Well I've had the Rocky (with Doser) and Gaggia Espresso for about a
week now and it's been wonderful! Immediately had delicious espresso.
It's been amazing. And I am so glad I got the Rocky grinder – it's
hard to overestimate the importance of the grinder – doesn't seem like
it should be such a critical point but it sure is.
I removed the portafilter holder as recommended and added "sweepers"
to the vanes in the doser. I used the fluffy side of a velcro strip
and made it just long enough to curve around the bottom and the side
of the vane. Added these to two of the vanes. It does give a little
more resistance when using the doser lever but I'm hoping that it
won't wear out the spring any time soon. It works very well to clear
and I'm getting consistent size portions. It ends up weighing around
20g. I didn't follow the method recommended to figure out the zero
point. The manual on the Rocky very clearly warned against using the
grind adjustment stop button when the machine is running so I couldn't
change the grind and listen for the burrs to touch. I ended up using
their procedure which was to set it to 6 and try it. I had to go down
two settings to make it come out to 25 seconds and 2 ounces. I find
that when I use 2 scoops (a total of 20g weight or 60ml volume) and
set the Rocky to 4 I get nice 25 second / 2 oz pours. This is for SM
Monkey. If I try to reduce the amount of grounds I have trouble with
short pours. I guess I need to grind finer in that case. Once I got
this far, I've sorta been sticking with it as it seems to be working
okay. So far I've tried the SM Monkey, Donkey, Liquid Amber, and
Classic Sumatra. They've all been delicious. I generally make
cappuccino's but I've had some just as espressos and I did try the SM
Italian Blend as an espresso with a bit of lemon peel. Also, great.
The frothing took a bit more time to get a handle on. I ended up using
the plastic piece of the frothing tube that extends the metal wand
(but not the piece that introduces air, I left that off). I'm now
trying to not make such a large amount of froth and get a more
consistent microfoam. I know I'm over stretching the milk but I
usually get carried away (as in: "Wow, look at that foam!"). Using a
thermometer has been a great help.
My biggest problem now is trying to figure out how to get two
cappuccinos done in a short period of time. It takes so long for the
Gaggia Espresso to cool off enough to let you take off the portafilter
with spraying. What's the best procedure to do this? What I do now
(when the machine has been on for a while and is hot) is make an
espresso, turn on the steam switch, get milk in pitcher which has been
cooling in the fridge, bleed a little steam, foam milk, pour into
espresso. (Give to husband.) Turn off steam switch, cool boiler by
running water through steam wand, wait ...., take out (very carefully)
portafilter, refill it, make another espresso and complete the rest of
the process.(By then husband is done with his.) Any suggestions???