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Smarter Coffee (Second Generation) Review: Connected caffeine on demand

The second generation Smarter Coffee machine is a connected caffeine dispenser that can be activated via your smartphone, for a fresh brew whenever you need it. We’ve been testing the Smarter Coffee for a month now and here’s what we think.

Smarter Coffee review: Design

The second-gen Smarter Coffee machine is quite a sleek-looking device, which certainly fits right into a modern kitchen. It’s also rather bulky however, so you’ll want to place it in an open area with lots of free space. Ideally an island, where you can easily access the rear water tray without having to constantly pull the machine out and twist it around.

On the front of the Smarter Coffee you’ll find a dinky 3.5-inch LED screen, complete with buttons for tweaking the various settings: how many cups of coffee to brew (from 4 to 12), filter or bean and overall strength. You can also tweak the coarseness of each grind using a twisting dial up top. However, we found that this sometimes was very stiff and difficult to use, with some real force required.

Beans go in the top, in a compact transparent tray. This tends to empty after just a couple of large brews so you’ll have to constantly keep it topped up, just like the water tank. Even a completely full water tank will be drained by the maximum setting and just over half drained by the minimum.

Beneath the display is a filter tray, which can be popped open using a side button. You can then either slip in pre-ground coffee or empty the dregs after a brew, quickly and easily.

Inside the Smarter Coffee box you’ll find two different panel covers for this tray, which can be snapped in place of the standard black one. These are red and white, for a more jazzy finish.

Beneath that tray is the nozzle, which trickles your freshly brewed coffee into a bundled jug. The jug is well constructed and easy to clean, thanks to the pop-off lid.

Smarter Coffee review: Setup and smart features

Setting up the Smarter Coffee is an interesting process, and also quite hit and miss. Once the machine is switched on, you need to download the free app to your Android mobile or iPhone – so far, so familiar. However, rather than pairing up via Bluetooth or NFC, you’ll need to hold your handset to the Smarter Coffee’s front panel as the screen flashes a pattern to transmit a signal, containing essential info such as your WiFi details. This process is called ‘BlinkUp’ and it’s not great, in our experience at least.

We tried the setup process on one of our Android devices several times, with no success. Thankfully the procedure worked on our third attempt using an iPhone instead, as concern turned to frustration.

If you manage to succesfully connect, you can access the machine’s smart abilities via that app. At a base level, this allows you to activate the Smarter Coffee from anywhere, so you have a steaming hot jug of the good stuff waiting for you when you hit the kitchen. No hanging around.

The app delivers all of the main options that are accessible via the machine’s control panel, with the exception of grind coarseness. You can tell the machine how strong you need it, how much to make (from four to 12 cups) and how long to keep it warm for. This sadly tops off at 40 minutes; we’d have preferred a longer option, when drinking solo.

Of course, you’ll need to remember to change the filter, top up the water supply, check if you have enough beans and get the machine all set up beforehand, for this remote control to actually work. You can check the current water level via the app, although this always seems to read as ‘low’ when the tank isn’t almost full. We’d say just top the water up every time you use the machine, to be sure.

Also, don’t forget to empty that filter each time. You won’t get a warning if you forget, so the spent coffee will quickly back up until it clogs the nozzle.

The true smart functionality can be accessed via the Smarter Coffee app’s secondary menu. This allows you to set the machine to brew your wake up juice as your alarm activates, for instance, or kick into life when you’re nearing home. You’ll get full notifications too, when your coffee is brewing and keeping warm.

These features work as expected, as long as you keep the machine maintained and topped up of course. Those with a set schedule who need their coffee fix at set times are certainly well catered for, while those without can manually get their coffee on with just a tap, whenever the need strikes.

Note that this second gen model supports Alexa and Google’s own smart assistant, although we haven’t tested this feature.

Read next: How to set up your own smart home

Smarter Coffee review: Verdict

The Smarter Coffee machine offers good value for money at £179, serving up a respectable set of smart features plus a compact and sleek design (as well as delicious coffee). However, the constant maintenance means you’ll need to get into good habits to actually use the remote activation, while the setup process could be improved.