Retiring My ROK Coffee Grinder with a Niche Zero

Saying goodbye to an old friend

Robert McKeon Aloe
5 min readMar 9, 2021

I first heard about the Rok grinder back in 2014. Previously, I had bought a Hario grinder for my espresso machine, but it took forever for espresso. This led to difficulty dialing in a shot and an overall bad experience. So I looked for a grinder.

The Rok’s replacement blurred in the background. All images by author.

However, the Rok wasn’t out yet. So I bought a Breville Smart Grinder, which I promptly broke with my home roasted coffee beans. They fixed it under warranty 3 times, and on the last time, I just got a refund. So kudos to Breville for such great customer care, I really appreciated it.

My desk setup; my mobile setup

Finally, I could buy the Rok grinder, and I was excited. At the time, I didn’t want to spend a great deal of money, and I wasn’t convinced I could get the performance I desired. Most of my espresso machines were 30 or 40 years old, so I was still trying to do espresso on the cheap. The Rok’s promise was the quality of a more expensive electric grinder.

During a coffee tasting; My WFH COVID setup

I immediately saw improvement in my shots. I loved the look and feel. As I started to upgrade other parts of my setup, I knew I would replace it, but I wasn’t sure when.

All my grinders. I bought the Lume for travel.

5 years later, the Rok was still awesome. The only thing I didn’t like was manually grinding coffee and how loud it was. Work from home during the pandemic made grinding coffee more difficult and more noticeable.

So I decided it was time to buy a Niche Zero.

Some Wear and Tear

I decided to do some coffee particle distribution comparisons after the Niche arrived, so I tore down the machine. I had known that the screw was pushing into the metal for a year now. I knew this because I was trying to change the settings and it had gotten stuck.

My work around was using a fine setting, and it didn’t matter as much because of staccato and staccato tamped shots.

Here are some close-up shots. I suspect it was a combination of going lower than 0 on the grind and using home roasted beans, which seem to be a little harder than commercially roasted beans. The last time I cleaned them out, I went three clicks past 0, and then I settled on 1 click past 0.

When I looked at the actual burrs, I didn’t see clear signs of wear.

However, I’m not an expert nor do I have fresh burrs to compare to.

The screw thread has seen better days, but it still grinds.

I tried to even it out with a little tinfoil, but I’m not sure if that is a good long term solution. I also think the burr alignment was slightly off, and I am aware that burr alignment is very important.

For now, the Rok is rocking the top shelf, and it certainly was my top shelf grinder for many years. Some people complained that I wasn’t using better equipment in some of my experiments, but I think they under-estimated the Rok.

I’m sure I will use the Rok again or possibly leave it at my in-laws so I know they have a good grinder. I’m glad I bought it, and I certainly got a lot of use. I went through 14 kg in the past year, so roughly 70 lbs over 5 years or nearly 4,000 espresso shots.

If you like, follow me on Twitter and YouTube where I post videos of espresso shots on different machines and espresso related stuff. You can also find me on LinkedIn. You can also follow me on Medium.

Further readings of mine:

Collection of Espresso Articles

A Collection of Work and School Stories

Personal Stories and Concerns

LEGO Story Splash Page

Photography Splash Page



Robert McKeon Aloe

I’m in love with my Wife, my Kids, Espresso, Data Science, tomatoes, cooking, engineering, talking, family, Paris, and Italy, not necessarily in that order.