For years, one of the most well-known home espresso machines has been the beloved Rocket Appartamento. If you do any searching online for the top recommend espresso machines to use at home, you’ll come across this name quite frequently.
But things change as time moves on. Are there machines that are comparable to the Rocket Appartamento? We think so!
In this post, we’re going to be comparing the Lelit Bianca vs Rocket Appartamento. Both machines are great for at-home espresso afficionados, and we hope to show you why.
Here’s what we’ll look into:
- The features the Bianca and Appartamento share, as well as what those features mean.
- Differences between these machines and how those differences impact you.
- Information regarding the prices of both machines.
- Recommendations on how to decide which one is better for you.
We think both machines in this comparison get points for style, but the Lelit Bianca really is something else. Its genuine walnut wood accents give it an entirely unique aesthetic that we think our customers will love. But it’s more than just looks; with two powerful boilers and a flow profiling system, the Lelit Bianca is excellent for home baristas and offices who are picky about their espresso.
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The Rocket Appartamento is a real heavyweight champion when it comes to quality home espresso machines. Home baristas all around the world have loved this machine, including many of our own customers. From its affordable price to its fast heat exchange boiler to its stylish design, this is an all-around fantastic machine for baristas or small businesses on a budget that want a high-quality espresso machine.
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Semiautomatic Machine Type
We’ll start with the basics in this comparison: both the Lelit Bianca and the Rocket Appartamento are semiautomatic espresso machines. In a nutshell, that simply means both rely on you to determine when the extraction of your espresso starts and ends.
Imagine that you’re making a single shot of espresso. You would grind your beans, tamp them in the portafilter, then attach it to the machine. On a semiautomatic model like the Bianca and Appartamento, you would start the brew cycle, time it carefully, and then stop brewing the espresso at the appropriate time.
Truthfully, it does take some practice to get the hang of it, especially if you’re never used an espresso machine before. As you strengthen your experience, though, you’ll come to appreciate the flexibility of being able to pull long or short shots whenever you like.
Another common basic quality is that both espresso machines have a single group head. The number of group heads directly impacts how much espresso you can produce at once. More group heads mean more espresso.
This is why espresso machines in coffee shops will generally have anywhere from two to four group heads. It allows baristas to make more espresso at one time so they can get through drink orders more quickly.
Having only a single group isn’t necessarily a detriment. On the contrary – it means these machines can be offered to you for a much more budget-friendly price point. Additionally, you’re not likely to need the output capacity of a multi-group machine if you’re just looking for something to use in your home or in a smaller business that occasionally offers espresso to employees or guests.
Related Article: Best 1 Group Commercial Espresso Machines
E61 Commercial Brew Groups
A less apparent similarity between the Bianca and Appartamento is the type of group head they have: an E61 commercial group. We’ll explain what that means.
An E61 commercial group is a special type of group head that comes with a couple desirable advantages. The first is that it makes automatic pre-infusion readily available. Before extraction, an espresso machine with an E61 group head will use a gentle trickle of water to erase any irregularities in the espresso puck so all espresso granules can be reached during extraction.
The second advantage is even stabler brewing temperatures. E61 brew groups circulate water between the boiler and the group head nonstop, which prevents temperature fluctuations from impacting the quality of your espresso.
Stainless Steel Cases
Looking for an espresso machine that will withstand the test of time? Then you want one with a quality case that is both functional and beautiful.
This is something the Lelit Bianca and Rocket Appartamento have no issues with. Their cases are made from stunning stainless steel that has the additional benefit of being durable.
Expect either machine to continue to look great and function smoothly for years to come.
No-Burn Steam Wands
If you’re just learning the ropes of using an espresso machine, you’ll discover pretty quickly that there are some hazards involved. One example is the steam wand, which naturally gets extremely hot as you froth milk.
To protect you from burning yourself on the steam wand, both the Bianca and Appartamento have specialized no-burn wands. This means you can safely handle the wands for frothing and cleaning without ever having to worry about hurting yourself on them.
What’s more, because they don’t get overheated, milk does not get crusted onto the ends of the steam wands. On top of keeping you safe, you also won’t have to waste as much time maintaining your machine by scraping crusted milk off the end of the steam wand.
Size really does matter when it comes to espresso machines, much like any other appliance you’d put in your home or office. Those looking for compact models that won’t dominate your space will appreciate the petite sizes of the Lelit Bianca and Rocket Appartamento.
The Lelit Bianca is a modest 15.75 inches tall, 11.40 inches wide, and 19.10 inches deep. Comparatively, the Rocket Appartamento is 14.25 inches tall, 10.50 inches wide, and 17 inches deep.
The Rocket Appartamento is slightly smaller than the Lelit Bianca, but we feel that the overall size is remarkably similar. Both are small machines that you’ll be able to squeeze in wherever you need to put them.
Need a compact espresso machine for your business? We’ve also compiled a list of the best mini commercial espresso machines.
Pour-Over Water Tank Compatibility
A pour-over espresso machine is an espresso machine with a water tank that you must manually refill every so often. Larger businesses generally eschew these types of machines because they don’t have time for their employees to stop throughout the day and pour more water in.
In smaller environments or in homes, though, this isn’t as much of an issue. You’re less likely to go through multiple water tanks full of water in an hour – you may even find that you only need to refill the water tank in your machine every couple days.
Both the Lelit Bianca and Rocket Appartamento can be used as pour-over espresso machines. One major advantage to this design is that they don’t have to be connected to a water line, so you can use them anywhere with power. If you need to transport them to a new location, store them, or move them for cleaning, it’s much easier to do so.
It’s important to mention here that the Lelit Bianca can also be connected to your water line if you see fit. Once plumbed-in, it will refill its boilers automatically so you don’t have to add water in yourself.
Water Tank Size
Assuming you use the machine as a pour-over model, the size of the water tank is doubly important. A larger water tank will permit you to brew more drinks in a row before you need to pause to add more water.
In this aspect, the Bianca and Appartamento aren’t perfectly equal, but their water tanks are close enough in size that the incremental difference between them isn’t likely to be noticeable. The Bianca’s water tank is 2.5 liters while the Appartamento’s is 2.25 liters.
At the end of the day, both water tanks are similarly generous in size, and will allow you to brew multiple drinks in a row.
Removable Water Tanks
Imagine that you’ve been using the espresso machine to make a few drinks, and you’re finally running low on water. It’s time to refill the tank, and there are a couple ways to go about doing so.
You could fill a container like a pitcher and pour it into the water tank where the espresso machine stands, but this could be a hassle. Low-hanging cabinets or cramped counters could make positioning the pitcher frustrating. Alternatively, you could move the entire espresso machine over to your sink, but they can be rather heavy, so moving them regularly could get tiring.
The Lelit Bianca and Rocket Appartamento have an even better solution: their water tanks are removable. When it comes time for a refill, you can simply slide the tanks out, carry them to your sink, and refill them there for increased user-friendliness and less risk of a messy spill.
One of the most frustrating things about a good cup of coffee or espresso is the rush you may feel to drink it before it gets lukewarm or cold. There’s an easy solution to this problem: pouring your espresso into a warm cup. The warm cup won’t leach warmth from the liquid, which translates to more time you can spend savoring every sip.
The Lelit Bianca and Rocket Appartamento can help you with this. Either machine has a cup shelf on top, and that cup shelf also heats up any mugs you store there. It’s like killing two birds with one stone – you get a preheated mug, and you have an easy space to keep a few of your favorite mugs.
Dual Boiler vs Heat Exchange Boiler
These machines may have a lot in common, but they also have a lot of differences. Easily one of their biggest differences is the way their boilers are designed.
The Rocket Appartamento has what’s called a heat exchange boiler. It has only a single boiler inside it, but by separating steaming water and brewing water into separate internal compartments through use of a copper tube, you can still brew espresso and steam milk at the same time.
On the flipside, the Lelit Bianca has a dual-boiler design. The name is pretty self-explanatory; it has two boilers, one for steaming and one for brewing.
There are benefits to either design here. A heat exchange boiler can often be more affordable than dual boilers and they also don’t need as long to heat up, as they only need to warm a single boiler. Dual boilers, on the other hand, are often more powerful in terms of steam, allowing you to make drink after drink effortlessly.
See More: Best Heat Exchanger Espresso Machines
The number of boilers isn’t the only thing that differs in terms of boiler design with these machines. There’s also the material from which these boilers are made to consider.
Within the Lelit Bianca, there are two stainless steel boilers. Stainless steel is becoming an increasingly common boiler material as time goes on. It’s tough and isn’t as susceptible to scale buildup as other materials can be.
The Rocket Appartamento has a very traditional copper boiler. Copper boilers are awesome for their naturally antimicrobial quality and their incredible thermal stability.
Rotary Pump vs Vibratory Pump
An espresso machine’s pump is one of its key components. That’s why the different designs of the pumps in the Bianca and Appartamento are something we feel we need to touch on.
The Lelit Bianca has a rotary pump. These pumps are prized for their low noise pollution, which makes them excellent for environments where quiet is key.
Within the Rocket Appartamento, you will find a vibratory pump. Frankly, these pumps can be a little noisier, but they also are relatively cheap to repair, and they aren’t as vulnerable to scale buildup.
Rocket Appartamento Non-Compression Hot Water and Steam Valves
It’s always upsetting when you find out one of your appliances needs a repair. Your heart may sink as you worry about how much the repair is going to cost you.
The Rocket Appartamento’s pump isn’t the only part of it that’s affordable to repair. Its hot water and steam vales are also quick to replace, which generally leads to a lower repair cost.
The other benefit to them is that they’re made to be easy to move. As a result, using the machine on a daily basis feels smooth and comfortable.
Lelit Bianca Flow Profiling Paddle
Here’s one Lelit Bianca feature that gets many baristas excited: a flow control paddle. The flow profiling paddle, located right at the top of the machine, is there to give you complete power over the strength of the water’s flow while pulling a shot.
Water pressure is crucial when it comes to making consistently good espresso. The ability to play with pressure as you’re brewing will open up tons of possibilities in terms of flavor.
Rocket Appartamento Removable Cup Guard
If you’re using the top of the espresso machine to store some of your mugs, you might be worried about accidentally knocking them over if you were to bump into the machine. That’s why the Rocket Appartamento has a cup rail that wraps around the top – cups won’t go sliding off from being jostled.
But if you don’t like the look of the cup guard, that’s not an issue. You can remove it any time if you prefer the look of the machine without it.
Lelit Bianca Brew Group Pressure Gauge
Being able to determine what the pressure levels are inside your espresso machine is important. Most espresso is brewed at nine bars of pressure, and how are you supposed to know your machine is reaching that level without some kind of gauge?
Both machines in this comparison feature pressure gauges for that reason. The difference here is the number of them.
The Lelit Bianca puts an abundance of pressure information before you by having a gauge for either boiler and for its group head. Since it also allows you to adjust the pressure during brewing with its paddle, being able to visually read what the pressure in the group is will make it easier for you to pull consistent shots.
Lelit Bianca PID Temperature Control
Beyond pressure, temperature is another vital aspect to properly brewing espresso. If you have control over the temperatures in the machine, you have even more control over the outcome of each shot.
With the Lelit Bianca, you get that kind of control over temperature. It has a PID temperature controller that not only helps further increase temperature stability, but also lets you tweak the temperature in either of its boilers in highly precise single-degree increments.
Lelit Bianca Shot Timer
As if pulling a good shot of espresso wasn’t a delicate enough procedure, there’s also timing to consider. You don’t want to extract espresso for too long or short a time.
The Lelit Bianca comes to the rescue again in this regard. With its integrated shot timer, users can keep track of how long a shot has been brewing without having to purchase a separate timer.
At Majesty Coffee, we are proud to have a range of the best coffee and espresso equipment in the world – and for the best prices you’ll find online. That includes both our Lelit Bianca and our Rocket Appartamento.
We offer our Lelit Bianca for $2,979 and our Rocket Appartamento for $1,690.
Which One is Better?
Make no mistake: the Bianca and Appartamento are both wonderful espresso machines. Just about any home barista would be excited to have them in their kitchen.
This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t reasons why one or the other may be a better fit for your specific circumstances.
For example, one thing you can start with is the price. The Lelit Bianca is almost twice as expensive as the Rocket Appartamento, so the Appartamento may be preferable for those on a more restrictive budget.
Another easy consideration to make is the look of the machine. In other words, which one do you enjoy the look of more? Fans of rusticism will likely be drawn to the walnut handles and legs on the Lelit Bianca, while those with a more modern taste will love the Rocket Appartamento’s no-nonsense circular cutouts.
A more complex consideration to make is the types of drinks you’ll make most often, as well as how many of them you’ll make. Because it has a strong dual-boiler design, the Lelit Bianca was born to whip through drink after drink whenever necessary.
The Lelit Bianca also gives you one great tool for customizing your espresso: the flow control paddle. Think of it as like giving a larger canvas to an artist. The paddle gives you more room to experiment with taste by adjusting the brew pressure whenever you wish.
So, what’s our overall advice?
We’d say go with the Lelit Bianca if you want more control over the taste of your espresso or you simply like the aesthetics that come from its unique wooden accents. You may also prefer it for the convenience of being able to connect it to a water line.
The Rocket Appartamento is a wise pick, though, if you’re on a budget or you prefer its iconic panel cutouts.
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