Complete package of performance, quality and style
Positive Product Points
- Flexibility of using an internal water tank or plumbing to water supply - Quiet rotary pump - Dual gauges for brew and boiler pressure - Well designed water tank eliminates hoses and is easy to fill - External adjustment of pump pressure - Powerful steaming - Insulated, no-burn steam wand - Commercial Sirai pressure stat - Impressive fit and finish - Looks great!
Negative Product Points
- The drip tray is on the smaller side. But, the tray can be connected to an external drain to address this shortcoming.
Deciding on My Next Machine
I used a Silvia with a PID controller for four years before buying the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione. Over time, I found the Silvia's single boiler design to be limiting. I wanted better temperature stability when pulling a shot and I wanted to shorten the time it took to make a latte.
I looked at both HX machines and double boilers to replace my Silvia. I settled on the HX style machine because I liked the balanced design of the thermosyphon and E-61 group. I wanted to be part of the espresso making process and I wanted a machine that would advance my skills. I didn't need the capacity or the complexity of a double boiler machine since I only make a few lattes a day.
I then evaluated machines from Rocket, Quick Mill, Izzo and Vibiemme. I thought Rocket's line of machines clearly stood out from the pack. Rocket uses top quality components in their machines and the fit and finish is exceptional. The Rocket's have features that are only now being adopted by the others like no-burn wands, easy to fill water tank and switchable water supply configuration.
The Giotto Evoluzione is the Complete Package
I selected Rocket's Giotto Evoluzione because I felt it was the complete package of performance, quality and style. The rotary pump is quiet and you don't have to worry about duty cycle like with a vibe pump. This is important since you tend to use more water with an HX. Since running the pump isn't a big deal, I backflush more often which keeps the machine cleaner.
The Evoluzione warms up quickly and is ready to go in 30 minutes. Although much has been written about the HX cooling flush, I found it wasn't a big deal at all. I followed the directions on Home-Barista.com and got good results. I use the sound of the water coming from the brew head to determine the flush period. My first flush is typically around 6-8 oz.
Overall, I'd say the espresso from the Evoluzione is richer tasting than compared to the Silvia. I've found that the best shots are produced with a cooler water temperature. This surprised me a bit.
The machine has great steaming power and the steam is dry. The recovery time of the boiler seems to be pretty short. I've been able to make back-to-back lattes with no problems at all.
But features aren't the only reason why I selected the Evoluzione. You can tell that Rocket has a passion for their products by looking at their machines. The knobs have a solid feel to them and move smoothly. The gauges are large and easy to read. The machine is easy to use. The fit and finish is superb. And, it looks great, too!
I think it's important to look at the complete package when looking at this level of machine. The Evoluzione is close in price to some double boilers on the market. Most people would probably buy a double boiler machine if they just looked at cost. But, just adding another boiler doesn't necessarily make a better machine. I believe the Evoluzione is more than competitive with other machines in this class, and the Evo's quality puts it ahead of most of the machines out there.
A few issues get mentioned in reviews of the Rocket machines. I thought I'd provide my perspective on these items:
- Small drip tray: The drip tray holds about 12 oz, which is somewhat small for an HX. With the Evoluzione, you can drain the drip tray to an external drain or container, addressing the size limitation.
- Water could get under the drip tray: A little water from the 3-way valve occasionally gets behind the back of the drip tray. I've had this happen a few times, particularly when backflushing. To protect the frame, I added silicone caulk around the corners of the frame underneath the drip tray.
- Drip tray could scratch the frame: Earlier reviews of the Rocket's mentioned that removing the drip tray could scratch the painted frame. Rocket has fixed this on the latest lot of machines. My machine has a plastic liner on the frame holding the drip tray. It's a simple fix that protects the frame. You can easily add a liner if you have an older machine.
Seattle Coffee Gear is a great vendor to work with. They know their machines and are big fans of the Rocket line of espresso machines. The SCG crew is very knowledgeable and they enjoy their work, as you can tell from their videos. They spent time answering my questions and demoing the machine. SCG is local to me, but I've had great results both in the store and when ordering items online.
Three Month Followup
Using the Evo has been a real joy. The machine is very easy to use. Adjusting my flushing technique has helped me achieve consistent results making lattes. I use a flush-n-go approach where I grind/tamp, steam, flush then brew. Flushing 5 oz. seems to produce the best shots.
One Year Followup
The Evoluzione continues to deliver excellent results after 1 1/2 years. I've made two changes to the machine since my initial review. I added the digital E-61 group thermometer from Chris Coffee, which has been very worthwhile. The thermometer allows me to refine my flush-no-go technique and I can be much more consistent when brewing espresso. It's good to be able to see what the machine is doing.
I also added Rocket's optional metal cup warmer rail, replacing the plastic piece that comes with the machine. The metal rail looks awesome and is a perfect match for the styling of the Giotto.