The detachable PID and the lack of group temp is a deal killer for me. In hindsight wish I had bought the Alex Duetto v3 for less clutter on the counter.
Positive Product Points
Best possible finish, heavy duty machine, everything just feels solid Top prosumer features: double boiler; tank or plumb water supply; tray or plumb drain; rotary pump Nice size
Negative Product Points
Hate the detachable PID. I really hate it. And it is kind of cheesy looking. Noone likes it but the designers. They said it was to preserve its classic looks, but instead now there is clutter on the countertop, or clutter in a drawer if I stop using it. So far havent been able to preinfuse. Nothing happens at 45 degrees of handle except a "click". Manual doesnt mention a preinfuse at all, but some advertisements for product do. Will have to call the seller tomorrow. Dont like that PID shows boiler temperature instead of prediction of group temp. Have to tape the chart from manual showing the correlation to side of machine, more clutter. Would have preferred group temp prediction, and ability to adjust the offset via the PID (current table predicts group at -12C from boiler, but relationship established at 66F ambient, my house is heated to 72F so probably table is wrong for me). Came from factory with temp set too high.
Arrived with box intact. Opened box, product intact. Didnt read manual, filled with water, plugged in, and turned it on. Initially rotary pump started then machine froze, got triple flashing of power light which according to manual means the temperature sensor is broken on steam tank ("send to service center" according to manual). Much cussing. After turning off and on it kept happening until I turned it off and let it cool down, then a hour later it worked perfectly, and I stopped cussing. Turns out the manual has protocol for first time start that involves opening the steam wand that probably would have prevented this problem. Has not recurred all month of use with about a hundred drinks.
Used initially from water reservoir, worked perfectly, but always seemed to run out of water in the middle a shot while I was in a hurry. Decided to plumb it. Manual not very helpful in that picture of fitting doesnt match the new improved swivel fitting now on the machine. Also, wasnt sure wether they were flare fittings or pipe thread, looked like one of each, couldnt decide to use teflon or not. Manual just says to have plumber install. In the end used liquid teflon on all threads, hooked everything up. About 2 hours work to drill hole through counter with masonry bit, drill hole through cabinet side with spade bit, and connect to water filter. Another 2 hours to go to home depot and get John Guest 3/8 to pipe thread adapter for final connection. Worked perfectly without leaks. Bought a hard water remover cartridge and a bigger filter from chriscoffee.com but havent hooked that up yet. Predicting another 2-4 hours.
The drain fits ridiculously too tightly on some plastic guards. I removed one, the other eventually fell off, and now drain can be removed easily, doesnt rattle or anything. Clearly the plastic guards are too thick. If I could find them would consider sanding them thinner, or throwing them out and just putting a piece of duct tape there to prevent metal on metal, but so far everything works perfectly with neither guard in place so havent done anything about it. A really minor problem and im sure they will fix this soon.
My shots were horrendously bitter for about 2 weeks before I figured out the boiler temperature was WAY to hot from the factory, 232F or something like that, which meant the group head was like 210F. I would have figured this out much sooner, but had so many variables/toys to play with that I just didnt notice. Had the PID displayed predicted group temp it wouldnt have been a problem, but the number shown is meaningless boiler temp which doesnt mean anything to anybody. They say they dont like to guess at the group temperature, and show the boiler temperature instead because it is directly measured. Fukin suks because now have to look at a table all the time to have some idea what the group might be at. I taped the table to side of machine for more clutter. To make it worse, the table says it is was determined at ambient temp of 66F. My house in Chicago varies from 72F in the winter to 78F in the summer. I suspect the whole table is a little off for me. I have ordered a chris group thermometer but it hasnt arrived yet, then that will tell me group temp.
Stupid PID and cable very tacky but i use it to verify adequately warmed up. I coiled the stupid cable under the machine and used velcro to attach the pid underneath the drip tray front. The PID now looks like it is part of the machine, but I have to bend way down low to read the display because you can only read it from the same level (probably due to cheap LCD).
Cleaning has gone well without difficulty. Except that the clip that holds the basket in the portafilter is rediculously strong and prying with a spoon takes a while, and must pry from several directions.
The included tamper has a matte sheen, will cost you a extra $70 to get the correct polished Rocket tamper. Screw them. Instead I bought the $90 flat calibrated tamper from Espro which matches the R58 perfectly and eliminates one more variable for me. I also bought the "Rocket bottomless portafilter" for $80 and learned a lot about incorrect loading of the portafilter. Unfortunately, I had a lot of edge leaks that only resolved when I paid another $90 for a convex calibrated Espro tamper which I love dearly. With this machine I use a Rocket Mini Mazer type B. (wont review it seperately but CLUMPS, finish matches Rocket halfass (a little chromish instead of polished nickel), and activation switch keeps 58mm portafilter away from grinder so chute drops coffee on front edge of portafilter and spills over while back of basket is still only half full).
Today I installed the drain on the R58. It was pretty easy. The machine gets some criticism for having a smallish drain reservoir. I now know why. Since the reservoir is thinner, there is more height from the bottom of the drain to the countertop. This helps increase the slope of the drain tube to prevent clogs, assuming that the drain tube goes to the same countertop hole that the water supply goes to near the back of the machine. I have no complaints. Love it fully plumbed now without too much effort. Included drain hose is a little flimsy but it turned out that it was better than the thicker one I bought because the stock hose could make the turns better to the sink drain. I connected it to a side port of the sink drain like a dishwasher would use. Very happy now that everything is fully plumbed by me and no leaks.
Switched to the included extra milk tip today. It has larger holes than the previously installed tip (also 2 holes). Wow. Much better microfoam than the stock tip. Quite happy with it, no need to order the accessory 4 tip package that is out of stock in all of North America anyway. Latte art instantly much improved, milk stretches much better. Now I make my own design I call "The Gorbachev"(trademark). Previously inadequate microfoam didnt create the necessary contrast for art. I expect I will be able to do hearts and the like very soon now.
I think the price of these is fixed at 2700 dollars from the factory. However, at christmas time, with a big purchase including grinder (rocket mazzer mini) and other extras, was able to get big discount that made like 15% off of entire order. They also upgraded the knock box to the Rocket knock box, the pitcher to a Rocket pitcher, and threw in 2 pounds of Lavazza beans, and a half pound of some highly (92) rated coffee that I quickly turned into sink shots as I am a noob. Just today I saw the rocket r58 for only 1700 dollars from another website (istana-kitchen.com) and was ticked I didnt see that sooner. They have a lot of other machines super cheap also, seemed legit but dunno.