Rocket have made a couple of updates to their R58 espresso machine since our initial review in 2014, so we decided an update was in order.
Why we (still) like it
The R58 is Rocket's first dual boiler domestic machine, second only now to the R60V with digital pressure profiling (essentially an R58 with more tech!). We haven’t a bad thing to say about the R58 now that the digital controller has been brought into line with the R60V.
We are an official Rocket distributor, and stock most of the domestic machine range. The build quality on every model is excellent – the design is sleek and stylish and most importantly, they all make great coffee.
Who’s it for?
This is definitely a machine for the serious home espresso enthusiast. It’s worth every penny of the £1699 price tag, but let's be honest: you have to really like a cup of Joe in the morning to invest so heavily in equipment. You won’t be disappointed if you’re making this move with the R58 in your sights.
The R58 has a PID controller that allows you to adjust the temperature of both the brew boiler and steam boiler individually. You can change temps in increments of 1°C. The controller lets you turn the steam boiler ON/OFF, and switch from the built in water reservoir to a mains water connection.
As with all machines at this level, the R58 has hot water and steam taps (recently updated with slightly more ergonomic handles), and it can brew and steam simultaneously.
We also sell an optional set of four steam tips that will fit the R58 for those of you that want to experiment.
After around 6-8 minutes the espresso boiler was up to temperature, with the steam boiler following closely behind. We always recommend leaving your machine on for around 20 minutes before you start using it. This helps the thermal stability of any espresso machine and will produce more consistent shots.
The espresso boiler is set to 106°C from the factory. This is the temperature recorded inside the boiler – the actual temperature at the group head is suggested to be around 11°C lower by the time it reaches the shower screen. Rocket supply this information in an easy to read chart in the user handbook.
Sticking with the 94°C shot temp, it didn’t take long to start producing thick, syrupy espresso on the R58. The E61 group is the same on the entire Rocket range, so we saw pre-infusion for around 4 seconds before the pump ramps up to 9BAR and started extracting espresso. Grind, dose and tamp are forgiven if they are not perfect, but get all three right and you’ll be rewarded!
The steam pressure on this machine is set at 1BAR from the factory, but can be changed via the PID controller. You adjust the steam boiler temperature in 1°C increments if you prefer higher or lower steam pressure. Quite a nifty feature and certainly an easier means of adjustment compared to the Expobar machines. As always, the steam wand is cool to touch, although we noticed that it feels hotter after steaming than other models in the range. The longer straighter steam arm makes it easy to find a comfortable position for steaming milk.
All Rocket machines ooze quality. Working on them ourselves gives us a great insight into the build of the machines, and they are certainly very well put together. The R58 specifically has an impressive internal layout. There are so many components inside the case but the design is great – well laid out and easy to work on.
How does it compare?
Our closest comparison for the R58 is the Expobar Office Leva DB. It comes in at a much lower price point, but definitely doesn’t have the same presence as the R58. There are a few pros and cons, but we’d say that ultimately they will both produce a seriously high standard of espresso. Both have great steamers with decent boiler capacities and heating elements, so recovery on either machine is swift.
The Expobar has a bigger drip tray, but it’s a bit faffy to remove for emptying and feels a bit cheaper (because it is!). The R58 drip tray slides on and off very easily but doesn’t hold a huge amount so requires emptying more regularly.
The R58 comes ready to plumb in or run from the reservoir straight from the box, whereas the Office Leva DB comes in three different guises:
- Reservoir only (vibratory pump)
- Reservoir and Plumb (vibratory pump)
- Plumb only (rotary pump)
All in all, the R58 is a well built all rounder that can be flexible enough for any home installation and robust enough to last.
What's in the box?
Opening the Rocket boxes never ceases to amaze - well packed and presented, the accessories are the first thing you see.
- single and double portafilters and baskets
- user manual
- training DVD
- polishing cloth
- basic lightweight tamper
- PID controller
It also comes with a hefty stainless steel cup surround, normally available only as a separate purchase for the Evoluzione - the stops have been pulled out on this machine!
- Pump: Rotary
- Brew boiler capacity: 0.58L
- Steam boiler capacity: 1.7L
- Power: 1200w
- Reservoir capacity: 2.5L
- Plumbing option: Yes – comes with kit
- Weight: 29kg
- Digital Temperature control over brew and steam boilers