets in purchasing a HX and am delighted with the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione V2. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but it produces stunning coffee. I have a world of blends I previously dismissed to re-discover on this machine.
The buying experience from Bella Barista was exemplary: a model of customer service. Not only did Claudette give me 20 minutes of her time on the phone, but when the Rocket went out of stock she kept me abreast of delivery schedules and, when I purchased the machine, bench-tested it and despatched it the same day. While I'd been told to expect three or more days for delivery, the machine arrived next day, double-boxed, with an additional Bella Barista manual and a 2kg bag of (ironically!) Izzo coffee. All vendors should be like this! Highly recommended.
Three Month Followup
Not three months but just over six months later and this machine is still glorious. Pair it with a good grinder and the espresso produced is a revelation. A stunning machine and a joy to own and use.
One Year Followup
So eight months into the journey with the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione V2 and the controller died. Rang BellaBarista and a replacement was dispatched on the same day. I was anxious about getting inside the machine but am actually relieved I did. This thing is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside: exquisite lay-out of piping and wiring; some genuine thought and craft has gone into the internal design. The controller was replaced in a simple 'plug and play' style and I was back to pulling great shots. The machine is a delight.
Contacted Rocket (via Twitter) about the dead control and didn't hear a word! That was mildly disappointing. BellaBarista, on the other hand, were absolutely and thoroughly professional.