What Matters in Coffee
Ratio: Pour Over Coffee with the Push of a Button
A few weeks ago, I was visiting a friend at his office when something captured my attention. It was a MacBook sitting on a table. A product I’ve encountered countless times, as many of you have as well.
But I paused to look anyway, and I began to wonder why.
The reason wasn’t entirely clear until I noticed the same pattern of behavior happening with the Ratio Six coffee machine in my kitchen. I would pause to look. To simply admire it. For just a brief second.
Why does this matter? And does it bear any significance?
If it does matter, my guess as to why is that brief moments like this provide clarity about who you are in a noisy, distracted world. What you admire eventually becomes a shorthand for yourself and your ideas. And for consumers, the coffee world is quickly becoming a place where they can embrace such shorthands. Whether they pertain to the products people use to make coffee, or to the coffees themselves.
What distinguishes Ratio is that its products are both striking and intuitive in design. Although it turns out that there’s much more underneath the surface – more on that later.
The Portland-based company was founded by Mark Hellweg, a serial entrepreneur who also operates Clive Coffee, an ecommerce business known for selling high-end espresso machines for the home market. Mark started Ratio partly to offer a product based on his own vision, but also to address a familiar problem: making quality coffee on a busy schedule.
Mark, a father to four kids, explains this way: “Our morning routine is chaotic. We have zero chance and energy to do two pour overs. And I needed a beautiful, simple, and reliable coffee maker.”
The Ratio Six in Matte Black
The Ratio Six is designed to do just that by emulating the manual pour over process with the press of a button. A process that demands the type of precision and dedication that many people don’t have in the mornings. In essence, the moving parts in the Ratio Six work seamlessly to produce the type of coffee you get through a pour over experience.
Mark explains: “With the Six, we focus on the quality of extraction. The filter basket, the configuration, the heat shield as well, which captures the heat and steam in the brew cycle. Because of the wide shower head and bloom cycle, all of those things work in concert to produce a very consistent extraction.”
Which is another way of saying that you get more out of your coffee using the Ratio Six than with other machines in the market.
The core thesis driving Ratio to produce such a finely engineered machine is that the taste of coffee ultimately matters.
“We care about the quality of coffee. Consistent extraction. We just try to control all the variables that can result in a bad taste of coffee,” says Mark.
The big bet for Ratio is that consumers can be won over on quality. Not just on the quality of coffee produced, but on the quality of the machine as well.
The first thing that I noticed about the Ratio Six upon its unpacking was the density and heft of the machine itself. You quite literally feel and absorb its weight in your hands.
The Ratio Six in Stainless Steel
Interestingly, Mark attributes his focus on quality to his family roots.
He explains, “My grandma had a beautiful house with Eames loungers and Warren Platner tables. So I developed a sense of good design. My dad is from a German family and he taught me to invest in quality. So that was instilled in me as I was growing up.”
The influences are evident when you inspect the machines up close. But are consumers willing to pay a bit more on a high-end coffee machine these days? And what would be the economic justification here?
The answer boils down to your cost savings over time.
“If you pay $49 for a coffee maker and it breaks in a few months, you’re going to throw it away and get a new one. The pod market which is about one-third of the industry has machines that are priced low and meant to be disposable. Hooking you into pods and making you pay $35-40 per lb [of coffee],” says Mark.
Ratio’s machines, on the other hand, are designed for longevity. And consistency in the way people experience great coffee. Which also impacts small roasters operating locally.
Mark goes on to explain: “Our belief is that there is a local roaster somewhere producing great coffee. If you spend $18 and you open it up and do manual pour over but you don't get the measurement right, it’s going to have people going back to the pod machines.”
The implications are obviously significant. The way people access coffee, via convenience and quality, has downstream effects on local economies. And the extent to which consumers engage with suppliers that are closest to them.
This begs the question, does quality matter these days? And does it matter enough to get people to embrace an automatic pour over machine?
One thing is for certain: the Ratio machine in my kitchen has captured my attention.
The Ratio Six Thermal Carafe
Today we’re stoked to offer the Ratio Six on our marketplace. Our first product from a hardware brand.
The Ratio Six is precision and quality redefined.
Make artisan coffee with the push of a button.
Metered water flows and an optimal brew temperature (200°F) combine to emulate a manual pour over process. Through both bloom and brew phases.
An innovative heat shield surrounds the shower head during brewing to maximize extraction from your grinds.
A double-wall stainless-steel thermal carafe maintains your beverage at piping hot temperature.
Made to last with heavy duty precision stamped stainless steel.
Brews 8 cups in just 8 minutes.
Available in Matte Black, Stainless Steel, and White.
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