Back in April of 2016, we had the chance to attend the Specialty Coffee Expo in Atlanta, GA. For those of you who may not know what that entails, it basically is an event where the global coffee community (equipment companies, coffee roasters, coffee industry people) come to show off the latest and greatest that is happening. For us, the expo is a way for 1910 to meet face-to-face with companies we may already work with or want to work with in the future.
While wandering the show room floor, we came across Rocket Espresso's booth. Rocket is an espresso machine manufacturer based out of Milan that we have always admired for their hand built, home espresso machines. We were happy to see that they were rolling out their new line of commercial espresso machines in the U.S. After working on one for a little while, we were so impressed that we purchased one!
Meet the Rocket Boxer:
We were noticing the lack of consumer reviews for the Boxer on the world wide webs and figured we would take the time to give the first third party review (that we know of) on this small, but powerful machine.
At first glance, the Boxer exhibits the same clean and modern design that Rocket is known for. The compact design is conducive for a home user with more space for a shop that may be limited on space. As one begins to look more closely at the machine, it is evident that the layout of this machine was well thought through. The height of the Boxer itself does not overpower the user or the customer allowing for personal interaction. The placement of the steam wands and knobs on both ends of the Boxer create a sense of symmetry that is not often found in one group machines. We've never put much thought into pushing buttons on an espresso machine, but even the texture of the touchpad keys on the Boxer were carefully thought out. The wear resistant gummy texture of the touchpad is a joy to press (we know we're weird, but you'll understand when you try it out)!
Another plus from the Boxer are Rocket's portafilters. In a world of after market portafilters, it nice to see espresso manufacturers producing quality portafilters already included with their machines. Rocket's portafilter possess a curved fluidity that juxtaposes the hard lines of their machines; it's real nice touch! They are also built very well and weighted evenly that you could probably knock someone out with it, but we don't suggest trying that...
Function and Technology
Looking inside the Boxer, one will notice the single 8.3 liter within the machine. This indicates that the Boxer uses traditional heat exchanger technology rather than a modern dual boiler technology. Heat exchangers basically mean that instead of having a dedicated boiler for espresso, the grouphead pulls water from the steam boiler while also connected to a valve that inserts cold water to bring the temperature down to proper brewing temperatures. We know that is a lot of tech talk, so here is a picture to explain:
There is this common assumption that heat exchangers are less temperature stable compared to dual boilers. While they do require more thermal management, heat exchange is a tried and true technology that is still used heavily in European coffee shops because of their ability to dish out drinks effectively. In our experience, heat exchangers do have the ability to produce better tasting espresso because of the insertion of fresh cold water with every shot than a dual boiler that is cooking water in a dedicated boiler.
As mentioned above, the Boxer features two steam wands for a single group machine. This not only creates symmetry but also allows for two baristas to effectively work on the Boxer together where one can be dedicated to shots and one to milk.
Did we mention how cool the steam wands are? No, like how literally cool the wands are because they are cool touch wands, which means no more worries about burning your fingers.
Another feature that drew us to the Boxer were its volumetrics. Volumetrics allows the user to program a certain amount of water to be dispensed from the grouphead and shut off once that desired volume is reached. Coming from semi automatic machines, this feature on an espresso machine was new for us, and we have to say that now we are fans! Shots with volumetrics are usually within two grams plus/minus of its desired weight, which is solid for the size and price of this machine. Another nice feature that we have never see before on an espresso machine is the manual override switch for the grouphead. This feature is added so that a user can still make espresso in case the electronics in the touch pad ever stopped working. Nice touch, Rocket.
Last, but definitely not least is shot quality. How is espresso tasting on the Boxer? We can honestly say that we have pulled some of the best shots that we've sipped on in a while. While use of good coffee does contribute to good espresso, the flow rate on the Boxer is a dream and because of that we have noticed no channeling...that's right baristas, NO CHANNELING!!! The Boxer's hot water faucet is also really nice because it features an adjustable cold water mixing valve. This means no boiling water spraying on your hands and perfectly temped Americanos every time.
If you can't already tell, we are HUGE fans of the Boxer. We believe that it's an espresso machine that will have something for everyone with its simple design and functional features. If you have any questions regarding this beautiful machine, feel free to drop us a line and we'll be happy to answer.