Requires a couple of workarounds to live up to the hype; Good choice for home users not ready to commit to the large dosered Mazzers, Macaps, etc.
Positive Product Points
Heavyweight high-quality motor Quiet operation Heavy brass threaded burr carriers Small footprint, especially relative to its large 50mm burrs Easy adjustment between espresso, drip, and french press settings Long-term durability and replaceable burrs
Negative Product Points
Brass threads are not tight enough and require teflon tape to ensure precise grind Grounds clump as they exit doserless chute Comes poorly-boxed from the factory - make sure your vendor packs it well Frequent Rancilio price hikes (as with Silvia) External fit and finish are not up to the standard of the internals
I originally purchased the Rocky over the Mazzer Mini for a few reasons:
- I was not ready to commit to more than $300 for a grinder. - I wanted easy adjustments between espresso, drip, and french press. - I did not want to deal with a doser. - I wanted a small footprint.
I imagine many beginner-to-intermediate home baristas have similar priorities. However, within a year some will find themselves willing to compromise on these factors in pursuit of an even better espresso grind. I recently found myself in the latter camp and am enjoying my new Mazzer Mini.
I found the Rocky to be inadequate as an espresso grinder in its out-of-the-box configuration. However, there are 3 important "hacks" to optimize the Rocky's performance:
1) TEFLON TAPE: There is some play in the brass threads. This means that your "zero point" (where the burrs first begin to touch) may not actually be a fine enough espresso grind. This is because the burrs are not held in a strictly parallel position. The good news is that a dollar's worth of teflon tape from the hardware store is enough to put an end to the problem. By wrapping teflon tape twice around the threads of the top burr carrier, I was able to significantly improve the consistency and fineness of the grind. This eliminated any wobble in the top burr carrier, allowing a closer "zero point" and finer grind.
2) STIR THE GROUNDS: You've probably heard about the Weiss Distribution Technique by now. The Rocky does not produce a fluffy, even distribution from its doserless snout. Many doserless users do some kind of stirring before dosing and tamping. I never bothered with the yogurt cup, but I do grind into a small container, break up the clumps with a thin object (paper clip, toothpick, etc). and then carefully shake the grounds into the portafilter.
3) CLICK CLACK LID: I like to measure only one shot's worth of beans into the hopper. The Rocky tends to retain the last half-gram of grounds. Fortunately, there was a "Click Clack" lid available at my local Container Store that fit the diameter of the Rocky's hopper. The tight fit allows you to pump the lid up and down, which forces air pressure through the grinder and quickly flushes out spare grounds. The flush often includes a bit of chaff, so I dispose of it instead of adding it to the dose in the portafilter.
I cannot stress hack #1 enough for espresso users. Burr tension is the most significant difference when moving up to the Mazzer. The Mazzer actually uses three stiff springs to ensure that its burrs are held taut and parallel at all times. The best way to achieve this effect on the Rocky is by using teflon tape. This has been widely documented on coffeegeek, home-barista, and alt.coffee.
All in all, Rocky can be a very capable grinder if you are willing to tweak it. But if you feel like a > $300 grinder should "just work" with little intervention, you may want to consider some of the pricier alternatives (or get a new hobby!)
I was really disappointed when the box arrived. Whole Latte Love double boxed the grinder, but the good news stops there. The outer box looked reused and flimsy. The cardboard had lost all rigidity. Packing peanuts were leaking out of an opening along one of the sides, leaving mostly air space in the outer box. The result was the heavy Rancilio box sliding around freely inside the weak outer box.
It took a few calls to Whole Latte Love to get a replacement. They made a UPS claim and I was shipped a replacement free of charge. However, I'm not convinced UPS was to blame. When my replacement arrived, the outer box was in the exact same condition - flimsy, reused, more air space than peanuts. Either UPS is heavily abusing these boxes, or Whole Latte Love is not properly packaging them.
I am afraid to purchase from Whole Latte Love again due to this experience. I wish I had paid more attention to vendors like 1st-line, who specifically advertise, "This grinder is repackaged before shipping out to you due to previous experiences where the machine was received damaged under original packaging."