When it comes to making a perfect cup of coffee, many factors influence the deliciousness of the final result. Sourcing the best espresso beans, using the right equipment, and perfecting every step in the preparation process.
One of those key steps is grinding the beans. The correct grind size is crucial to achieving the correct extraction. The beans need to be ground finely to get a tasty espresso but when making pour-over coffee, medium-coarse grind best uncovers the interesting tasting notes.
If your espresso machine at home doesn’t have a grinder and you are looking to invest in a capable and durable one for your home barista set up, we’ve reviewed Rancilio Rocky to see whether it would fit your needs.
What is the performance of this grinder? Are there any challenges that come with it? And who is it best suited for?
Why Do You Need A Grinder?
As you start getting passionate about the coffee brewing, you realize that it is much more complex than it looks. And none of the steps of the process should be underestimated. Not grinding the coffee fresh is one of the most common mistakes that even the experienced home baristas make.
Even though it is often believed that a bag of ground coffee can last your for around a week, some of the coffee experts think that ground coffee can only last for an hour before it starts going stale and has a sub-optimal taste.
Right Grind Size Leads To A Tasty Coffee
The correct grind size is even more crucial to brewing a delicious cup. If you try to brew an espresso shot with coffee that is too coarse, the result will be under-extracted, acidic, watery, and even sour.
And if you try to brew coffee in a French Press with beans that are ground too finely, you’ll end up with a bitter, unpleasant-tasting cup with a lot of sediment. And nobody wants to drink either of those, right?
If you own an Aeropress and want to experiment with different grind sizes and extraction times to match your taste preferences, not having a grinder will limit you to a great extend.
Having a grinder will allow you to experiment with the same bag of whole coffee beans and preparing it with different brewing methods, rather than just having them ground for only one brewer.
To have your coffee ground fresh, don’t be fooled into thinking that any grinder is better than no grinder. It is often the case that cheap electric grinders can be worse than buying pre-ground coffee.
This is because they create a mess in the form of an uneven grind. This causes that some coffee is under-extracted while other coffee is over-extracted when brewed. The friction and heat created by blade grinders also influence the taste of the resulting cup. This doesn’t happen when using a grinder with burrs.
Burr grinders ensure a cleaner, sweeter, and more complex coffee that is ground evenly and consistently. With the right flat-burr grinder, you’re on the road to a delicious espresso shot.
The Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder Review
If you understand the importance of having a grinder for a perfect home-brewed coffee and you are ready to upscale from a single-serve hand burr grinder to a commercial-grade grinder with high durability, a wide range of settings, sturdy construction, and consistency of the grind, Rocky Rancilio grinder might be a perfect fit.
Let’s look at how some of its features satisfied our testing.
Grind Quality And Performance
The Rancilio Rocky is a part of the commercial line up of Rancilio grinders. The commercial standards mean that the grinding burrs are ready for higher demand, constructed from high-quality materials, and have exceptional consistency that ensures great-tasting espresso shots. This where Rocky shines the most and showcases its quality.
Grind Size Guide:
- Espresso | 10 to 0+/-
- Pour over | 20 to 10+/-
- Drip coffee | 25 to 35+/-
- French Press | 40+
The only objection we have when it comes to the performance of the Rocky is its speed. While the grinder is reliable, it is quite slow and you can expect to wait around 20 seconds for 15 grams of coffee at the #0 setting.
While this shouldn’t be a big problem when used at home, if you want to take it to a more commercial setting with higher demand, this could be a dealbreaker.
Meeting the standards of a commercial grinder, the Rancilio Rocky is constructed from sturdy materials with 50 mm flat tempered steel burrs that are powered by a 140-watt motor and rotate at 1725 RPM, which is more than is expected from a home grinder.
With that kind of performance, you expect it to be loud. Surprisingly, it’s not. The motor runs efficiently and works well in eliminating the excess noise, making it quieter than some of the other home grinders.
The Rancilio Rocky has an attractive industrial-chic design that combines a black front panel, stainless steel casing, and a blue hopper. Even if you get it in the all-black version, it’s bound to add an attractive look to your kitchen top.
The blue-tinted plastic bean hopper has a capacity of 10.5oz and is meant to protect the beans from harmful UV rays. If your coffee consumption is not that high, we recommend you don’t store your beans in the hopper. This will help you to prevent them from going stale too quickly.
While the Rancilio Rocky is considered to be standard size, it is not as compact as some of the other entry-level alternatives. It is seriously heavyweight, weighing 15.4lbs, so don’t expect it to be easy to move around your kitchen.
One of the main additional features is the thermal overload automatic shut off function that switches the motor off as soon as it starts overheating. This helps prolong the longevity of the coffee grinder and preserving the burrs.
The grinder comes in two versions, with or without a doser. The Rancilio Rocky doserless is better suited for home use since the beans won’t go stale. You need to eyeball the amount of coffee or, even better, weigh each shot out with a scale to ensure optimal extraction.
The version with a doser is designed to deliver precisely 7 grams of coffee with every flick but needs to be full to work properly, which makes the beans stuck in the doser go stale.
Ease Of Use
For the steep price of Rancilio Rocky doserless or doser models, the grinder is pretty basic and doesn’t include many extra features that would make the machine more user-friendly.
The grinder comes with a removable portafilter holder which is handy but it still requires you to weigh out the quantity because it doesn’t measure the yield.
Adjusting the grind size is the sore spot of this grinder since you need to hold the button at the base at the same time as turning the hopper when adjusting it from coarse to fine, or vice versa. This puts you in an awkward position that makes the hopper hard to turn and probably requires the help of someone else.
As we mentioned, it is clear that Rancilio Rocky is built to last, thanks to its heavy-duty motor, stainless steel durable body, and quality materials, it is constructed to handle long-term use. Its exceptional durability makes it suitable to handle semi-commercial setting such as an office or a coworking space.
So it’s bound to be durable enough for your home.
Maintenance And Cleaning
Due to its reliable construction, Rancilio Rocky requires a minimal amount of maintenance. Basic cleaning done every couple of months together with calibrating the grinder every year or two would be sufficient to keep the machine in a good condition.
Don’t get put off by the coffee dust when you open the machine. This is because every device is factory tested by Rancilio with coffee beans to ensure its satisfactory performance.
Value For Money
One of the key factors to take into consideration when buying Rancilio Rocky doserless or with a doser is its higher price point. While we think that the performance, durability, and consistency of the grind make it a good value for money, the decision will come down to how much you’re willing to spend.
While some home baristas understand that a good espresso machine needs to be accompanied by a good grinder to produce a tasty espresso shot, others, who are not so serious about coffee will be satisfied with cheaper or manual options which are more budget-friendly than Rocky.
The Rancilio Rocky Might Not Be For You If…
You Are Looking For An Entry-Level Grinder
As mentioned, many high-quality burr grinders come at a smaller price and are not as complicated or heavyweight as the Rocky. It is true that even though it is a great grinder, it might be overkill if you plan on using it just for your morning espresso at home.
Our favorite alternative is 1Zetpresso Manual Coffee Grinder that will cost you a fraction of the price but still features good-quality burrs that will grind you perfect freshly ground coffee for your pour-over or espresso machine.
You Want More Customizability
If you want more customizability and functions from a grinder than you can get from the Rocky, the Breville Smart Grinder Pro has the flexibility of the grind functions that make it suitable for any type of coffee but also comes with incredible programmability that remembers your choices for ease of repeated use and even, consistent results.
You Are Looking For A Commercial Grinder
While Rocky performs well enough to satisfy a passionate home barista, it won’t be able to keep up when put into a commercial setting. When looking for a grinder suitable for your cafe, the Nuova Simonelli Mythos Coffee Grinder allows you to dial your espresso grind as precisely as possible, features three programmable timed dosage settings, and is incredibly efficient.
The Rancilio Rocky Summary
What We Like:
- Quality materials and burrs
- Construction and design
- Wide range of grind size settings
- High performance
- Both doser and Rocky SD doserless options available
What We Don’t Like:
- Awkward operation
- Steep price
A good coffee grinder is not just another coffee accessory you don’t need but an essential part of your coffee kit. Grinding is a crucial component of making good espresso or drip coffee. A quality grinder will ensure even and consistent grind that is bound to make your coffee taste even better.
When it comes to performance and design of the Rocky SD, its stainless steel construction and high-quality burrs make it a durable machine that can withstand semi-commercial setting, let alone making espresso at home.