ROK Espresso Maker Review

Back in the days “true espresso” was made on bulky machines with Italian sounding names.

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!
Total Rating
  • Flavor
  • Price
  • Ease of Use
  • Design
  • Durability
4.5

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

Here I’m in the middle of testing the ROK. It’s good exercise!

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.

Because it is relatively small 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.

Overall, ROK is regarded as producing excellent products that are both inventive and unique with a keen eye for design.

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:

Price! One of the biggest advantages of this espresso maker is that it is much cheaper than a traditional one. Easy!
Simplicity: Using the ROK espresso maker is much easier than dealing with a traditional espresso machine since it relies on manpower to run.
Design: Gone are the fuddy duddy espresso machines. This espresso maker is sleek and built of a high quality metal alloy with a modern, ergonomic design.

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.

ROK Coffee Grinder, Aluminum
Image above: The Rok has a manual grinding sibling

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 machine, 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.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.

The ROK espresso maker compares extremely well to other manual espresso makers, producing a much more consistently good espresso shot that can satisfy most coffee drinkers.

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?

Cafflano Kompresso (Hand Carry...

Cafflano Kompresso

Manual espresso machines have a relatively short history.  But in the recent couple of years we have seen a few competitors show up on the scene. 

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 a new manual espresso maker that has many fans out there. 

But if you ask me the ROK is still superior. 

The Flair is slightly more portable, which for some might be a deciding factor, but for everyday use the ROK is closer to an authentic espresso experience. 

When I had a chance to play with both next to each other, the ROK felt more premium and produced better shots. 
Flair Espresso Maker - Manual...

The final verdict

The ROK espresso maker is a fantastic 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.