One of the most impressive espresso machines in terms of design is undoubtedly the Rok espresso maker. But what makes this manual espresso machine stand out from the competition? We attempt to find out with this comprehensive Rok Espresso maker review.
Rok Espresso Maker Review
For our espresso maker review, we look at different aspects of the Rok manual espresso maker. Once we establish the best espresso making process for a manual espresso machine, we will look at the details of the Rok espresso maker. So, without further ado, let’s start this espresso maker review by looking at how a manual espresso machine works.
How to Use a Manual Espresso Machine?
For the purpose of this review, we will be focussing on how to operate a manual Rok espresso machine. This goes from the grinding process to preheating your manual espresso maker and pulling the shot.
There is a matching grinder for the Rok espresso maker, called the GrinderGC. There are many advantages to using this grinder, as this specific grinder can be fine-tuned to grind your coffee beans from fine to coarse. Obviously, you want a fine to medium grind for your espresso.
We believe the GrinderGC is slightly better than most electric options. As the design is made for precision, there is less movement of the beans you would normally get with electric grinders. So, that is a big plus in our book.
Please note, the ideal grind for espresso is two clicks away from the finest grind.
For the best result, the manufacturer of the Rok espresso maker recommends preheating the device. First, fill the cylinder with boiling water. Then, wait up to thirty seconds and allow the boiling water to make everything warm. Next, slowly raise the arms of the Rok espresso maker and let it run through the empty portafilter into the cup. This will ensure that your manual espresso maker is at the optimal temperature for espresso making.
Pulling the Shot
To pull the shot with the Rok espresso maker, please follow the steps below.
- Preheat and tamp your grounds portafilter
- Add boiling water halfway up the cylinder
- Raise the espresso maker arms to their full height
- Press down slowly to full hydrate the grounds
- Once the coffee is coming through, raise the arms again and press firmly down
With the Rok espresso maker, be sure to keep an eye out for blonding; this is when the coffee becomes a bit more transparent while you pull the shot.
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Since this brings in more acidity and bitterness, it is best to release the pressure on the arms when the blonding process starts. However, if you prefer more acidity and bitterness, you can ignore this step.
Pulling a shot is so simple and straightforward with the Rok espresso maker. Not only do you get high quality espresso, you can brew your espresso with more precision than most electric options.
Build Quality and Design
The Rok espresso maker has a straightforward and classic design, which makes it quite easy for beginners to operate. The design of the Rok espresso also makes the device quite easy to clean and maintain.
One of the additional benefits of the build and design of this espresso machine are the ergonomic handles. There are also some rubber legs on the bottom, which ensures the Rok espresso stays in place while you operate it.
And finally, the design of the Rok espresso maker is also quite portable. So, if you regularly take a holiday and cannot live without some high-quality coffee or espresso, then Rok espresso machines will provide you with exactly what you need.
How It Works: the Piston
The Rok manual espresso machines come with a special portafilter that is made from stainless steel. The pressure chamber inside is made from a glass composite that is completely free of BPA. Finally, the piston gasket is specifically designed for high-pressure brewing, making it perfect to create the best espresso with minimal effort.
While the piston design is sturdy and durable, we did notice that the water can aerate because of the design. This means that some of the heat can be lost while you pull your espresso shot. For that reason, it is recommended to preheat your espresso maker for the best result.
Most sellers will provide their Rok espresso machines with some fitting accessories. A coffee spoon and tamper are the most basics among the accessories, but are sturdy and affordable nonetheless.
One of the biggest advantages of the Rok espresso makers is their small size. Contrary to other manual espresso makers, the Rok espresso is a lot smaller and easier to transport measuring 22 centimetres in width and 29 centimetres in height. As for the weight of the Rok espresso maker, compared to most manual espresso machines it is a lot lighter.
Obviously, another massive advantage of the Rok espresso is the fact it does not require electricity. Evidently, this makes it a solid choice for people who travel often and might not have immediate access to electricity.
Those who are looking for something a little more durable will find one of the better manual espresso machines in the Rok machine. After all, it does not contain many complicated parts or electrics that can break. Of course, the solid design of the Rok also adds to the overall lifespan of this solid option.
Since you must preheat most manual espresso makers, this is not really a disadvantage attributed to manual Rok espresso makers. However, we did mention the issue with the piston earlier, which can aerate the water and reduce its temperature. So, this might not be the fastest way to pull an espresso shot.
A lot of manual espresso makers are very affordable and this is no different for the Rok espresso maker. However, compared with other manual options on the market, the Rok has a bit of a higher price tag.
Finally, the Rok does come with a milk frother. And while the addition of a milk frother is great, it is nothing more than a little bump on the overall design of the machine. So, this espresso machine could have benefited from a better milk frother design.
Who It’s Good for?
The Rok is a solid option for anyone who is looking for a compact espresso machine in their home and are up for tweaking and manual control of every aspect of their espresso shot.
Also, if you have little room on your kitchen counters but still want to make a high-quality espresso, then the Rok will be an excellent choice.
Who It’s Not for?
While the Rok is compact and delivers quite a good espresso, it requires a lot of practice to get the pull and length of the shot right.
So, those who don’t want to take the trouble to learn how to tweak and dial in their espresso may not wish to go through all this trouble!
Manual Vs Automatic Espresso Machines
It is likely that you always worked with automatic espresso makers in the past, and only recently started considering the manual option.
While automatic espresso machines will automatically pull your shot, the manual machines allows you to do this action yourself. So, you might wonder why you should choose manual over automatic?
Let’s start by looking at the advantages of a manual option. Once we have done this, we can move onto some of the disadvantages, after which you can make a more informed decision.
Higher levels of control
One of the biggest benefits of going manual is that you have a lot more control over your brew. Manual machines leave you in control of every part of the brewing process, going from the grinding to the duration you pull your shot. So, even those who are quite advanced in the world of coffee brewing will find the manual options very interesting.
The average manual machine has a simple design. If you are new to manual brewing, a complicated design is the last thing you need. While there are some options with more complex designs, the large majority of manually operated espresso makers are relatively simple.
When you are looking for a vintage look in your kitchen, then a manual coffee maker is often the best choice. Manual coffee makers usually have a vintage look, making them a true conversation piece in every home.
Teaches Brewing Skills
Beginners that wish to hone their brewing skills can find a benefit in a manual coffee maker. After all, it teaches them each aspect of brewing. And while it does require some time to learn everything, those enthusiastic about coffee will find that a manual option will meet their requirements best.
To ensure you can make an informed decision about your next coffee maker, it is essential to look at some of the downsides too. Since we covered some of the benefits, let’s look at some of the disadvantages too.
A manual machine does require a little bit of physical effort. This goes from manual grinding to pulling the shot by operating the arms on the device. While this is not really a problem for most people, it can be an issue for people with mobility issues.
For example, if you have little upper arm strength or if a disability prevents you from exerting a certain amount of force, it could be better to look at an automatic option instead.
Additional accessories are usually needed
An automatic machine usually includes all the accessories you need to make your espresso from A to Z; this includes the grinder. Now, this is not always the case for a manual option, which often provides a grinder as an accessory that must be purchased separately.
On the flipside, grinders of automatic machines are not always of the best quality, so having the option to use a separate grinder of higher quality could be the advised choirce for coffee fanatics. However, it is not necessarily the most economical choice long-term.
Now, we mentioned acquiring brewing skills under benefits as well, so let us explain. For beginners, it takes a while to master the manual brewing skill. So, one should not expect to get the perfect shot of espresso the first time around.
If you want a good shot of espresso, but not really interested in mastering the art of manual coffee making, then there is little point in purchasing a manual option. There are many advanced automatic and-super automatic coffee machines that will do the hard work for you these days.
And while they do not always provide the extensive level of control a manual version does, they do make it more convenient for those who are simply looking for a good-tasting espresso without too much detail involved.
On the flipside, if you are looking to master you manual brewing skills, it is usually best to start with a simple option such as the Rok discussed in this interview. This coffee device requires a minimum amount of skill, yet helps you to master vital techniques such as grinding, avoiding blonding, and other skills necessary to pull the perfect shot of manual espresso.
Conclusion: Is the Rok Worth It?
Considering everything mentioned in our review, we believe the Rok is more than worth it. We mainly recommend it for beginners to intermediates, as this option does lack in some of the more advanced features.
Nevertheless, it is affordable, has a durable design, and does enable more precision. So, it is definitely one of the more solid espresso maker options out there.
The Rok is often named among the best manual options for espresso. After investigating the machine for a while, we have to agree with the large majority of reviews. After all, this particular option has few disadvantages and is quite durable.
Last update on 2020-09-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API