Nailing a great tasting cup of coffee requires a solid foundation, and an essential part of that rock solid foundation includes a good coffee grinder. Whether you’re a seasoned coffee pro or just mastering the basics at home, you probably know very well that to get the best flavor in each cup you must use the freshest coffee beans you can get your hands on; using pre-ground coffee sachets isn’t an option if you truly love coffee!
To get the most out of your fresh whole coffee beans you ideally should be using a burr grinder and not a cheap electric blade grinder (like the KRUPS F203 grinder) that will pulverize your beans into oblivion! Treat your coffee beans with respect and they will repay you with a cracking cup of Joe!
So bearing that in mind let me introduce to you the ROK coffee grinder. The ROK grinder is one of the best coffee grinders for any of you that love the world of artisan coffee. After stumbling across this little gem over at the crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo and I can’t recommend it enough; after a quick demo I discovered it’s super easy to use and churns out excellent uniform grounds with ease – and it’s fun!
Want to know more about this revolutionary hands-on burr coffee grinder? Keep on reading as I’m going to lift the lid off the ROK and let you know what I think of it – the good the bad and some of the ugly!
ROK Grinder Standout Features
Many of the best electric coffee grinders can be pretty costly and not to mention noisy; this is where the ROK truly shines. It’s affordable and quiet grinding your beans at only 75 decibels compared to 95 decibels of most other electric coffee grinders (you’re not going to wake up the late morning risers with the ROK!).
The ROK coffee grinder is not only functional, but it’s an absolute beauty to look at; despite having no bearing on the functionality, you can’t fault the ROK in the looks department!
When it comes to manual burr grinders, i’m used to using something that fits in your hand such as the Hario Mini or the Skerton. So this is the first time I had got my hands on a large countertop hand grinder like the ROK, and I was impressed.
After watching a video of an early prototype, I had concerns about the stability of the ROK, due to its height and the small base. However, after giving the ROK coffee grinder a try, those worries were eased; it seems like they have made some changes to their base desgin since the very first prototype video and it now has a rectangular base vs. the older oval style as well as sticky padding under the base.
The ROK manual coffee grinder has been constructed from aluminium, it has a vertical crank arm on the side, and if you’re a “lefty” the base can be adjusted to allow for left handed folks! The grind setting can be adjusted with the calibration wheel, and the grinding mechanism utilizes 48mm stainless steel conical burrs.
Due to popular demand, the folks from ROK have also given the option to ship the unit with ceramic burrs instead of stainless steel. Even though stainless burrs cut your whole coffee beans better, they do tend to build up a lot of heat if you’re grinding large batches of coffee. Ceramic burrs eliminate almost all of the heat caused by friction and are harder than steel but brittle, so if you happen to get a stone or a hard bean in your bag there’s a chance the burrs could break.
The burrs have been fitted into a double bearing shaft design to help reduce almost all of the wobble that other manual coffee grinders tend to suffer from; this wobble will cause an inconsistent grind.
There’s no doubt that the ROK coffee grinder is much easier to use than the other handheld grinders I had previously used. Gone is the twisting and turning arm that is part and parcel of using a top-mounted grinding handle – which made me look like I was trying to start a vintage Ford car!
In fact, the ROK grinder requires roughly half the revolutions of a standard manual coffee grinder and only take 30 seconds to grind up enough coffee for a double espresso!
Compared to other manual coffee grinders the ROK blows them out of the water when it comes to coffee grinding consistency. However, like most other grinders the ROK does tend to shine in the finer grind settings, and at a coarser setting you will notice a slight variation in grind size – but no real surprise there, the burrs of any grinder are more prone to wobble – it’s the norm!
However, the double bearing system on the ROK coffee grinder does help to prevent this as best it can, far better than other manual grinders set at a coarse setting.
ROK team are so confident in their grinding ability they put their grinder up against some other popular grinders such as the Baratza, Porlex, and the Delonghi, these are the results.
The ROK team used four laboratory grade filter screens from 1200 microns to 200 microns. The results of the ROK coffee grinder matched the more expensive Baratza grinder and it blew away the other cheaper handheld grinders.
ROK Grinder Disadvantages
Many users of the ROK have been sharing their experiences online, and it seems that not everything is perfect on the ROK grinder and that’s fine, rarely do you find something that has no problems.
However, the disadvantage of the ROK are more like pet peeves and can be found on nearly every other coffee grinder in the marketplace and are not deal breakers as far as i’m concerned.
Even though the ROK coffee grinder is a lot quieter than others it still does produce some sound – let’s be honest it’s impossible to entirely eliminate the noise of coffee beans cracking as they’re ground.
The ROK isn’t going to wake anyone from their deep slumber, but it does seem to be loud for the person using it, here’s why. Due to the design of the bean hopper, the sound of the grinding is funneled up through the bell-shaped opening directly into the person who’s grinding.
The sound level is noticeably louder from the top of the grinder than it is from the side so a simple cover for the bean hopper would be beneficial at reducing this funneled sound.
Burrs Can Get Stuck
I noticed that on a few online reviews a handful of users were reporting problems when they set the ROK grinder burrs to a closed position. The conical burrs were getting stuck and weren’t releasing when the dial was turned back. According to the users, the burrs could be opened again with a bit of fiddling around with a spoon. To be frank, i’m not sure how many of you would need to close the grinding burrs completely?
Like many other coffee grinders, the ROK does suffer from the occasional static buildup. To be fair on the ROK grinder this static in most cases in more to do with the coffee beans and the humidity than the grinder itself.
The static is more prevalent with lighter roasts due to the extra chaff that sticks to the sides of the hopper and around the grind setting ring.
The GOOD news is that there is a way to eliminate the static build up on the ROK coffee grinder and any other grinder for that matter, take a look at this neat static hack by World Barista Champion James Hoffmann.
Jumping Coffee Beans
Because the ROK coffee grinder has no lid on the hopper bean fragments do occasionally jump out. Again this isn’t a deal breaker and can be solved by placing a plate on top of the hopper, but hopefully ROK coffee grinder designer, Patrick Hunt and the team at ROK Kitchen Tools will ship new units with some type of bean hopper lid.
Last Words on the ROK Manual Coffee Grinder
If you’re shopping around for a good manual coffee grinder that costs a fraction of the price when compared to similar electric models the ROK grinder is one you should definitely take a look at.
In both the looks department and the overall functionality of the ROK it’s well worth the initial cost of under $200 (at the time of writing) compared to the more costly $600+ of many electric coffee grinders.
It seems like every other day I read about a new failed crowdfunding campaign; however, the team at ROK aren’t one of those failures and were able to generate enough buzz to get the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign funded and then get this great product out to the masses.
Seriously, this grinder
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