The Rocky by Rancilio

in Stainless Steel ... without a doser, for all uses ... or with a doser, for espresso.

Rancilio Stainless Steel Rocky without doser
$349 (15 Lbs. Ship Weight)

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The Rancilio Rocky grinder is a top-grade, consumer mill made in Italy. It has the best quality burrs and a straight-forward adjustment to dial in the precise grind for espresso, regular-drip or other brewing methods. You can get it as an all-around mill, with a convenient front-mounted switch, or as a dedicated espresso mill, dressed up with a doser and coffee handle holder.

This is one solid chunk of metal The motor is powerful and grinding is quiet. It has commercial grade 50 mm flat burrs and 55 grinding adjustment steps, enough to pinpoint the exact grind requirement for the most particular espresso machine. And it covers a full range of grinds from fine to coarse, from Espresso to French Press. (I wouldn't say that the coarse grind is its strong point though. It's passable as a French Press grind but really the Rocky excels in the medium to fine to ultra-fine grinds; filter-drip, vacuum pot, espresso, and Turkish).

The decision you need to make is whether the Doser or Doserless model is right for you. Both are the same mill with different hardware attached to the front (and the doserless mill has a spring-loaded switch on the front. You will be able to use either as all-around mills, but the no-doser model is a bit better-suited for this. Be aware that new Rocky mills are tested at the factory, and you might see a little grind residue on the burrs or in the doser. That is a good thing!

Please note - the new doserless mill has a removable plastic grounds catcher in front - like the updated photo of the no doser machine to the right. We will have an updated photo of the doser machine posted soon.

Rancilio Stainless Steel Rocky with doser
$359 (16 Lbs. Ship Weight)

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Please note - the new doserless mill has a removable plastic grounds catcher in front - like the updated photo of the no doser machine to the right. We will have an updated photo of the doser machine posted soon.
The Rocky is one good-looking, solid hunk of metal! It features aqua-tinted acrylic hoppers and chutes to preserve coffee freshness. It is a compact 14 inches high, 10 inches deep and 5 inches wide. It weighs 21-23 Lbs. as it sits on the counter.

A grinder is all about the burrs, and like the other top-end home machines (and commercial machines) the Rocky has a flat burr configuration. These are large 50 mm burrs mounted in this over-built brass housing ... very nice! These are the same burrs used in Rancilio commercial mills. The Rocky (doser or doserless) can do Turkish to Espresso to Drip to French Press.

Everyone comments on the quietness and evenness of the grinder in action! It has a very solid feel a 166-watt motor with direct drive that is very quiet (under 70 decibels). The motor weighs around 12 Lbs., has a high temperature overload switch to prevent possible damage if a stone gets caught in the burrs. It operates at 1700 rpm.

To remove the top burr you need to undo 3 slot screws inside the bean hopper, and spin the top brass burr housing out - takes less than 2 minutes.

To the left, the bottom burr housing as it appears when you unscrew the top burr. As you can see, just 3 slot screws and you can have the bottom burr out ... not sure why you want to, but access to the burrs is quick and easy.

The great burr quality and 55 grind adjustment steps mean you can fine-tune your grinding to the Nth degree!

Grind adjustment is easy to view from any angle with oversized numbering. There are 55 burr steps, and you simply push the grind adjustment lock tab (above image, lower right) which is spring-loaded. Push it down and turn the top hopper. While this is not the Mazzer's stepless burr adjustment, it is really user-friendly. Expect the adjustment lever to wiggle a bit since it is a pin/spring-mounted design. This has no effect on grind quality and does not result in any appreciable grind "drift." If the hopper is moving while grinding - we have developed a fix for this problem that is described here.

The Rocky Drawbacks:
The main complaint I have heard has to do with the bean hopper (image to the right), especially with oily dark roasts. These coffees can stick a bit, because they didn't design it with a very vertical funnel into the burrs. This means you might have to tap the hopper to get the last beans to fall into the burrs- not a big problem. Personally, I don't have a big problem with this because I don't roast espresso until it is dark, oily and carbony. I prefer Northern Italian roasts which is in the Full City + to light Vienna range.

The other complaint is that the doser and the coffee handle holder mounted underneath it are not useful. This is an issue with all home coffee mills that have dosers, in a way. You are pre-grinding into the doser, then dispensing. Unless you use a lot of espresso each day (shame on you, you glutton!) you are going to end up with some older grind mixing with fresh grind. You also have more parts to clean. The advantage is you don't have to wait for 20 seconds to grind in the doserless model, but I don't mind the wait; I really like doserless mills! The other doser problem is getting the dose adjusted to dispense the right volume. Once again, you can go doserless and avoid all this... but that is my bias.

Doser model: Some people choose to remove the "forks" and simply dispense espresso or other coffee grinds into a small container of some sort (maximum of 3 inches tall). This works great and allows you to use the doser model for other types of brewing - and for espresso you can simply spoon the coffee from your little 3" tall container into your portafilter.

Bean hopper and the ground coffee container (doser model) can hold up to 10.5 oz coffee.

A problem with all flat burr mills is that the grind is dispensed horizontally (see the rectangular opening in the side of the burr housing wall). The blue arrow shows you the path the grind takes to exit. I think the Anfim had a bit of a problem with retaining grind in the chute. Of all the flat burr machines I have tested, the Rocky has the best design to avoid this grind retention - its a very short chute and even the finest grinds dispense well.

Both the doser and no-doser model have the same on-off switch on the side ... nice quality. This is the "main power switch" for the machine. (Also note the really beefy electric cord ...)

The no-doser model also has a spring-loaded switch on the front. With the no-doser mill, you are basically going to leave the white on-off side switch in the "on" position all the time (except when you clean it, duh!) and use the pressure sensitive switch on the front to actually power the burrs. This works fine for both espresso grinding into a coffee handle, and drip or French Press grinding into a container. The bar is fairly easy to remove.

The coffee handle "fork" on the doserless model is a really, really nice design. It appears to work with all the coffee handles I could put in it except the Solis SL-90. Pictured here is the Silvia coffee handle.

On the no-doser model, You can easily dispense into another container for other brew methods. The coffee handle "fork" is so nice that it would be a shame to move it to make it a multi-purpose mill, but it is easily removed.

Here are two grinds, a very coarse grind for French Press on the left and an Espresso grind on the right. I use a grind slightly finer than the one on the left for Press. And for espresso I use a setting of about 10 on the Rocky dial, but of course these things are different for every coffee, for every degree of roast, and for every espresso machine. And THAT is exactly why you need a good mill like the Rocky.

I like the heavy stainless housing on the mill, and the metal work involved. These corner cuts look like something you would get at a custom fabricating metal shop. One issue: these slots (image to the right) are cut in the stainless and there are some scuff marks from the process around them. These clean up quickly, but it would be nice if they were shipped in better shape. But remember, Rancilio is truly handmade equipment so this is a result of that fact.

More on the Doser / No-doser debate:

Some home espresso enthusiasts like the doser model with the fork removed and the ground hopper lid off - you can put a 3" tall container udner their to pick up the grind, then transfer it into the portafilter with measure scoop (or weigh your dosage on a scale). The one advantage I can see is easier access ti clean out the grind "tunnel" the rectangular passage from the burr chamber to the hopper. On the doserless model, you have that curved aqua-tinted plastic piece, a dispenser cover, in front of it. You need it there to some degree to keep the grind from flying out. But it sort of obstructs a brush from getting up there ... sort of. I have a shop vac by my mill so it takes 2 seconds to pull out grinds when I switch coffees. But you probably don't want a shop vac in your kitchen. So one alternative is to get the doserless model, then to take about an inch off the outer curve of the dispenser cover, which will keep the grounds dispensing in the right direction, and allow easier access with a brush. I personally thinks this makes more sense than buying the doser model, then taking off all these pieces to use it in a different way. And I also really like the curved bar / coffeehandle holder on the doserless model -it's great in function and as a design element! But hey, that's just my opinion. -Tom