Coming to America: The Wilfa Svart Presisjon

08.28

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Meet the Svart Presisjon (Black Precision) from the Norwegian housewares company, Wilfa. You may have seen photos of it floating around the internet, wondering what planet it came from and how to get your hands on one. Its unique, modern design sets itself apart and made it a new contender for the best automatic coffee brewer on the European market—and now it’s finally available in the US.

Wilfa has been around since 1948 and has a catalogue of products that include everything from waffle makers to air conditioners to coffee brewers and grinders. Until recently they were barely known beyond the Nordic region. But that all changed two years ago when they launched the Wilfa Svart Manuell with the help of former World Barista Champion, Tim Wendelboe. That product, was an attempt to offer an all-in-one package for customers who were curious about manual brewing, but overwhelmed by all the options and tools needed to begin. The Presisjon maintians a lot of the same design DNA as the Manuell but its a much more practical product for the average coffee consumer.

Before debuting the Svart Manuell, Wilfa made a strategic decision to enter the specialty coffee market with some innovative new products of their own. With Nordic people consuming more coffee per capita than most other countries, mostly drip-style, it made sense to focus on a great home brewer. From the beginning, Wilfa has worked with coffee professionals to make sure they were designing great products with coffee quality in mind. From partnering with Tim Wendelboe to demoing the products at the Nordic Barista Cup, there has been a lot of feedback from professionals. The result has been products that look and function very differently from most other existing products.

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The most noticeable feature on the Presisjon is the unique water chamber design. This clear tube detaches from the base so it can be filled easier with clean water from the tap. There are also recommended coffee ratios and water volume marks printed on the side of the chamber, which are quite accurate without the need of a scale. The water is then pumped out from the bottom of the chamber leaving it completely empty at the end of each brew, making sure that there is no water left sitting in the machine to cause problems in the future.

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One of the biggest shortfalls of most automatic home brewers is water temperature stability and an even saturation of the coffee. For a long time, the Moccamaster was one of the only brewers able to do these things, making it the only option recommended by baristas. Recently, new models from Bonavita have also added reliable choices with a more affordable price point along with a more standard coffee maker design. The Presisjon also has remarkably stable water temperature, even when being used repeatedly for multiple batches of coffee. Within seconds of the brew cycle beginning, the water is in a range of 197–205°F (92–96°c) and stays there consistently throughout brewing.

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The Presisjon filter holder fits a standard No.4 Melitta-style filter and can be fully detached for easy cleaning. It has a removable lid to maintain the temperature of the coffee slurry and it’s also outfitted with a unique aperture system that allows you to adjust the flow rate of the liquid based on the volume of coffee you are brewing. This allows you to better control the extraction rate when brewing two batches of different volumes. The flow rate is increased for larger batches (up to 1.25 liters) and decreased for smaller batches (250ml). When the coffee is done brewing, you can close the filter holder completely which prevents drip before removing the carafe—a much appreciated detail.

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While this has taught me to appreciate an automatic brewer, there are some things I would like to improve, namely, the carafe. It’s a pretty standard glass carafe with a coffee stirring funnel in the lid. I’m not a fan of the shape of the handle, or the way the glass connects with the plastic lip, which creates a small reservoir that always catches a small amount of liquid, making it harder to clean and dry than it should.

The carafe also sits on a hot plate that can not be independently turned off so you need to remember to turn off the machine once it’s finished brewing to prevent the hot plate from burning the coffee and making it bitter. Ultimately, you won’t be leaving coffee sitting around for too long—brew less and enjoy it fresh.

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I’ve personally been using a Presisjon that Wilfa sent me to test out for over a year now in various situations. I’ve used it at public events to brew large batches for 50 people at a time and I’ve used it at home for dinner parties and guests. The machine’s one button simplicity is easy for anyone to use but it’s quality and consistency is good enough that it can still be appreciated by coffee geeks as well. Thanks to the brewer’s unique design, you are also able to explore using it as a water delivery device for other brew methods like the Chemex, V60 and Kalita Wave—with great results. Surely something that will make coffee enthusiasts quite happy.

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After more than a year of only being available in Europe, the Wilfa Svart Presisjon has now found its way to the US exclusively through Williams-Sonoma. The Presisjon comes in two finishes, aluminum and a slightly more affordable matte black polymer version. Designed by the Danish firm, Designit, the Presisjon also won a prestigious Red Dot Design award, something that few products in the coffee industry can claim. Its form is a striking departure from pretty much every other home brewer available and every time I’ve used one around other people, they ask questions about it.

Williams-Sonoma is selling the black polymer Presisjon for $275 and the premium aluminum version for $363 on their website and in their stores. This is definitely an expensive home brewer, but it’s in the same range as a Moccamaster and still less than the forthcoming, albeit US-made, Ratio Brewer. If you’re in the market for an automatic coffee brewer and appreciate great design, this is definitely worth looking into alongside the other options available.

As the resurgence of considerate batch brewing is finding its place in more top coffee shops around the world, the automatic home brewer has also become less of a device to be loathed, and instead is one to be enjoyed on lazy weekends. With the proper technical attributes provided by the latest home brewers, combined with the knowledge of brew ratios and access to better, fresh roasted beans, a quality automatic brewer like this Presisjon can yield fantastic and consistent results.

Check out a video of Tim Wendelboe demonstrating the Presisjon below:

posted by on 08.28.2014, under Design, Misc., Products

Coming Soon: Wilfa Svart Manuell

04.02

Last year at the Nordic Barista Cup, a prototype of the Wilfa Svart Manuell was first unveiled and put in the hands of attendees. I posted what little I knew back then, but have since had the opportunity to try one out myself.

The all-in-one kettle and pour over device, which was developed with the help of Tim Wendelboe, has moved beyond the prototype stage and will be officially released in three weeks—on the 25th of April. The US market may see them in 2013, but until then there shouldn’t be trouble finding people to use them here in coffee loving Scandinavia.

While I don’t consider myself the primary market for this, there are some things I really love about it, particularly the cohesiveness of all the parts. Everything fits nicely on the base which can be picked up and moved easily around the kitchen. It includes everything you need to get started brewing pour over coffee, except a grinder—making it great for those who are brew-curious, or just want a hassle free coffee set-up for their parent’s home or their Nordic cabin in the woods.

The cone uses standard Melitta filters and has complete flow control through the ring at the bottom. Which allows you to completely close it off for full immersion or fine tune the extraction time—adding a new variable other than grind size. The filter also sits in a removable cup that rests in the cone, making it easy to dispose of the used grounds.

The cone is held stationary above the caraffe, which is great for stability, but lacks the ability to place a scale underneath it. In an attempt to keep things easy and approachable, it makes it less desirable to someone like myself who feels blind when brewing coffee without a scale—but that may be a personal problem.

The kettle has a 1.2-liter capacity and heats up quick. It has variable temperature settings, making it great for brewing teas and the “keep warm” function will allow you to maintain the water temperature while rinsing filters. It doesn’t have the pour control of a thin-spout, but it’s better than most standard kettles I’ve used.

The most exciting thing about this product is the effort given to manual brewing at home by a large home appliance company like Wilfa. Instead of just creating their own version of a V60, they’ve thought about the whole coffee making process and what may deter someone from brewing manually. In a home appliance market flooded with k-cup machines, it’s nice to see manual brewing given this kind of attention.

The production models don’t look like they’ve changed much from the prototype I used, other than the color (which is now a more elegant looking black) and some of the graphic details. I look forward to comparing the production model when I have the chance.

You can watch Tim Wendelboe demo the Svart Manuell in the video below!

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posted by on 04.02.2012, under Design, Products, Videos

Wilfa Svart Is The New Coffee

09.05

When Tim Wendelboe announced the launch of the Nordic Coffee Culture blog, he also hinted at the unveiling of a new brewer that he had been working on with Norwegian housewares company Wilfa (and Europe’s largest design consultancy, Designit). When the top baristas from around Scandinavia gathered last week for the Nordic Barista Cup in Copenhagen, they had the chance to test out the new product.

The new brewer, called the Wilfa Svart (Black) Manuell, consists of a matching electric kettle and carafe with a funnel hanging above it. The funnel has a flow control valve which allows the user to pre-infuse the grounds and better control the extraction time. The kettle can also be pre-set to heat water in 10 degree increments—from 60° to 100°C. Making the kettle useful for more delicate teas as well various brewing preferences.

The Svart isn’t available  yet on the Wilfa site, but I hope to demo one soon.

[UPDATE] This is still in prototype stage. Tim says they’re working on implementing a scale and timer + (addressing) some design issues.

[photo via @timwendelboe]

 

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posted by on 09.05.2011, under Design, Products