We speak to Patrick Hunt, designer of the ROK Espresso Maker – an award-winning manual coffee machine that helps you create barista-style espresso at home with zero fuss.
“As a designer, I wanted to create a beautiful object for the kitchen that you’re happy to leave on the worktop. Something to last and consume little energy in use,” says Patrick Hunt, ROK’s CEO and Founder.
Cue the ROK Espresso Maker.
This beautiful piece of kit is the brainchild of ROK’s CEO & Founder Patrick Hunt who originally trained as a product designer and like many of us, has a passion for expert-crafted coffee.
This award-winning espresso coffee maker is a welcome alternative to today’s overly complicated and bulky electric coffee machines. There’s no confusing dials or buttons, it doesn’t ask for expensive coffee pods, and it won’t take up an entire kitchen worktop. It’s also surprisingly light.
How it works
The ROK Espresso Maker is completely manual. Just fill the portafilter with some decent espresso-ground beans, pour boiling water into the chamber at the top, and press down the arms to produce your espresso. Since all the parts are metal, it’s worth pre-warming everything to get your coffee to a good temperature.
The instructions go into more detail as the timings matter but believe us. It’s ridiculously easy once you’ve completed the process a few times. We even produced a decent crema, just like a barista would.
Once you’ve got your espresso, you can drink as is or top it up with water or frothed milk (ROK also sell a manual frother) if you prefer a flat white or latte.
Over to ROK’s CEO and founder, Patrick, to tell us more…
LM: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
PH: I trained as a product designer and have been working as such for over 30 years. I designed the first version of the ROK espresso machine 18 years ago. I’m now full-time CEO of Presso, ROK’s parent company. I’m naturally inquisitive, love a good debate and once met Mother Teresa in Calcutta. We chatted about design.
LM: What made you decide to dedicate your career to coffee?
PH: Coffee is such a fascinating drink. Lovingly extracted it has lots of subtle notes derived from its treatment. From growing right through to final preparation. In some ways, this is similar to fine wine, but unlike wine, coffee requires the drinker to get involved. This could be from grinding the beans to brew strength and of course, the final style of coffee such as cappuccino. Wine just requires drinking!
LM: How did the concept of the ROK come about? What inspired your idea?
PH: It was driven by the desire to create the simplest way to make great coffee at home. As a designer, I also wanted to create a beautiful object for the kitchen that you’re happy to leave on the worktop. I figured everyone could boil water, so all that’s needed is a structure to load in coffee grounds and apply the extraction pressure.
I made loads of prototypes to test the idea and settled on what is now the ROK espresso maker. Lastly, but maybe most importantly, I wanted to make something to last and consume little energy in use.
LM: What sets ROK apart from other coffee brands?
PH: We try to make products which are as innovative as they are beautiful. We’re not interested in making just another version of something already out there. We also help people get closer to the process. Our second main product is a manual coffee grinder which is fun to use whilst producing first-class grounds. If you want to just press a button for your coffee, then ROK might not be for you.
LM: What has been your toughest challenge as a business so far?
PH: It was toughest in the early years. The big brands had the market all sewn up, and we were too ahead of the market. People weren’t ready for pulling a handcrafted coffee. Now, the market has really developed. Many coffee drinkers demand top quality, want this in their own home and have left instant coffee behind.
LM: What’s the most rewarding part about running your business.
PH: It was lovely to win several design awards for our espresso machine but actually hearing real stories from our ROK community are the most gratifying. All the hard work suddenly disappears.
LM: Do you have any advice for future product innovators?
PH: Challenge all assumptions and focus on the problems. Then you have something real to solve.
LM: Lots of food and drink companies are moving to sustainable production methods. Can you tell us more about what steps ROK are taking to do its bit?
PH: Sustainability is a foundation stone of ROK. I’m a great believer in the equation Sustainability = Longevity. Therefore, the longer the lifespan of a product, the more sustainable it is. A couple of years back, we engineered improvements which made better coffee. We then worked hard to ensure that ROK owners could simply upgrade their existing espresso machine rather than buying a new one.
LM: What trends have you observed in the coffee industry over the years?
PH: Diversity and choice have increased greatly. We’re coming toward the end of the mass-produced and commoditised version of coffee. In the past, intensive farming and roasting were done by a few large centralised corporations and distributed in high volume.
Today, consumers can choose a variety of locally-roasted, fresh artisan coffee. There’s a greater appreciation of differences in flavour found in single-origin coffee. Ensuring an ethical supply chain, thankfully, is also growing.
LM: And lastly, what’s your go-to coffee?
PH: Each morning, I make myself a ROK cappuccino. For beans, I love a lightly roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.
To view the range of ROK products and for more information, visit www.rok.coffee.
Read more interviews by Luxurious Magazine in our dedicated section here.