Are you in the market for an espresso maker but you don’t necessarily have the space or desire for those large high-tech espresso machines that are so popular? Not everyone has the countertop space to house an appliance of that magnitude and the other option is to constantly have to take it in and out of its storage spot each time you want to use it – not ideal. There’s also the fact that these high-tech machines can be pretty expensive and therefore not within the budget.
This is where the ROK espresso brewer should come into the conversation as a very real contender. Among its many features and benefits, the fact that it is so small, sleek, lightweight and portable can make it a more universally appealing option. This is a manual machine, so it works very differently than the units you typically see in coffee shops and cafés, but that doesn’t have to be negative.
Let’s take an in-depth look at all the features and pros that the ROK Espresso coffee maker offers, including how to use it and some basic tips and advice. This will help you to make an informed purchase decision.
What are the Main Features of the ROK Espresso Maker?
The ROK Espresso Maker is an excellent example of a manual espresso maker. What this means is that you’re manually pulling the shot and there is no heating element. You’ll need to boil the water to pour into the machine since it can’t heat the water.
In simple terms, this machine works by pushing the boiling water through the portafilter, where the espresso grinds are, into your cup. The process uses a lever system that you pull up to start the extraction process, and then push the levers/handles down to force the water through the filter into your cup.
It can take a bit of getting used to in terms of ratio (grinds to water) and the speed at which you pull the handles up and then down. Everyone’s taste is a bit different, so expect to play around a bit while you find the perfect system.
Below are the main benefits of this style of machine:
- The ROK is extremely cost-effective, especially in comparison to the large automated at-home espresso machines
- It is easy to use (only a couple of steps required)
- The machine is very lightweight so you can move it around easily
- It is portable, you can take it on the go
- You can pull double shots if you want using the double spout attachment
- There aren’t many parts in the machine, so you don’t have a lot of things to clean
- The machine is very well made with high-quality materials, so expect it to last a long time
- The portafilter is made from stainless steel
- The pressure chamber is made from a BPA free glass composite, which does a better job at heat insulation
- It does a great job when it comes to the crema layer, since you'll find it's nice and thin
- You can use it to make any espresso-based drink - this will just be the first step
Who Is This Style of Espresso Machine Suited Towards?
While the ROK Espresso Maker is meant for anyone, in general, it works well for first-time espresso machine owners. This is a great entry-level model for anyone that doesn’t want to be confused by tons of added features and functions. If you just want to be able to enjoy a classic cup of espresso without any fuss, this unit will do the trick.
It’s also perfect for those with small spaces. If you have a tiny house or apartment without much countertop space, this manual unit can easily tuck out of the way when not in use. Compare that to the rather large and heavy at-home espresso machines and it’s quite the space saver.
While you can certainly pull two shots at once with the machine, it tends to work best for single-shot use. And because it can take a little longer than an automated machine, this one isn’t meant for the person in the rush who just wants a quick espresso. In reality, none of the espresso machines are meant for quick results. If you speed along the process, the espresso won’t taste as good.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
For some people, the fact that it doesn’t have a lot of settings and features can be a downfall. There’s also the fact that there is no built-in coffee bean grinder nor a milk steamer or frother. All of that would need to be done separately, with separate tools. This may not matter to you, or it could be a huge sticking point.
Every espresso machine needs to be cleaned and while this one doesn’t have a lot of parts that need cleaning, it still needs to be done. So, you have to be comfortable with taking the pieces apart that need cleaning after each use.
The machine can also be a bit messy when filling the portafilter, but what espresso machine isn’t a bit messy?
What Kind of Coffee Can You Use in It?
With the ROK Espresso Maker, you can use any type of coffee beans you want. Just be sure that you have ground them properly. You want a fine and fluffy grind. When choosing the coffee beans, look for an espresso roast that isn't overly acidic. If you're new to espresso, you may even want to try a light roast coffee just to get the hang of it and start to develop a taste for espresso. You can then sample stronger bolder roasts as you become more seasoned.
What Other Accessories are Needed?
One of the best features of the ROK Espresso Maker is how small and portable it is, but that also means it’s missing a lot of bells and whistles that the large espresso machines have. This means you will likely want to invest in some accessories to make life a little easier when making espresso.
The first thing to consider is how you plan to grind your coffee beans. While you can purchase beans that have already been ground, you risk the flavor not being as good. Experts suggest that you use freshly ground beans each time you make a shot, so that means grinding on an as-needed basis. There are plenty of electric grinders to choose from that will do an excellent job grinding the beans. These tend to be small and budget-friendly, so there’s no need to break the bank on the purchase.
To help you figure out how much coffee to grind, a scale will also be helpful. A small battery-powered one is all you need. The scale makes sure that there is precision behind each shot, thereby improving the flavor. Typically, a double shot of espresso requires 13-18 grams of coffee.
If you want to make double shots, you’ll need the double shot attachment. Check to be sure that the model of ROK that you purchase comes with it, otherwise, you can buy it separately.
If you like to add frothed milk to your espresso, you'll want to look at purchasing a small milk frother. Look for one that heats and froths the milk at the same time. Larger, more expensive machines typically come with a steam wand, so if you want to replicate that experience, you’ll need a separate appliance.
User Tips and Advice That Will Enhance Your Espresso Results
Once you decide to go ahead and purchase a ROK espresso machine, there are some tips and advice outside the general steps outlined in the instruction manual. These will just ensure you get the ideal results every time.
- The first tip is to make sure you heat the machine before you pull your shot. Because there isn’t a heating element in the machine, you’re going to need to do this manually. You can soak the portafilter in hot water for a couple of minutes in advance, pour boiling water in the machine and pull a dummy shot if you will. This gets all the components heated up before you pull the real shot.
- It’s also important to use boiled water that is fresh off the boil. You don’t want to let it sit and cool down, as this will negatively affect the taste. If you have a kettle that allows you to set the temperature, choose the highest heat.
- Make sure you pull all the water through the machine before you take it apart to clean the portafilter. If you don’t do this, you’ll have water spilling out all over the place.
- Be sure to empty the puck right away, don’t let it sit. It will be much harder to remove if you let it sit and dry out further.
If you’re ready to start enjoying the classic taste of espresso at home but you don’t want to make a huge investment, the ROK Espresso Coffee Machine can be the perfect purchase decision.