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Rancilio Rocky - Mark Prince's Review
Posted: January 15, 2000, 1:31pm
review rating: 8.1
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Rancilio Rocky
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More About This Product
Arrow The Rancilio Rocky has 71 Reviews
Arrow The Rancilio Rocky has been rated 8.44 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Rancilio Rocky reviews have been viewed 469,552 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Berhouz Abedian 9.00
John Roche 8.48
Sean Strugnell 8.44
Toto Di Torretta 8.14
Mark Prince 8.05

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.8
Manufacturer: Rancilio Quality: 8
Average Price: $350.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $0.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Aesthetics 8
Owned for: 1 year Overall 10
Writer's Expertise: Professional Would Buy Again: n/a
Similar Items Owned: Not entered
Bottom Line: Best grinder you can get for the home for under $400. Will improve your shots by a significant amount.
Positive Product Points

Innards pulled straight from the MD40 by Rancilio. Quietest grinder I've seen (though with a caveat), "Rock Solid" construction inside. Very even grinds. Large range of grind levels (80 or so). Has improved my espresso immensely, and more important: it has made my espresso consistently good or better.

Negative Product Points

Doser fork is mikeymouse. lids flop around. Not much money spent on the aesthetics and exterior. Doser chamber is flawed. Grind selection is so fine (80 choices are available), the machine sometimes doesn't grind the same way at a given setting with different beans, on different days.

Detailed Commentary

After owning my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine for a month, I made the decision she just had to be married to a Rancilio Rocky grinder, so I plunked down $200 to www.1st-line.com, and bought the puppy.

About a week later (UPS ground from the east coast to the wet coast), Rocky commeth, and Rocky was a heavy beast. The box was heavy, and when I pulled the grinder out, it was heavy, as in around 20 lbs worth of machinery. Kinda puts the Braun KMM30 and the Starbucks Barista Grinder (my other two grinders in the house at the time) to shame when it comes to beef.

I unpacked everything, glanced at the (thankfully English) manual, wiped off some packing lint and plugged Rocky in. I heard a very faint hummm from the machine, and it took me a few seconds to hear it. I thought, "cool! It has an internal fan to keep everything cool inside! ... but why hasn't anyone mentioned this online?". Then I grabbed some of my garbage beans to test with, dumped them in and whoa!!! Noise! Grinding! Coffee being ground!!!

At first I thought that the Rocky had some sort of auto sensing, grind when beans are in mechanism, but I quickly realized two things - a) the auto sensing didn't make sense, and b) the Rocky was actually "on" when I plugged it in! That's how little noise the engine inside makes!! Amazing!

There is a caveat with that. I've seen and been demo'ed some commercial grinders in the $600-$1000 range that are (relatively) quiet even when grinding. I think it has to do with sound dampers and insulators around the grinding chamber... something the Rocky doesn't have... so when grinding, it can get loud, but with no beans in the machine and it turned on, you'd be hard pressed to guess it was on by the sound of it.

But let's get to the meat of the Rocky. It is essentially a stripped down MD40 grinder. The motor and grinding aparatus inside are identical. Rancilio shaved off the bux on this grinder by going low cost on the exterior components and the doser chamber. Where the MD40 has a great doser with variable dose selectors, good tight construction that leaves little coffee behind, the Rocky's doser is pretty basic. The fork on the Rocky... sigh, the fork. In a word? Sucks. Plain jane cheapo plastic. At the very least they could have put in some kind of "lock in place" plastic ring or something you could snap your portafilter into, but nooooo... that would have cost another $2 in materials!

And the lids! They flop around - no tight machined fit at all! I had to put rubber bands around the lips of both the hopper lid and the doser lid to get them to fit a bit better. Round out the cheapo plastic base (really a departure from the rest of the Rocky's outer skin - a porcelain covered metal) and you can see that Rancilio really went low budget on the exteriors.

But, these are really aesthetics. Where a grinder is worth it's salt is in the grind and its performance. In these two areas, you really do have a commercial grinder in your kitchen. The Rocky has improved my espresso by a significant amount, but more importantly, it has helped to make my espresso consistently good. It has helped make my espresso occasionally great. And it has helped make my espresso perfect on many occasions. The grind is about as even as you can get, and this machine can go from making the finest powdery turkish grind to huge pebbles much larger than any press pot might need. With around 80 grind settings, I believe it offers more variances in grind than any other machine in its class and price range.

The Rocky (along with my Silvia) was probably one of the best purchases I've made in years. This machine will probably outlast me, which is either saying a lot or not (if you look at my family history :-)). I am a very satisfied customer, though I hope Rocky II has an improved doser and fork.

Buying Experience

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review rating: 8.1
Posted: January 15, 2000, 1:31pm
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