For those of us wanting to take our home espresso making up to the next level usually getting a high end consumer grade espresso grinder like a Rancilio or Baratza is the first step to made. It even comes before the actual espresso machine upgrade because the best espresso makers are always limited by the quality of the beans and grind they are working with.
In my opinion the Rancilio Rocky and the Baratza Sette are two of the most obvious options to choose from for home espresso brewers because they both can be purchased for a reasonable sum of money but are still far better grinders than the typically $100 unit than many users of drip coffee makers use.
Generally speaking the Sette 270 can grind beans directly into a portafilter only while the Rocky can grind into a container or a portafilter. The Sette has more grind settings and the Rocky has a large fresh bean container that can be used for storage from day to day.
That’s just the basics though so lets go more in depth over the rest of this article. Alternatively you might want to see this page where we compare the Bartaza Sette 30, 270, 270w, and 270wi because they are all slightly different.
There comes a point for many coffee lovers where the process and craft of the drink itself becomes just as or more important than getting a caffeine fix. Making fine espressos, French presses, and other methods require precision and care.
Eventually you might find it’s time to graduate from your small grinder to a bigger, more heavy duty grinder. This is an important upgrade for people who plan to make different types of espresso, as some require the finest possible grind.
There are so many products out there for grinding coffee, it can be overwhelming. Even if you settle on a brand, there are lines of products within the brand that can add more stress to your decision making.
The first step to selecting the perfect grinder is to narrow down what it is you want to do with your grinder. If your only plan is to get a medium grind for your coffee maker every day, something smaller would probably be a more cost-efficient choice for your lifestyle.
If you’re looking to take that next step into coffee making, starting with a heavy-duty grinder is a smart choice. You’ll just want to consider what it is you need out of it.
Some grinders have hundreds of grind settings, which is really useful for the connoisseur who likes to experiment with their beans. Others have fewer settings, which may suit the needs of someone who has a variety of needs, but not enough to warrant 100+ options.
We’ve broken down the main features of both grinders, to get a better idea of what is in store for each product.
Let’s start by looking at the Baratza Sette.
Main Features of the Baratza Sette
There are a few variations of Sette grinders, but the Baratza Sette 270 Conical Burr Coffee Grinder is what we will focus on for this comparison, as they are all very similar.
It comes with 270 different grind settings, allowing you to have total control over your exact grind. You have the ability to get an extremely precise grind with this product, ranging from coarse grinds for French press, and extra-fine grinds for ristretto.
The machine can grind beans at speeds of five grams per second, and is built to prevent retaining any of the powder. The Sette grinder works by driving the outer burr for a grind, while keeping the inner burr in one place. This produces a fast and consistent grind each time.
The grinder has a container for fresh beans, but you can also remove that container and grind directly into a portafilter.
You can set a desired grinding time, which is useful if you figure out the perfect setting for a desired amount of time because you can set it the same and have consistency with each grind.
The control panel has an LCD display, allowing for easy use of the different functions. It can also save previous grind settings, which makes consistency even easier. If you experiment around and figure out the perfect time and grind setting, you can have consistency every single day. The saved grind settings is useful as you can go back and see what you liked in the past if you forget.
If you think 270 settings is way too much, there is an entry-level Sette grinder which offers many of the same features, but only has 30 grind settings.
Keep your eye on listings for this grinder, as prices can fluctuate.
Main Features of the Rancilio Rocky
This machine may look smaller and less heavy duty upon first glance, but it comes in at a whopping 15 pounds. The Sette grinder is about seven pounds, for reference.
The Rancilio Rocky SD has a powerful but quiet motor which uses 166 watts. It uses 50mm plate grinding burrs, which are used in many entry-level, larger-sized grinders.
The machine does not have a container to hold the ground beans, but instead dispenses easily straight into a portafilter, held by a removable metal fork. This is convenient for someone looking to cut down the time spent preparing their espresso.
There are 40 grind settings with the Rocky. In just seconds you can grind an extremely fine or coarse batch of coffee grounds.
To change grind levels, you have to hold down a locking mechanism on the bean hopper, and give it a quick spin. The hopper can hold up half a pound of beans at a time. The machine can grind almost eight pounds of beans in a given hour.
The Rocky SS does have a container for the ground beans, and offers a dosing mechanism. You can grind a bunch of coffee into the container for fresh grounds, and then dose out your beans at a later time. All you have to do is pull the handle, and seven grams of coffee will dispense straight into the portafilter for you.
The Main Differences
A notable difference between the two grinders is their range of settings. The Sette-270 can grind, you know it, 270 different settings. Their entry-level counterpart can grind 30 different settings.
The Rocky on the other hand has 40 grind settings.
Baratza Sette grinders have a container to store the freshly ground coffee, and can also grind directly into a portafilter. The Rocky SD does not have a fresh bean container, but it does offer a holder to grind directly into your portafilter. The Rocky SS does have a container for fresh grounds, and can even go as far as dosing the fresh grounds into a permafilter from the container.
The Baratza Sette has an LCD display, which allows you to go back to your previous settings and allows for easy programming. You can go back to previous grinds and get the exact same settings from the past, allowing for consistency with your brews.
The Rancilio Rocky grinder does not have any sort of display, and the grind settings are adjusted from the lid of the bean hopper.
The Baratza Sette and Rancilio Rocky are both high quality choices for your next grinder. They all have a unique set of features that sets them apart from one another, so it’s important to do your research before making your purchase.
If your list of necessities in a grinder is small, and you are looking for convenience and affordability, the 30 Conical Baratza grinder would be the most cost-efficient choice. You can still choose between 30 different grind settings, which allows for a lot of flexibility, without having too many other features.
For someone who wants more functionality than that of the 30 conical grinder from Baratza, but isn’t ready for 270 settings, choosing a Rancilio Rocky grinder would be a good choice.
If you make a lot of espresso, and you’re looking for a way to make your brewing more convenient, the Rancilio Rocky SS may be the best choice as you can pre-grind your beans and keep up to half a pound in the container, and then use that to dose out a consistent seven grams to fill your portafilter.
For someone who really likes to experiment with their grinder, and needs precision in their life, the Baratza Sette 270 Conical Grinder would be able to suit their needs the most. With all of those grind settings, and the ability to go back on the LCD display and look at previous settings, any coffee-enthusiast would be thrilled with this machine.
Personally, I find the 30 conical Sette grinder to be enough for my own needs. I like that I still have the ability to grind very coarse and very fine grounds, without having too many settings.
Something with 270 different grind settings would make me feel overwhelmed, and bad about my inability to make use of them all. I know exactly what I want from my grind, and I can find it within those 30 settings.
I can brew directly into my portafilter with the Sette grinder as well, which is all I need to do. I don’t have any reason to grind a large amount ahead of time, so I don’t need to store and dose my beans into a portafilter.
There are quite a few aspects that set these grinders apart, but after laying them all out in plain English, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. You’ll just need to compare your needs with the features of these grinders.
Whatever you end up choosing, be sure to consider your personal needs, as the range of abilities is large. You don’t want to end up paying for features you won’t use, and you certainly don’t want to fork out the money for a machine that doesn’t suit all of your needs.
Baratza Sette vs Rancilio Rocky: Burr Coffee Grinders Compared
Cue Eye Of The Tiger! We’re matching up the Baratza Sette series with the Rancilio Rocky.
This is a face off for the ages, and as we’ve discussed the Baratza Sette series, many times, we’re happy to see this new contender enter the ring. Let’s discuss some of the finer points between both and see which comes out on top.
The Rancilio Rocky Grinder
Our underdog in this comparison, The Rocky by Rancilio, is an eighteen pound entry level grinder that packs a punch, just like a certain boxer. Built with commercial-grade materials, this is a professional machine that’s made for the home brewer and can handle an intense coffee quota.
If you’re tired of living with the disadvantages of a blade grinder, then pay close attention!
This beauty is one of the more popular grinders out there. Built with all the options and extras that one might find in Rancilio’s commercials grinders, the Rocky is a courageous grinder that takes on a vast task list.
It’s equipped with tempered steel burrs, stepped grinder adjustments, and comes in a Doser model, the Rocky SS, or Doser-less model to fit into any home barista’s lifestyle. The benefits of dosing includes:
- Saves coffee beans with its accuracy (Grind only what you use!).
- The Dosing mechanism stops grinds from clumping together in the system and in the final results.
- The dose settings allows users to step back and grind unattended, which is helpful if you’re grinding large doses, say for a week ahead of time.
- The fact that the dosing mechanism prevents clumping and even distributes particles also aids to the lessening of static.
The Doser-less version, called the Rocky SD, saves the user time, with less cubic inches to clean. Though many will find the benefits of dosing to be quite convincing, and worth the extra investment. On the doser-less model, which is still useful for home application, the user is in control over the amount of grinds that fill a porta-filter, and there’s no attachable chamber to fill with grinds. So this version is obviously suited toward very small batches, like espresso shots.
The Rocky is interesting in the sense that it’s got forty settings inscribed into its dial but the ultra-fine threading of the burrs make for roughly ten extra settings that lets you go from French press to espresso particles. The Rocky’s grinder settings are quite applicable to those searching for wide variety of grind options, while higher end grinders often specialize in one or the other, coarse or fine.
The Rancilio Rocky’s grinding settings are tuned for home baristas to dial-in grinds for a variety of brew methods.
Adjusting the grinder setting requires that you to turn the Rocky’s hopper while holding down a locking mechanism, which keeps the grind setting in place.
The Rocky has a built in screw at the zero grind mark. This is called the ‘zero point‘ and though it seems like a minuscule addition it is what prevents the burrs from grinding against each other when the grind setting is pushed to its smallest particle size.
This is quite an important addition, basically it ensures the burrs won’t clash and their sharpness is maintained. It’s also likely to help prevent the grinder from getting choked with grounds.
The Rocky SS is a manual dosing grinder, which means it only grinds when you manually push the button located in the bottom left-hand corner. With a manual dosing grinder, you might have to employ a little extra leg work by weighing out your beans prior to grinding to ensure that you end up with the correct amount for your brewing method. This model also includes a portafilter holder, except it has a grounds catcher with a lever to dispense coffee after the grind is complete.
The Rancilio Rocky SD, the doserless model, features a chute and removable portafilter holder. This is a worthwhile addition so one can simply grind and then add to a container or pour into your French press.
Cons of The Rancilio Rocky
Every underdog has flaws, and the rocky is a grinder no exception to the rule.
- Many users report that the burrs don’t last as long as some people seem to think. Some say burrs should be changed as often as every two years.
- Additionally the coarse grind settings are very much on the coarse side of things, some say that you have to hone in the french press on the many steps of it’s adjustments to get a proper grind.
- Other users complain about the looseness of the upper burr carrier while it sits in place. We couldn’t determine if this lends itself to anything in the quality of the grind overall.
The Rocky can be modded to become a stepless grinder as well as firming up the upper burr carrier, but many users on the coffee forums either warn against or mention that even with the modification it won’t keep up with the commercial grinders.
That’s why it’s important to understand what you want to get out of your grinder.
What will you mainly be using it for? Like buying a truck (a similar price-tag in some cases) you need to know what your objective use is first.
Mechanics of the Rancilio Rocky
So getting under the hood, let’s see what kind of engine this thing has.
The Rocky has a heavy duty 166-watt direct drive motor which brings about some major power. This mainly accountable for the eighteen pounds that makeup the grinder itself, though the rugged body does help. In addition to providing more power to the grinding process, the motor is surprisingly quiet and cool. That’s a major plus when it comes to savoring the oils and freshness of your beans.
In this case, a more powerful motor means the job is done with efficiency and doesn’t have to make much noise to get through the beans. That is certainly easy with the 1725 RPM’s it boasts.
In addition, the same principle applies to the level of heat it created. The grinder uses less effort to grind and therefore builds up less heat. Rancillio is known for thier intense testing and this grinder is of no exception. Reportedly, it is capable of grinding nearly eight pounds of beans per hour. For your home needs it’s likely that the Rocky SD will be able to perform up to your standards.
Now the Sette Series enters the ring. Let’s see how it holds up next to the Rocky.
The Baratza Sette 30AP, 270, and 270W
Baratza know how to make grinder, we’ve reviewed their Sette and Forté series before too. Let’s discuss the product line of the Sette here, as it lines up price-wise pretty consistently with the Rocky.
The Sette series has started a revolution with it’s unique innovations. What once started as a fluke of a grinder, the Sette 30, evolved into the 30AP through rigorous user testing, feedback from expert coffee grinders everywhere weighed in and Baratza heard them loud and clear.
The Baratza Sette series was thus developed to take on grinding challenges that the average user found important and thus are equipped with 40mm conical steel burrs across the series, which produce consistent grinds. The conical burrs aren’t where the innovation ends though.
It’s called the Etzinger Mechanism, and it’s already proved to be well worth it’s weight in gold. It’s like throwing some ripe coffee beans into a jet engine (trust us, they won’t let you do that at the airport) because the inventor Christian Etzinger, is actually an aeronautical engineer.
The jet-like properties of this mechanism basically translate to the beans are pulled through the grinding process rather than being fed simply by gravity. This is consistency unlike anything else you’ll find.
Allowing the beans to be pulled into the mechanism and thus feeding the grinder, eliminates static and poor particle distribution, and in turn allows for weight based dosing that is at once accurate and quickly on demand.
So at the top of this series, the Sette 270W is able to offer real-time grind-by-weight functionality: also a game changer in the coffee grinding practice.
The Sette 30 grinds 3.5 to 5.5 grams per second, depending on roast and grind setting. The burrs are durable, and will remain sharp for exceptionally long periods of time. This means you won’t be investing extra money into the grinder to replace them every couple of years.
The clever design of the Sette series burr assembly offers you, the user, the ability to exchange the cone burr in less than a minute. No tools required, and unlike most any other grinder on the marker, no need to recalibrate. Chances are though, you won’t be worrying about removing the burr set to replace them thanks to their durability, they’re still easily removable for cleaning.
The motor is high speed and quick, probably providing just as much footwork as the Rocky, but is especially useful for low retention of grounds, so cleaning becomes less of an issue itself.
If we’re discussing single dosing then this is a worthy contender.
Additionally, timed dosing lets you skip the setup and get right to your morning grind. Unless you’re willing to spend the extra money to get picky, then thirty different grind settings should give you plenty of shots to choose from.
Not to mention, with the future of coffee brewing moving ever-forward, the 270W will be able to do espresso dosing via an app on your phone. Espresso dosing via bluetooth?Welcome to the future!
With over 270 steps in your grind, the Baratza Sette 270 has earned its name. The Sette 270 features 31 stepped adjustments from fine to coarse with an infinite stepless adjustment system, for reaching those sweet spots in between steps.
Baratza is well aware that coffee lovers like to work with a slew of different beverage styles so it’s been the mission of the 270s to gear up and offer varying grinds that can be honed in by preference with the infinite step adjustments. The Baratza Sette 270’s are aiming for the ultimate in quality over a broad spectrum of grind styles.
For coffee lovers looking to brew for espresso, the Baratza Sette Series has the tools to get the job done right. The home brewer has never been more equipped than with these simple two lever adjusters.
Major Differences Between the Baratza Sette and Rancilio Rocky
To truly pair them up we should lay out all the nuances, good and bad, so picking the perfect grinder is a slightly easier task. We’ve heard a lot of talk from the experts on these two, so here’s the gossip all in one place:
Burr Material: The Sette series, feature 40 mm conical burrs made from steel. The Rocky features 50 mm steel burrs in both it’s doser and doserless versions.
Motor Setup: Touching on speed and performance, the Sette series is comprised of a powerful DC motor, and like The Rocky grinder, features direct drive to further optimize the process. However, the winning detail here is sound, and The Rocky has a sturdy, heavy metal housing that lends itself to a quieter operation. With the Rocky it’s possible to grind for your coffee, whenever you choose to drink it.
Grind Settings: Oriented more for espresso, the Sette 270 and 270W win with it’s 30 steps and seemingly infinite number of steps in between with micro-adjustments, but the Rocky has forty settings of it’s own, yet is capable of more as it approaches the zero point.
Interface: The Rocky is quite simple in this regard. Simply adjust the ring around the hopper to hone in your grind. However, hats off to the Sette series, as the 270 and 270W, are very programable with a touch screen and additionally, Bluetooth technology is becoming widely available so one can program and start a grind from anywhere on their smart phone.
Regardless of what aspect of these devices is most important to you, it’s likely that you’ll soon understand why many coffee lovers ditch the blade grinder and get serious about their coffee with a burr grinder. Hopefully we’ve helped you hone in on the grinder of your dreams, but if you’re still on the fence, check out more of the gear we like over here.