ROK Espresso Maker Review – DIY of Espresso
Updated 02-04-2021 – Dan Alvazrez
The ROK espresso maker is a surprising product. I’ll be the first to admit that I was sceptical when this was recommended to me and I take no shame in admitting that I was completely wrong. It was said to be a manual espresso maker that makes almost true espresso. Me being a coffee snob (sometimes) scoffed at the notion. However, after spending 8 days with the ROK espresso maker I’m a true believer. Read on as I tell you the tale of a naysayer that started loving this coffee maker.
If there is ever going to be a film about coffee, I nominate The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) to play the ROK espresso maker. Just like his muscles, this espresso maker makes one strong cup of coffee. OK, I’ll stop the bad jokes before you close the window right here. The rest of the ROK Espresso Maker review is going to be a professional commentary on this maker and how it is able to produce some great quality espresso without having any electrically-powered machinery inside it (there will still be some professional jokes).
There are a lot of different types of espresso machines or makers in this case, and we have covered them extensively on the best espresso machines and the best cheap espresso machines articles respectively. Usually, an espresso maker needs some kind of pressure to make true espresso, and it is hard to do so in a manual espresso machine. And a manual espresso machine usually produces espresso-style coffee rather than actual espresso. So before even getting the ROK espresso maker, I was already making up my mind on how badly it could perform. That’s all on me because each of my friend and colleague that recommended it sang praises of it. It is true that the reviewer needs to be impartial and objective, but it is also true that one needs to be sceptical of bold claims made by the company. After all, if we all gave in to the marketing hype and official blurbs, we would buy all the products all the time.
Now that I’ve spent around 8 days with this coffee maker I have some thoughts on it. But start talking about the manual espresso maker that really surprised me in the detailed review:
ROK Espresso Maker Review
Unboxing the ROK
The ROK came in a box, and it was a good quality cardboard box that secured the production really well. In all honesty, the ROK is rock solid because it is made out of great quality machine-grade steel. It is heavy and sturdy, so it doesn’t need to be stored in a padded box at all simply because of the quality materials they used to make it. There is a large metal container that housed the actual machine as well, so it’s not like the ROK was just tumbling around inside a box. Overall, I’m very impressed by the presentation and the packaging of the espresso maker. I’m sure you will have absolutely zero complaints about the packaging unless your delivery company decides to kick it all the way from the warehouse to your place.
Machine grade steel though, there is a plastic handle on the portafilter, there are some rubber seals, and there is a glass chamber. All the things are made with premium quality materials and feel sturdy to the touch. That’s not all though, the company is also offering a 10-year guarantee on all the metal parts which is a lot of time for an espresso maker. Worry not, if you are clumsy like me and are worried about breaking the glass chamber or the seals, the replacement parts are not that expensive and are readily available.
There has to be more inside the box right? And yes, there is also a milk frother which has a unique shape to it. There is a plastic cup attachment for the portafilter and last but not least, there is a plastic scoop inside the packaging as well. Overall, the initial impressions were great not only because of the packaging but also because of the quality of the materials used in the making of the ROK espresso maker. I’m telling you, the steel is super high quality, the product has a presence and weight to it. The presentation is also very good, and I find it absolutely stellar.
Making espresso on the ROK
The first thing I would suggest is to read the instruction manual and not to be like me, an arrogant person that didn’t bother to read the instruction manual and ended up with an almost cold beverage. Yeah, I should’ve read the instructions and adjusted my grind properly in order to get the best results the first time but as with any machine or maker, there is a high chance you want to end up with the perfect drink on the first try. Usually, it takes me around the 3rd or 4th try to get the perfect mix and the ROK espresso maker was not different.
Remember, preheat everything according to the instructions. This includes the portafilter as well as the cup.
For my first attempt, I simply loaded up the portafilter with coffee and used the plastic scoop which was included to temper. Then I got the water tank filled, lifted the handles, and then simply pressed. I knew it in my heart that the espresso was not going to be perfect, but I didn’t expect it to be slightly on the colder side. Overall, it was a good first attempt and the espresso tasted like espresso just a bit colder. The crema was not great, but it had the potential to be amazing.
As with any other manual espresso maker, you’ll need to use your own coffee grinder with this coffee maker. We have a large list of the best coffee grinders on the website as well so if you need a quality one, do take a look at that. I used my own grinder to grind the coffee beans, but I failed to measure the dose properly for the first go. The subsequent cups were a lot better because I started to notice what kind of grind and dosage I need to make the perfect cup of espresso. Tuning in the grind was enough to make the taste bloom and everything was coming into place, and I was hoping that my next cups would be way better.
And better they were, my 5th one was perfect, and I reckon it would take around 4 to 5 tries for you to get the best espresso as well. Maybe you’ll get lucky and nail it on the first try, but you absolutely don’t have to worry if you don’t. Honestly, this is the same process I repeat with any espresso machine or coffee maker I test for work. It takes a while to nail down the perfect combination and there is no shame in admitting that the 1st cup was not stellar. That was all on me, and not on the ROK espresso maker because it works perfectly. The only downside to owning a manual espresso maker is that you have to remember the settings you used because the ROK is not going to remember anything. However, there are numerous advantages to owning a manual espresso maker especially when you love to play around with your brews.
Is it Even Real Espresso?
Yes, the ROK espresso maker makes real espresso. It came as a surprise to me but boy it was a pleasant one. It is capable of producing real espresso, and I’m really happy with the performance I got out of this nifty contraption. I’ve had espresso that is far worse from other espresso machines, especially those that are on the budget end.
If you’re looking into a manual espresso maker, I’m going to presume that you have some experience with making espresso already. Even if you’re not an experienced coffee brewer, this machine is simple enough to use, and with enough experience and “sink shots” you’ll be able to nail down the combination yourself. However, I highly recommend that you take up a barista course if you can, this will really hone your skills and allow you to shine as an espresso maker yourself. I totally understand that it is not feasible for everyone to simply get a barista course done, simply reading up on educational materials can help you with making a good quality espresso cup.
Another point I would recommend is measuring and weighing stuff. I know, it sounds like a bit of a slog, and honestly, it is, but the end results will yield better quality espresso. Also, if you know the numbers, it will be very easy to replicate the perfect drink again. Another factor that you need to consider is the quality of the coffee beans, purchasing freshly roasted coffee beans is a lot better than using store-bought ones. So if you have a local shop that sells freshly roasted coffee beans, I’d say choose that over the large supermarkets. You may have to drive to the coffee shop yourself because many of them don’t do deliveries but in the end, it will be all worth it.
Electric espresso machines and The ROK
I don’t think there should be a comparison between typical electric espresso machines and the ROK. They are both playing on a different ground but if you’re torn between buying one of them, I’d say go with the electric coffee machine if you are an amateur. But if you want to learn more and produce better quality espresso, the ROK espresso maker is the way to go.
If you’re going to compare the prices, this coffee maker is not that expensive. So for that price, you’d only get a budget electric coffee machine which in all honesty, might just be serving coffee-flavoured hot water. I’m not saying that the budget coffee machines are bad, but you will get a quality cup of espresso at that price range.
There are 2 disadvantages of owning the ROK espresso maker, which is that there are no settings in storage, so you have to memorize everything. This is why I recommend measuring and weighing coffee. Another disadvantage is the lack of any boiler, you’ll need to do manual milk-steaming yourself. No steam wand is a bit of an inconvenience. This is also why the 1st cup I produced was a bit on the colder side.
Why buy the ROK
Usually, other espresso machines take around 15 to 25 minutes to warm up. The ROK is ready to roll as soon as you pretty much warm everything, the speed depends on you.
- It is a smaller-sized machine that is very easy to carry around.
- The price is also very attractive, especially when you compare it to other espresso machines.
- The machine-grade steel is superbly durable and will last you a long time
You don’t need to use any electricity for the ROK espresso maker. As there is no need for electricity, you don’t need to worry about electrical surges or parts getting burned. The only burning that can happen is of the coffee if you’re not careful.
The ROK espresso maker changed my mind completely about manual espresso makers. Yes it doesn’t have electrically produced pressure, and you have to do everything manually, but the end result is surprisingly potent. If you have some experience with making espresso yourself and need a good quality manual espresso maker, I highly recommend the ROK.
From the build quality to the resulting coffee cup, it is a pleasure to use the ROK, and I am very pleased with the results. It is also one of the most affordable espresso makers around and with the 10-year guarantee the company gives, that is one of the best deals around when it comes to manual espresso makers.
Do I recommend the ROK espresso maker to everyone? Yes, I would wholeheartedly do so.
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