Test Drive: Tone Touch 03 Brewer

The touch tone brewer in a basement with a chemex underneath it.

A simplified approach to coffee brewing.


Photos courtesy of Josh Taves

Tankless water heaters have been around for awhile. Next time you’re at a hardware store, go check out the water heater aisle. Sure, there are the giant water boilers that most of us still have in our homes. However, the fancy new machines that are more energy efficient with a teeny tiny footprint are the tankless water heaters.

The idea is pretty simple, really; you essentially make the volume of water being heated very low (a few ounces at most) so that it takes less energy to heat it up, and if you do it right, it seems as though the water boils “instantly.” Try it—put two pots of water on your stove; in one, place only two ounces of water, and in the other place two gallons of water. See which one boils faster.

Seems like a great idea right? So, if the technology is so readily available, then why are we all using coffee and espresso machines that try to keep two, three, or more gallons of water hot? Yeah, I don’t know either. Neither did the folks at Tone-Swiss in fact, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, I need to be fair to coffee engineers and say that indeed, they have been using instant water heaters, also called “heat exchangers,” for awhile. The reason that you still have heavy footprints from big giant machines with tons of water inside is that, nine times out of 10, this form of heat exchanger has only been used in recent years to “preheat” water in order to keep water boiler temps more stable—not as a primary heat source.

“Wait!” you might exclaim, “I’m a super coffee tech nerd and that’s not entirely correct either!” Yes, Modbar uses a system sort of like this, and the Decent DE1+ does this in a “prosumer package.” The point I’m trying to make is that the technology has been relatively unconventional in the coffee industry.

Until now … 

The design aesthetic of the Tone Touch 03 makes for a lovely addition to most modern cafés.

Meet the Tone Touch 03

Tone-Swiss has taken tankless water heater technology and elevated it to a whole new level with the Tone Touch 03. Recently released in the USA by the great folks at GH Grinding and Brewing Solutions (formerly Mahlkönig USA; yes, they still do grinders), the Tone Touch 03 will soon likely be gracing the counter of a coffee shop near you. I got to spend a few weeks with the Tone Touch 03, and I think that the market will be impressed with the speed of service, usability, and versatility of this coffee brewer.

One of my favorite aspects of this brewer is that the relationship between user and machine is incredibly simple. The elegant Tone Touch 03 interface consists of only four buttons that control preset recipes. Simply press the button for the recipe you’d like to use. Lights in the brewing area come on to let you know that the machine is working, and instantly the brewing cycle starts. This simplicity however, is merely the gateway to infinite versatility.

While Tone does make brewers with similar technology that can handle higher volumes, the Tone Touch 03 is designed to work with a variety of different “by-the-cup” brewers—typically relegated to a pourover bar, as its capacity maxes out at two liters per brew.

The Touch 03 is very user friendly and can be used with a wide variety of brewing devices.

How to use the Tone Touch 03

The Touch 03 has a removable and customizable stand that allows for various serving vessels and brewers to be used. Two shower heads are included with the Touch 03, which allow customization of the water flow. Personally, I prefer a straight stream or jet for cone-shaped brewers, and therefore I found the brewer to work best with flat-bottom brewers such as the Kalita Wave or the ESPRO Bloom.

Once you have selected your preferred sprayhead, connect the Touch 03 to your tablet or computer and let the fun begin. Not only can you control your pulse volume and timing like with many other similar brewers, but due to the tankless system the Touch 03 uses, you can also incorporate different water flow rates and variable water temperature within the same recipe!

For example, use a soft, low-temperature pour for your bloom, then progress your brewing to include more aggressive agitation during each pulse (with a higher flow rate) and a hotter brewing temperature. On top of this, the Tone Touch 03 software easily allows you to store infinite recipes and lets you quickly assign a recipe to any of the four buttons on the machine. Once loaded, the brewer will execute your most intricate recipe seamlessly and instantly.

The Touch 03 uses barista-friendly lighting to show you when it is working.

Final thoughts

I found my time with the brewer to be both fun and head-spinning due to the sheer number of possible brew recipes it has the ability to execute. While the Touch 03 might be difficult for most home users (due to the 220v power supply needs) I can see this brewer being used to great effect in a busy, quality-focused café to showcase special single origins and house blends alike.

I found the coffee brewed by the machine to be delicious due to its ability to adjust recipes to a specific coffee’s brewing needs. If you’re looking for a way to step up your café’s pourover abilities and have a penchant for the coolest new toys, make sure to check out the Tone Touch 03.

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Josh Taves (he/him) is the head of business development for Stovetop Roasters in Michigan. He’s been working in the coffee industry since 2006 and enjoys taking advantage of all the great adventures the outdoors has to offer. He is also the inventor of the Rattleware Cupping Brewer and a 2017 USBC Finalist, so he knows his way around lots of different coffee gadgets.

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