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Motif Mentor review: The Mentor's coffee advice comes at a high price

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So, you dream of being a home barista but haven't a clue where to begin. The $100 Motif Mentor is one option. It's a wireless scale that talks to phones and tablets using Bluetooth. It also links to a mobile app that walks you through many manual brewing methods step by step. It's a compact and stylish kitchen gadget that won't eat up much counter space either.

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Motif Mentor

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The Motif Mentor scale walks you through making pour-over coffee and other manual brewing methods. Its scale works with the Perfect Bake, Perfect Drink and Perfect Blend apps. It's compact and attractive.

The Bad

It's expensive. It doesn't have a display so you need to use it with a phone or tablet. At the moment there's only an iOS version of its app.

The Bottom Line

The Motif Mentor scale helps coffee newbies duplicate the pour-over coffee experience but for a steep price.

The Motif Mentor is pricey though, considering you can make fancy pour-over joe with the aid of a simple $20 kitchen scale. In fact you don't really need a scale at all. It's easy to brew fantastic coffee with the $16 Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over, for example. No scale required, just provide coffee grounds and hot water. That makes the Motif a tough sell unless you're a well-heeled coffee newbie who needs lots of handholding.

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The Motif Mentor smart scale has a handsome, compact design but no screen.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Brew with a mentor

Using the Motif Mentor app and scale is straightforward enough. First download the iOS mobile to your iPhone or iPad. Next you'll have to run through the setup process. This means charging the scale's battery (with a USB cable), then the app finding it over Bluetooth. If your iOS device is old you might be out of luck, since Mentor supports only Bluetooth 4.0 or higher.

The Mentor scale serves up pour-over coffee making advice

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Motif offers the app solely for iOS, at least for now. The company says an Android version of its software is due in December.

When you're ready to kick things off just tap the button labelled "brew" in the app. There you can choose from four different coffee brewing styles, "Pour-Over," "Immersion," "Hourglass" (think Chemex) and "French Press." From there you're guided through the process of turning beans, water and time into coffee ready to drink.

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The app takes you through brewing step by step.

Brian Bennett/CNET

If you've used any of the Perfect suite of products than Mentor will feel very familiar. That's because Motif partnered with Perfect to help bring the Mentor to life. Perfect's other products rely on wireless scales as well. There's Perfect Bake that helps home cooks bake a wide range of treats. Perfect Drink helps you mix cocktails and Perfect Blend provides the same service but for recipes requiring a blender. Another benefit to the Mentor's built in Perfect technology. You can use the scale with Perfect's line of apps. 

Just like Perfect Bake and Perfect Drink, when you weigh ingredients the app responds. If you're doing things right then the app pushes you to the next step. If not then it tells you what you've done wrong.

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The Motif app takes you through the brewing process step by step.

Chris Monroe/CNET

I do like how the app tracks time for you as well. Besides weight, timing is one the trickiest parts of performing a successful pour-over brew. Mentor has you covered here. It splits up your hot water pour into smaller pulses, typically about 30 seconds each. The total brew time ultimately depends on how much coffee you're making. Expect to spend anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes actively brewing.

Do you really need a Mentor?

Pour-over drinkers who are novice pour-over makers might find the $100 Motif Mentor worthwhile -- but only if they feel the need for lots of help and are willing to pay extra for it. Most pour-over fans are better off saving their cash. With practice you can get equally good results with a cheap kitchen scale and a stopwatch.

For a dead simple way to make single cups of drip, consider the $16 Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over. This funnel brewer creates excellent coffee, no scale or fancy barista skills required. If you must splurge, spend leftover money on a quality grinder. Your beans and taste buds will thank you for it. 

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7.1

Motif Mentor

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Performance 7Design 8Features 6.5Maintenance 7