Tag Archives: Semi-Automatic

The Reluctant Barista: Tackling the Rocket R58 Dual Boiler

58I had an ‘Aha! Moment’ this morning and it changed my whole relationship with espresso prep. Very reluctantly, and only because I was on a deadline, did I approach the Rocket Espresso R58 Dual Boiler. Kat asked me why I was more reluctant than usual to pull shots on this machine and I didn’t have a good answer. Shiami encouraged me and told me that I would love the quality shots an E61 brew group produces.

To start, I frothed a pitcher of milk, which I do regularly on the Rocket Giotto, and the difference between a heat exchanger and a dual boiler became apparent. In the same time it takes me to get a nice velvety microfoam at 150 degrees on the Rocket Giotto, I found the Rocket R58 had gotten up to 170 degrees! There was foam but the higher temperature killed the creaminess. The powerful steam cut frothing time almost in half and I had not adjusted for that fact.

Next, I enlisted Fillmore from the repair department to expertly dial in the grinder. I watched him grind into the portafilter from a Mazzer Mini. He pulled a shot and it was too quick. He adjusted the grind a tick finer, pulled another shot and it was still a little fast. He re-adjusted, then felt the espresso grounds in his hand and they were fine like ground pepper. On the third extraction the shot pulled evenly and within 22 seconds we each grabbed a shot and tasted it. Zoka Organic Espresso Quatro — yum!

As I stared at the shiny stainless steel Rocket R58 with its 58mm portafilter, I was still reluctant to pull my own shots. I recounted all of the variables Gail recommends for a perfect espresso shot: filtered water, the right grind, the correct tamp and a deluxe hand-built Italian espresso machine (just kidding! Kind of…). Finally the answer was clear to me: While I understand how to make espresso, my problem is I can’t tamp!

I love it when Kaylie makes me a latte, I use E.S.E. pods at home and I will occasionally use the new Francis Francis capsule machine for an afternoon pick-me-up. As a result, I have avoided the tamping issue altogether. Aha!

There are benefits to having the entire SCG demonstration arsenal at my disposal. I lined up a tamping mat, a tamper and a knock box. Long overdue tamping practice began and continued until both the Rocket R58 drip tray was full (twice!) from pulling shots and the knock box was full of spent pucks. From this experience I found out the following:

  1. The R58 brew head warning sticker states, ‘Caution Hot Surface,’ and that’s the truth
  2. Pre-warming your portafilter in the brew head yields great results, however it also makes it hot to touch when you tamp
  3. Fillmore’s Pro-Tip: A half flip of the lever allows for a mellow pre-infusion using passive boiler pressure
  4. It is hard to get espresso grounds out from under your fingernails

Many people go through a coffee preparation progression as their taste, budget or skills change. I went from French press to stovetop espresso maker to a small single boiler machine. How do you know when you are ready for the next step, in this case a dual boiler? Identify your comfort level and your ultimate goal. My comfort level had me afraid to tamp, but my goal was a fresher shot. So it turns out that I am ready to upgrade. For now, a heat exchanger model is my next step.

There is a machine for every person though, so who does need a dual boiler espresso machine? For me, the styling of the Rocket line is what an espresso machine ‘should’ look like — I would love to see one on my counter top. Like a heat exchanger, a dual boiler saves time if your preferred drink is milk-based since you can froth and pull shots simultaneously. The R58 in particular can be used with the internal reservoir or plumbed-in for even more convenience. Finally, espresso is all about consistency; with commercial grade parts, dual pressure gauges, a rotary pump and an external PID, the Rocket R58 uses current technology to allow you to pull the best shots you are capable of every time.

Where will your preparation progression lead you? The Rocket R58 Dual Boiler is not a starter machine. When you are ready to take things to the next level though, this espresso machine is one of the very best. Don’t be reluctant to try it!

Crew Review: Rocket Espresso Cellini Classic

Rocket Cellini ClassicCertain things are a classic for a reason: Like Prince, tea cozies and bow ties, the Rocket Cellini Classic offers tried-and-true, rockin’ functionality backed up by smooth lines. While its pricier counterparts sport dual manometers and a fully polished stainless steel casing, the Classic has a two ‘tone’ finish of both brushed and polished stainless steel and a single manometer for the boiler’s pressure.

If you’re looking for a simple heat exchange espresso machine that’s not too hard on the wallet, the Classic should be high on your list! Watch as Gail takes us through all of its lovely features and functionality, then demonstrates how it performs.

Compare: Rocket Espresso R58 vs. Quick Mill QM67

Dual boilers are where it’s at when it comes to controlling the temp of your shot while also sporting steaming functionality that is almost embarrassing in its ferocity.

These little babies come in variety of formats and price ranges, and Gail shows us models from Rocket Espresso (the R58, what!) and Quick Mill (the QM67, what!) to show you how their form, function, tech specs, internals and performance compare.

Compare: Rocket R58 vs. La Marzocco GS/3

In the market for a big baddie? Is having control over your brew temperature and/or steaming enough milk to serve up cappuccinos to a small army a high priority for you? If yes, you probably should check out the Rocket Espresso R58 or La Marzocco GS/3 double boiler espresso machines.

Look we don’t want to tell you how to live, but we do care about you. So we’ve put these two popular machines side by side to show off their features, tech specs, internals and performance. Watch Gail walk us through this glorious adventure!

Compare: Rancilio Silvia vs. Breville Infuser

When discussing small home espresso machines that can produce a great shot despite their diminutive frames, the well-known Rancilio Silvia is often compared against Breville’s newer upstart, the Infuser.

While the Silvia features several commercial-grade components backed by a design that is sometimes equated with a tank, the Infuser has features to spare and excellent temperature control. Choosing which one that is right for you is largely a virtue of longevity vs. precision — and price tag. While they’ll produce similar shots at the end of the day, the Infuser is more than $100 cheaper than the Silvia, so if you’re looking for something under $500, it may meet your budget a bit better.

In this video, Gail runs through their features and compares their functionality. Then she demonstrates making a latte on both so you can watch them in action.


Crew Review: Quick Mill QM67 Dual Boiler Espresso Machine

Interested in the kind of precision offered by a double boiler but don’t want to sink a couple grand into it? Quick Mill’s new dual boiler, the QM67, is a simple double boiler machine that features an E61 brew head, integrated PID, internal water reservoir and a great price.

Watch Gail’s review of this machine — including features, specs, why you might choose this model over other dual boilers and a functional demonstration.

Crew Review: Durgol Descaling Solution

If espresso machines had a kryptonite, it would be scale build-up. This silent killer will degrade your machine’s performance over time — inhibiting steam performance, disabling valve functionality so that leaking begins and, eventually, contributing to boiler burn out. Your options in battling it are to use a filtration system, softener or a combination thereof … or to just plan on regularly descaling the machine.

One descaling solution on the market is the liquid formula produced by Durgol. Available in two different formats — one for coffee makers and one for espresso machines — these are very effective and easy to use solutions. Watch as Gail talks to us about their formulation and then demonstrates how to use it on the Saeco Aroma.

Compare: Saeco Poemia & Saeco Aroma

If your kitchen counter space is at a premium, an espresso machine with a small footprint is likely your first consideration. Saeco’s Poemia and Aroma models are great options to consider, as they pack a lot of simple functionality into a relatively small punch.

Watch Gail talk us through their features, how they compare and why you might choose one over the other. Then she demonstrates making a cappuccino on each so you can see them in action.

What it is!

Compare: Convenience of Superautos vs. Capsule vs. Pod Espresso Machines

If convenience is king in your household, your espresso machine selection will likely center on superautomatic, capsule or pod-friendly options such as those made by DeLonghi, Jura, Nespresso and Saeco.

But which of these three machine styles produces a better shot? Does it matter? Of course it does! Watch as Gail demonstrates making an Americano on a pod-friendly semi-automatic, a capsule machine and a superautomatic. We compare flavor and discuss the relative convenience and ease of use.