About the Ratio Eight
The Ratio Eight is a premium, automated coffee maker from Ratio that makes pour-over quality coffee with an automated machine. It mirrors the process and filter you’d follow for manually making Chemex, but does so automatically. It bridges the gap between the quality of a hand-made pour over coffee and the convenience of a lower quality automated machine.
First Impressions and Unboxing of the Ratio Eight
The Ratio Eight comes well packaged and secure in a few layers of packaging—which is good given the amount of glass in the product. There was no assembly and I was able to get setup and ready to brew my first cup of coffee within a few minutes.
The biggest surprise for me was the size. The dimensions are listed on the site, but I was still surprised at how big it was upon unpacking.
The First Brew
I read through the directions to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, but it is simple enough to use that I probably could have started immediately after unboxing. The first brew was very good, but a little weak. I filled the water to the half way line and added their suggested amount of coffee, but later realized their suggested ratio (19:1) is a bit weaker than I usually use for a Chemex-style brew (16:1). In the second brew I measured out the water more precisely and the quality was much more to my liking.
The retail price for the Ratio Eight ranges from $495 – $615 depending on the material and color you choose and whether you choose a BPA Polymer Free or Hand Blown Glass option for the water tank. In addition to the machine and carafe, it comes with four filters, a small bottle of cleaning solution, a rubber stopper for the carafe, a five-year warranty and free shipping.
There is no doubt this is one of the most expensive coffee makers available; it sits safely in the “super premium” category. While many people would never dream of buying a $500+ coffee machine, for those that are passionate about coffee and have money to spend, the Ratio Eight delivers in a lot of the other categories below.
Note: Ratio recently launched the Ratio Six, which should be released at the end of 2019. The Kickstarter campaign is over, but the product should be on sale soon.
The Ratio Eight is made with metal, wood and glass. The materials are all high-quality and there is no doubt of the overall quality of the machine as you look at it and use it. It uses minimal plastic internally and the little plastic it does use is BPA-free & medical grade. This makes it one of the only machine’s that can make that claim (the only one I’m aware of).
Some of my favorite “little” design elements that lead to higher quality include:
- Rubber base to the carafe, which protects it from hard counter tops
- Magnet at the base of the carafe, which prevents the machine from brewing until the carafe is in place
- Shower head that distributes the water evenly across the grounds for the most even extraction.
Ease of Use
Once setup, the Ratio Eight could not be easier to use. You simply click the “Brew” button and it handles the rest. To get setup there are a few things that you still need to do though:
- Measure out and grind your coffee. As with any other pour over method, you’ll need to at least measure out and ideally freshly grind the coffee.
- Measure out water and fill tank. The machine uses all of the available water in the tank each time, so you’ll need to add the exact amount needed. They have marks on the tank, but I found the end result much better when I measured the exact amount of water as I would with any other pour over method.
The machine is made of high-quality materials and feels very durable. There are multiple glass components (water tank and carafe) though, so it does still need to be handled with care. That said, like an espresso machine, it isn’t really something you move frequently. You’ll likely find a place for it on your counter and have it stay there.
The Ratio Eight has a simple elegance that can not be overstated; it is a beautiful piece of equipment. Everything about it was thought through and designed to create an attractive coffee machine you’ll be proud to have on your counter (unlike your average automatic coffee maker). My favorite visual from the Ratio Eight though is the open water tank in the back that is mesmerizing to watch as it heats and pours out the water.
With the price tag of over $500, this is absolutely a super-premium coffee product and one of the most expensive home pour over options available. That said, the Ratio Eight does a pretty good job at delivering in the areas why you would purchase it:
- It automates the pour over process while keeping the quality as high as hand-poured pour over coffee.
- It uses only the highest-quality materials and is one of the only automated coffee machine that has very minimal plastic that comes in contact with the coffee (The only plastic is at the bottom of the heating element to ensure no leaks. It’s BPA-free and medical grade).
- It is a beautiful design and something you’re proud to display on your counter.
Brewing with the Ratio Eight
The next four areas focus on the actual brewing process with the Ratio Eight and the quality of the final result—the coffee that you drink. Below is an overview of the brewing instructions for the Ratio Eight (per Ratio’s recommendations):
- Fill the tank with water. The Ratio Eight uses all of the water in the tank each time you brew, so be sure to fill it with only the amount of water you need.
- Measure & grind your coffee. Grind the coffee to a medium coarseness, similar to how you would for brewing with a Chemex (with my Baratza Encore I had it set to 20). Ratio recommends starting with 14 level tablespoons (70 grams) for a full batch and 7 level tablespoons (35 grams) for a half batch (see my comment below for my thoughts on these ratios ).
- Place the filter in the carafe and add the coffee grounds. You can use whatever filter you want, but the Chemex brand filters fit best, I found.
- Begin the brewing cycle by pushing the start button. The Ratio automatically follows a bloom cycle and then brews the remaining water.
- Enjoy! The “Ready” light will turn on when brewing is complete.
A few additional comments:
- To get the same quality as you would with a hand-poured pour over, I think you need to measure the exact grams of the water vs. using the markings on the side of the water tank
- I found that measuring out the exact grams of water (as I would when making a Chemex or any other pour over) made the best result. Trying to use the markings on the side of the water tank didn’t seem accurate enough to me and resulted in some batches that were too weak.
- I found Ratio’s suggested coffee/water ratio to be way too weak (~1:19). I found my usual Chemex ratio (1:16) to result in a much better coffee.
Brewing takes between 3 to 6 minutes depending on the amount of coffee you are making. This is about the same as making coffee with a Chemex. The difference is the brew time for the Ratio is passive and you do not need to be there as it is brewing.
It is important to note though that while you save time during the automatic brewing, you still have the prep time of measuring water & coffee and grinding coffee.
I tried the same coffee made with the Ratio Eight and poured over by hand with the Chemex side-by-side. Honestly I could not taste a difference. In theory the Ratio Eight should be even more evenly extracted given how its showerhead evenly distributes water among the coffee grounds. From a quality perspective, I think this is the best pour-over style coffee I’ve ever had made from a machine.
The Ratio Eight prides itself as being the highest end automatic pour over machine—and rightly so. There is not another automated coffee brewer at the level of quality, design and functionality as the Ratio Eight. This was especially true when the Ratio Eight was released a few years back. Now, there are a variety of options available from Cuisinart, KitchenAid and others, but none of them close to the quality and design of the Ratio Eight (though many of them cost only $100-200).
The Ratio Eight gives you flexibility in the following areas:
- Quantity: You can make anywhere from 2 to 8 cups of coffee at a given time (a cup being 5-6 fluid ounces of coffee)
- Strength: You have complete control over the water to coffee ratio, so you can adjust the coffee based on your personal preferences.
The Ratio Eight doesn’t have a lot of flexibility when it comes to the type of coffee it makes though. It only can make the Chemex-style pour over coffee.
The Bottom Line
The Ratio Eight is one of the—if not the—most expensive automatic pour-over coffee makers on the market. To justify this high price tag, I think you need to really love coffee and have some disposable income to spare. If those describe you though, the Ratio Eight is a super high-quality brewer that creates an excellent cup of coffee you won’t be disappointed in—even if you are used to the care and precision of manual pour-over coffee.
I think Ratio was aware of the two shortcomings of the Ratio Eight—cost and size. They have announced a new product, the Ratio Six, which will launch at the end of 2019. The Kickstarter campaign is over, but the product should be on sale soon.