About 2 months ago, our fairly old and well used (and loved) espresso machine died, dumping its water tank all over the bench. It had had a good life, however - 4 years of service, making around 4000 shots of espresso over that time.
We had been planning on getting a new machine (justification: for my birthday!) before we went back to New Zealand in February this year, but decided to wait, as the old one was working well enough.
But then it wasn't.
I had already had a good look around at what I wanted, and it was down to a few higher-end models - another Gaggia (low end), a Rancilio Silvia (slightly higher end), a Domobar or a Rocket (high end).
After talking to a number of friends who I trust, including the lovely folks at Coffeesmiths Collective / Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, we went with a Rocket Evoluzione 2 through Coffeesmiths.
I found out after ordering it that Rocket, while made in Milan, is owned by two New Zealanders, Jeff Kennedy and Andrew Meo, along with an Italian designer, Danielle Berenbruch. The machines themselves are based on what was considered to be the legendary espresso machine design - the ECM, harking back to the 1980's.
It's taken a while to get here - 2 months! - and since then, we've been surviving (if you can call it that) on plunger/french press and the AeroPress at work - tho the newly opened Coffee Barista, next to Chiswick Park tube, helped make it all a bit better as the office is located in a wasteland of otherwise awful "coffee".
But today I got the call from Tim, and went into DoC to pick the Rocket up.
First off, this is a heavy beast. Chris carried it down to the main road (to find a cab), and was struggling with it a bit (so was I when I took over for the last half). At a guess, I'd say it's a bit more than a full case of wine.
Once home, it was fairly easy to setup, following the manual. We messed around a bit trying to get the coarseness of the grind right, and the amount of coffee to put in (13.4 seconds of grinding on the Mahlkonig grinder, it would appear). But after a couple of false starts, I think we have it about right.
Of course, the downside of trying to get the grind right was the time: it was 4pm when I got home, which is really too late in the day for me to be drinking espresso. Oh, well: some Chamomile tea before bed should fix that.
The next attempt will be tomorrow morning, when I once again try to make a perfect single espresso while being 3/4 asleep. Should be interesting. I'm hoping I manage to not burn myself on the group head!
I don't think the Rocket is a good first machine, or a good machine for someone who "just wants a coffee". There are plenty of machines on the market around the £150 mark which would suit better. But if you are somewhat serious about your stimulant of choice, and have a few years of espresso making under your belt with a lower end machine, a machine at this end of the market is going to give a great results for many years.
I'm not sure if Coffeesmiths are selling these to the public just yet (update: they are!), or if I'm still part of a trial run, but if you are interested in one, get hold of them - they are lovely people to deal with, and their coffee's (beans and shots) are brilliant.