ROK Espresso Maker Review: Espresso Made Simple?

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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Espresso is one of those fascinating coffee drinks with a gazillion machines capable of brewing it. The ROK Espresso Maker is one of them, and I must admit it caught my attention. 

Espresso is one of those fascinating coffee drinks with a gazillion machines capable of brewing it. The ROK Espresso Maker is one of them, and I must admit it caught my attention. 

I did a double-take when I first saw this contraption. Is it a mini Star Trek replicator or a coffee machine? Anyway, once I got over the initial weirdness of its appearance, I resolved to explore the ROK espresso machine in greater detail. 

So here goes. Let’s find out what this manual espresso maker is all about!

Truly unique

ROK EspressoGC

Get ready to experiment

Innovative design

High-quality build

Encourages experimentation

Capable of exceptional espresso

Compact footprint

No pressure gauge

ROK Espresso Maker Review Overview

What happens when a coffee-obsessive product designer decides to create an espresso machine? The ROK EspressoGC, that’s what!

In 1997, Patrick Hunt, CEO and founder of London-based ROK Coffee, sought to create a manual coffee maker to better the home espresso experience. He leveraged his design chops and did lots of coffee research to create the ROK Espresso Maker, or simply “The ROK” (not to be confused with Dwayne Johnson, by the way).

This is an espresso machine focused on simple, fuss-free brewing. ROK Coffee also wanted to emphasize planet-friendly brewing when they created the design. Their aim? To be the direct opposite of the coffee capsule Nespresso and Keurig brewers of this world. 

Incidentally, ROK Coffee also makes coffee gear, including a milk frother, pour-over dripper and an air-tight coffee bean storage jar. Where they made their name, though, is with espresso makers. Today, my attention falls on the EspressoGC. 

ROK Coffee Espresso Press Features

This manual espresso machine is just that – entirely manual. Now, how often do we come across such simple technology? In this auto-everything-crazy world, not that often. But it does exist. For example, the AeroPress and Flair Classic are two manual machines that rival the ROK. 

You may wonder if the levers on this coffee maker create the pressure needed to brew real espresso. Without a gauge, it can be hard to tell. However, the manufacturer claims it generates 5 to 10 bars, which is within the required range. 

Costing $229.00, this limited functionality may seem a bit pricey. But considering that this machine doesn’t need power outlets, worn-out parts replacements or regular descaling, it may be worth the investment. 

Ultimately, You only need ground coffee, hot water, elbow grease and a spirit of adventure to make tasty espresso!

ROK Espresso Maker Features

Now onto what makes the ROK EspressoGC tick. As this is a fairly simple machine, its features are few but noteworthy. Here are some of the main ones to pay attention to. 

Size and Design

Compared to most other espresso machines, the ROK Espresso GC is very compact, at only 11 inches (28 centimeters) tall. In fact, you can fit it on the smallest of kitchen counters with ease.

What also got me excited is how light this portable espresso maker is. Again, at just 3.9 pounds (1.8 kilograms), it’s lighter than most semi-automatic espresso machines. And as it doesn’t need a power outlet to function, fitting it into a backpack or other travel bag for on-the-go espresso brewing is effortless.

What about durability? Well, the ROK EspressoGC features premium steel aluminum construction; need I say more? Likewise, the pressure chamber made of composite glass promises high-performance brewing.

In short, this espresso machine is going to last. No wonder the manufacturer offers a 10-year warranty on all metal parts. 

Pressure Chamber

This espresso maker’s pressure chamber, composed of glass composite material, improves on those found in previous models. It achieves higher pressures without too much effort from the user.

But unlike semi-auto espresso makers or super automatics, the ROK Espresso Maker doesn’t have a heating element. Heating elements are crucial for maintaining consistent pressure throughout the brewing process.

This constant pressure forces water through the coffee grounds, ensuring an even extraction. The jury’s still out on whether the ROK’s lever-arm action is strong enough to exert the continuous 9-bars of pressure needed to brew the perfect shot. In addition, the absence of a boiler means that you can only brew one espresso shot at a time. 

Portafilter

ROK Coffee Espresso Press Portafilter

As portafilters go, the ROK espresso machine has a good one. The portafilter has a 50-millimeter diameter, with a capacity of up to 20 grams. That’s certainly enough for a double shot.

The chrome-plated die-cast zinc body and inner stainless-steel basket connect to a black heat-proof handle. While the standard ROK EspressoGC comes with a standard portafilter, you can spend a little more for the EspressoGC Explorer Edition, which includes a bottomless portafilter as well as an additional pressurized basket. 

Accessories

This machine’s simplicity means it won’t have many accessories. But the ROK espresso maker does have everything you need to get started: 

  • Portafilter

  • Plastic tamper/coffee scoop

  • Clip-on double adapter (splitter)

  • Dosing funnel

  • Spare silicone O-ring for the brewing chamber

I’d suggest getting a high-end espresso tamper as well as an espresso tamping mat to help you brew better espresso. The coffee scoop may work for some, but for seasoned baristas, it won’t cut the mustard. And while the clip-on double adapter is a good idea, you’ll split the shot and the lovely thick crema. 

How to Use the ROK EspressoGC

Using the ROK espresso maker is simplicity itself. But achieving the perfect espresso shot will require lots of experimentation. 

Begin by grinding whole coffee beans into a fine-grind size. You may use pre-ground coffee, but if you’ve been here long enough, you’ll know I’m not for it!

Incidentally, ROK Coffee makes a grinder, the ROK Grinder GC, which can grind coffee beans for every grind size from espresso to French press. Still, in my experience, I’d recommend opting for an espresso-capable burr coffee grinder

ROK Coffee Espresso Press How To Use

Next, pre-heat the GC pressure chamber. A pre-heated brew chamber helps to maintain the correct temperature during brewing. 

Start by locking the empty portafilter firmly onto the shower head. Then, place an empty espresso cup underneath the filter before filling the pressure chamber with hot filtered water

Pull both the levers upward to run a blind brew. Then, lower both levers to press out any remaining water before discarding. Do this repeatedly for the best results. 

Remove and dry the portafilter. Now, use your coffee scale to weigh out around 17 grams of ground coffee then fill the portafilter using the dosing funnel. Gently tap the filter onto a tamping mat before using a distributor to level the grounds. 

Once level, evenly tamp the coffee. I prefer using a proper tamper, preferably weighted. If you don’t have a separate tamper, the plastic tamper/coffee scoop provided does a good enough job for most. 

It’s also a good idea to preheat your espresso cup with boiling water from a kettle at this stage. Now, dry the machine’s shower head using a clean cloth. Then, place one hand on the ROK coffee maker and lock your portafilter onto the shower head. 

Note that European-made lever espresso machines lock portafilters from left to right, not right to left, as we do in the US. 

You’re now ready to brew!

The Brewing Process

To begin, fill the pressure chamber with 2.2 ounces (65 milliliters) of hot water to one inch above the piston. The temperature should be anywhere from 203 to 208 degrees Fahrenheit (97 to 98 degrees Celsius). 

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Then, place your demitasse cup underneath the portafilter. Pull both levers upward and gently lower them until you feel slight resistance. Wait 10 to 12 seconds for the coffee to undergo pre-infusion. After all, pre-infused coffee gives you the best flavors and aromas in the final shot. 

Next, lift the levers once more. Then, applying significant pressure, lower both levers as far as they’ll go. Brewed coffee should begin to drip after a few seconds, followed by a stream of espresso five to eight seconds in.

It should take between 25 to 30 seconds to extract around 2 ounces (60 milliliters) of coffee. And there you are, you’ve produced espresso using the ROK!

Getting the brewing variables right with manual machines can be a tall order. A novice brewer can easily produce over- or under-extracted coffee with a thin layer of crema and horrible taste. Especially with the first shot! But don’t lose hope, it can take as many as a hundred shots to reach the Holy Grail of espresso with the ROK. 

You may drink the produced espresso as is. Remember to wait two minutes as the Italians do, before sipping on your creation. This delay is well worth it; the flavors of the crema and coffee will be at their best.

ROK Espresso Maker Cleaning

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this lever espresso machine requires no descaling agents. But once you get used to it, cleaning this machine by hand is pretty straightforward. 

Even better, the ROK EspressoGC only needs a deep clean every few months. In this case, you’ll need to disassemble the coffee maker. Then, descale the inner components with a vinegar and water solution. 

ROK Coffee Espresso Press Cleaning

Otherwise, everyday cleaning is a breeze. Between each shot all you need to do is discard the used coffee grounds and wipe your portafilter with a clean dishcloth. Occasionally, rinse any leftover coffee grinds in the empty filter basket under warm water before drying with a clean cloth. 

You may wash the portafilter and coffee maker parts with warm, soapy water now and then. This removes accumulated grounds and oils. But whatever you do, don’t run the ROK Espresso maker through the dishwasher; that’s just asking for trouble. 

All the aluminum or powder-coated outer body needs is a wipe down with a wet microfiber cloth. From time to time, you may polish the outer metal parts with an ammonia-free cleaner and polisher. Highly rated products like Wright's Silver Cream and Flitz Multipurpose do an excellent job and won’t set you back much.

ROK EspressoGC Technical Specifications

ROK EspressoGC
Manufacturer

Model number

1002021

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Aluminum

Color options

Black, Stainless Steel

Milk frother

None

User interface

None

App

User profiles

1

Portafilter size

50 mm

Tamping

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

N/A

Number of boilers

1

Pump pressure

9 bar

Maximum cup height

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

Grinder

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

Specialty drinks

0

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

N/A

Weight

7.7 lb / 3.5 kg

Dimensions

12.2 x 10.6 x 7.9 in
31.0 x 26.9 x 20.1 cm

Warranty

10 years

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, tamper/spoon, portafilter, shot splitter, dosing funnel

Current price on Amazon

$229.00

All specifications

ROK EspressoGC vs Flair Classic Espresso Maker

Flair Classic Overview

So how does the ROK espresso coffee maker compare with my beloved Flair Classic With Pressure Kit

For starters, both are manual lever espresso machines. They each showcase a clever design that focuses on producing excellent espresso coffee.

As for portability, the ROK weighs slightly less at 3.9 pounds (1.8 kilograms), compared to the Flair Classic’s 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms). 

When it comes to price, the Flair Classic, at $N/A is substantially more affordable. Plus, unlike the ROK it has a detachable brewing chamber, which makes for easier cleaning.

The Flair Classic gets one up over the ROK by including a pressure gauge. As the ROK Espresso Maker is lacking in this regard, it can be pretty challenging to monitor brewing parameters. 

To be fair, ROK Coffee has included a pressure gauge in the Espresso GCs Commercial Edition. This is a long-overdue upgrade, in my opinion. Manual espresso brewing is fun, but it can test a brewer’s patience limits to the nines! 

See Also: Flair Espresso Maker Review 2024

ROK EspressoGC vs Flair Classic Comparison Chart

ROK EspressoGCFlair Classic Espresso Maker
Manufacturer

Flair Espresso

Model number

1002021

Classic

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Aluminum

Stainless steel with plastic parts

Color options

Black, Stainless Steel

Black

Milk frother

None

None

User interface

None

None

App

User profiles

1

Memo function only

Portafilter size

50 mm

40 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

N/A

N/A

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

9 bar

9 bar

Maximum cup height

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

0

0

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

No

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

N/A

N/A

Weight

7.7 lb / 3.5 kg

5.0 lb / 2.3 kg

Dimensions

12.2 x 10.6 x 7.9 in
31.0 x 26.9 x 20.1 cm

10.0 x 6.0 x 12.0 in
25.4 x 15.2 x 30.5 cm

Warranty

10 years

5 years

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, tamper/spoon, portafilter, shot splitter, dosing funnel

Included Accessories: User manual, Bottomless portafilter, Dosing cup/tamper, Carrying case. Optional Upgrades: Pressure kit with gauge and stainless steel tamper.

Current price on Amazon

$229.00

$229.00

ROK EspressoGCFlair Classic Espresso Maker
Manufacturer

Flair Espresso

Model number

1002021

Classic

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Aluminum

Stainless steel with plastic parts

Color options

Black, Stainless Steel

Black

Milk frother

None

None

User interface

None

None

App

User profiles

1

Memo function only

Portafilter size

50 mm

40 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

N/A

N/A

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

9 bar

9 bar

Maximum cup height

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

0

0

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

No

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

N/A

N/A

Weight

7.7 lb / 3.5 kg

5.0 lb / 2.3 kg

Dimensions

12.2 x 10.6 x 7.9 in
31.0 x 26.9 x 20.1 cm

10.0 x 6.0 x 12.0 in
25.4 x 15.2 x 30.5 cm

Warranty

10 years

5 years

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, tamper/spoon, portafilter, shot splitter, dosing funnel

Included Accessories: User manual, Bottomless portafilter, Dosing cup/tamper, Carrying case. Optional Upgrades: Pressure kit with gauge and stainless steel tamper.

Current price on Amazon

$229.00

$229.00

Verdict: ROK Espresso Maker Review

Truly unique

ROK EspressoGC

Get ready to experiment

Innovative design

High-quality build

Encourages experimentation

Capable of exceptional espresso

Compact footprint

No pressure gauge

In this ROK Espresso Maker review I’ve explored the design, functionality and (most importantly) the quality of espresso this machine yields. Crafted with simplicity, precision and a nod to traditional methods, the ROK Espresso Maker, well, simply rocks! Its simple design appeals to both seasoned baristas and home-brewing enthusiasts. 

This home espresso machine is definitely a conversation starter. But seriously, besides the good (if slightly weird) looks, it’s a dream for coffee drinkers who want to take full control over the brewing process. And that’s no bad thing!

Now to my verdict. I wouldn’t buy this manual espresso machine if you prefer prosumer functions. And definitely not if you’re more into a multi-function coffee maker. This small espresso maker does espresso and nothing else. That means no steam wand, no grinder and no pre-set functions.

Still, if you’re espresso-obsessive or a novice looking to do some coffee research vis-a-vis the extraction process, by all means get it! If anything, it makes great coffee and is fun to use.

What do you think of the sci-fi looking ROK espresso maker? Would you get it? Or do you already have it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!

ROK Espresso Maker FAQ

Once you’ve loaded and locked the portafilter, fill the top chamber with boiling water to about a half inch above the rim. Raise the ROKs levers all the way and then lower until you feel a little pressure. Pause for a couple of seconds for the coffee to pre-infuse and then lower both levers all the way down as you wait for the ROK to extract a shot. 

ROK machines are made in London, United Kingdom.

The ROK Espresso GC has a 50-millimeter portafilter. It can hold 17 to 20 grams of ground coffee, enough to brew a double shot.

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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