Test Drive—The Breville Precision Brewer

Fine-tune your morning brew with Breville’s automatic drip brewer for craft filter coffee excellence.

BY JOSH TAVES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos courtesy of Josh Taves

I didn’t want to write this article. I wanted to write another article about another brewer. I wanted to tell you about a single brewer that would solve all your problems in a very simple and intriguing way like an Easy Button. The wonderful folks at Breville nicely suggested that I check out their new Precision Brewer Thermal, and I turned them down. “Too complicated for what I’m looking for,” I thought. Then, when a new Precision Brewer showed up at my door unexpectedly, I thanked them and let it sit for about a month. Then one day, I decided to pick up the instruction manual and see what this thing was all about; I quickly realized that this brewer could not be ignored. This is the brewer you should know about.

The Precision Brewer from Breville is stunning both aesthetically and functionally.

Let’s just go through what I’ll call the “introductory brochure,” which is beautifully printed and is separate from the instruction manual. Breville did an awesome job with walking newbies and experts alike through everything you’d need to know to create a perfect cup of coffee. After a brief yet thorough explanation of coffee quality and control, it gets really impressive when Breville launches into an overview of each of the brewer’s features and how each will affect flavor in the cup. Bloom time, brewing temp adjustment, and flow rate are discussed, as well as how to use your favorite pourover brewer in conjunction with the Precision Brewer using their handy adapter.

Another impressive feature of the Precision Brewer is the PID (proportional, integral, derivative) heating element and integrated pump. Breville explains how a traditional brewer works using steam displacement, complete with a graph that demonstrates the fluctuations in temperature stability that this can cause. Then, with a similar picture and graph, it points out the increased temperature stability that comes with the Precision Brewer’s pump that pushes water through a PID-controlled Thermocoil and why that will affect the final flavor in the cup, which I definitely noticed in my morning cups.

Lastly, Breville explains bloom time and contact time, why they affect flavor, and how you can use the Precision Brewer to help dial in both to your favorite recipe. Couple these with a wide showerhead on the brewer, and the brochure gives you a pretty impressive picture of the Breville Precision Brewer.

The Precision Brewer’s display does a great job in assisting you with knowing exactly what’s going on with your coffee.

“Wow,” you must be thinking, “Breville is doing some cool stuff with this brewer.” And you’d be right—but I haven’t even told you about all the other cool features you can read about yet.

Let’s start with the first step. When you first turn the machine on, the Precision Brewer asks you what your water hardness level is. Breville designed the brewer to take varying water quality into account for optimal brewing and machine longevity. They even include a test strip for you to use in programming the appropriate water hardness level into the brewer.

Breville provides extensive educational material with the Precision Brewer to help you perfect your cup.

Soon, you’ll get to the auto-start function, which is nothing new for brewers of this caliber, but it sure is nice to have a freshly brewed cup of coffee waiting for you when you wake up. The instruction manual continues to define the importance of coffee freshness, water quality, and proper coffee-to-water ratio. All of this is laid out before you learn about the different “modes” the brewer can function in, including a “Cold Brew” mode (which produces a VERY slow drip time and turns off the machine’s heating element) and a separate “Iced Coffee” mode for brewing extra-strength coffee directly over ice. Flip to the descaling and troubleshooting guides if you’re having issues with any of the above-mentioned features.

Now you might be thinking, “OK, so you’ve only told me all about the included literature. Could this machine actually function as great as all that?” Let me tell you … the answer is yes. Thanks to the manual, using the Precision Brewer is a breeze. The backlit display easily allows me to quickly change brewing settings when I want to try a new flavor profile. Plus, living at a high altitude with a low boiling point, I greatly appreciate the temperature control and stability. Longer bloom times have really allowed my morning coffee to shine, and I’ve found lovely acidity and clarity of body that I don’t normally expect from a drip brewer.

I love being able to fiddle with my morning coffee recipe and have a consistently delicious cup every morning. Check one out for yourself, and if you like coffee geekery as much as I do, you will not be disappointed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Taves has been working in the coffee industry since 2006 and has worked as a barista, trainer, QC director, profile roaster, and green buyer. You can currently find him (or not find him) roaming the Rocky Mountains wherever the wind takes him. He is also the inventor of the Rattleware Cupping Brewer and a 2017 United States Barista Championship finalist.

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