Pour-over coffee makers are staging comeback. Only some fifteen years ago the mere word ‘pour-over coffee maker’ would make you think of a bitter, hot wish-wash from a device falling further and further behind automatic steam-driven espresso machines; and yet, this appliance is now back. And in my opinion it is even superior to many automatic machines which make an espresso-like substance. Will the Ratio, pour-over coffee maker directly from the United States, convince new customers to choose a tasty big black coffee made in a simple way?
A look you cannot miss
Many people who saw the picture of the Ratio on my Instastory after it first came to me for testing reacted with oohs and aahs. I am not surprised. The Ratio pour-over coffee brewer immediately draws your attention with its construction, wooden accents and a big, glass carafe resembling the Chemex.
Pictures are one thing, what you experience is another. The Ratio is a high-quality product, made of aluminum, wood and glass. It is a heavy, sturdy device, not a compact piece of equipment. The Ratio is meant to stand out in your kitchen. Apart from a white model with a parawood finish which I tested, the Ratio is available in black and silver with either ebony or walnut elements. All models have the same volume and size.
What is more, the Ratio stands out thanks to its modern LED display featuring the stages of the brew cycle – we’ll talk about that in a minute – touch button and a wide shower head with multiple ports. Then, there is a heavy, sturdy lid on the water tank which can hold up to 44 ounces. And that’s it. It’s that simple.
An automatic Chemex?
Looking at the glass carafe and filters which come with the device you can’t help yourself thinking that the Ratio was made to enable automatic brewing with the Chemex. And it is true. The manufacturers themselves advise that everything was made so as to go with the original Chemex or Able filters. I know many enthusiasts of this coffee brewing method myself. The Chemex makes a bright, clear extraction with rich flavor notes, especially fresh, citrus and fruit ones. That is why the same will happen with the coffee brewed in the Ratio. Most convenient to use are round filters; square ones stick up of the carafe and you need to bend them, which is, by the way, really simple.
Can you use the original Chemex with the Ratio? It is not so easy, because the Ratio’s original carafe is equipped with a small magnet on the bottom, which is how the system recognizes that there is no risk of pouring water over the empty plate and that the machine can start brewing coffee.
Until today, the proponents of manual coffee brewing have advanced a strong argument, namely that pour-over coffee makers can’t make coffee bloom. We are talking about the preliminary soaking of coffee grounds and letting them sit for some time – more than a dozen seconds, less than a minute – so that they open and release as many flavor components as possible. And yet, the Ratio makers have equipped their appliance with this function. If you take a look at the base, it features three diodes described as: Bloom, Brew and Ready. The first stage is pre-infusion, or else bloom. After the machine has warmed up (which takes up around a minute), it starts sprinkling coffee beans with water. Then it stops for 30 seconds. After that time, the Brew sign lights up and this is when the proper brewing begins.
In what ways is the Ratio different from its brewing competitors? As I have said earlier, it is suited to the Chemex filters, not to the classic ones (think flat-bottom or V60). What’s more, the Ratio has a really impressive wide shower head: thanks to it being round in shape and having a dozen of holes, the water flows down in streams, soaking the grounds very evenly. Unlike many pour-over coffee machines where the water soaks only the middle of the brew bed leaving the sides untouched.
Thanks to that, it functions almost like a kettle used by the barista while making coffee in a manual coffee maker, leading to a better extraction, more even, richer and more balanced coffee flavor. Even if this sounds obvious, many companies producing pour-over coffee makers have failed to adopt that solution successfully.
The Ratio has a water tank with a capacity of 44 ounces. For that volume it is best to use 78g of coffee (when we follow the classic brewing ratio, that is 60g of coffee to a liter of water). Of course, you can make less coffee if you like. When testing I often filled the tank in up to the first level marking which is located in the middle; a quantity which corresponds to just under 40g of coffee ground coarser than for an average Chemex.
I ground the coffee coarser when I saw that the Ratio takes more time to disperse water. A half-filled tank needed 4.5 minutes for the water to go through the filter and for the coffee to bloom. Water flows rather quickly and doesn’t drag brewing out. With a full tank, the filtration and bloom took around 6.5 minutes. The water flowing out from the shower head has a temperature of around 93 to 95 degrees, which is optimal for the majority of coffee types.
Once the water has left the tank and flown into the carafe, the ‘Ready’ diode lights up. Then we need to check if all the water has soaked through the coffee. If it is so, we can remove the carafe, throw out the filter, aerate and cool down the coffee by agitating it: and now our brew is ready to be served.
I tested the Ratio mainly with the last Coffee of the Month, which happened to be the Peru from the HAYB Speciality Coffee shop in Warsaw, but also with some singles for alternative coffee makers. Each time the effect was really nice. Just as I had expected, the brewed coffee was light, clear, scented, delicate and smooth, with well pronounced fruit and fresh notes. That last trait was especially marked in Kenyan coffees where the brew had a distinct blackcurrant aroma.
The coffee maker did its job – a good coffee, without getting me too involved in the process. All I had to do was grind the coffee appropriately, pour it into the filter, pour the water and then start the machine. Thanks to that solution, I gained a few precious moments in the morning. Also, after work I had more time to make lunch or dinner. I appreciate such solutions for home more and more. If you are not overkeen on experimenting or controlling the ratios and if you are not a timer master either; if, on the other hand, you need a very good, repeatable and conveniently made coffee – that’s how you can get there.
The Ratio pour-over coffee makers are available in a vast range of colours and with accessories on our shelves at coffeedesk!