Barista Group unveils the upgraded R2 Extract refractometer

Barista Group

Barista Group discusses its latest piece of equipment, the R2 Extract, and the value of the refractometer that’s undergone a serious upgrade.

Coffee consistency is the name of the game with the newly launched DiFluid R2 Extract, a coffee concentration meter or refractometer that is now available from coffee equipment distributor Barista Group.

Barista Group General Manager Joe Chalhoub says the highly engineered refractometer streamlines the brewing process and improves the way coffee is prepared and evaluated.

“The R2 Extract is a professional-grade refractometer that detects how much coffee solids have been dissolved into the water and gives a readout. Whether you’re a barista looking to maximise consistency day-to-day, or a home brewer looking to brew the best possible coffee, the R2 Extract caters for every coffee aficionado,” Joe says.

DiFluid originally came out with a small, affordable refractometer in February 2022, before the company made some key improvements and ultimately presented the R2 Extract iteration to Barista Group in November 2022.

“We conducted rigorous and methodical tests on the R2 Extract and decided it suited our brand ethos of supporting specialty coffee products that improve workflow and consistency,” Joe says.

He says the R2 Extract is a modern upgrade to an old technology, featuring Microcalibration that is a major leap in precision.

“The Microcalibration layer compensates for external disturbances and physical deformations such as temperature changes or undissolved particles, greatly improving accuracy and stability,” Joe says.

The R2 Extract offers a higher resolution, colour display that allows for a greater density of information for more testing modes, and greater versatility.

“The refractometer allows users to test the precise concentration of coffee dissolved into their cup. This advanced piece of technology uses a 2D CMOS image sensor which avoids misalignment and increases durability when compared to old CCD-based refractometers. It also has duo temperature sensors which reduce interference from the environment,” Joe says.

“These sensors must be kept in good condition and scratch-free in order to provide accurate readings. This might be an issue with other refractometers especially if the user wipes the lens after every use. DiFluid solved that problem with the application of a Nano-Scale Hydrophobic Layer which prevents liquid from remaining on the sensor. R2 Extract is also IP67 water resistant, allowing you to rinse it under running water for easy cleaning.”

The R2 Extract has a total dissolved soluble (TDS) range of 0 to 30 per cent, which Joe says allows plenty of leeway for the optimal range typically used within the coffee community.

“TDS is a crucial objective metric for a barista, as it helps them to assess the brew efficiency by working out the extraction yield. The whole point of measuring extraction yield is to determine how much of the flavour-producing compounds in the grounds have been dissolved by the hot water,” Joe says.

“If you’re a barista starting your shift in the early hours of the morning and you want to make sure your coffee is running right, or your café has just changed its coffee recipe and you want to spend a few minutes dialling in new varieties or origins, the refractometer can speed the recipe process along.”

Joe adds that another advantage is its price point.

“The R2 Extract is available from Barista Group for $325 plus tax, much more affordable than other refractometer’s on the market, which range from $600 to $1000. The whole idea is that it’s accessible for all baristas and anyone who wants control over their extraction,” he says.

DiFluid’s latest refractometer comes with a coffee spoon, protective pouch, and USB-C charging cable.

“The R2 Extract ships with a quality metal reusable coffee spoon to replace single use plastic pipettes. Not only does this prevent plastic waste, but also helps
to distribute heat from coffee, resulting in better accuracy. It also ships in sustainable packaging, and the charging cable does not contain toxic materials,” Joe says.

The device’s inventor, DiFluid, is a technology company founded by Linus Peng in Shenzhen, China. His fascination with the idea of liquid digitisation led to the development of his line of refractometers. As the public find more uses for what used to be laboratory equipment, DiFluid has provided more tools to keep up with demand.

This includes Microbalance, a precision smart scale that records and transmits data to the companion app, another useful tool which is the DiFluid Café application.

Microbalance is a precision smart scale that records and transmits data to the DiFluid Café application.

“Coffee scales have been around for a long time, but Microbalance just upped the ante. Its level of precision and accuracy is usually only seen in large pan-scales used for trade. It boasts 0.1-gram resolution and flow rate tracking, while automatically transmitting your results to DiFluid Café,” Joe says.

The DiFluid Café app then displays Microbalance’s data in a clean, easy-to-read chart including flow rate, time, and weight.

Joe says while the first iteration of the DiFluid Café app is designed as an extension of the smart tools, future versions will allow users to sign into their own account and search for recipes that match their beans and brewing preferences.

“If you’ve made some improvements to a recipe, you’ll easily be able to share it with the café community, get feedback, and track the results of other users. Using information from Microbalance, DiFluid Café determines how well your coffee was brewed, and whether you stayed true to the recipe. You can also learn what needs to be adjusted to get the taste you’re looking for if you didn’t get the outcome you were hoping,” he says.

Barista Group had worked together with DiFluid for six months prior to distributing the refractometer on its website in February 2023. Joe says the technology-based enterprise has been a great partner to work with, sharing a likeminded approach to consistency and quality.

“They’re always open to our suggestions and take our feedback on board really well. You can tell they really value the specialty coffee community and share the same attention to detail that we do,” he says.

Joe says Barista Group is home to some of the coffee industry’s most innovative and outstanding coffee systems and resources, working alongside manufacturers like DiFluid to create and supply best-in-class coffee tools.

“We at Barista Group pride ourselves on distributing unique products with a point- of-difference in the market and we believe the R2 Extract fits this criterion,” he says.

“An efficient workflow begins with measuring coffee extraction at the start of the day, and what better way to accomplish optimal results than with the R2 Extract refractometer?”

The coffee equipment distributor is continuously seeking products that simplify workflow and is launching many niche products in 2023.

“Barista Group has also partnered with Swiss company Tone to bring the next generation in recipe development and boilerless brewing technology to the global coffee industry,” Joe says.

Barista Group will present the Tone Touch 04 boilerless batch brewer at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Portland, United States, from 21 to 23 April.

“We aim to share innovative products with a broad group of baristas, and in turn meet the needs of consumers in the global coffee industry’s ever-growing café culture,” Joe says.

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This article appears in the April 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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