Top Three Heat Exchanger Espresso Machines

The Round Up

Heat exchangers are a popular choice for home baristas looking for professional equipment on a budget. Because there’s only one boiler, the brew water heats through a tube (usually copper) specifically designed to reach the optimal temperature—brewing high-quality shots at the fraction of the cost of a dual boiler machine. Our top three picks are the Rocket Espresso Appartamento, Nuova Simonelli Oscar II and Rocket Espresso Evoluzione. Each machine is well-designed with high-quality components and professional grade materials. It comes down to the nuances that’ll make all the difference for making coffee you love at home.

Best For Beginners: Rocket Espresso Appartamento

We start off with the newest Rocket, the Appartamento. This machine is designed for entry-level and professional baristas who want to bring home a quality espresso machine. And it’s apartment sized to fit on virtually every countertop—or hey, just install a coffee bar. It features an E61 brew head, a 1.8-liter copper boiler—the same boiler in the Evoluzione—and commercial-grade 58mm portafilters.

Another seductive draw of the Appartamento is it’s fashionable polka-dot side panels—available in white or copper! It still maintains the beautiful clean profile that Rocket is known for, but with a fun, modern twist. That said, the Appartamento is entirely manually operated by the barista, while our next pick has some handy programmability.

Best Programmability: Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

Equipped with two programmable espresso buttons, brewing and steaming at the same time just got oh-so-easy! Set your ideal single and double shot time for your favorite brew. Like the original Oscar, the Oscar II is outfitted with high-performing components like a heated 58mm group head that keeps shots consistently hot. You can get the Oscar II with a reservoir or plumbed-in, but it’s not interchangeable, so you’ll have to choose one way or the other.

Of course, we can’t forget to mention that famous steam power we all know and love! The Oscar II’s updated design opened up more room for an articulated steam wand that has far better rotation than the original Oscar. The four-hole steam tip reaches every angle of your pitcher for perfectly frothed milk—just keep an eye on it since the Oscar II is a fast steamer! We also appreciate the steam switch that allows us to feather the milk for more control.

Best Options: Rocket Espresso Evoluzione

Built with the legendary E61 brew head, 1.8-liter copper boiler and commercial-grade 58mm portafilter, the Rocket Espresso Evoluzione is a powerful machine. If you’re thinking this sounds like the Appartamento, you’re right on track—these machines have identical components! However, the Evoluzione features differences that make it shine. For starters, the Evoluzione has a rotary pump versus the Appartmento’s vibratory plumb. Not only does the pump make the Evoluzione’s quieter when brewing—your household will thank you for that—but the boiler is also insulated to increase thermal stability up to 30 percent.

Did we mention you have choices with the Evoluzione? Setup your Evoluzione to use the internal reservoir or—our favorite option—plumb it in directly to your water! Are you remodeling your kitchen or moving? No problem—the Evoluzione can switch back to fit your needs. You also have two styles to choose from; the Cellini, which has a clean-cut and boxy shape, and the Giotto, which sports sleek winged panels.

Conclusion

Our top three heat exchanger—the Appartamento, Oscar II and Evoluzione—each offer unique benefits for home baristas looking for an affordable and reliable espresso machine. What’s your favorite heat exchanger espresso machine? Tell us in the comments below.

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