The Lelit Bianca vs. Rocket Appartamento - $3,000 vs. $1,750 Espresso Machine
As always, you can find everything I used (or have used) on my coffee bar available on my website here! If you enjoy my content, don't forget to follow on Instagram, subscribe on YouTube, and consider joining as a channel member to help support me and the channel!
So this is the Rocket Appartamento, a $1,750 heat exchanger espresso machine that I’ve owned for nearly a year and a half.
And this is the Lelit Bianca v2, a $3,000 dual boiler, PID enabled, and flow controllable espresso machine that I’ve owned for about a little over a month.
It’s Xris here and welcome back to the channel. In today’s video I’m going to be comparing these 2 espresso machines to find out some of the pros, cons, and which one might be right for you.
Before we continue into the video I do have a full dedicated review of the Rocket Appartamento which you can check out as well as a comparison between the Rocket to the $500 Gaggia Classic Pro. Both are linked in the description down below.
Now a quick disclaimer: the Lelit Bianca was provided to me for free from the fine people at Cliff & Pebble but all thoughts and opinions are my own and I did not receive any financial compensation for this video.
However I do have affiliate links that give me a small commission if you choose to use them which add no additional cost to you as the customer but does help support the channel and allows me to continue creating videos like this one.
Okay so let’s start with the build differences.
Okay so both are E61 machines. What that means is yes the portafilters are compatible with each other and other E61 machines as well.
Both are also built like a tank. The Rocket weighs in at 20kg (44lbs) and the Bianca weighs in at 27kg (59lbs).
My version of the Rocket Appartamento is the Serie Nera which comes with these black side panels that have a smooth touch, near rubber-like coating to it while the Bianca is fully stainless steel.
Pretty much any stainless steel surface on either of these 2 machines are finger print magnets but that’s sort of just the nature of it.
Quick tip, just buy a stack of microfiber towels to keep your machine and coffee bar area clean on the daily.
In terms of footprint, both machines are roughly 30cm wide and 45 ish cm deep. Although that’s including the Bianca’s water tank which can be moved to the left or right side.
As to how this translates on bar, the Bianca feels just slightly bigger, well because it is, and is just a bit taller than the Rocket.
The cup warming area on the Bianca has a much nicer design with an integrated removable tray and no exposure to the machine’s internals.
Meanwhile the Rocket is essentially just the top of the machine with holes exposing the internals with a cup rail along the top.
Both machines also have 2.5L water tanks. One cool thing about the Bianca is that it can be plumbed in meaning you can connect it to a water line and never have to use the tank. You can also plumb in the drip tray and set up a drainage as well.
The Rocket has an 800ml drip tray capacity while the Lelit has a bit of a larger capacity. In practice, based on my experience, this translates to emptying the Rocket out roughly 2-3 ish times per week and the Bianca maybe 1-2 times per week, of course depending on your usage.
For the drip tray I do still like that the Rocket has this magnetic sort of latch while the Bianca just relies on some rubber bumpers.
The grills on the Bianca allow me to place my scale a bit easier, almost like stepped increments while on the Rocket you just have to be careful of the holes.
The Bianca also seems to have this kind of hidden storage area which is where I keep a blind basket for cleaning.
Both machines have excellent knobs, obviously here I have a custom wood kit from Mussa Tampers on the Rocket as well but both machines have nice and smooth knobs that turn easily without any issue.
Now one thing the Bianca fixed that I have issues with on the Rocket is the maneuverability of the steam wand and placement of the hot water valve.
The steam wand has this blocker that prevents it from rubbing up against the machine where you can see my Rocket has suffered a little bit of wear over time.
And the hot water valve! While still not perfectly ideal, it is nice that I can leave it looking more natural while giving me full access to the lever while on the Rocket you have to awkwardly skootch the valve away.
Lastly, the power button. The Lelit uses a push button to power it on and off while the Rocket uses a little switch. You can leave them both in the on position and use a smart plug to actually control whether they’re on or not which is what I’m doing here so my machine auto-starts in the morning while I’m still in bed.
Something I absolutely do not like on the Bianca is the engraved icons here. Just, why?
Now talking about noise. I’ll touch on the different pumps later but when starting up both machines they make similar sounds with heating and steam being released.
One difference here is that the steam is released on the outside of the machine on the Bianca and inside in the Rocket.
The Bianca is definitely a little quieter than the Rocket when running it but once the Bianca is on and ready it makes no sound whatsoever.
The Rocket occasionally makes a hissing type sound from the boiler presumably, but sheesh the Bianca is whisper quiet. Not a peep.
Overall the build on the Lelit edges out the Rocket for me, and it should with it being the premium priced machine. All the metal parts even down to the drip tray grills just feels a little stiffer and sturdier compared to that of the Rocket.
So experience using these machines. I’ll admit that out the box the Bianca was intimidating, especially with flow profiling.
For the first week or so I basically kept the lever at a point where I was hitting a consistent 9-bars for my shots.
If you want to know what my experience is like with the Rocket, just check out my Workflow Wednesday playlist with literally over 30 videos of my daily workflow on this machine.
Functionally, in terms of preparation and workflow - it’s identical. You prep your puck and lock it into the group and pull the lever.
The Bianca does have 2 features that make it a little bit different, should you choose to dial in your shots further, and that’s flow control and PID.
Flow control allows you to adjust the pressure of water going into your shot. To do this on machines like the Rocket Appartamento and Gaggia Classic Pro, you have to open up and replace a physical part or make an adjustment within the machine.
I do have videos for adjusting the pressure to an industry standard 9-bars on both machines if you’re interested in checking those out.
The Bianca being a dual-boiler machine with PID also allows you to adjust the temperature of your water for both brewing and steaming, while on the Rocket you may have to rely on using a temperature gauge and cooling flushes to get within your target range.
The Bianca has another included feature and that is pre-infusion. Now what pre-infusion is is letting a little bit of water in and shutting it off quickly after to saturate your puck before continuing with the shot to potentially have a more even extraction.
The Bianca allows you to set an automatic pre-infusion for any set amount of time in seconds.
I’ll get into a little bit more about whether or not you should even care about these features later in the conclusion section of this video.
But essentially, this is what separates the Rocket from the Bianca, a $1750 to a $3000 machine.
Dual boilers, PID, flow control, and a rotary pump. Speaking of which, what is a rotary pump and does it differ from the vibratory pump in the Rocket?
Well a quick Google search shows that vibratory pumps are smaller, inexpensive, and tend to be easier to replace. Rotary pumps are quieter, offer more consistent pressure, and generally have longer lifespans.
I personally don’t know beyond that if there’s any other functional difference but from my own experience I did find the Bianca to be the quieter machine with a different type of sound altogether. Here’s a quick demo.
I’ll have more Workflow Wednesday episodes returning with POV workflows on the Bianca for those interested.
So the Bianca is over 70% more expensive than the Rocket. Does it make 70% better espresso? No, absolutely not. In fact the $500 Gaggia Classic Pro or Flair 58 could make comparable shots.
But what you ARE paying for is consistency, reliability, levels of control, and generally a nicer time with a machine like this.
No one is going to justify a fancy espresso machine even at the budget level as a necessity. If you’re in the market for an espresso machine, you presumably have the spare disposable income to invest in one, regardless of if it’s a $500 GCP or $3000 Bianca.
Now for me and where I am in my journey into espresso, I absolutely love the newly added levels of control. I can dial in shots with pressure and temperature which is something I never have really had the ability to do before.
Because of these added levels of control, I have a level of consistency day to day with my shots that I simply did not have with my Rocket or Gaggia.
And steam! I can adjust the steam to be more or less powerful. Personally I keep it at the maximum temperature to get the most power out of the steam wand.
But I can see the appeal of starting off less aggressive if you’re new to it.
Steaming on the Bianca only took a moment to adjust to, but I’ve realized that with the Bianca I’ve been able to get some incredibly silky texture milk more consistently than I could on the Rocket. That in addition to binging some Lance Hedrick milk steaming tutorials.
Alright so, conclusion time.
Is the Bianca worth it over the Rocket, and I will say yes but only if you’re looking to be able to have these levels of control.
PID and flow control features were not something I was particularly interested in when I first got into making espresso at home.
But over time I’ve grown to see the appeal and now enjoy using those features to brew better at home.
I would say that if this is a hobby you know you’ll get deep into and would love to explore how these factors influence your final cup, then it's a great machine with all the features and capabilities you could want.
It’d be hard to justify anything more than a machine like this really in terms of featureset.
Don’t get me wrong, the Rocket is still a great espresso machine but for where I am now - having the feature set of the Bianca is awesome and I’m going to love using it moving forward.
Anyways I hope you enjoyed this video. Be sure to like it if you did, subscribe if you haven't already, and I’ll see you in the next one.