On average, anyone can tell a good cup of coffee and a bad cup of coffee apart. But not everyone can tell a perfect cup of coffee from an average cup of coffee.
Distinguishing so, and identifying the quality of coffee, requires the perfect mix of three special ingredients. And these are:
And of course, chemical X – An ingredient that we don’t name officially but one that happens to be a weapon of most coffee professionals behind the scenes.
Any guesses as of yet?
(Well, yes, we know, the title says it all. But let us not ruin our script.)
So, yes, coming back to the chemical X, the special ingredient, it’s none other than a refractometer!
Fundamentally, a refractometer refers to an accurate instrument that measures the concentrations of aqueous solutions. You only need to provide it with only a few drops of coffee, and it will let you know the exact chemistry of your blend.
With the help of this data, you can determine whether or not your brewing skills are acing the game. Or precisely, whether or not you’ve mastered the coffee-making skill yet.
With that said, not every refractometer provides you with genuine feedback. The poorly engineered ones may cut down your confidence in your very own skills for no good reason.
And so, on that note, here’s a much-needed and all-embracing guide for your convenience. You can find your next perfect refractometer for coffee here and also learn what you should look for when buying a coffee refractometer.
Best Refractometer for Coffee 2021
One of the best coffee refractometers available in the market, the Pocket Coffee Densitometer PAL-COFFEE, makes calculating dissolved coffee solids quite simple!
The Atago Coffee Refractometer has a small and transparent body that resembles a remote control. It has a well on the top for coffee sampling, a digital screen in the middle, and two control buttons on the bottom.
With a simplistic design, anyone can interpret how to use this Pocket Coffee Densitometer PAL-Coffee easily. All you must do is pour the coffee sample into the well and press the red start button. After some seconds, the screen will display the concentration of dissolved coffee!
Unlike some other refractometers, you do not have to pay special attention to the lighting around the gadget. Its user-friendly design enables you to get instantaneous results. You will not have to wander around the room in search of adequate light for the refractometer to start working.
However, in case one does not understand the usage or need other guidelines, you’ll have to learn Japanese. Well, that’s because this product has the user’s manual in Japanese only!
Plus, there is hardly any data present on the Internet. In such a situation, all you can do is hunt for an experienced user or learn Japanese to translate the manual.
Nevertheless, this Coffee Refractometer functions quite efficiently. It has a wide temperature range between 10 to 100-degrees Celsius. And, it responds amazingly to temperature fluctuations. Hence, displaying accurate and precise results at any temperature.
Plus, the Pocket Coffee Densitometer operates on two AAA alkaline batteries that are easily accessible everywhere at cheaper rates. In case the provided batteries die, you can always get a new one for replacement.
The Atago Coffee Refractometer has a compact body that allows you to fit it in the tiniest of spaces easily. So, whether you are using it at your home or barista, you certainly won’t have to allocate a special place for it.
Also, it weighs 6.3-ounces that is quite lightweight in comparison to other competing coffee refractometers. You can handle it all day long without any sign of ache or fatigue. Bonus point for professional coffee makers!
Overall, the construction increases the portability of the gadget. So, you can practically take it anywhere you’re going. However, the Atago Pocket Coffee Refractor is one of the high-end coffee refractometers available today.
- Accurate results
- Great temperature sensors
- For professionals
- Manual in Japanese
For anyone who has quite an extensive need for a refractometer both in-house and in-office, then AMTAST Digital Coffee Densitometer Concentration Refractometer is an ideal pick. It’s accurate, easy to handle, and admirably compact, all of which make it a perfect pick for coffee professionals who seem to need it in their coffee place, house, and client’s coffee shops.
Additionally, it comes with a protective case that makes carrying it around it safer & convenient. The additional suction tube makes operation easier. You can use it to draw a few good drops of coffee from a deep cup avoiding the vanilla and cream that may come in your way.
Plus, it also comes with a separate cover for the well. So, in case the box is too big for you, you can carry it in your pocket too, without causing any damage to the device.
To get it working, you will need to equip this device with one triple-A Alkaline battery, which kind of adds to the already high price of the refractometer. Note that this coffee refractometer is also quite power-efficient simultaneously.
And so, it’s not going to cost you as much as PAL-COFFEE Densitometer even in the long run. We mean, you wouldn’t find yourself purchasing batteries over and over again.
In case you’re curious about the reason behind this, then we’d suggest you observe its meter once you’ve purchased it. You will notice it automatically turning off after every minute or so. In this manner, it saves the limited energy that the battery contains.
Even in terms of its external appearance, this digital handheld refractometer will win your heart. Its yellow-white body has a clean and minimalistic design with well-positioned control buttons on the front panel. The three control buttons include:
The CAL button represents calibration, which you will not find yourself fiddling a lot with, but it will ensure accuracy. For setting the device to 0.0 percent, add 3-5 drops of distilled water in the well or sample plate, cover it, and then press the CAL key.
After two seconds or so, the process will get completed, and the display screen will mention End, setting the calibration to 0.0%. Just make sure that the temperature of the water and the meter during this process are similar, i.e., 20 degrees Celsius.
Lastly, one of the greatest perks of this pocket refractometer is its wide display. You will not find yourself squinting or mistaking digits. Plus, the screen also displays the remaining battery life.
- Pleasingly simple exterior
- Easy to use
- Sturdy built
- Exceptionally Portable
- Comes with a protective covering
- Slightly pricey
Stepping down the price range, the Milwaukee MA871 Digital Brix Refractometer is an affordable coffee concentration measuring solution for home brewers.
The MA871 coffee refractometer has a small and compact build. You can place it anywhere and start testing your coffee. It has a green exterior, made from ABS-plastic material. Although the build is sturdy, it could have looked more premium with a transparent body.
Also, it has a horizontal interface with the digital yellow screen on the top center, control buttons right underneath the screen, and the sample well on the extreme right.
Well, the design of this refractometer is quite user-friendly. So, even homebrewers can use it conveniently. Similar to other coffee refractometers, you have to pour a small sample into the well and press start.
The well is a small bowl engraved into the refractometer. It has a glass construction, though the outer surface is of stainless steel. Hence, the sample gets cold easily.
Regardless, the readings presented by Milwaukee MA871 Digital Brix Refractometer are accurate. You can also test wines and beers using this refractometer.
Moreover, the integrated engineering of this well allows easy clean-up. All you must do is clean the surface with some water and paper towels.
And, don’t panic if you spill the coffee sample on the device. The sealed housing doesn’t let anything penetrate inside. Simple, wipe, and everything will be okay!
Unlike the most expensive option in this list, the Milwaukee Coffee refractometer has a heavier construction of 1.5-pounds. So, you might not be able to use it in a handheld mode. Instead, you would’ve to set it down and designate a place for it on the kitchen counter.
Nevertheless, the Milwaukee offers a high-quality and hard carrying case with the MA871 refractometer. ( Yes, it comes at an additional cost. You can skip it if you like.) Thus, you won’t have to compromise on your coffee brewing passion as you travel.
Furthermore, the Milwaukee MA871 Digital Brix coffee refractometer operates on batteries too. Although the batteries come along with the product, you can easily purchase them from any store.
Accurate and affordable-the MA871 Milwaukee is one of the best Coffee Refractometers available for homebrewers!
- Accurate results
- Ideal for home brewers
- Doesn’t have a premium build
- Not lightweight
Are you unable to find the best Refractometer for coffee? Hey, don’t panic as there are still numerous other refractometers available out there. All you must do is look at things wisely.
Begin by researching and identifying the ideal coffee refractometer for your specific requirements. Once you have the criteria clarified, you will be able to find the refractometer much easily.
To help you start, here is a comprehensive articulation of everything you should know about the ideal coffee refractometer.
Types of Coffee Refractometers
Although the coffee refractometer itself is a type of refractometers, there exists a further sub-division in it. Fundamentally, you will find two types of coffee refractometers that include; Analog and Digital. Read more to unravel which one is better for you.
Analog Coffee Refractometer
Also referred to as the Brix meter, the Analog Coffee Refractometer has a slightly difficult usage method. To find the reading, you’ll have to:
- Use an analog calibration screw
- Read an analog indicator
- Shine a light into the sample for better readings
- Divide the reading by 1.18 to get the final percentage of total dissolved solids.
And, in return for all these steps, an analog coffee refractometer offers one single benefit; cheaper rates. You can get an analog coffee refractometer easily for 20-30$.
Digital Coffee Refractometer
When compared to analog, the digital refractometer is quite simple and easy to use. You have to pour the sample into the well and wait for the results. There is no requirement to:
- Read scales and use additional tools
- Shine light through the sample
- Calculate to obtain final readings
Unlike analog, the digital refractometer provides immense convenience and feasibility. Plus, it consumes so little time to find total dissolved solids in a beverage. However, digital ones are quite expensive, ranging from 80-800$.
Advantages of Using a Refractometer for Coffee
Using a refractometer can help identify the dissolved solids concentration. Thus, determine whether it is too weak, too strong, under-extracted, or over-extracted. This particular tool is also beneficial for coffee-passionate people who look forward to that perfect cup every day.
However, the coffee refractometer is an absolute necessity for the barista, where he must serve the coffee according to the brand’s style.
According to a business perspective, using a refractometer minimizes human errors and serves coffee that tastes the same every time. Hence, meeting customer expectations and increasing the number of satisfied clients. Consequently, boosting business sales and improving brand reputation.
Moreover, the coffee refractometer is an efficient instrument to monitor the caffeine content consumed by people with heart diseases or other health concerns.
Also, the coffee refractometer can test samples of wine and beers. So, if you’re a homebrewer or professional, you can benefit quite a lot from this versatile instrument!
Things to Consider
Before you make your final refractometer purchase, make sure you consider the following few aspects. With these, you will be able to determine whether or not a refractometer is the right pick for you.
Without a doubt, your primary concern is to establish the perfect balance between water and coffee solutes in your cup of coffee. You want to ensure the exact and accurate practical implementation of the recipe you follow. Isn’t it?
Well then, performance is the first and utmost important aspect to consider. Read the description and reviews of your preferred coffee refractometer and determine what degree of accuracy does it promise. Do users complain about the calibration? Or does the company itself admit negligible plus-minus differences in readings?
Know that you need to avoid all such refractometers. Why compromise on the basic function when you can get refractometers that provide accurate and exact readings?
Similarly, check out the temperature sensitivity. The standard temperature to evaluate concentration is plus-minus 20 degrees. However, the figure can vary as per the specifics of a refractometer. So, generally, just look for one with precise temperature sensitivity.
When buying a coffee refractometer, consider the materials used to construct it. Opt for the ones built with premium quality materials so that they last longer and feel sturdy in hand.
Also, it’s better to choose models that can withstand extreme temperature changes. That’s because refractometers often have exposure to too cold or too hot beverages.
Constant exposure to high temperatures can lead to the development of cracks and early expiry of the device. For that very reason, look up the durability that the manufacturing brand promises before making the final purchase. If possible, opt for the one that comes with a guarantee or warranty.
Another essential aspect is the ease of use that a refractometer offers. You surely don’t want to get yourself a refractometer with confusing controls and loads of maintenance demands that keep you occupied unnecessarily.
And so, the first thing you need to look into is the design. Check out its power and control buttons and determine if they are easy to read and understand.
Some refractometers, such as the AMTAST refractometer, have controls that involve waiting for 2 seconds for a certain thing to happen. Consider this and determine if you will easily get the hang of such operations or not.
Similarly, some require cleaning after every use. Some require the use of particular materials and chemicals for this cleaning. Again, it depends on you how much time you can invest in the mere maintenance of a device.
About the portability, all of the refractometers listed here are pocket refractometers. Their compact built makes it easy to carry around anywhere and everywhere. Hence, we suggest you opt for small-sized models as they add to convenience substantially.
Depending on your needs, set up a budget for yourself. Ask yourself how much do you ought to spend on a refractometer?
Do you use it too often or occasionally? Or do you need the refractometer for a one-time use?
In case you use it frequently, we will suggest you spend as much as need be, given that you can afford it. For an idea, the PAL COFFEE refractometer is an ideal pick for expert coffee professionals who have intensive usage of this device. But for beginners and occasional users, spending as little as that of Milwaukee will work fine too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you’re a coffee lover or barista, the coffee refractometer is worth the investment. Honestly, with appropriate usage, you can extract uncountable benefits from this digital gadget. Apart from assisting you in getting the perfect cup ready, the coffee refractometer indirectly helps you in boosting sales and increase brand popularity.
Well, considering the refractometer’s importance, we have evaluated and listed the top 3 refractometer for coffee available in the market today. However, you can’t purchase all three of them, can you?
There has got to be the bests of best; the winner. Fortunately, we have handled this matter too, by comparing all the best products in detail. After a critical analysis, we have concluded that the best refractometer for coffee is Pocket Coffee Densitometer PAL-COFFEE!
This amazing digital refractometer has a compact and easy-to-use build that offers immense portability. It has a premium and sturdy construction made specifically for professionals. Plus, its excellent temperature sensors and integrated components provide accurate results every time. However, it’s slightly expensive.
Although we strongly recommend purchasing the Pocket Coffee Densitometer PAL-COFFEE, you can always hunt for your ideal match using the comprehensive guide provided above. By considering the vital factors, you can find your best coffee buddy!