Ratio Eight review: A stunningly beautiful coffeemaker saddled with a sky-high price

Most drip coffee makers look downright boring, often offering all the aesthetic impact of a plastic box. Not so with the extraordinary Ratio Eight. This exorbitantly priced kitchen brewery – costing $ 580, which converts to around £ 372 or AU $ 800 – is built by startup Ratio and loosely incorporates luxury materials into its impressive design. This includes glass, metal, ceramic, and even wood. Frankly, the Eight is the coolest automatic coffee machine I’ve ever gotten my hands on and it also makes java extraordinarily delicious.

That said, the Eight’s high-end styling and excellent coffee-making skills can’t make up for its stratospheric cost and weird usability quirks. Unless you have a large stash of cash to burn or need to own a rare device that’s more like a concept car than a real consumer product, skip the Ratio Eight in favor of proven luxury coffee machines. You will be better served from $ 299 Technivorm Moccamaster KBT-741 and $ 190 Bonavita BV1900TS , both less extravagant but still superb drip-brewing options. For more options check out more high-end coffee machines we have reviewed.

Design

Before opening the Ratio Eight box, I knew I was expecting a surprise. Maybe it was the brown recycled cardboard or the skillful outline of the car plastered on the sides of the box that was a gift. Regardless, this level of packaging sketching is typically reserved for expensive mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, not coffee machines.

The Ratio Eight is decidedly massive and built with top quality materials.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Bringing the Otto into daylight confirmed my suspicions that it is not an ordinary coffee maker. First of all, the countertop appliance is great. With a hair over 14 inches tall by 11 inches wide and supported by a 9.5 inch deep base (about 35.5 by 28 by 24cm), he is a monster. It also points the scale at 12.5 pounds (5.66 kg), and that figure goes up to 14 pounds, 2.2 ounces (about 6.4 kg) when you factor in its jug and filter.

The main reasons for the circumference and weight of the Ratio Eight are the materials with which it is built. Instead of lightweight polycarbonate, both the water tank and carafe of the Ratio Eight are made of hand-blown glass. Likewise, the luminaire’s aluminum body has a distinctive ceramic nickel finish. Even more striking are a pair of slightly angled arms that grace both sides of the coffee pot. Carved from real wood (black walnut) and supported by metal beams, these appendages give the Eight the durable look of high quality furniture.

Extravagant water reports

There is a reason why Ratio called this coffee maker “Otto”. It is designed to brew a maximum of eight 5-ounce (148 milliliter) cups of coffee at a time. This equates to a total of 40 ounces (1.2 liters) of coffee in each full pot. Perhaps that is why both the carafe and the machine’s water tank lack detailed gradations or numbered indicators. Instead, each ship has only two demarcations: a solid line and a half-full line.

Both the water tank and the carafe are made of hand-blown glass.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Unfortunately, none of the markings correspond to Eight’s manufacturing guidelines as stated in the printed manual. For example, you might expect the half-full line of the water tank to measure 20 fluid ounces (0.6L), when it actually holds only 17.2 ounces (0.5L) when filled to that point. The same goes for the full tank line, which actually only indicates 36.4 ounces (1.1 L, confirmed via scientific scale), not the 40 ounces (1.2 L) it should indicate.

Likewise, filling the Eight glass carafe to its full line results in an amount of 44 ounces, or 1.3 L (significantly more than the aforementioned 40 ounces). And when I filled the container to halfway, its contents measured 22 ounces (0.7L). Even so, this is two ounces larger (about 58ml) than it should be. Ratio admitted that he is aware of the problem, which is due to a kink in the production process. The company explained that future iterations of the model will not suffer from this problem.

Prepare with style

Aside from the extravagant water measurements, the Ratio Eight is very easy to use. Just remove the large water tank lid located in the center of its top surface. Then pour the liquid through the large oval opening to fill the tank.

You will find the water tank lid at the top.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Then, add your motifs to the brew chamber, an inverted cone above the Eight glass carafe. This cone accepts standard no. 4 paper filters and also works with one of Ratio’s accessories, the $ 60 Kone filter. Specially purchased from third-party company Able Brewing, the Kone is a reusable aluminum filter designed to create richer-tasting coffee than what is possible through a normal paper filter.

All you need to start a brew cycle is a button. Truly a capacitive control rather than a traditional mechanical button, the key responds to a very light touch. Once activated, Ratio Eight will first enter its “bloom” mode, heralded by a narrow white light on its base. During this phase, the machine drips hot water into its filter slowly enough to saturate the grounds, but not fast enough to force the liquid into the jug below.

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