Test Drive: The xBloom
We tried out the new xBloom, which offers users full control of brewing variables.
BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Featured photo by Vasilieia Fanarioti
Welcome to the world of precision home brewing. The xBloom is a new machine that allows you to experience the very best your coffee has to offer at home, and have full control over all the variables of your brewing. The brewer has already been drawing lots of attention, including a coveted CES 2023 Innovation Award.
This revolutionary machine uses advanced technology such as bean recognition, auto-calibration, and intuitive app features to make it easier than ever before to brew the perfect cup. I took the xBloom for a spin and am excited to share my experience.
All About the Design
Let me start off by saying that the xBloom automatic pourover machine is an absolute beauty. Every element has been thoughtfully designed to look and perform like a high-end piece of art, from its anodized aluminum (the same material Apple MacBooks are made from) body to its sleek black color accent. It’s truly a countertop statement piece.
But it’s not just a pretty machine. It’s an all-in-one brewing system complete with a smart scale, a bean-specific grinder, and even its own pod system. The xPods use a unique encrypted radio-frequency identification (RFID) system that stores all the information for each bean. The RFID stored info includes an automated brewing recipe specifically tailored to each bean. It seems as if every element has been carefully designed to produce the perfect cup of coffee—every time.
What’s more, the xPod is made from sugarcane bagasse and features built-in filters. When you’re done, you can use your empty pods as seed starters for your windowsill—that’s what I’m doing! Finally, I found the app design and interface to be extremely user-friendly. Every step of the brewing process is broken down into simple, easy-to-follow steps.
Setup and First Use
Those of us who prefer watching a video rather than reading an instruction manual will be pleased to know that the xBloom comes with a setup video that makes it easy to install the app and get the machine up and running.
The water reservoir is also a breeze to refill. The xPod dock has a magnetic closure for a secure fit. For the very first use, users can opt to take advantage of the automation process.
There was only one thing left for me to learn before I began brewing in earnest: the button. The xBloom only has one button—on the back of the machine. It allows you to do a number of things depending on when and how you use it. From setting up Bluetooth pairing to pausing the brewing process, this button is your gateway to all things coffee related.
It took some repetition to memorize each function, but once I did, it was easy to operate. All in all, the setup and first-use experience with the xBloom left a positive impression.
Brewing with the xBloom
With the xBloom, you can choose between two brew modes. The Automatic Mode allows you to set it and forget it. The Get Creative mode allows you to fine-tune the settings for your own unique cup of coffee.
Whichever one you choose, you have to follow at least two steps. First, place the xPod on the sensor pad to activate bean recognition, and second, pour the beans into the grinder and place the xPod in the dock.
If you press the dock downward, the machine will go into Automatic Mode. Thanks to the bean recognition system, the settings are automatically adjusted to match the xPod, which is something you can also view and edit in the app if you wish. Every time you choose automatic mode, you are actually putting the roaster in the driving seat. These are bean-specific recipes created and tested proven by the person who roasted or curated the coffee. Therefore, the brew will deliver flavors just as the roasters intended.
If you choose the Get Creative Mode, you can manually adjust a wide range of variables, from grind size and temperature to brew ratio and pouring pattern. You can even choose the number of pours or opt for agitation. And the most surprising part? You can adjust these features per stage of brewing, not just as a whole. Also notable is that you can pre-set up to 10 pours.
Finally, I was able to customize my coffee settings exactly the way I wanted and then press start. The machine gives you the option to save your recipes in the app, which I thought was a great feature, as it allows you to be consistent with your brews and keep a little coffee diary.
A Curated Coffee Marketplace
What really impressed me about the xBloom is that you can use it to highlight each coffee’s unique characteristics, while also learning more about the story behind the beans.
xBloom has teamed up with many well-known roasters, including Onyx Coffee Lab and Verve Coffee, but also up-and-coming ones, to offer a range of coffees that can be brewed with the machine for amazing results. I tried coffees from Onyx, Regalia Coffee, and La Cabra Coffee, and each time the results were superb. xBloom promises to continue to bring new roasters on board in the future.
I was able to taste the subtleties of each coffee—from notes of tropical fruit to nutty, cocoa flavors—which is something I haven’t experienced with any other automatic pourover machine.
The RFID tag on the xPod allows the machine to recognize and adapt its settings to each individual coffee. It also provides the user with valuable information on the origin of the beans, the roasting level, the process method, and the tasting notes.
For a coffee nerd like me, this was an amazing way to play around with variables and understand the impact that each of them has on the taste of a coffee.
Grinder Calibration and Maintenance
The xBloom app comes with an auto-calibration feature that allows you to calibrate the grinder so it’s always delivering optimal performance. As for cleaning and maintenance, I used a clean, damp cotton cloth to wipe off the dirt, and the provided cleaning brush to remove any grinder residue.
I also drained any remaining water by pressing the back button for 10 seconds, a process you can see here. The app will also let you know when to descale your machine, with step-by-step instructions.
All in all, the xBloom is an innovative and easy-to-use machine that gives you full control over all the variables of your brewing. The intuitive app allows you to save recipes, highlight each coffee’s unique characteristics, and get valuable information on the beans.
If you are looking for a great home-brewing experience without sacrificing quality and flavor, the xBloom is definitely a great option.
The machine is currently available for purchase in the United States and Canada.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine, and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.
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Source: Barista Magazine