ROK Espresso Maker Review
WIth the introduction of the Rok this has all changed. Now you can brew an authentic espresso shot on a budget-friendly all manual machine. We live in an exciting time for coffee lovers!
Espresso has long been a big commitment, both in terms of your wallet and counter space.
Traditional espresso machines are hulking machines replete with multiple dials and milk frothers and can cost up to thousands of dollars.
ROK, originally a crowdfunded company, is attempting to change all that by introducing a no-frills, manual espresso machine that claims to produce true, honest-to-God espresso without breaking the bank.
This ROK Espresso maker review will explore some of the pros and cons of this new age machine, and take a closer look who exactly it is for.
rok: the new kid on the block
ROK first introduced a manual espresso machine in 2004 as the Presso but rereleased it as the ROK Press Manual Espresso Maker in 2012 with some improvements. It is committed to providing less complicated (think manual), simpler machines for producing high-quality cups of coffee. In 2019 the company launched a new version called, the ROK GC, which aims to make the device more durable.
Because it is still a relatively small company compared to bigger players, ROK’s customer service is very responsive. The company expects some regular maintenance of their machines, so it would make sense that replacement parts and instructions are readily available.
9 bars is within reach
The ROK manual espresso maker is in line with the company’s overall mission and improves on several manual espresso makers already on the market. As with many other manual machines, you can expect a product that is close to espresso. Depending on the quality of your grinder, technique, and some experimentation, you can sometimes make a better espresso with a manual machine that with a traditional espresso maker.
The variability of a manual espresso maker is much greater than that of a traditional machine since human error is introduced into the equation.
The ROK espresso maker can produce anywhere from 5-10 bars of pressure, with 9 bars being necessary for proper espresso, so it will take some time for the user to get accustomed to the machine and experiment with other parameters that may affect their ultimate product.
a few things we like:
the rok espresso maker review
The build of the ROK espresso maker is excellent. The body is constructed of an attractive and high quality metal alloy that the manufacturer boasts has 35% higher tensile strength than in the original iteration.
The arms have also been made sturdier, since the original Presso had the problem of sometimes snapping its arms. This is no longer a problem at all.
The base of the machine has a decent gripping rubber foundation to prevent slippage.
ease of use
This machine is very simple to use, since you mostly just have to push down hard on its arms to generate the pressure needed to produce your espresso.
As mentioned in the cons section, each use of the machine will require preheating of both the main chamber and the portafilter, which seems like an annoying extra step, but ultimately just becomes part of the routine.
It is a small device, so it is definitely easy and convenient to store, even after each use. The new beefed up body also means that previous issues with fragility are now solved, and you can push away and obtain quality of espresso shots
This manual machine produces an above average espresso with a tendency to under extract if you do not preheat the machine. The crema is average to mediocre and can sometimes fall apart a bit too quickly depending on your grind.
However, it will not make completely amazing outstanding transcendent espresso shots that an espresso machine that costs ten times as much can produce.
things to aware of…
One caveat is that the machine does have to be preheated. This means pouring hot or boiling water over the portafilter and the main chamber, which can take some time to get used to doing.
Otherwise, you may end up with an under extracted espresso, which would be unpleasant! You will also need to experiment with the amount of water you fill the chamber with, since under filling it will result in lower pressure overall.
Are there any alternatives?
The Cafflano Kompresso is full blood manual espresso maker. Compared to the ROK, however, it is way cheaper and smaller.
That means that you can put it in a bag and take it with you on a trip or out trekking. Nothing beats espresso on the road.
In spite of its modest look, the Cafflano Kompresso is actually capable of brewing some seriously delicious shots, when you get the hang of it.
If your budget is limited, keep an eye on this one.
Flair espresso maker
The Flair is slightly more portable, which for some might be a deciding factor. For everyday use the ROK is closer to an authentic espresso experience since it has a legit portafilter.
That being said, the Flair has a lot of going for it when it comes accessories, upgrades, and overall durability. While it doesn’t have the same ”nutcracker’ coolness as the ROK, I think it’s safe to say that it makes just as good espresso, and might be more sturdy in the long run.
The final verdict
The ROK espresso maker is an excellent choice for a coffee drinker who likes espresso but would like to avoid committing an entire paycheck and their entire kitchen counter to a fancy espresso machine and its accessories.
The manual espresso maker can be stored easily, travels well, and is perfect for the modern minimalistic nomad. It is also great for the mad scientist who wants more room to experiment with different methods and wants to feel the difference in their own hands.
At worst, the ROK espresso maker makes mediocre espresso as compared to a more traditional machine and comes in at a fraction of the cost. It certainly also has a classic design that is bound to turn heads and start interesting conversations, especially with those who are interested in coffee. However, if you’re not entirely convinced be sure to check out my review of the Flair Espresso Maker as well.