This is the xBloom. A machine that promises to take freshly roasted specialty whole bean coffee, and turn it into a pod machine that not only grinds and brews, but does so according to how the roaster intended.
Basically, it’s kinda promising to make perfect coffee.
So today I’m going to go through an overview of this machine and talk about who it might be for and what it’s been like using it, and if it lives up to its intent.
But a few disclaimers, this machine was sent to me from the xBloom team. And while this review is not sponsored, I did work with them a few months ago on their launch videos when I was over at Onyx Coffee Lab in Arkansas. That being said, I will review this machine fairly and point out all its flaws or possible points of improvement that I’ve noticed.
So, let’s first talk about what this machine is and how it works.
Like I mentioned, its an automatic whole bean machine. You buy the pods that come in these compostable cups which are lined with a filter and is also the brewer.
Each pod comes with 15-16g of beans. Under each pod is a little RFID chip that is programmed to tell the machine how fine to grind and how to brew the beans in it. And each recipe is programmed to the beans, by the roaster.
Basically, in theory, you should be getting your coffee brewed exactly as the roaster intended, as long as you have good quality water as well.
So you tap the pod on top, pour the beans in, place the brewer onto the holder, push it down, and off it goes.
The entire thing slides to the left while the machine grinds the beans into the cup. It then slides back to the right and you can also see that, depending on the recipe, it vibrates to level out the bed and help with agitation before and during brewing.
Then the brewing begins and there’s a little stream of water that shoots downwards and even in spirals. That, in combination with the vibrating platform, is essentially how your coffee gets brewed.
And when its done brewing, the entire cup is compostable, except for the little RFID chip.
So that’s a little bit about how it works, now let’s talk about the build quality before getting into if its a success.
This is a relatively small and lightweight machine. It takes up just a 7” wide by 8.5” deep footprint.
It is on the taller side, being taller than my Lelit Bianca at about 14” tall and additional headroom is required to use the pods and fill the reservoir.
The machine feels, unsurprisingly, like a Macbook. It’s made of mostly aluminum pieces that feel really nice and smooth with an even finish all around.
The machine makes fantastic use of magnets too. The 750ml water tank snaps into place nicely with magnets and the holder for the brewer also snaps in nicely. Even the grinder cover snaps into place nicely.
I’d say the machine can be broken down into 3 main segments. On the left, you have the advertised, near zero retention grinder, which is a 48mm Titanium Nitride coated conical burr grinder with 20 automatic adjustment steps that was designed in part partially by Lance himself.
On the right, you have the brewing portion which spirals water with the use of electrodes I think? Basically there’s nothing mechanical actually spinning, which is cool. It has a little LED light to help light the brew.
The brewer portion itself has a built in scale, I’ve been told, so it never overflows the brewer.
Then you’ve got the rear which is where the water tank sits and this front panel which is not functional but is just meant to be an indicator of what’s going on with your brew.
Overall the build is very good and despite its lightweight, it doesn’t come off as cheap at all. And it shouldn’t for an $800 MSRP price tag. But, does it work?
DOES IT WORK?
And I have to say, at this point in time, kinda? The pods I’ve been receiving for samples have no information other than the roaster. So I don’t know if I’m getting consistent freshly roasted beans, but overall the brews have been - okay.
I think once production is ramped up and the pods are properly packaged for sale with information on the roasts, roast date, flavor notes, etc, etc. - it might possibly have better brews.
More often than not, with the beans I’ve been receiving, the brews have felt a little under extracted. I think it could definitely grind a touch finer.
But the other issue I’ve been having, is with the software.
Sometimes, the whole thing just kinda - stops. Like it’ll grind the beans, move under the water spout, and just stop and eventually turn off.
So that’s something that definitely needs to be fixed and presumably will be for production units.
But I have to consider this machine for its price point. $800 is not an insignificant amount of money.
WHO’S IT FOR?
Who is this machine for? That’s what really confuses me.
If you’re drinking and enjoying speciality coffee, you presumably are likely making it at home as well. And doing that is pretty inexpensive.
You could get a V60 and gooseneck kettle for like $50 and have a huge budget left over for a really good grinder like the DF83.
Sure, it might take the guess work out of it, but what’s the fun in that? And for those in specialty coffee - do you want something fully automated like this?
For me personally, I enjoy the process of making my own coffee. And the ability to just whip out the Moccamaster even for those lazier days, has produced significantly better results for me compared to the xBloom.
And I’ve also been working with xBlooms marketing team on some video content for their use, but sometimes the prompts rub me off the wrong way.
If this is a machine intended to brew specialty coffee aka typically light roasts, then why are you asking me to make an Instagram reel and add milk and sugar to the coffee?
I don’t think that’s the target audience this machine is seeking.
At $800, I struggle to understand who this machine is for. It’s far too expensive for any casual coffee drinker to purchase, especially if they say are coming off of a Keurig or Nespresso machine.
And if this is targeting that specialty coffee audience, then who’s buying it? How are they buying it? And more importantly, why are they buying it, when you can get great results for a fraction of the price all while actually learning and understanding how your good coffee gets brewed?
It’s not a bad machine, it’s just priced very oddly in my opinion and I do want to see the company establish themselves as thought leaders, especially with people like Lance Hedrick, Brian Quan, and Scott Rao working with them - rather than creating content like Irish Coffee with a light roasted specialty coffee brew.
I think there’s a huge disconnect between the marketing side and the rest of the company to establish where exactly this product needs to be placed.
So anyway, those are going to be my thoughts on this machine. My honest opinion? Wait on this one. Wait til production units are out, see what the coffee purchasing process is like, especially since right now I’m just testing unlabeled random beans with no information.
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