Robust Quiet Doserless Plenty of adjustment for Espresso Consistent
Negative Product Points
Beans can get stuck in it's gullet.
This is another one of my own quirky reviews. Quirky in that I am comparing this machine to the one I owned previously as well as commenting on the Rocky. I apologise if this reduces the appeal of the review but then contrasting products is quite important as we are not all made of money and this latest upgrade cost me a bit. I have a rare chance then to compare products.
First of all why upgrade from a Gaggia MDF? It is afterall a fine grinder in itís own right.
When I pulled the MDF off the bench I noted itís weight. I couldnít find the specs for the MDF so I canít tell you what itís weight is. Suffice to say when I put the Rocky on the tray next to the Silvia it was a great deal heftier. This actually surprised me as I had assumed they would be similar in weight for some reason. If someone by the way has the exact weight of these two machines let me know. I think the Rocky is 17 pounds.
When I read further on the two machines it turns out the Gaggia MDF has a 120W motor and uses a gear reduction system in order to generate sufficient torque. This means that the motor runs at higher RPM than the rotation speed of the burrs (about 1600rpm). The Rocky on the other hand uses a direct drive from a 166W motor. Whatís the difference? Well the Rocky is a hell of a lot quieter. Big difference. The Rocky is barely audible when switched on without beans, you can hear the motor loading up but the sound of the blades running is pretty well inaudible. Obviously when you add beans it makes quite a bit more noise but it is still surprisingly quiet. With the Gaggia the noise WAS an issue. Early in the morning in Sydney when grinding my coffee it disturbed people in the duplex next door (common wall). It was also annoying when we had guests as it was sufficiently loud to be disruptive to conversation. I always ended up apologising for the noise.
I got the doserless version as with the Gaggia I was forever flicking the doser lever to clear it which was probably not good for the wear rate. The Rocky is of course made for the Silvia portafilter and so far I am impressed. The doserless feed is definitely more messy than loading into a container (which I did with the Gaggia). I am thinking though that I will put up with the slight extra mess in order to get freshly ground coffee all the time. I grind about thee grams into my hand and chuck it for the first grind of the day to clear any old grounds. (rather than pissing about with brushes or vacuum cleaners).
The MDF and Rocky both have 50mm flat burr grinding surfaces so it surprised me that the MDF seems MUCH better for the very fine grinds. Even after having it serviced and recalibrated I needed it down to 2 on the dial to do the grind for the Silvia whereas the Rocky is set at 11 at the moment and that may even be a bit on the fine side. I am still experimenting. I have found so far that the crema production is more impressive with closer to a 20 second shot than a 30 second shot. I am using a lightish tamp though so this could make a difference too. Anyway, I am getting excellent crema.
The crema production seems better on this than with the Gaggia. This is subjective though and I havenít compared them side by side. I think some of the difference might result from approaching from the coarse side in my experimentation with the grind. It just surprised me just how much crema flooded through when the shot was just making it to the 20 second mark with a double producing about 65ml including the crema. I may adjust it back to the 12 mark for this reason.
I have read other criticisms of the Rocky, one was the power cord on the RHS but I have the tray for the Rancilio Rocky/Silvia and it is no problem. The tray with the draws are fantastic by the way and is HIGHLY recommended. I bought all three components, the Silivia, then the tray/base then the Rocky all separately. My recommendation is to get them all together as it is cheaper to buy them as a package.
I was thinking of the Mazzer Mini or the La Cimbali Junior but I didnít want a machine with a doser and I want a grinder which looks like it belongs with the Silvia rather than itís robotic guardian. I was also told that the La Cimbali is really designed for medium duty commercial use ie. 10 Ė 20kg per week of beans. It does have 64mm flat burr gears and would theoretically deliver more throughput and likely a better grind than either the Mazzer or the Rocky but where do you draw the line? The La Cimbali Junior in fact weighs 27 pounds and puts trough 16.5 lbs/hr of beans. So there you go Rocky and Mazzer owners. ďMirror mirror on the wall who is the best grinder of them allĒ. Bad news you should spend thousands on a conical burr grinder but failing that a Rocky is a great machine, especially at the price. Maybe someone, one day will do a scientific article using proper technique and an expensive particle size analyser to find the differences between all these machines??
I canít think of anything else to say about this machine except I would have saved money if I had bought all this gear in the first place. I may have taken all this for granted though. Now I know just how good this stuff is and I am in NO doubt about the quality of it and that is something that I will be proud to own for many years to come.
The nature of people, especially us guys is always to accessorise and get the best there possibly is, whether we need it or not. I do this myself with scuba gear and motorbikes. I think I may have found the sweet spot for myself though with equipment which is top shelf and practically engineered and will last as long as I want to keep it.
Excellent service and advice at Supreme Coffee machines here in Perth, Western Australia.
Three Month Followup
I have had a good three months with my Rocky. Every now and then someone tries to convince me to buy a Mazzer Mini, it seems to be the must have item. If they make it doserless and put a stepped adjustment on it then I might consider one.
The only annoying point is that beans do get stuck in it's gullet, a well known foible which Rancilio should fix. It is a minor problem though that I can live with and it doesn't happen that often.
It just quietly and efficiently goes about it's job of delivering good espresso!