The Rancilio Rocky HSD-ROC Doserless Coffee Grinder Review
If you’re not grinding your coffee evenly — a major downside to those nasty, low-quality grinders — you’re going to end up with subpar coffee. It doesn’t matter how much time, effort, and money you put into the rest of the process and equipment; you can’t overcome an uneven grind.
Since you’re here, you realize only a burr grinder is going to crush it (no chopped beans here, please!)
The Rancilio Rocky is one of the most impressive home grinder options out there. Here is our review with all its pros and cons, for your humble consideration.
Summary: The Rancilio Rocky SD
- Commercial-grade burrs & motor
- A sturdy, long-lasting machine
- Can grind for everything from traditional espresso to cold brew
The perfect package of looks, durability and precision – to achieve exactly the grind size you want.– Rancilio
The Rancilio Rocky Review
Rancilio is one of the most respected coffee equipment manufacturers in the world due to their track record of consistency and dependability. Their Rocky SD home grinder is part of their MD 80 & MD 40 commercial grinder lineup.
Design – 4/5
This black and stainless steel grinder is a tough-as-nails addition to your coffee brewing equipment.
Burr & Motor Design: The 50 mm flat tempered steel burrs and the 140-watt motor are both built to handle commercial loads, so they are more than sufficient to take care of your grinding needs at home. The burrs rotate at 1725 RPM, which is relatively fast for a home grinder, but still, run cool and quiet due to the superb design.
Additional Features: The Rocky comes with a thermal overload shutoff feature that shuts the motor down when it starts to overheat. This could happen if you’re grinding a lot of coffee in one go or if a stone gets into the burrs.
The burrs come with a built-in screw at the “zero” setting, which prevents the burrs from grinding against each other.
This ensures that the burrs maintain their sharpness for a long time.
Hopper & Grounds Bin: We’re reviewing the Rocky SD model, which comes without a doser or a grounds bin. The doserless model does give you more control and flexibility over the grind. You could buy a Rocky SS model, which comes with a doser. It’s designed to deliver exactly the same amount of grounds every time with the flick of a lever. However, it needs to be full to work properly and tends to retain stale ground coffee.
Irrespective of the model, the machine comes with a 10.5-oz hopper made from a blue-tinted plastic. It is supposed to protect your beans from harmful UV rays, but we don’t recommend storing your beans in the hopper anyway.
Aesthetics: If you’re into the industrial-chic look, you’re going to love the Rancilio Rocky grinder. Its stainless steel casing, black front panel, and tinted blue plastic parts proudly proclaim its heritage as a proven workhorse of the coffee equipment industry. You can shop around for an all-black model too. It doesn’t matter which one you choose; this grinder is sure to be a conversation starter.
Storability/Portability: Size-wise, the Rocky grinder isn’t much bigger than other popular burr grinders. But at 4.7 x 9.8 x 13.8 inches, it is not as compact as most entry-level grinders. However, this machine is a true heavyweight. At 15.4 lbs, there is no way you’re going to be moving it around in your kitchen. In fact, we suggest you enlist another person’s help during initial setup.
Ease Of Cleaning: If your Rocky SD grinder has coffee dust on it when you unpack it, don’t be alarmed. Rancilio makes sure that every single device is factory-tested. As per them (1):
Each grinder is factory-tested using coffee before leaving the assembly line, as a result, some Italian coffee may remain in grinder.
So be prepared to dust off those “testing” grounds!
Since this machine borrows parts from its commercial sibling, it requires a minimal amount of maintenance to keep it in good working condition. You just need to do basic cleaning every couple of months or so. And you’ll want to calibrate your grinder every year or two, depending on how much coffee you’re grinding every day. For a detailed guide on cleaning and calibrating the Rancilio Rocky, we recommend this video:
We will dock some points for the extra effort it takes to remove the hopper and the top burr. You’ll need a long flat-head screwdriver to remove the hopper from the body. And you’ll need to unscrew finely-threaded top burr carefully. And be extra-careful while screwing it back in as you could easily cross-thread it. That will be an expensive replacement.
Durability – 5/5
There is no doubt about the fact that the Rancilio Rocky grinder is built to last. Every single part, from the heavy-duty motor to the metal body, is designed for long-term use. No matter what kind of beans you throw at it, the burrs will crush them all. And even though this machine is designed as a home grinder, it can comfortably handle the load in a semi-commercial setting, like an office or a coworking space.
Ease Of Use – 3/5
Considering how expensive this machine is, it is surprisingly barebones in terms of extra features that could make your grinding job easier. It comes with a simple pulse grinding button on the bottom left of the front panel. Press to grind and watch ground coffee pour out of the spout.
The Rocky SD also comes with a removable portafilter holder to help you grind directly into your portafilter. Although, the lack of any dosing option (at least, in the SD model) means you’ll have to eyeball the grind quantity or weigh them.
Perfect Daily grind recommends that you weigh your coffee for getting consistently good coffee every time (2):
An obvious and reliable way to eliminate or minimise the impact of unpredictable factors when making your espresso is weighing your shots.
What’s really annoying though, is adjusting the grind size. Since you have to have the machine running to turn the settings from coarse to fine, you’ll need to have one hand on the grinding button. You can’t twist the hopper without pressing down on the lock/unlock button at the base of the hopper, so you need the other hand to do that. Only then can you adjust the grind settings. Which means, you either call someone for help or contort your body weirdly to select the right setting.
Grinding Capability (Settings, Range, & Consistency) – 4.5/5
This is where the Rancilio Rocky SD really shines. Its commercial-grade burrs ensure that your grind consistency is top-notch, irrespective of the setting you choose. Its 55-stepped settings ensure that you can go from French Press to espresso in a jiffy.
Go all the way up to its coarsest setting, and you’ll get coffee chunks, not particles. For a good French Press grind, you’re better off sticking to a setting around #40. At its finest, it produces a fine powder that would clog up most other machines (although, still not fine enough for Turkish coffee). However, this machine isn’t winning any prizes for speed. At #0, be prepared to wait for about 20 seconds to grind 15 grams of coffee.
The best part is that the Rocky can grind fine enough for a non-pressurized portafilter. The first 10 settings are meant for various levels of espresso grinds. You can’t really fine-tune your grind to achieve the perfect shot, though. But as long as you’re not going to compete in the World Barista Championship, you should be okay.
Value For Money – 3.5/5
The Rancilio Rocky comes in at a price point where you have got to make an important decision:
Are you serious enough about your coffee to justify paying a premium for this grinder?
A professional barista or a coffee nerd might not have any qualms about spending so much. After all, this grinder could be considered as the starting point for “prosumer” coffee equipment. In the end, you have to decide whether it superb consistency and its all-around capability is worth the price you’re paying.
Do Not Buy The Rancilio Rocky If…
You want more versatility for more economical price
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is the Swiss army knife of home grinders. More affordable than the Rocky, and equipped with a digital control panel, the Smart Grinder Pro offers a level of control that the Rocky can only dream of. To check out its diverse array of features, read our full review.
You want the best entry-level burr grinder
Meet the Baratza Virtuoso Plus. (Like we needed an excuse to recommend our favorite burr grinder as an alternative!) If you prize grind consistency, but fine-tuning your espresso grind isn’t that important, you can blindly go for the Baratza Virtuoso Plus. Or you can read our impartial review (ahem!) first.
You want a burr grinder capable of handling a commercial workload
If you want to open up your own cafe in the future, you might want to get a sense of how it feels. The Baratza Vario flat burr grinder is designed for that purpose. With 230 repeatable settings, you can dial in the perfect grind size and dose for every coffee drink you can imagine. Before you buy one, read our review to make sure it isn’t too much for you to handle.
You want a grinder that can help you fine-tune your espresso grind
If you’re looking for a more capable espresso grinder, the Fiorenzato F4 Nano V2 will probably trump the Rocky. The F4’s stepless adjustment combined with 58 mm steel burrs and a powerful 250-watt motor make sure the grind quality is unparalleled. It is a more expensive than the Rocky, but it is totally worth it. To learn more about the Fiorenzato F4 Nano V2, read our full review here.
The Verdict On The Rancilio Rocky Doserless Coffee Grinder – 3.9/5
The Rancilio Rocky is the best all-purpose coffee grinder for the home brewing enthusiast. If you’re an espresso enthusiast interested in dialing in the perfect shot by micro-adjusting your doses, this grinder won’t make you happy. But if you want a high-end grinder that will do well enough for a variety of brew styles, the Rocky is a great option that will last you years.
Built to last, equipped with a ton of grind settings, and offering superior grind consistency, there’s no question that the Rancilio Rocky is a kingly option. Whether you get it brand new on Amazon or shop around for a refurbished model, you can’t go wrong with this choice.
The recommended grind setting for drip and French Press depends on the type of coffee beans, roast level, brewing time, etc. But as a general guide, you can use settings #25 to #35 for drip coffee, and around #40 for French Press. For more details on what grind size to use for which brew, refer our coffee grind size chart.
The grind settings you use for espresso will depend on which espresso machine and portafilter you’re using. If you’re using an entry-level machine like the Rancilio Silvia, try grind settings #5 to #10. You should be aware that your grinder may be calibrated differently. So you’ll have to try a few different settings before you get a good result.
There is about 5.5 inches of space under the Rancilio Rocky’s spout. After removing the portafilter holder, you should be able to slide in a small container to catch the ground coffee. If you find that the top of your container is hitting the spout, you could try removing the base plate to get a little more clearance.
- (n.d.). Rocky SD. Retrieved from https://www.ranciliogroupna.com/rocky-sd
- Spyth, O. (2016, January 07). Weighing Espresso Shots in Service: Should You Do It? Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2016/01/weighing-espresso-shots-in-service-insanity-or-essential/