Rocket Espresso - a few days in

The Rocket Espresso machine has been here for a few days now, and I can say, without a doubt, that it's A-may-zing. If you knew how much I hate it when people say amazing like that, you'd know just how good it is.

Thanks to Coffee School at Department of Coffee, I already had a good idea of how to make a good espresso:

  1. Get the grind right
  2. Get the amount right (13.5 seconds of grinding, not sure how many grams that is)
  3. Tamp, tap, tamp again, twist off the top
  4. Pass water thru the head to make sure there is no grounds left on it
  5. Shoot immediately. Stop after 25 seconds or so, or if the crema starts to go white
  6. Enjoy

The results using the Coffeesmiths espresso blend have been great, but the Has Been Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo has been especially brilliant. We had 1kg of that shipped to us when they had some spare, and we tried it with both plunger and AeroPress and didn't like it at all. In the espresso machine it's a whole different beast. Possibly some of the nicest coffee I've had - and out of my own machine, too! FTW!

So far, I've done:

  • Basic espresso, even when half asleep at 6am.
  • Affogato (espresso over ice cream). For breakfast no less.
  • Iced Espresso, with the Limoncillo. Might be barista-blasphemy, but it's sunny and 23deg outside, and I'd just got back from a 35km bike ride around Richmond Park. So sue me, it was delicious.

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You'll notice a general lack of anything involving milk there. Thats on purpose: neither Leonie nor I drink it, and while we can both froth it and make a basic latte (poorly in my case, esp on the latte art part), it's not something either of us enjoy. Maybe some other time if we have people over who drink it that way.

The downside

There had to be one. Ok, there doesn't have to be, but there usually is. The normal way of running these is to keep them on all the time. This means that it's ready to go when you want it, and also everything stays nice and warm all the time, which is "better" for the machine.

Problem is, this thing is a thirsty consumer of power. The boiler is around 1.2KW, and even tho it's promoted as being a lot more efficient than previous models, it's still hungry.

To find out just how hungry, I hooked it up to a power meter for 24 hours, which told me it was using about 3.2KWh/day. On the tariff we are on, thats about 26p/day (£7.80/month) just to keep it running, and we only use it in the mornings.

I've emailed the manufacturer to find out if it's "ok" to turn it off (we normally use a timer) every day, assuming we clean/back flush it after the last shot. Unless it's going to significantly shorten the life, I think we'll go back to doing this - thats a 10% rise in our overall power bill, which is not insignificant over time.

(Update: Andrew Meo from Rocket emailed me back, saying he turns his off after using it for the day, so I guess I'm good with the timer)

But in general, thats a pretty minor downside, and not something that would make me reconsider having the machine. It was just good to know how much it's costing us.

Nic Wise

Nic Wise

Auckland, NZ