The Rok Espresso Maker is a $199 manual espresso maker that we wanted to like but just couldn’t grow found of nor use with any consistency. The Rok is made of high quality aluminum and designed/manufactured with simplicity in mind. Unfortunately, we had trouble pulling anything close to a decent semi automatic / super automatic type of espresso shot; specifically our results were more akin to stovetop espresso with virtually no crema and that wonderful mouth-feel and chocolate/slightly bitter espresso flavor profile.
The ROK espresso maker instructions were fairly straightforward but the machine requires boiling and measuring your own water, experimenting with coffee grind, careful consideration of water to coffee exposure time, and the amount of pressure to apply to the hand levers. Espresso novices will quickly give up on trying to brew a decent cup after a few attempts. Our first 8-10 shots produced watery shots even with fine adjustments to our grind and water temperature, for example. We were able to produce a stovetop espresso like shot with lots of effort and fine tuning (especially with the amount of pressure to apply to the hand levers).
In the end, our opinion is that the Rok is not worth the effort of boiling water, adjusting hand lever pressure, and finding the right grind consistency given the end result. If you’re looking for a stovetop espresso-like brew then simply invest in a $30 Bialetti unit. If you want proper espresso then be prepared to invest heavily in a semi automatic machine with accompanying burr grinder (or if you’re in Europe or select US cities, just head to local high quality bar and/or cafe).
Note: we used an electronic burr grinder to achieve several variation of espresso grind and also used freshly roasted coffee.