Rok Espresso Maker

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The Rok Espresso
The Rok Espresso Maker - a manual espresso machine requiring lots of attention to detail.

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.

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6 Comments

  1. Joseph Chiaravalloti

    A semi-auto espresso machine takes a precise grind and a lot of practice to achieve good crema and nicely frothed milk for cappucino. If you make it nearly every night (as we once did before the coffee started keeping my wife up), results will be very good, but take a few weeks off and you will end up with what you describe. I have a Gaggia MDF grinder and a venerable Rancilio “Audrey” espresso machine.

    For the occasional cuppa, go with the French press for consistent results.

    • Hi Joe,

      We have an excellent burr grinder and even roast our own coffee beans. The issue with the Rok is that is that the machine is very difficult to pull consistent shots, nor does it produce “real espresso” (it basically creates moka espresso / stove top espresso).

      The most important factors in producing high quality espresso at home are: freshness of beans, grind consistency and size (as you said), and technique via high quality equipment.
      French press is a different animal.

  2. The problem is not the ROK. It’s the coffee. It has to be fresh, the right grind and you have to tamp it well. The ROK is the espresso maker for the artisan. It is not a quick one button solution. It grows with you. It is art and science. I saw coffee experts stunned at the results at the London Coffee Festival. They also wanted to believe it could not make true espresso. Then they tried it themselves and were shocked at the incredible results. I love my ROK. I love the look. I love the feel. I love being able to experiment. I get amazing espressos with beautiful crema. In today’s fast world of instant results it is easy lose the experience of actually making something yourself.

    • Hi Marco

      We wanted to like the Rok and you may be right that here’s nothing inherently wrong with the ROK, however we did experiment with grind consistency and level (we have a burr grinder) and our beans were freshly roasted (at home). Agreed that the ROK isn’t a machine that one quickly adapts to, however the learning curve for us was just to steep (and we think it will be the same for most espresso lovers).

      We’re big advocates of from scratch food here at Scordo, including the idea that one should have patience when it comes to living life and enjoying wonderful food and drink. However, the machine proved to difficult to use for us…

      Vince

  3. Frank @Memorie di Angelina

    Too bad, it’s a really cool looking machine.

    • Hi Frank, it is a great looking machine. In researching the unit, we did see lots of videos producing excellent results but I wonder about the level of work needed to get a good end product. We used a burr grinder and experimented with grind as well bean roast and still couldn’t get better than stovetop results.

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