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Rancilio Rocky - John Roche's Review
Posted: May 25, 2001, 7:36pm
review rating: 8.5
feedback: (4) comments | read | write
Rancilio Rocky
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More About This Product
Arrow The Rancilio Rocky has 70 Reviews
Arrow The Rancilio Rocky has been rated 8.43 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 455,574 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

Previous Review Next Review
Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.8
Manufacturer: Rancilio Quality: 10
Average Price: $350.00 Usability: 7
Price Paid: $210.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: 1st line Aesthetics 8
Owned for: 1 year Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Solis 166, Krups blade grinder
Bottom Line: Exceptional construction, performance and value. Ideal for espresso but may not be best choice for those who grind for multiple brew methods on a regular basis.
Positive Product Points

Grind Quality & Consistency, VERY Quiet, Range of Grind, Good track
record, service and parts readily available. Price.

Negative Product Points

Doser/Fork, Oily beans stick due to hopper design, pain to clean, no timer
only on/off switch, pain if you switch grind types frequently

Detailed Commentary

Many of you know the Rocky and its esteemed position with alt.coffee
participants as well as the host of this site, Coffeekid. There is good
reason for this as it‘s an excellent grinder and an exceptional value at the
$200 USD price point.

Prior to purchasing the Rocky I used (and still use for Decaf) a Solis 166
which retails for about $125 USD. I generally grind for espresso so my
comments are based primarily on this use. I own a Solis SL-90 espresso
machine and found the 166 adequate. However, the Rocky offered a
wider grind range and a better ability to fine tune the grind. In addition it
produces a more consistent grind than the Solis all of which make grinding
for espresso a more better thing with a Rocky.

The Solis 166 has some advantages over the Rocky in certain situations.
Let me explain- the Solis 166 loads beans into a hopper like most
grinders, the ground beans follow a short exit chute and are deposited
into a plastic container. You remove the container and use a measuring
spoon to dose into your desired brew device. The advantage to this set
up is that you can easily change the grind from French press, to drip, to
espresso without having to clean out a doser or exit chute of grinds. It
also has a timer so you don‘t have to keep an eye on it- not a major
point, but a nice convenience. The shape of the hopper on the 166 also
helps to more consistently direct oily beans into the burrs than the
hopper design on the Rocky. They can (and do) still stick on occasion but
a light tap or a quick stir with a wood spoon usually dislodges any
offending beans.

Unlike the Solis, the Rocky does not deposit grinds into a container, it has
a doser/fork combination. This is generally considered an espresso only
type set up. Some people prefer this arrangement but I am not one of
them. I really don‘t think the doser/fork combination is worthwhile in a low
volume home use set-up. The beans load into a hopper which feeds into
the burrs, then out through a chute and into a doser chamber. You then
flip a small lever which "doses" the grinds out. Below the doser is a fork to
allow a portafilter to rest. Unfortunately, not all portafilters will fit onto
this fork, mine does not (at least not very gracefully- I have to angle it
just right at a slant). If you intend to make use of this feature you should
check to see if your portafilter will fit. The fork itself can be removed (as
I have done), it is held on by two screws and can easily be removed by
the user (some dealers will remove the fork if requested before shipping,
notably 1st Line). With the fork removed any size portafilter will now fit
under the doser but you will not have a "rest" or guide and will have to
hold it while dosing. So why do I dislike this fork/doser deal? I mean after
all it looks just like a "real" commercial grinder set-up. Well, in many ways
it is just that. However in a commercial establishment the grinder is
usually only loaded with one type of bean for one type of grind. In a
home setting you are much more likely to want/need to grind a variety of
beans and quite possibly for multiple brew devices (espresso, French
press, drip, etc). This is certainly not the Rocky‘s forte at least in terms
of ease of use. In order to change grinds or beans you will have to clean
both the hopper and chute of the previous grinds. This usually involves
brushing out the chamber while flicking the doser to move the old grinds
out. Not a huge hassle but this can become a real pain in the ass if you
change grind/beans frequently. The doser "blades" contribute to this
problem as they do not quite touch the bottom and sides of the chamber.
Several people on alt.coffee have attempted to minimize this problem by
modifying the blades with a small amount of tape (attached to each of
the blades) to help sweep the majority of grinds out of the chamber. I
have not yet done this but in theory it sounds like a good idea.
Personally, I think the rocky is best as a dedicated espresso grinder.
Besides, you don‘t really need a $200 Rocky to grind for French Press or
drip.

One problem for dark oily bean lovers is that beans tend to stick and this
often requires a whack on the side of the Rocky (be sure to whack the
metal part not the plastic). Since the base of the hopper is more-or-less
flat (due to the placement of the finger Guard) a stir with a wooden
spoon does not always dislodge the beans. I find by cleaning the hopper
with a damp towel after each use it helps cut down on the frequency of
stuck beans. But I also don‘t use really oily beans very often. I‘ve been
told that removing the finger guard solves this problem but i decided to
leave mine on.

_________________________________________________________
Follow up posted 1.3.02

For some reason I can't seem to post this follow-up under the follow-up
heading so here it is;

After about 14 months of use, exclusively for espresso, i would adjust my
scoring as follows;

Quality=10 (unchanged)
Usabilty=8 (espresso) 6 (as multi-purpose grinder due to doser set-up)
Cost/Value=10 (unchanged)
Aesthetics= 8 (10 for stainless version not available when i purchased)
Overall=9 (-1 for sticking beans, doser)

My comments on the Solis 166 are now somewhat outdated after the
introduction of the new Maestro Grinder at the same price point as the
old 166 and the Solis Mulino (aprox $125 USD). There is also a new bad
boy, the Innova Grinder available with either flat or conical burrs and w/
stepless adjusment and it's dubbed the "Rocky Killer". The jury is still out
but at an almost identical price point you would be wise to compare the
Innova models to the Rocky very closely. Hopefully we'll see a bunch of
in-depth reviews shortly. You can see the Innova at
<http://www.espressoparts.com/index.cfm/detail/13/157/1018/I-1D>

I still stand by most of what I wrote in my initial review. I still find the
doser worthless for a home set up. I still have the forks removed and use
a small glass bowl under the doser inspite of the fact that i now own a
Silvia which has a portafilter that fits the Rocky's fork. I find it easier to
dose into the bowl and then fill my basket with my Illy spoon. Less
waste/over spill etc. My single biggest complaint about the Rocky remains
the sticking beans issue. Oily beans tend to stick, and even beans which
are not so oily can stick. I left the finger guard in place and try to keep
the hooper as clean as possible. Despite this I still need to "whack" the
Rocky more than i would like. Even with these mostly minor complaints, I
would buy this grinder again in a heartbeat. It's the best in its class
unless and until the Innova proves to be a true "Rocky Killer". The harder
decision may be- do you get the Maestro at 130ish or spend the extra 80
bucks to get a Rocky. Since I have not used the Maestro, I can only go
buy what others have reported, and suggest you strongly consider what
usage the grinder will get. If you do mostly or exclusively espresso I
would spend the extra money and get the Rocky. I see the Maestro as
the ideal second grinder for decaf and grinding for other brew methods
(although many report it does a very good job at espresso although
maybe a notch or two below the Rocky). If budget were really tight I'm
sure one could be quite happy with the Maestro.

I made mention that the Rocky is a pain to clean, but that may not be
entirely fair. All grinders of this type are a bit of a PITA to clean. Mark's
page on cleaning a Rocky proved invaluable and now that I've done it a
bunch, it's not very hard at all. It's a PITA in the same way as having to
do the dishes or mop the floor. You don't really *want* to do it, but you
have to do it and you're always glad you did.

One last note: This is a very quiet grinder, much quieter than the 166
and almost silent w/o beans but motor running. A big plus in the AM.

1.28.02
Lack of timer follow-up: After using the Rocky I no longer feel the lack of a timer is an issue/downside. Maybe one just gets used to what one has, but I've grown to like the simple on/off switch.

Buying Experience

Can't go wrong with 1st Line.

Three Month Followup

see comments above

One Year Followup

May 1, 2006---5 year follow-up. Yikes, has it really been 5 friggin' years since I bought this. No real change in opinion. Replaced burrs a year or so ago, figure I consume about a pound a week, so I guess that makes for about 1825 pounds of beans passing thru my Rocky. Still works like a charm. Doser still sucks and lost a spring which I never got around to fixing.

No regrets, no burning need to upgrade. A solid workhorse.

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review rating: 8.5
Posted: May 25, 2001, 7:36pm
feedback: (4) comments | read | write
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