Review: xBloom Coffee System

Review: xBloom Coffee System

Coffee pod systems are convenient, but they beg a question: What the hell is really in that pod? How fresh is the ground coffee inside? xBloom is a bold new idea in the increasingly crowded coffee pod space, offering a machine that uses pods with whole beans instead of ground ones, grinding them on the spot and brewing your coffee immediately thereafter.

The idea is complex and, to be sure, it doesn’t always work perfectly. To use xBloom, you open the sealed container of beans, pour it into a waiting mouth, and drop the empty cup into a special holster below. The cup also contains a filter, and once it’s in place, the xBloom gets to work, reading an electronic code on the cup to dial in grind size, brew strength, and water temperature as specified for that particular coffee. (These parameters can be changed via the xBloom mobile app, should you want to get super-nerdy about things.) First it grinds, moving the cup to the left to capture the grounds. Then the cup slides over to the right, and water is drawn in from a removable basin, heated, and poured over. Place your mug beneath to capture the coffee directly.

Watching xBloom work is half the fun, and while it can be a bit messy in the form of stray grounds, it only choked once during my testing, failing to brew coffee after grinding the beans. The rest of the time I encountered no issues, ending each run with a fitting mug of coffee — albeit after a lengthy process that often took 5 minutes or longer.

The xBloom is an amazing conversation piece but my biggest complaint is that I didn’t really like any of the coffees that it currently sells in the xPod format. The company sent me all four of its current offerings, representing a range of roast styles and origins, and I found that only The Daily and Big Trouble offerings were worth a second cup. No doubt there will be more coffee on tap in the future, but the current selection (priced at the equivalent of $1.50 per pod) is desperately in need of broader selection. It’s also worth noting that pods carry a “best before” date a mere 6 weeks after they are packaged. By the time I received mine for testing, I had only 2 weeks to go before they lost their freshness.

That wouldn’t matter if you could use your own beans but, sadly, you can’t — for obvious reasons: while the company offers some lengthy verbiage about why you can’t use your own beans, essentially the issue is that xBloom will make a lot more money selling beans than it will selling hardware. I’d never begrudge anyone wishing to make a profit, but considering the asking price of the xBloom itself is a whopping $799, that calculus gets a little tough to swallow, awfully fast.

Update: According to the company, xBloom now ships — since mid-May — with a reusable dripper (not seemingly available separately) with which you can use your own beans and miniature filters (not provided). I did not receive one of these with my test unit as it shipped before the dripper was being offered, so can’t speak to its effectiveness, but readers in the comments have positive things to say about it.

xbloom.com

xBloom Coffee System

$799
7

Rating

7.0/10

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

6 Comments

  1. James Holling on June 6, 2023 at 4:41 pm

    “That wouldn’t matter if you could use your own beans but, sadly, you can’t”

    Huh, I just got mine, with the reusable filter cup, and made a cup using my own beans with full customization from the app. Did you even use the machine or just write this based off of some web searches?

    • Christopher Null on June 6, 2023 at 5:29 pm

      Yes, I used the machine for close to a month in pre-release. I’ve not seen this reusable filter cup. Please enlighten us.



    • James D Holling on June 14, 2023 at 12:50 pm

      Sure thing. If you go to their site right now and add a machine to the cart, you will see Gift(s): Reusable Dripper, 8 xPods added to your cart as well. The reusable dripper is a clear plastic (PCTG) cup that is attached instead of the metal pod holder. You can see this by visiting the product page (https://xbloom.com/pages/machine) and going to the section titled “Unleash your creativity with your own beans.” It takes Kalita 155 filters. I mention this because the publication date of your article and the fact that the xBloom drew harsh criticism from you for not having this feature. I did also submit feedback to them that they need to get that support article you mentioned whipped into shape as it’s very misleading (as well as way too marketing-speak as you pointed out).



    • Christopher Null on June 14, 2023 at 12:56 pm

      Thanks, I made an update to the post to this effect.



  2. Michael on September 20, 2023 at 3:16 pm

    The Kalita 155 filter is too floppy, without structure, and will fold up on itself when the xBloom pours water over the grounds in a circular motion. The xBloom pods have their filters attached to the pod cup so this is not an issue. Stupidest thing I’ve ever crowdfunded.

    • Richard on September 29, 2023 at 5:44 am

      I’ve been using the Kalita 155 filters with my own whole beans for about a week. I found that pressing the top edges of the filter to flatten the folds (just like the pre-made xPods) keeps the filter nicely in place with minimal gaps for grounds to end up on the outside of the paper. So far I’ve been loving the quality of the brews. My main criticisms so far are 1) Static on the grinder chute causing them to adhere and make a mess when cleaning up (RDT seems to fix this about 90%); 2) Water reservoir is too small and requires refilling after every 2 to 3 cups; and 3) Little documentation about how to manage the recipe settings (I used the reusable pod, created my own settings for grind size, water temp, etc. and saved it as the preferred recipe, but the brewer display doesn’t seem to reflect these settings when I scan the holder). For a single serve brewer in a household where everyone wants a fresh cup it’s been pretty good so far. I’m willing to adjust to some of the shortcomings since the overall experience has been positive.



Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.