Robert McKeon Aloe
Jan 11 · 4 min read

My entry into coffee, espresso in particular, was slow moving for awhile. I had a super-automatic machine at first, so I didn’t need to worry about a grinder, but one day, I ended up with a Kim Express. It’s an old manual espresso machine which has a spring driven piston. I preferred freshly ground coffee, and at work, my friend had a Breville grinder which worked pretty well.

I didn’t start off with that grinder because I was afraid of regretting the cost and not being as into espresso as I am now. Learning how to use a manual machine took awhile, and I wasn’t too good at dialing in a grind. I just liked finer grinds and knew I needed more coffee grounds than usual to get the syrupy espresso I so desired. So I bought a Hario hand grinder.

The only issue I had with Hario is that I liked such a fine grind, it would take me 15 minutes to make it. On top of that, I couldn’t quite figure out the grind for the Kim Express as it was discouraging the first many times.

When I moved out to California, I decided enough messing around: I was getting one of those Breville grinders my friend had. Actually, my wife got it for me for my anniversary. I unboxed it, and it was beautiful. It was red and worked so nice.

I hooked it up at work; I was so excited to get a super fine grind, measured to perfection. I turned it on, add the beans, and away it went grinding, until I heard something break. The only complication was my home roasted beans. I called Breville, and they said home roasted beans have issues with that grinder. They offered to replace it. I later found out it was because the metal power transfer gears were replaced with plastic.

I wasn’t sold on a replacement, but I didn’t have a better option. I used their replacement, and I broke it pretty quick. I used another replacement, and I broke that too. They replaced it with a professional version, and I soon had broken a fourth machine. I ended up using that machine for a few months on a coarser grind that would work, but I wasn’t happy.

I was really happy with Breville though; they certainly had good customer service even if their grinder had lots of issues.

I started to investigate more expensive grinders, and I was ready to buy the Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder. It was twice as much, but the hope was for better coffee. At the last minute, I backed out. I found out the Rok hand grinder was coming out one month later, so I order that instead. I was still able to return the Breville, and the cost of the Rok grinder was about the same.

The Rok grinder had promised to be a grinder whose particle size was consistent and precise. It was supposed to provide the quality one would get from a grinder three times the cost. With the possibility of returning it, I was ready to try it out.

The day arrived, and I had the Rok grinder in hand. It was simple and beautiful. I set it up, and I dialed down the grind to #1. It had no problem crushing through my beans. The change it made to the consistency and taste of my espresso blew me away. I was not disappointed.

I could upgrade to a commercial grinder, but I’m not convinced it would be much better than the Rok grinder. Maybe I should buy a second one. I wish it was more portable…


Wishes do come true in the form of Lume. I got a Lume grinder for Christmas which is meant to give similar quality as the Rok but more portable.

After one week, Lume is very comparable to the Rok, which for me means having one home grinder and one work grinder. It goes well with my every increasing number of manual espresso machines. It’s harder to adjust than the Rok, but I don’t change my grind often.


I made this little comparison for some of the features of these grinders. I didn’t set out to buy them with these specifically in mind, but I’ve been trying to quantify why I like certain grinders as the result being a data scientist.

I think it is a tie between Lume and Rok even though Lume has a better average score. When it comes to the finished product (espresso), only the grind quality matters.

If you like, follow me on Twitter and YouTube where I post videos espresso shots on different machines and espresso related stuff.

Overthinking Life

Thinking too much on Philosophy, Math, Science, Politics, Work, and Life

Robert McKeon Aloe

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I’m in love with my wife, my kids, espresso, tomatoes, cooking, engineering, talking, family, Paris, and Italy, not necessarily in that order.

Overthinking Life

Thinking too much on Philosophy, Math, Science, Politics, Work, and Life

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