ROK: Handmade Espresso, Anywhere

Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to achieve great coffee and espresso- human ingenuity knows few bounds when it comes to creative ways to get your morning caffeine stimulation. We’ve tried dozens of different methods over the years, from Moka stovepots to the nifty Aerobie Aeropress. Over the weekend, we explored a new way to make espresso in your car with the push of a button. Today, we explore a back-to-basics, simple method that can work anywhere, with no electricity, and using only a little bit of muscle power.

The ROK Espresso Maker, formerly called the Presso, is hand-powered contraption that looks kind of looks like a high-end citrus juicer. The dual arms fold down for storage, and come up to allow you add coffee grounds to the filter. Because you’re doing it yourself, you can sort of control the results, with practice. At first, you’re likely to pull shots that are pretty weak, but we figured it out fast. And it’s a nice feeling- more hands-on, more authentic- that surprises most everyone who tries it. After a couple of attempts, it’s really satisfying, both the experience and the results. You’re not going to achieve the 16 bars of an electric machine, but really need to get only to 9 or so for solid espresso, and can achieve between five and ten bars of pressure manually.

They’ve been perfecting the machine since 2002, and the box now includes pretty much everything you need: the ROK Espresso Maker, portafilter, a cute stainless steel milk frother, single espresso splitter, a basic tamp/ spoon, a decent reusable storage tin, and a manual. Warrantied for 10 years, it will outlast most any other coffee equipment thank to the engine-grade metal. The ROK looks classy on any counter, and several visitors inquired about the “lovely”, “funky”, “vintage” piece of gear in the kitchen. We’d recommend buying a separate scoop or better tamper, but in a pinch, it gets the job done. Remember that you’ll also need to either find good finely ground coffee, or use a high-end espresso grinder like the Baratza Vario-W or Encore for best results. Experiment a bit, find the optimal grind, don’t overtamp, and you’re ready to ROK (sorry).

It’s a great alternative to more expensive models that can take quite a bit time to heat up and that can take up a fair bit of space. The ROK is also a great gift- available now for a very reasonable $199 from Importika in the US, or via

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