You’re a fan of grinding your own beans, but you’ve outgrown the hand cranks and the simple grinders that everyone typically starts with.
You’re ready for the next step. The one where you invest in something that has a lot of flexibility and really provides a lot of value for the money. How do you start searching between all the brands available? What brands feature the best options? Grinding options, cost, color combinations, and durability are all important.
Two brands are going head-to-head to see who offers something a little more valuable than the other. Let’s take a look at how they stack up:
Rancilio Rocky: The Italian Champ
Rancilio is an Italian company with deep roots in the world-wide coffee trade. They have been making coffee equipment for the last 90 years and distributing around the world. You can read about their passion for coffee on their corporate website and why they started making the original Rocky line-up in the early 1990s.
The Rocky model has changed in the last 27 years to offer a better grinding experience for every coffee enthusiast from beginner to expert.
The latest edition in the Rocky line-up offers additional features from the past model with better control over the grind quality. One noted upgrade from the last model are the 50mm grinding plates in tempered steel that can deliver 55 different types of grounds. It features has doser and doserless varieties to give the user more control over final ground quantity.
This will help with the variation of equipment the grinds will be used in. You can choose between a simple espresso ground, a ground perfect for a filter, a carafe, or a portafilter for example.
Functional Features: Pros and Cons
• Commercial rated 50mm grinding burrs – The current Rocky model features burrs designed to reduce heat transfer to the beans that would lose some of the potential flavor of the grounds. It also has an electric motor that is insulated to reduce transferred heat.
• Quiet & Durable – Rancilio has a good reputation for commercial grade equipment. The Rocky line runs quietly and stays durable. So durable they are used world-wide for retail coffee shops. It features a protection system in the machine to prevent overheating and damage due to a jam in the grinder.
• Options for grinds – The Rocky gives you the option for 55 levels of grinds. You can choose between fine grounds for espresso to something easy like a drip coffee.
• Compact hopper – The Rocky model features a large hopper that will hold over a ½-pound of beans and can lift off for cleaning. It’s also tinted blue for UV protection of the beans, but still translucent enough to monitor the amount of beans inside the hopper.
• Rugged design – The Rocky features stainless steel side panels to give more durability and ease of cleaning after each use. It will look great in a modern style kitchen and will complement black or stainless steel appliances.
• Owners that don’t consume more than a couple cups of coffee every day may discover the Rocky is too much machine for them. It’s designed for high-volume output, and can easily grind 7 pounds of beans in an hour without a problem. If you don’t plan on more than a couple cups per day, the Rocky may be more machine than you need.
• The power switch is listed as being in an awkward position when using a portafilter.
• The Rocky machine weighs in at over 15 pounds. It’s a big machine. It will take up more counter space than you may realize and become a focal point in your kitchen.
• It’s an expensive machine at more than $350 suggested retail price.
Breville Smart Grinder Pro: The Aussie Ace
Breville is an Australian brand that first started with small appliances in the 1930s. Ever wondered who pioneered the toasted sandwich machine? That was Breville coming out of Sydney, Australia. Breville, like Rancilio, has a long storied history and is a current global manufacturer of coffee equipment.
The Smart Grinder Pro model offers a lot of similar features to the Rancilio Rocky model, but does have some unique things that give it a slightly different feel.
The first thing you’ll notice is the large digital readout and three adjustments dials on the front of the machine. Those dials change the fineness of the grounds and the length of time the grinding lasts. The time is adjustable down to 0.2 seconds.
Another feature to note is that the hopper holds up to 16-oz of beans ready to be ground when you need that next cup of coffee.
Functional Features: Pros and Cons
• High-Grade Grinding Burrs – The Smart Grinder Pro features stainless steel conical burr grinders that are designed to minimize heat transferred to the beans and protect the oils in the coffee bean.
• Dosing Intelligence – The dose of coffee automatically adjusts as you change the grind size.
• Hands Free Operation – no need to hold anything in place during the grinding. Just place your portafilter under the head, start the machine, and come back when it’s done.
• Large Hopper Capacity – The hopper holds up to 16oz of coffee beans. Double the Rancilio Rocky machine capacity.
• Grinding Flexibility – The Smart Grinder Pro offers 60 levels of grounds, from extremely fine to a large ground for a drip coffee.
• Included Accessories – Portafilter cradles (Small 50-54mm and Large 58mm), grinds container with lid and sealing cap, and conical burr cleaning brush.
• Some of the reviews note that it does not grind well using the coarsest setting for drip coffee. Beyond that, some others have noted their machines seemed to misalign the chute and jam more than expected when trying to grind.
Perhaps take this into consideration if you want to focus on drip coffee and you may have to find a happy medium to prevent the chute from jamming on coarse grinds.
• The Smart Grinder Pro is also an expensive machine in the $350 range. You’re really going to have to like coffee to buy an expensive unit.
Comparing the Rancilio Rocky and Breville Smart Grinder Pro grinders, the two could be considered cousins with their similar features on the grinding burrs and purchasing price.
The Rocky has a more rugged design with the sharp corners and stainless steel sides. The Grinder Pro has a more curvaceous design that flows top to bottom. Both offer a large range of grinding settings, and with similar pricing you have to look below the surface to really decide which will be the better machine. The Rocky has better online reviews and customer feedback.
Is that enough to sway you one way or the other?