The ROK espresso machine can be your key to exceptional coffee experiences. It's a manual espresso maker designed for coffee aficionados seeking the perfect brew.

ROK promises to create rich, aromatic espressos that rival those from the finest coffee shops.

Plus, it looks like a little robot, so I had to try it myself. I spent a month learning everything about this compact lever espresso machine.

Today, I'm bringing you my ROK espresso maker review, so you can decide if this is the best manual espresso machine for you, too!

Brew Quality

5.0

Build Quality

4.0

Ease Of Use

2.5


Overall Rating

3.8

I rate the ROK Espresso GC machine 3.8 out of 5. You have full control over the espresso brewing process. You can experiment to your heart's content and get the exact espresso flavor you prefer.

The ROK is well-built and can withstand heavy use. It's extremely compact and has an interesting design. Overall, it's a great little device that makes excellent espressos.

However, remember that this is a manual espresso maker, which means there are a few things it cannot do. Let's get into the ROK espresso maker review to learn more.

Features:

  • Manual Lever Espresso Brewing — Uses a manual lever mechanism to brew espresso.
  • Stainless steel construction — Is durable and can withstand a lot of pressure
  • Ergonomic design — Makes it easy to apply pressure
  • 10-year warranty — On all metal parts

Pros

  • High-quality construction
  • Excellent flow control
  • Portable and travel-friendly

Cons

  • No milk steamer and grinder
  • Spoon tamper
  • No pressure gauge

Who Should Buy The ROK Espresso Maker?

The ROK espresso maker is perfect for coffee lovers who want a manual espresso machine. It's a great device if you want full control over the coffee extraction and the ability to tailor each shot to your exact liking.

It's also a good option if you want a compact espresso maker or a machine you can use on-the-go.

Finally, it's great for eco-conscious coffee lovers looking for an energy-efficient and sustainable coffee maker.


Why I Decided To Review The ROK Espresso Maker

I decided to review the ROK Espresso Maker because of its unique design.

As a coffee enthusiast myself, I was drawn to its manual brewing experience, which promises to deliver a personalized cup of espresso.

The ROK's high-quality materials and eco-friendly design intrigued me, as they align with my values of sustainability.

I wanted to share my experience with others and talk about its portability, durability, and brewing capabilities.

Testing Conditions

Days Tested

30

Cups Brewed Per Day

2

Level Of Experience Needed

Beginner

Reviewer Background

Home brewing enthusiast who started with a Nespresso machine and recently upgraded to Rancilio Silvia

Environment Tested

Home

Money Saved Per Year

Around $1,000

Favorite Drink To Brew

Espresso

What’s It Like To Live With The ROK Espresso Maker?

On the one hand, life with the ROK manual espresso maker is extremely simple. On the other hand, it’s complex because all the work when making a puck and pulling a shot is on you.

Here’s my experience using the ROK to help you decide if you’re better suited for manual or super-automatic espresso machines.

What's In The Box?

The ROK espresso maker box contains the following:

  • ROK espresso maker — The main device
  • Portafilter — Fits between 16g to 19g of coffee
  • Coffee spoon tamper — Used to compact the ground coffee beans in the portafilter
  • 2-cup splitter — For dividing a shot into two cups

The manufacturer has free delivery with manual espresso machines.

This lever espresso machine came well-packaged in a cardboard box, inside of which was a large metal box where the ROK was well secured.

Overall, the shipping and delivery were positive experiences.

Pulling My First Espresso Shot

Here’s how I pulled my first espresso shot with the ROK:

  1. I placed finely ground coffee in the portafilter, tamped, and locked in the portafilter.
  2. I filled the small water reservoir with boiling water.
  3. I lifted the levers and let the water pre-infuse the coffee grounds for a few seconds.
  4. I pressed down the levers to brew coffee.

The first time I made espresso, I didn’t time or weigh anything, and I still got decent espresso. It had a nice crema and tasted like authentic espresso, not espresso-style coffee.

However, as I continued to use the ROK, I made sure to preheat the chamber, the portafilter, and the cup.

I experimented with different grinds and doses and pulled down the espresso maker arms at different speeds. Each change made huge differences in getting delicious espresso shots.

I admit I had over and under-extracted coffee on occasion, but this was more due to the wrong grind than to the simple espresso maker.

Overall, the ROK manual espresso maker is really nice to use. It's small and lightweight, and I could take it with me and pull a shot anywhere.

It's easy to use, and once your kettle boils water, there's not much delay in pulling a shot. You'll learn how to pull a high-quality espresso and get your preferred taste.

Pulling Espresso Shot On The ROK Espresso GC

First Time Frothing Milk

Like most manual espresso makers, the ROK doesn't have a built-in milk frother. If you're the type of coffee lover who lives for espresso, you'll be fine with this.

However, if you love milk-based drinks, you'll need to buy a separate milk frother. Luckily, ROK also sells a milk frother.[1]

This milk frother is unlike the steam wand you can find on electric espresso machines.

This one is made up of a tube and whisking discs. As I can't live without my morning lattes, I gave the milk frother a try.

Here’s how I used it:

  1. I heated the milk in a jar.
  2. I poured the heated milk into a tube.
  3. I pumped the whisking discs to create milk foam.

That's it. Frothing milk takes a few simple steps. As with most manual machines, the work is up to you. You need to heat the milk and pump it.

This also gives you the freedom to decide what kind of froth you want. Pump fast, slow, short, or long to control the foam amount and density and work on making latte art.

Frothing Milk With The ROK Espresso Milk Frother

How Much Control Do You Have Over The ROK Manual Espresso Maker?

You have a lot of control over the ROK manual espresso machine. Like other lever espresso machines, the user controls the complete brewing process.

Here’s everything you can change on this espresso device:

  • Temperature control — There’s no built-in temperature control like electric espresso machines. Instead, you have control over the temperature by preheating the water in a separate kettle and then manually initiating the extraction process.
  • Extraction time — You manually press the levers to create pressure and control the duration of the extraction, allowing you to experiment and find the optimal extraction time for your desired flavor profile.
  • Grind size and tamp pressure — You can adjust the grind size of the coffee beans and the tamp pressure to influence the extraction. Finer grinds and firmer tamping generally result in slower extraction and stronger flavors, while coarser grinds and lighter tamping can lead to faster extraction and milder flavors.
  • Water volume — You determine the amount of water to use for each shot.
  • Brew pressure — Is determined by the manual force applied while pulling the levers.

Overall, the amount of control you have over the ROK depends on your skill, technique, and understanding of the variables involved in making espresso.

The ROK isn’t programmable in the traditional sense.

It doesn’t have any electronic components or automated settings. Instead, programmability is all about your ability to adjust and fine-tune the brewing parameters.

How Does The ROK Handle Different Roasts?

The ROK handles different roasts well. You can use the ROK espresso line with:

  • Light roasts — Often have more delicate and nuanced flavors. Use coarser grinds and a faster extraction time on the ROK to preserve these. The manual control allows you to extract the flavors gently, avoiding over-extraction and preserving the coffee's brightness.
  • Medium roasts — Have a balance between flavor complexity and acidity. Use a medium grind setting and moderate extraction time to bring out the bean's flavors without overpowering them.
  • Dark roasts — Have bolder, more pronounced flavors. To handle these roasts with the ROK, use coarser grinds and longer extraction times.

Overall, the ROK espresso maker lets you fine-tune the brewing process to adapt to the characteristics of different roasts and achieve well-balanced, flavorful espresso shots.

Barista HQ Pro Tip:

While you can use any type of roast with the ROK, my advice is to choose dark beans if this is your first time using a manual machine. They aren’t as dense as other roasts and are easier to extract.

Look, Feel, and Size Of The Machine

The ROK espresso maker doesn't look anything like your traditional espresso machine. I had friends over who asked me what's the robot-like contraption on my kitchen counter.

While the design is a matter of preference, I'm a fan of the ROK.

The ROK espresso maker line has a few models, all of which are based on the original ROK espresso maker, called Presso, which even got an award for its design.[2]

Over time, the manufacturer improved the build quality, so the latest model, the ROK Espresso GC machine, is made of cast aluminum, steel, and glass composite (thus the espresso GC in the name).

Composite glass is more durable and provides better insulation.[3]

The ROK is super minimalistic. You can really feel the pressure you’re putting through the coffee, and that’s what creates a rich crema texture.

Overall, the ROK was designed with functionality and portability in mind, and the design reflects this. It's extremely compact, so it'll fit into the smallest kitchen apartments.

Or, you can use it on the go for making coffee while camping, fishing, kayaking, and more.

There’s no boiler, pump, thermoblock, or thermocoil, so you don’t have to worry about replacing the electric parts. ROK even gives a 10-year warranty on all the metal parts.

Plus, if you register your purchase on their website, you can extend it to 15 years.[4]

Look, Feel, and Size Of The ROK Espresso GC

What Drinks Can ROK Espresso GC Make?

ROK Espresso CG can make great espresso drinks. There’s no boiler, which means its brewing capability is only one shot at a time.

However, you can attach the double spout and split a shot between two cups while you prepare the second shot.

ROK GC can’t make milk-based coffee drinks. You’ll need to get a separate frother for these. However, the ROK creates good espresso, which is the most important part of milk-based drinks.

How Easy Is the ROK Espresso GC To Use?

The ROK espresso GC is extremely easy to use if you've used manual espresso makers before. If not, expect a steep learning curve.

You'll have to learn how to adjust the grinding size, which hot water temperature works best, how to work the arms to adjust the pressure, etc.

Overall, you'll have to learn how to work the entire extraction process from start to finish. The good news is, you'll have good coffee.

Barista HQ Pro Tip:

Always use it on a flat surface to avoid spilling.

Keep in mind you need to apply pressure to lower to aluminum arms to get the perfect espresso. This can feel like a workout, depending on how fine you grind and your upper body strength.

Also, it’s not an ideal choice for someone who struggles with arthritis or struggles with a firm grip.

How Long Does It Take? (From Heat Up To First Sip)

It takes between three to five minutes from heat up to the first sip.

The actual brewing time is relatively quick, but the additional steps of preheating water, grinding, and tamping contribute to the overall time.

No boiler means you need to heat the water yourself. The exact time depends on your heating method.

Once the water is hot, you need to pre heat the cups and portafilter, grind, and tamp the beans. When this is done, the brewing process is relatively quick.

Pulling a shot takes around 20 to 30 seconds, depending on the rate of the water flow through the pressure chamber.

However, with practice and experience, you can streamline the process and reduce the time needed to enjoy your delicious espresso.

Pouring Water Into The ROK Espresso GC

Does It Have A Water Filtration System?

No, the ROK Espresso GC doesn’t have a water filtration system.

Manual espresso machines don’t have water tanks, which means no water filters. If you want the best quality espresso, use filtered water for the cleanest flavor.

How Hard Is It To Clean and Descale?

It’s extremely easy to clean the ROK Espresso GC.

Simply knock out the used puck out of the portafilter. Rinse the portafilter and wipe down the espresso unit. If needed, rinse the whole base in water.

You should descale every few months. Disseasemble the Espresso GC unit, and descale with your preferred descaling solution.

The only cleaning part that was troublesome at times was the portafilter. It was often wet when I finished brewing, which created a mess.

I got into the habit of placing another cup under the portafilter and raising and lowering the arms a few times to make sure all water was pulled out of the puck.


My Favorite Parts About The ROK

I love the ROK's high-quality construction. It’s made of durable metal, such as stainless steel, aluminum, and durable glass for the pressure chamber.

Overall, this espresso maker can last for years.

I also liked the flow control I had with this unit. I could slow down or speed up how hard I was pressing the arms and get a completely different espresso flavor.

For comparison, I’d need to buy a semi-automatic machine worth thousand(s) of dollars to get the same flow control that ROK provides.

I also liked how portable it is. The compact design makes it ideal for home use or on-the-go coffee enthusiasts.

Take it on trips, camping adventures, or to the office and enjoy delicious espresso wherever you desire.


My Least Favorite Parts About The ROK

I don't like that the unit doesn't have a milk steamer or grinder. These need to be bought separately and are a significant investment.

I also wasn’t a fan of the coffee scoop tamper.

It’s difficult to press evenly, and I didn’t see much benefit to the tamper being in spoon form. Also, it’s made of plastic, and I quickly upgraded to a steel one.

Finally, there’s no pressure gauge. This is useful for knowing exactly how much pressure you’re applying. In all honesty, an average home user doesn’t need it, but if you’re a pro, you may miss it.


ROK Espresso Maker Vs Similar Coffee Machines

ROK Vs Flair Espresso Maker

The ROK espresso maker has a more traditional and industrial design. Flair has a more modern and sleek design. Both espresso machines are durable and sturdy.

Another design difference is that the ROK uses dual levers for brewing. The Flair has a single lever you press to push water through the ground beans.

The Flair also has more accessories available, so the machine can grow with your barista skills.

ROK Vs Flair Espresso Maker

ROK Vs Cafelat Robot

Cafelat Robot has a unique design that resembles, you guessed it, a robot. Same as the ROK, there are two levers you pull down to make a single or a double shot.

Unlike the ROK, there’s no need to preheat the Cafelat Robot, so it’s somewhat easier and quicker to use.

Overall, both the ROK and the Robot make real espresso. The Robot also has a gauge that measures the pressure, so it's easier to monitor and maintain the brewing pressure.

ROK Vs Cafelat Robot

FAQs

Where are ROK espresso machines made?

ROK espresso machines are designed in London and made in China.

What grind size should I use with a ROK Espresso maker?

You should use a fine grind size with ROK espresso makers. You need fine grounds for brewing espresso. Too coarse, and your shot is under-extracted. Still, if you grind too fine, your shot will be over-extracted. I recommend grinding fine and tweaking from there.

Is The ROK Worth Your Money?

If you're willing to put in the work and learn how to use a manual coffee maker — from using hot water to learning about grinding levels, dosing, and tamping, the ROK is worth your money.

It's also a great choice if you want a compact unit that you can use on the go. During my ROK espresso GC review, I learned it makes excellent espresso, and it'll last for years.

However, if you want a machine that makes espresso or latte with a press of a button, this isn't the one for you.

ROK Espresso Machine

Brew Quality

5.0

Build Quality

4.0

Ease Of Use

2.5


Overall Rating

3.8

References: 

1.https://www.rok.coffee/milk-frother
2.https://www.rok.coffee/about-us/history
3.https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/materials-science/glass-based-composite
4.https://www.rok.coffee/15-year-extended-warranty 

Kayla Stavridis

Head of Marketing

Kayla Stavridis
Kayla Stavridis is a coffee enthusiast and Head of Marketing for Barista HQ. She blends her professional insights and experience with a deep passion for all things coffee. Kayla offers a unique, hands-on perspective on coffee culture and trends. You can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Cold Brew

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