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

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The Good The Ratio Eight boasts a luxurious design that uses fancy materials such as glass, specialty metals and wood. The machine also brews outstandingly delicious drip coffee.

The Bad With inaccurate water volume labels, the Ratio Eight is a headache to operate reliably unless you're in the habit of weighing your water. The Eight's exorbitant price is at least triple that of its premium drip-coffee competition.

The Bottom Line Even if you have money to burn, the lovely Ratio Eight's usability quirks and outlandishly expensive price make other coffeemakers from Bonavita and Technivorm much better buys.

7.5 Overall
  • Performance 9
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Maintenance 4

Most drip coffeemakers look downright dull, often offering all the aesthetic impact of a plastic box. Not so with the stunning Ratio Eight. This exorbitantly priced kitchen brewer -- it's $580, which converts to approximately £372 or AU$800 -- is built by startup Ratio, and liberally incorporates luxury materials into its impressive design. That includes glass, metal, ceramic, and even wood. Frankly, the Eight is the most beautiful automatic coffee machine I've ever laid hands upon and it makes outstandingly delicious java, too.

That said, the Eight's high-end styling and excellent coffee-brewing abilities can't offset its stratospheric cost and odd usability quirks. Unless you have a large stash of cash to burn or must own a rare device that's more like a concept car than a true consumer product, skip the Ratio Eight in favor of proven deluxe coffee machines. You'll be better served by the $299 Technivorm Moccamaster KBT-741 and $190 Bonavita BV1900TS , both less extravagant yet still superb drip-brewing options.  For more options take a look at other high-end coffee makers we've reviewed. 

Design

Before I opened the Ratio Eight's box, I knew I was in for a treat. Perhaps it was the brown recycled cardboard or artful wireframe outline of the machine plastered across the box's sides that were a giveaway. Regardless, this level of packaging splash is typically reserved for expensive mobile gear like smartphones and tablets, not coffee machines.

The Ratio Eight is positively massive and built with premium materials.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Pulling the Eight into the light of day confirmed my suspicions that it is no ordinary coffee pot. First of all, the countertop appliance is big. Standing a hair over 14 inches tall by 11 inches wide and supported by a base that's 9.5 inches deep (approximately 35.5 by 28 by 24cm), it's a monster. It tips the scales at a staggering 12.5 pounds (5.66kg) too, and that figure climbs to 14 pounds, 2.2 ounces (about 6.4kg) if you factor in its carafe and filter.

The main reasons for the Ratio Eight's girth and heft are the materials from which it's constructed. Instead of lightweight polycarbonate, both the Ratio Eight's water reservoir and carafe are made from hand-blown glass. Likewise, the appliance's aluminum body has a distinctive ceramic nickel finish. Even more striking are a pair of gently angled arms which grace either side of the coffeemaker. Carved from genuine wood (black walnut) and buttressed by metal beams, these appendages give the Eight the lasting look of premium furniture.

Wacky water ratios

Ratio named this coffeemaker the Eight for a reason. It's designed to brew a maximum of eight 5-ounce (148 milliliters) cups of coffee at a time. That adds up to a total of 40 ounces (1.2 liters) of coffee in every full pot. Perhaps this is why both the carafe and the machine's water tank lack detailed gradations or numbered indicators. Instead, each vessel sports just two demarcations: a full line and half-full line.

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

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Unfortunately, none of the markings match up with the Eight's brewing guidelines as stated in its printed manual. For example you might expect the water tank's half-full line to measure 20 fluid ounces (0.6l), when in fact it holds just 17.2 ounces (0.5l) when filled to that point. The same is true of the reservoir's full-line, which in reality denotes only 36.4 ounces (1.1l, confirmed via scientific scale), not the 40 ounces (1.2l) it should indicate.

Similarly, filling the Eight's glass carafe to its full line results in a 44 ounces quantity, or 1.3l (significantly more than the aforementioned 40 ounces). And when I filled the container to its halfway mark its contents measured 22 ounces (0.7l). Even so, this is two ounces greater (approximately 58ml) than it ought to be. Ratio admitted that it's aware of the problem, which is due to a kink in the manufacturing process. The company explained that future iterations of the model won't suffer from this issue.

Brew in style

Wonky water measurements aside, the Ratio Eight is very easy to operate. Simply remove the large water tank cover which sits smack in the middle of its top surface. Then pour liquid through the wide, oval-shaped opening to fill the reservoir.

You'll find the water tank lid on the top.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Next, add your grounds to the brewing chamber, an inverted cone on top of the Eight's glass carafe. This cone accepts standard no. 4 paper filters and also works with one of Ratio's accessories, the $60 Kone filter. Specially sourced by third-party company Able Brewing, the Kone is a reusable aluminum filter designed to create richer tasting coffee compared with what's possible through an ordinary paper one.

All it takes to kick off a brewing cycle is one button. Really a capacitive control rather than a traditional mechanical button, the key responds to a feather-light touch. Once activated, the 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 liquid down into the carafe below.

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