Want to incorporate your morning coffee ritual into your smart home? The Smarter Coffee machine is a good way to get going.
This $249 machine works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, can use either grounds or whole beans — it'll grind them for you — and lets you customize the strength of your brews. The Smarter Coffee makes a great cup of joe, too — if you can stomach its price.
Nice design: I liked the stainless-steel exterior of the Smarter Coffee machine. On top is a clear sealed chamber for coffee beans, and a knob to adjust the grind. On the side is a window that shows at a glance how much water is in the tank; the glass carafe sits on the warming plate at the bottom.
For a touch of personalization, you can swap out the faceplates, choosing among white, black or dark red. A word of caution, however: It's not easy to pop the the faceplates out.
Choose your brew: You can select whether you want a weak, medium or strong brew; use either beans (the machine will grind them for you) or grounds; specify how much coffee you want to make; and how long the machine should keep it warm. What's more, you can make these selections either on the Smarter Coffee app, or on the machine itself.
Alexa and Google Home support: The Smarter Coffee works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and If This Then That (IFTTT). So not only can you simply issue a voice command to start brewing but you can also link it to other smart-home devices so that the machine turns on when, say, your lights turn on in the morning.
All of these other things would be moot if the Smarter Coffee machine didn't make a good cup of joe, but guess what? It does. I also liked that I could change both the strength of the coffee and how finely or coarsely the machine ground the beans.
To test the machine, I bought a 12-ounce package of Allegro Coffee Italian Roast beans, and set the Smarter Coffee to grind the beans finely. Using the app, I adjusted the brew strength to Strong, and fired up the machine. The result was an eye-opening pot of coffee that, while not as strong as the espresso from the Illy Y5, was fortified enough to get me going.
Weird setup: Part of the setup process involves holding up your phone's display to the coffee machine's sensor; your phone's screen will flash rapidly to send over your Wi-Fi password — the app even gives even an epilepsy warning before this. There are easier ways to do this sort of thing.
Scheduling brews: It's not clear in the app how to schedule the machine to automatically brew coffee. A Wake up mode merely lets you set an alarm, reminding you to turn on the machine. Within the Home mode section of the app, an Auto-brew setting will turn on the machine during a time you select, provided that your phone is within about 650 feet of the machine. It would be far simpler to have a setting in which you can tell the machine to brew coffee at 7 a.m. every weekday.
My biggest issue with the Smarter Coffee v. 2 is that it's difficult to schedule a brew using the app.
Expensive: As with any new smart product, there's a premium, and the Smarter Coffee is no exception. If you're looking for a non-smart coffee machine with similar features, Breville has a self-grinding model called the The Smart Grinder Pro (opens in new tab) that's $50 less. Still, that's not a huge difference.
My biggest issue with the Smarter Coffee v. 2 is that it's difficult to schedule a brew using the app. While you can use Alexa, Google Assistant or IFTTT as a workaround, it should be simpler.
That said, I like that the machine can grind beans, and lets you customize your coffee strength to your liking. It's also built well, and churns out a reliably good cup of coffee. You're paying a bit of a premium for its smart features, but for a connected coffee maker, it's a good one.
Credit: Tom's Guide