Before we begin the review. please note that we were fortunate enough to be contacted by the local representative of Java Maestro to do a review. How this affects this review, final conclusions and subjectivity we cannot determine, but we felt we should put it out there.
What is it?
The Java Maestro is a cone shaped coffee dripper made from stainless stainless. Designed with a fine laser cut mesh, which is both its body and its function.
What questions does it answer?
Whenever a product is created, there is someone behind the idea. It is important to understand the reason someone has created something before reviewing the product.
If we take a look at the Java Maestro web site we see that they state their vision s:
“To create or find and bring to everyone innovative products that deliver excellent coffee without distractions; be it price, environmental, ease of use, cleaning or portability.”
Judging the product by its design goals
If we look past the marketing adjectives we see there are driven to produce products that answer these questions:
- Would a coffee lover think the brew it makes is excellent?
- Will a coffee lover pay the price for the product?
- Can the product be environmentally friendly?
- What do I need to know to use the product?
- Whether the product is easy to clean?
- How portable is the product?
So let us tackle these on at a time, covering the brew last.
Price is relative. So to determine if a coffee lover will lay out their hard earned bucks for a product we need to look at similar products available in the market. So what is currently available in the market? Doing a simple search a number of pour-over like products available at the Java Maestro price (which is around R390 at the moment). Probably the most popular of these is the Hario V60. For us the V60 is the pour over standard for single serve coffee, which is easily available in South Africa.
The Hario does need a filter to work, the Java Maestro does not. The Hario V60 01 plastic is around R130 at the moment, and the ceramic 02 is R339. While the ceramic is not so portable the plastic one is. If we look at the Plastic 02 at R190 at the moment and the filters at around 95c a cup this means we can make over 200 cups of coffee before we are looking at breaking even with the money to be spent on the Java Maestro. After the 210th cup the Java Maestro then becomes cheaper.
Considering that it is made out of stainless steel we score price at 6/10,
Let us assumes that by environmental friendly it is about the three R’s. Reduce-Recycle-Reuse. We will ignore the carbon foot print of getting the product made and to the shores of South Africa.
Here the product scores well. By not using a filter there is no waste of paper. The product can be reused over and over. It does need to be cleaned so that may require more water, which could be in exchange for the probable lack of flushing it requires.
Wastage is near negligible (we are aware that there are environmentally friendly filters, but they still waste) and there is a high element of reusability. So for this we give the Java Maestro 9/10.
Ease of use
If a person has used a pour over before then this product is very easy to use. The instructions on the side of the box contain only 4 steps.
As an experienced pour-over brewer it was very easy to use. We did not use the scoop, personally we think they are evil. Scoops give a coffee lover the false security of measuring something accurately but in fact they never are – but anywho.
The Java Maestro is harder to clean than the filter based brewers, since you cannot just remove and throw away.
So all things considered we score it an 8/10.
Easy to clean
We have covered this under ease of use. It is dishwasher safe, but almost any other product is too. No extra points here.
Portability of a product should consider size and ease of packing. The size roughly the same as other pour-over products, but the fact that it is well made and does not need filters may give it bonus points.
So we score it 7/10.
Excellence of brew
This is the real crunch of it. All the other scores so far are not that important when it comes the quality of the brew. We are going to hence assess the brew out of 60, to give us a total of 100.
Below is a time lapse video of the two brews we did Java Maestro vs Hario V60.
We brewed a Ninety plus Kemgin washed that was two weeks old. We know that Ethiopian coffees love paper over stainless steel and so also brewed the Brazilian Londrino Acaia natural to compare – with 14g in and 220g out.
For the Ethiopian the Hario was able to produce a more aromatic and far more complex coffee. The Java Maestro had a little more body in the final brew. When the coffees cooled there was a slight unpleasant sharpness with the Java Maestro brew.
The Brazilian also had more body in the Java than with the Hario, but once again complexity of the coffee through the Hario was much higher.
All the negativity aside how good was the actual brew. Well the fact that we had to go back a few times to determine the difference was a good sign. While the Hario is our choice, we would certainly not turn the Java Maestro brew away. If we scored the Hario as 55/60, then it means that we would score the Java Maestro down by around 15-20%, so 45/60 we feel is fair.
Summary of how we tested
First we used 18g of coffee per 300g of water in both the Java Maestro and the Hario. The process we followed was identical to both, we even flushed the Java Maestro just in case.
- Flush/pre-wet with 120g boiling water.
- Add fresh ground coffee.
- Initial pour: 46g, then wait 30 seconds (circular pour)
- Second pour: 74g so total is 120g (circular pour)
- Wait 20 seconds pour 60g repeat (middle pour)
We then taste the coffees at around 80 C, 60 C and 40 C then room temp.
We repeated the process with 14g and adjusted the pours to match the ratios with the Brazilian coffee.
If you are looking for a pour over brewer that is relatively portable and requires no filters then the Java Maestro is a great choice. Yes you can purchase stainless steel and gold filters for the Hario but whether they will taste any better is not covered here, since we are unaware of anyone in South Africa offering these products.
Even though it was not part not their vision we feel it is work noting that the product is well made. The mesh is a very high quality and no coffee ground came through at all, so that is something we liked.
Total score: 75/100.
You can read more on the product here: www.javamaestro.com
After playing with dose and coffees for a week, we feel the produce is suited for larger dose ratio of at least 6 grams:100 grams (g) 16:1 or higher. As soon as you drop below the 6g:100g the coffee becomes overly metallic and loses complexity significantly. So for a body heavy brew it is okay, but for coffee with delicate floral and fruit aromatics, the Java Maestro is not going to get the best out of the coffee.
We also recommend to use a grind finer than you would for Hario. A finer grind seems to assist with the brewer.
For an explanation around why this may be occurring read Mike McDonald’s aricle on Brew Colloids specific to coffee here…