The Rancilio Rocky Review
Tough, durable and with a reputation for quality.
Rancilio is known in the coffee industry for quality coffee making equipment. And a solid reputation for listening to their customers. This helps in keeping that quality high with improvements year after year.
The Rancilio Rocky grinder is a case in point. The grinder has been on the market since the early 2000’s, but continues to be one of the most popular grinders sold according to many vendors.
Because the Rocky is a regular grinder workhorse and it’s been around a long time, there are always questions about it.
So, a current review was in order. Shall we?
Click any link in the menu below to get to the answer you need. Otherwise, please read on.
The Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder
The Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder
What Kind of Coffee Grinder Is Best?
I know I repeat myself over and over on this, but a burr grinder is the best coffee grinder to use. This is because of the evenness and consistency of the grounds it will produce.
You can be like me in the very beginning and fuss and fidget with a blade grinder. I got pretty good at banging, twisting and slapping the blade grinder I originally started out with. Thing is, that gets to be a real pain when all you want is a good cup of coffee.
Trying to get a good grind with the blade can be done, but in the end, it’s really a hassle.
With that in mind…
What Kind of Grinder Is The Rancilio Rocky?
With that in mind, the Rocky is a flat burr grinder. Surprised? It’s also one of the most popular grinders on the market. The burrs are 50 mm in size and are made of tempered steel.
If you’re planning on grinding a lot of coffee – I’m talking coffee shop amounts – then you want a flat burr for the best in heat reduction. The heat buildup on a large amount of beans runs the risk of damaging the beans.
The other type on the market is the conical type that also comes in steel or ceramic. There’s always disagreement as to which is best, but it’s really not a big deal for the home user.
For most of us, either style is fine so long as it’s a burr. (Wink, wink)
How About That Motor?
The grinder’s motor is a low torque, direct drive model that runs at 1750 RPM. This makes the grinding fast, quiet and helps to keep the heat down.
The motor is heavily insulated and has a thermal overload shut off switch. Both of these help to protect against that overheating the beans problem, as well as protecting the motor and burrs if something gets jammed in the burrs.
The Rancilio will grind and have you brewing your coffee in 20-30 seconds. For the espresso enthusiast, this is a little too slow. The Baratza Vario W might better fit your needs. But if you’re not that picky, please keep reading.
The Rocky is available with or without a doser…
What’s the Difference Between a Doser and Doserless Coffee Grinder?
Here’s a quick view:
Rocky With a Doser:
We like this:
- – Cleaner because the coffee grounds are contained in the doser.
- – Less static.
- – Quicker operation when making a volume of coffee.
We don’t like this:
- – Possibility of too much coffee being left over to go stale.
- – The doser vanes don’t completely sweep all the coffee out so there’s more cleanup.
- – Coffee dosage is variable when the doser is half full or less.
Rocky Going Doserless:
We like this:
- – Much easier to grind coffee for varying coffee methods.
- – Easier and more efficient to grind for smaller coffee volumes.
- – Either a portafilter or a collection bin can be used.
We don’t like this:
- – Not as quick to prepare espresso if you’re making several drinks at a time.
- – Tends to be a little messier because the grounds aren’t as contained.
There’s really no major advantage to either. To some, the doser model is quick and more convenient as it measure out the grounds for them. But it does mean a little more difficulty in cleanup and waste.
Here’s a little more detail…
A doser grinder uses a round collection device that’s split up into pie shaped wedges. These wedges are made to hold 7 oz. of coffee grounds each.
This is really good if you’re going to be making a lot of coffee at a time. For example, if you’ve got 5 or 6 people in the house that are drinking coffee, this would work out really well.
It’s quick and convenient.
But, there’s a hitch with using a doser model if you’re only going to be making a few shots or cups a day. To make sure you’re getting the full 7 oz. in the portafilter, the doser bin needs to be relatively full.
Otherwise, when it’s half full or less, the wedges won’t necessarily deliver the whole 7 oz. of grounds.
But on the other hand, if there’s coffee left over in the doser, it will go stale in about a half an hour. This results in bad tasting coffee too.
Also note, the doser model tends to trap grounds between the doser and the grinder housing creating a bit of a cleaning task. So that can be a fair amount of waste as well as clean up time.
A doserless grinder dumps its grounds down a shute into a holder or bin. That can be a cup, a portafilter or any other collection mechanism.
The doserless model is good for just brewing one or 2 cups of coffee a day because then you can just grind the amount of coffee that you need. And, there’s no buildup or waste to clean up.
A doserless is also handy when you’re going to be doing drip, pour over or any of the other coffee methods that have varying amounts of coffee. You slip a grounds bin underneath the spout and then grind is much as you need.
So, doser or doser less? Answer this: How often are you making coffee and what method(s) do you use?
Using the Doser Vs the Doserless Model
When using the doserless model, you can pop the portafilter into the bracket and grind right into the portafilter. But if you need more coffee, you can pull the bracket off and put a bin underneath the spout and then grind as much coffee as you need.
You can do the same to a degree with the doser model. Use a shorter container and remove the portafilter holder. Then just keep pulling the handle to get as much as you need. Kind of an annoyance to me.
The doserless gives you a little more manual control if you need more coffee. There are no other differences other than the doser between the units.
Any Tips or Tricks to Getting My Best Cup?
- Don’t pre-grind your beans. Staleness sets in as soon as they’re ground, so only grind up what you need per batch.
- Experiment with grind size. You may find that you like more or less coffee than recommended. This is because of its stepped behavior. One mark one way or the other makes a difference in taste and strength to some folks.
- Keep the grinder clean. The grounds will go rancid over time because of the coffee oils in the beans. This gets transferred to your coffee and affects the flavor.
- Use fresh, cold water to brew the grounds.
How Do You Adjust Rancilio Rocky Grinder?
Like most grinders, you adjust the grinder by turning the hopper. In the case of the Rocky, turn to the left for a finer grind and to the right for a coarser grind.
Here’s a twist.
When it comes to making coarse to fine grind adjustments on the Rocky, it tends to be a bit of a contortionist’s task because it’s almost a 3 handed routine.
Here’s the deal –
Most of the vendors and the manufacturers all suggest that you have the grinder running while you’re making that finer adjustment.
The reason for this is that there are coffee fragments and grounds in between the burrs. You end up trying to squeeze that stuff down as you’re making the adjustment.
This can cause a poor adjustment in your grind size, miscalibration and misalignment of the grinder burrs.
When the grinder is running, the burrs have a chance to throw the bean fragments out from between themselves as you adjust the burrs closer to each other.
Now, after all that, here’s why being a contortionist Rocky owner would be handy…
All at the same time.
It can be done, it just takes a little practice. The advantage is, once you get it dialed in where you want, you probably won’t need to change it again.
Never fear dear reader, I did find a user that had a workaround. Here’s what she said:
How Often Do I Clean Rancilio Rocky?
When it comes to cleaning the Rocky, it’s pretty easy. In the next section, I’ll tell you how to take the hopper off and remove the burrs. You’ll see that getting to the burrs is pretty easy. Once you’ve got the hopper off, the burrs are exposed.
Here’s all you need to do to clean the unit:
- Pull the hopper off and wash both the lid and the hopper with warm, soapy water. Just rinse and dry. Those parts aren’t dishwasher safe, so hand wash only. Do this every couple of days.
- Clean the burrs on a weekly basis. This helps keep the oil and residue down that could easily clog a grinder if left to build up. You can use a cleaning brush or use a grinder specific cleaning product like here on Amazon.
- Clean the housing with a soft, damp cloth. Do this every day or so.
- Clean out the chute that dispenses the coffee. Do this on both the doser and doserless models.
Do I Need to Replace the Burrs on the Rocky?
Oddly enough, this isn’t as common a question as it should be with any grinder. It really depends on how much grinding you do over the course of time.
But generally, when just running a few cups of beans a day through the grinder, you should figure on a life of about 5 years.
Since the burrs are a grinding and crushing mechanism, pay attention to when they start to go dull. It can be a little hard to tell but it’s usually when you’re having to make a lot of adjustments to keep the same grind size.
Taking the Hopper Off and Removing the Burrs
In order take the hopper off, use a flat blade screwdriver and loosen the 3 screws that are inside the hopper. The screws tighten down into the top burr as you’ll see when you pull the hopper off.
Once the screws are loose, take off the hopper.
When cleaning the hopper, take out the finger guard with the screws in the center. But don’t take the screws out. It makes it a lot easier to get the screws back in and tightened down.
Otherwise, if you try to put the screws in when the guard is in the hopper, it’s easy to accidentally drop one down into the grinder housing.
Resulting in more work…
Now you can unscrew the top burr by turning it counter clockwise. This is going this is going to take a bit, because the threads are very fine.
Warning: Watch Those Sorta Sharp Edges
Be careful of your fingers and the back of your hand while you’re unscrewing the burr. The stainless steel housing is kind of sharp and it’s easy to cut yourself if you’re not paying attention while you’re working with the burrs.
Cleaning Out the Burrs
Once out, you can take your brush to the threads and clean them out. Brush out any bits and pieces that may be stuck in between the grinding surfaces. Brush or vacuum the interior out.
When you’re putting the top burr back in, be very careful of the threading and make sure you don’t get them cross threaded. Place the top burr on top then turn it counter clockwise until you hear or feel the little click then turn it clockwise to engage the threads.
Don’t rush it. If you need to try it a few times, go for it. If you cross thread the burrs, it could be a pricey replacement.
Screw the top burr down until it just stops. Don’t tighten it, just until it stops. Both burrs are just touching. This means you’re down to about zero so now you can put the hopper back on and start to recalibrate the grinder.
How to Calibrate Your Rancilio Rocky
Line up the zero on the front of the hopper with the bump on the front of the grinder. While you’re doing that line up the screws with the screw holes on the top burr.
If you’re off, just back the top burr off a little bit until the screw holes match. Once you have the screw holes aligned and the screws ready to drop in the holes, get your flat bladed screwdriver out and tighten them down. The screws don’t have to be really tight, just snug.
Any Downsides to the Rocky?
Several users mention the screws that hold the hopper in place are exposed. They point out that it’s easy for coffee bean bits and pieces to get stuck in the screw heads making it difficult to get to and loosen the screws.
Another user that come across the problem came up with a pretty quick and easy workaround. She said:
Why Isn’t My Rancilio Rocky Not Grinding Fine Enough?
This is a comment several users have made. They’ve pointed out that the top burr is loose at the finest setting. This causes it to jiggle and makes the grinding uneven.
It may or may not affect your espresso, it’s something you need to test. Most users feel it serves the espresso purpose pretty well and they aren’t bothered by it.
If Turkish coffee is your thing, you’ll need grounds that are almost powder. The Rocky isn’t going to do the job. Take a look at the Gaggia MDF here instead.
A Couple of Possible Concerns
Remember, it’s a stepped grinder so you can’t do a real super fine tune of your grind. This may or may not be a big deal to you. It does mean that returning to a setting is a lot easier than with a step-less grinder like the Mazzer Mini.
The other concern is the somewhat difficult grinder adjustment. I did mention a workaround above that another user had come up with.
How Big Is the Rocky?
The grinder is 14 inches high by 9.75 inches deep and 5.25 inches wide and it weighs about 18 pounds.
Does Rancilio Offer a Warranty On the Rocky and How Long Is It?
The Rocky is made in Italy and Rancilio covers the unit with a 1 year warranty. Some vendors offer an additional one year warranty. They’re comfortable with the additional time due to the reliability of the grinder they say.
Most of the lenders also handle the repairs so you don’t need to ship it back to Rancilio’s factory in Italy.
Where to Buy Rancilio Rocky
You can buy the Rocky at several of the larger kitchen specialty shops and some larger online coffee equipment vendors. It can also be found on Amazon. Buying via Amazon gives you the added perks of their free shipping, good return policy and great customer support.
Ok Then, What’s the Final Word?
The Rocky is considered to be a very user-friendly machine and is very popular with a long service life. It’s made for the real coffee enthusiast who’s looking for better control over his/her grinding.
It’s best for either the beginning espresso drinker or for regular home use for other coffee methods. It can also be used for light commercial duty. And even though some users had issues as noted above, they were still pleased with their Rocky purchase.
This isn’t the grinder for you if Turkish coffee is your pursuit of coffee paradise. It’s too inconsistent on that end of the scale and you know how we feel about consistency.
But, If you want a superior quality coffee grinder from a company with a solid reputation, as well as getting high reviews from both users and vendors, the Rancilio Rocky is well worth your consideration.
Not quite the grinder you’re looking for? Click this link to go to our Top 5 Grinders of 2017 for more choices.
Forget the cavalry, Where’s my coffee? T-Shirt on Amazon
The Rocky gets great reviews from users AND
vendors. For the home and some light commercial
duty, Rancilio made a great entry level grinder
that will last for years.
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