With a price tag of $699, Balmuda’s The Brew takes a novel approach to automatic single-cup brewing, performing a bypass brew rather than a straightforward pourover-style drip brew.
The machine brews coffee at a concentrated ratio while adding specific portions of fresh hot water directly to the carafe through a dedicated bypass tube, diluting the final cup to a target concentration.
In industry circles, bypass brewing theory suggests the most desirable flavors and aromatics are extracted from coffee early on in its interaction with hot water. Thus, the quality of a brew can be hypothetically be improved by shortening the brew with less water, then adding more water to taste.
“In our research we found that the good flavors of the beans are extracted most in the beginning of the extraction, and as the brewing process gets towards the end, the harsh and muddy flavors tend to come out stronger,” A Balmuda representative told Daily Coffee News via email. “We stop the extraction at an early stage, but this will make the flavors too strong. So we dilute it with the bypass water to achieve a bold but clear taste.”
In the professional equipment category, the Ground Control brewer provides an innovative example of brewing by combining water and coffee for shorter durations, preventing the extraction of later-emerging elements. The Swiss-made Tone Touch 04 batch brewer broke new ground this year by including a dedicated bypass water channel and the ability to automate a bypass brew ratio.
With a focus more squarely on high-end home users, Balmuda The Brew has been in development for six years. Modes on The Brew called Regular, Strong and Iced perform different brew ratios and durations. The Iced mode performs a hot brew with less bypass, reserving space for dilution upon being served over ice. Each mode can be set for 4-, 8- or 12-ounce servings.
Variables such as temperature and timing are not user-adjustable. Encased in mostly matte black plastic, The Brew is operable only with its included plastic V60-style filter cone and insulated steel carafe.
Founded 20 years ago in Tokyo by CEO and chief designer Gen Terao, Balmuda has distinguished itself in the home appliance marketplace with a small selection of aesthetically appealing products, each of which hold a specific function and title, including: The Speaker; The Lantern; The Toaster; The Kettle; and now, The Brew.
The Toaster has achieved a viral internet fandom in Japan while also making its way into some commercial cafes. The machine incorporates steam into the toasting process. The Brew also employs steam, adding some visually dramatic flair while preheating the carafe.
Launched in 2020, The Kettle is an electric gooseneck kettle designed for coffee pourovers, tea or ramen.
“In Japan we also have a manual grinder, dripper and beaker set, but it’s not decided whether we’ll bring these to the U.S. or not,” the company told DCN. “Balmuda has a vast line of products in Japan kitchen and non-kitchen appliances and we hope to introduce more exciting items to the U.S. in the near future.”
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.