There is a real need for a simple, solid grinder in the $300 range that fits between the cheaper Baratza models and the more expensive Mazzers. Unfortunately, the Rocky is not it.
Positive Product Points
Decent price for a burr espresso grinder. Looks match the Rancilio Silvia nicely. Doserless model available.
Negative Product Points
Poor quality. Cheap plastic parts. Too much play in the grind adjustment. Static in the chute. Difficult to clean chute.
I had recently purchased a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine and was very impressed with the overall build quality. I used it with a Starbucks Barista grinder and it has served me well but I felt it was time to upgrade my grinder to take my espresso to the next level. When it came time to buy, the Rocky was my first choice. I read good things about the Rocky and the price was right so I assumed it would be a good match for the Silvia. I expected it would be built with the same quality and ruggedness.
My first impression was a good one since at first glance it appears rugged and heavy like the Silvia. The outer case is stainless steel and the motor is large. Many people have commented that it is "built like a tank". On closer observation, I have to disagree. Big motors are cheap and adding a stainless steel cover is more for looks than durability. The heart of the grinder is in the burrs and adjustment mechanism, and this is where the Rocky falls short. The burrs are rather small and soft compared to other grinders (like the Mazzers). The upper burr height is adjusted by turning the cheap plastic hopper. The grind steps are determined by a plastic pin falling into a series of plastic holes. There is far too much play in this type of arrangement. I understand the play can be reduced by adding tape, but still, I expected something better from Rancilio.
On the positive side, the doserless model suits me well. I like the simple removable portafilter holder. The exit chute is a bit annoying. Once again, it's cheap plastic that attracts static. Also, they screwed it in place so it can't be removed to clean the stale grounds that collect. A simple "flip-up" metal chute would have been so much better. I'm starting to wonder, did the same company design this grinder that made my Silvia?
After adding my beans and doing a few test grinds, I proceeded to find my "zero point" and back-off to the recommend number of steps for an average "fine" espresso grind. Unfortunately, the burrs were not properly aligned at the factoy (not parallel) and despite repeated efforts, I could not get a grind finer than I would use for drip coffee. I returned the grinder to the store where I purchased it. They did a quick check, confirmed my observations and offered me a new one.
My experience with the Rocky lead me to look at other grinders. I ended up buying the Mazzer Mini and couldn't be happier with my decision. The Mini is the grinder that Rancilio "should" have built to accompany the Silvia.
Bought it from a local retailer in Montreal (Cafe Union). Glad I did since they took it back for a full refund after it was determined to be defective.