Best home use grinder under USD 300 and fewer than 15 inches tall.
Positive Product Points
Stainless Steel Commercial internal components Very quiet operation
Negative Product Points
Doser Chute On/Off Switch
Rocky has been around for some time and seems to be the best home-use coffee grinder available under USD 300. The stainless steel exterior is a nice match to the Rancilio Silvia. The grinder is 14 inches high that should fit under most kitchen cabinets. The Rocky internals are substaintly steel and brass as you may be able to tell by its relatively heavy weight (17.5 lbs.). Static is a non-issue with the Rocky.
Rocky’s design seems more attuned for uses such as small stores, offices etc. In my home, I usually make 4-8 espressos per day. I only grind an amount (14g or 50 espresso beans) of beans sufficient to make one (single/double) ristretto espresso. It is not recommended to store coffee beans in the hopper, as it is not airtight.
You will notice that the hopper is quite large (can hold 10.5 oz), as is the doser (can hold 7 oz). When you grind 14g of beans you normally need to “click” the doser lever several times to get all the coffee grinders out of the doser. Something else to point out is that the doser wings do not adequately clear out all the grinds. This can be an annoyance for if you do not sweep out any remaining grinds at the end of day as they may mix with your fresh grinds later on. However, once I made some modifications similar to Randy G’s modification (see here: http://www.quiknet.com/~frcn/Coffee/HowToDoser.html ) this problem is virtually nonexistent.
Also, if you use oily type beans you may experience that Rocky chokes up a bit. You need to gently tap the side of Rocky or use less oily beans.
The doser chute is also quite poor for grind and shot use. If you grind 14g of beans, usually a gram (more or less, I have no idea) remains in the chute. I alleviated this problem by using a small plastic straw and/or a small brush to remove any remaining grinds. I wonder if adding more of an angel to the design of the chute could have cured this problem. It’s not a big deal, but it adds an additional step to the Rocky/Silvia espresso making ritual. And another small item to lament about is the on/off switch that is located in a not so readily accessible area (bottom left under the doser). I also would have liked a stepless grind adjustment that would allow for more accurate changes to grind setting.
However, I must note that I believe the “mark-up” dealers receive on the Rocky grinder is much greater than that for a Rancilio Silvia. I guess it is their strategy to lure you in with the Silvia and make the real money with the Rocky.
That being said, I still feel Rocky is the best grinder you can buy in today’s market for home use that costs less than USD 300. For all the negative items I mentioned above none of which would prevent me from buying or enthusiastically recommending Rocky again. For such negative items to be corrected, a substantially increase in price (or reduction in profit margin) would be required without a relative enhancement in quality of the grind. If you own a machine like the Rancilio Silvia, it is difficult to obtain high quality espresso shots without a decent grinder. The consistent grind that I can produce is quite remarkable. I am expecting to hang on to this grinder for some time.
I bought Rocky from www.1st-line.com It arrived very promptly, but had an inverted dent on the left side that I could not live with. I communicate this to Jim Piccinich, at 1st-line, who provided an exchange very very promptly. BTW, the maintenance kit 1st-line offers includes a "Cam Spring" and a "Dosing Mixer Cam" (number 15 and 16 on Mr. Cappuccino’s schematic).
Three Month Followup
So far so great... I had mentioned that I would have preferred a stepless grind adjustment however, I no longer believe it is worth all the hype. I believe now that the benefits of a stepless grind adjustment can be obtained by simply adjusting the pressure of the tamp to compensate for points between "clicks" on the Rocky... This grinder has been great and still very glad I made the purchase. toto