Chinese technology company DiFluid has launched a set of precision-oriented electronic coffee analysis tools called the Brew Control System.
The package, which currently sells for $300 USD includes a brewing scale called the Microbalance, a refractometer called the R2 Extract and the DiFluid Cafe app, which visualizes, stores and shares device data.
The app will also soon also draw data from the Omni, a newly launched tool from DiFluid that analyzes sample roasts by color and also analyzes particle size distribution of ground coffee samples. The Omni sells separately for $890.
The complete suite of DiFluid products is designed to quantify the roast level, grind and dose of coffee, the flow and volume of water added while brewing, and the refractive index and TDS of the finished brew. Users can provide the info on the provenance of the beans.
“We are currently working on both the Roast section and Grind section [of the app] to incorporate Omni’s data into this brew control system,” Ethan Zhou, a DiFluid product manager, told Daily Coffee News. “Every single piece of data doesn’t have enough value. Combining them in one record will give us a whole view of this coffee.”
Founded in 2021 in Shenzhen, China, by Southern University of Science and Technology Ph.D. student Linus Peng, DiFluid’s initial aim was to “digitize fluid” — hence the company name — by providing an affordable, high-precision refractometer.
The company’s first product, the R1 Extract refractometer, was released in August 2021 following a successful crowdfunding campaign, and currently sells for $130 USD. The R2 Extract, released last November at $230, includes the R1’s 2D-CMOS optical sensor plus additional features.
Linus Peng, in conversation with Daily Coffee News with Ethan Zhou as interpreter, said the company has since expanded its vision to include the entire path of coffee from the roaster to the cup.
“With many normal coffee lovers that were in need of an affordable refractometer to perfect their brewing, we found our target users, and found that there is a potential for growth while the refractometer is just one part of their perfection for brewing,” Peng told DCN.
Visualizations in the free DiFluid Cafe app include simple or more complex “pro” brew control charts displaying the brew ratio, yield and TDS based on readings from the scale and the refractometer. It also provides real-time graphs that detail the flow rate, time and weight data collected from the Microbalance scale while brewing.
DiFluid generally aims its brewing-focused products at advanced consumers, as opposed to professional coffee quality analysts or cuppers.
“Their customers, they really need something to know where they are,” said Zhou. “The brew control chart lets you know where you are, and then you can move your brewing on that chart according to some basic movements. If you are going to move forward or if you also want to become a barista, a refractometer is still not enough.”
The Omni, meanwhile, is intended to straddle the line between the consumer and professional worlds. Peng said the Omni may benefit consumers by offering information not often found on coffee packaging, such as a specific roast degree, as opposed to tasting notes or vague designations such as “light” or “dark.”
For roasters, the Omni is designed to provide a full analysis of the roast by color, breaking results down into distribution in percentages from whole bean samples, as opposed to a single average result.
“From bean selection, bean roasting, and bean grinding to the integration of brewing coffee, all digitalization and closed-loop feedback, digital quantification, and recording of each step [is our goal], so that brewing a good cup of coffee is more simple,” said Zhou. “At the same time, these technology modules will be integrated at a deeper level, so that more people can enjoy the value it brings.”
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