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If there’s one thing that will always earn a permanent place on my countertop, it’s some sort of coffee brewer. Over the years, I’ve cycled through sleek French presses and fancy pod devices that pour my morning cup while I’m still in bed, but sometimes a good ole drip is what I need to get the job done. Even more so when it only takes up a 5-inch sliver of space like the Brew, a machine that has officially launched in the U.S. from the Tokyo-based company Balmuda

If you recognize that name, it’s likely because it’s the same brand behind TikTok’s viral steam toaster that lit up the Internet last year. With all the hype, I was looking forward to seeing how another one of the company’s products stacked up. Here’s how my mornings are going with the Brew. 

The Brew by Balmuda

The Setup 

Getting started was easy—unbox, unwrap, and plug it in—I didn’t need to consult the manual until I was ready to run the cleaning process, which turned out to be so simple (just brewing a pot of large, filtered water to dump). The Brew is by far the most compact appliance on my counter: slimmer than my toaster and shorter than my SodaStream. 

The Design 

For now, the Brew only comes in one colorway—a clean-lined, matte black body paired with a curvy stainless steel pitcher. For someone like myself, who has pretty standard kitchen appliances in my rental, it blends right in with my range and refrigerator. Besides, it’s only 5.5  inches wide, so it can easily be tucked into any corner or a cabinet with ease.

The carafe is small, so it isn’t ideal for after-dinner parties, but for a solo caffeine drinker like me, it was just the right amount (about two 6-ounce cups) to get me through morning meetings and an afternoon of writing. 

The Coffee

Similar to the Internet-famous toaster, the Brew works with steam- and temperature-regulating systems. There’s a small removable chamber on the back of the machine with marks indicating how high to fill it for each type of serving. When I started my first pot, I could hear the water streaming in spurts and wondered if I had done something wrong. When I actually consulted the manual, I learned that it was part of the “bypass pouring” method. Unbeknownst to me, it was automatically calculating the steeping time and volume to drop the right amount of hot water at precise intervals. The brewer then runs water directly through a separate second spout in order to regulate the flavor and temperature. Fancy. 

There are also three separate extraction settings: regular, strong, and iced. Each is offered in small, medium, and large portions. The regular was great. The strong was my favorite. And though I typically prefer a hot cuppa at home, I made a batch of the iced to enjoy by my pool. I had assumed the iced option would brew a cooler beverage, but in reality, it makes a just-as-hot concentrated serving that perfectly evens out when you serve it over ice. 

With servings on the smaller side, it seemed like the brewing process was a little long (about eight minutes for a regular large). I can make a French press in about five and any pod-style beverage in less than a minute. But the outcome with the Brew was a deliciously smooth sip every time, so it was worth the wait. 

The Final Word 

After working my way through college as a barista, I’ve probably brewed enough cups of coffee to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool, so I’m pretty confident in saying the Brew is worthy of a permanent place in my kitchen. As far as the price point, caffeine fiends have heard it a million times: The amount of money spent on your daily Starbucks run adds up to thousands of dollars over the years. And yes, it’s hard to stomach the idea of spending $600 on a drip machine, but in the grand scheme of things, getting back a few inches of your countertop with smaller appliances is a lot cheaper than a reno.