Expert Review: Rancilio Rocky Grinder

This review is my honest opinion of the grinder, which we used at Curated Headquarters from November of 2017 through December of 2019.

Rancillio Rocky Doser (left) and the Gaggia Classic Pro (right).

This Rancillio Rocky Doser has seen it all. It's ground grounds for thousands of coffees and kept Curated HQ fueled from 2017 through 2020 - and is now being used by one of our software engineers today (pictured above!). All photos courtesy of Blake Valley 

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the grinder, which we used at Curated Headquarters from November of 2017 through December of 2019.

My take

In terms of entry-level espresso grinders, the Rancilio Rocky Doser is a bang-for-your-buck with its 50mm steel burrs and all-around solid performance for under $450. However, its doser and build make it functionally and aesthetically more suited for a small office than an at-home coffee bar.

Front view of the Rancilio Rocky Grinder.

As mentioned, its a good looking machine. It gives off a little bit of an "industrial" vibe, but that's okay!

About the grinder I own

  • Model: 2016 Rancilio Rocky Doser
  • Type: Burr
  • Burr Type: Flat
  • Burr Size 50mm
  • Dosable: Yes
  • Stepped or Stepless: Stepped, but with 55 settings
  • Motor Size: 166-watt direct drive quiet operation motor

About me

  • Experience: I’ve been making espresso for roughly 5 years now; first with a Rancilio Silvia (and Rocky), then with a Breville Barista Express, and then with a Rocket Appartamento. I’ve gone through the wringer of trying to figure out what’s going wrong with poor equipment, and have seen the light in the proper setup. Espresso can be frustrating, but it's a beautiful thing when done right.

Test conditions

  • When I tested it: We used this grinder in Curated HQ from November of 2017 through December of 2019
  • Days used: 250+
  • Grinds per day: 5–10
  • Machine used to brew: Exclusively espresso
  • Coffee beans used): We tested many different brands and roasts (Intelligentsia, Sightglass, Klatch, Stumptown, just to name a few), although we typically strayed away from super dark roasts. The Rocky was able to handle anything we threw at it.
  • Drink Made: Any and all espresso drinks

How it performs

Dose Consistency
4/5
Ease of Use
4/5
Grind Consistency
4/5
Noisiness Rating
3/5
Versatility
4/5

What I was looking for

We were looking for a grinder that could keep up with 5–10 people using it. However, most of us had very little experience with home espresso. We didn’t want to break the bank (as we weren’t looking to make better espresso than Sightglass down the road), but we wanted something capable and durable.

Why I chose this grinder

With 50mm steel burrs, this grinder was plenty efficient and was a great value coming in under $450. Being that we didn’t need features such as the infinite grind settings available in something like the Eureka Silenzio, this grinder was a great choice for us. On top of that, the doser was a great choice for our office setting.

View of the Rancilio coffee grinder.

As you can see, the doser does take up a little extra space than need be - if you don't need it!

What I love about it

  • Durability: Rancilio products are somewhat famous in the home-espresso industry for their longevity. I can honestly say that we put this grinder through the wringer, and it held up. We were grinding all day long for the years we were using it. In fact, it’s still being used today by one of our employees.
  • Time to Grind: Though there are certainly faster grinders out there, and though this grinder certainly isn’t the right choice for a proper commercial space, we were more than satisfied with the grind speed of the Rocky in our office. I don’t think it ever crossed anybody’s mind that we should consider a faster grinder.
  • Ease of use: This machine was a piece of cake to use. Really, there were only two moving parts: the on/off switch and the doser. Really simple. It became a ritual at our office to teach each new employee how to make espressos with the Rocky and the Silvia. And, everybody was able to figure it out.
  • Grind consistency: Full transparency, I don’t know that I’d call the grind consistency of the Rocky a “highlight” of this machine. However, I want to mention that it’s not a lowlight, either. While most of us were espresso novices at the time, it is worth noting that we never really questioned whether or not the grind consistency was an issue. That tells me that most of the time, the Rocky did what we wanted it to do.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Noise level: While I wouldn’t describe the Rocky as “loud,” it's certainly not as whisper-quiet as something like the Eureka Silenzio or Specialita, or the Rocket Faustino. Yeah, it got the job done for us… but the sound wasn’t the most pleasing aspect of that process.
  • Aesthetics: While I care more about functionality than I do appearances, it’s not necessary to choose one or the other in the espresso-grinder world. For example, the Eureka Silenzio is just $50 more—which I would be proud to display in my kitchen. That’s not necessarily the case with the Rocky. While it does what I need it to, I’d be more prone to tuck this grinder away in a corner of my kitchen rather than display it on my coffee bar. The Rocky is a workhorse, and it looks like a workhorse.
  • Size: The doser version is a little cumbersome. As mentioned above, the doser was GREAT for our office setting. However, this feature—and the size of it—is unnecessary for a home grinder. If the Rocky is appealing but not the size of the Doser version, consider our doserless version.
Top down view of the hopper (top) and the doser (below).

The beans go in the hopper (top) and are then dropped into the doser (below) to then be distributed

Favorite moment with this machine

My favorite moment with this machine is the full two years of using it. It was my first foray into home espresso. Two years later, I purchased my own espresso machine and grinder because of the joys I had with the Rancilio Rocky and the Silvia we used with it. And if an entry-level grinder is able to make me enjoy coffee more than when I started, then it is a great entry-level grinder in my book.

Value for the money vs. other options

Compared to cheaper entry-level grinders such as the Breville Smart Grinder Pro, the Rancilio Rocky is a great upgrade in terms of performance with its 50mm burrs (compared to the 40mm burrs of the Smart Grinder Pro). Compared to grinders such as the Baratze 30 ($299) or 270 ($399), the Rancilio Rocky is a better choice in my mind. Though Baratza may win in terms of retention, I’d rather have the bigger burrs of the Rocky (50mm vs. 40mm in the Baratza grinders). The biggest question becomes whether or not to spend the extra money on something slightly more expensive such as the Eureka Mignon Silenzio or the Specialita. In my mind, that answer depends on what one’s looking for. For serving a handful of people like we were and without being incredibly concerned about perfect and consistent shots, then go with the Rocky Doser. If not, though, then save the extra dollars and pick up a Eureka. The infinite grind settings, improved aesthetics, and quieter grinding are well worth the money in my opinion.

Final verdict

The Rancilio Rocky Doser is a great entry-level grinder, especially to serve a handful of people a day like we did. However, if that’s not the intention, opt for the doserless version or an upgrade such as the Eureka Mignon Silenzio.

Selling Rancilio on Curated.com
Rancilio Rocky Grinder
$435.00
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It started in 2014... I was a junior in college, attending an 8:00am class; eyes half-opened, walking to-and-from the bathroom every 15 minutes to splash water on my face - the best solution I had concocted to stay awake. As I walk, I run into a friend of mine. He said, "Holy smokes, Blake, you look...

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