Since we launched the Ratio Eight in 2015, it has felt somewhat like driving with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. We’ve struggled to continuously strike the balance of pursuing the right kind of growth while maintaining our stringent quality standards. We’ve had to say no, sorry to exciting growth opportunities that would potentially result in a less-than-great product if we scaled up too fast.
To make this even more complex, costs for components and the factory infrastructure to build units tend to rise in a non-linear fashion when you’re building a product, company, and team. One example: our ocean freight costs to import components and finished products is running about 3-4 times the historical cost, and our component costs are typically up between 7% to 10%.
The dream for the Eight was to produce a coffee maker that was capable of brewing a cup of coffee similar to what a barista would make with a pour over technique, and to emphasize consistency and simplicity over control and endless variables to try to manage.
I’ve been repeating this mantra ever since (what feels like) half a dozen kids have been running around my house in the mornings: You shouldn't have to have coffee before you make coffee.
And, we wanted it to look beautiful.
We’ve been building the Ratio Eight in our Portland workshop on the banks of the Willamette River since our launch year in 2015. We saw fairly consistent growth over the years, and then 2020 hit and we experienced a massive uptick in people looking to upgrade their home or WFH coffee setup. It’s been an exhilarating ride as our monthly sales have been double or triple the numbers we saw before the pandemic.
We have spent most of this year working on some new products to come in late 2022 (more on this soon, but think smaller), introducing the Ratio Six to new markets, and figuring out how to double or triple our Ratio Eight production volumes while also continuously striving to improve quality and longevity.
It’s harder than you might think.
The Eight is made of a variety of custom parts that all require an extra degree of finishing and quality control before they are put together by hand. We have been cultivating a variety of close factory relationships in Taiwan and China that produce the components for the Eight. They produce components in batch sizes that allow our 8 team members involved in production and development to consistently turn out a great product. Under normal travel circumstances, we visit each factory partner in person multiple times a year to build the relationship. A seemingly endless supply of tantalizing food is shared and toasts are made around a big round table.
All that to say, we are unable to easily scale up production of the Eight without having to make fairly complex and disruptive changes, such as contemplating moving to a bigger facility that would not be an easy commute for our team members that get to work via mass transit or bicycle.
Meanwhile, orders for the Eight keep pouring in, alongside increasing orders for the Ratio Six. We regularly decline fairly substantial orders for the Eight because we simply cannot produce enough units as we’re currently doing things.
So, we asked our Taiwan factory partners if they would not only send us Ratio Eight components as they have since 2015, but to also assemble some units for us.
Thank goodness they said yes.
What this means:
We will continue to assemble the handblown glass water tank version of the Eight here in our Portland workshop like we always have. We are creating the ultimate set of Ratio Eight accessories that are now easy to purchase with one click.
The Ratio Eight Thermal Set now includes our Ratio Eight coffee maker with a glass water tank, Thermal Carafe, Ceramic Dripper, Catcher, and the Kone stainless filter. It is available in Matte Black, Bright Silver, White, and Oyster, with 3 different wood choices. The set is $795 for all finish options beginning September 1st, 2021.
The Ratio Eight with our handblown glass carafe will remain $495, but will be assembled in Taiwan by our long-time partners. They also assemble and procure coffee equipment and components for well-regarded coffee equipment companies from the USA and Europe. The Eight will be available in Matte Black, Oyster, and White colors with walnut wood trim for now, with more options to come. If you had your heart set on ebonized or parawood trim, please contact us to discuss options to swap out the wood trim for a small fee.
There are absolutely zero quality differences between the two factory builds (for example, they both still contain the handblown borosilicate glass internal water lines), and they both include our 5 year warranty.
If you have an open backorder for any version of the Ratio Eight, it will be assembled here at our workshop.
It’s always a little scary to make a change to your business model, but I’m very confident and excited about this next phase. The Ratio Eight will remain the world’s finest drip coffee maker, regardless of where it’s assembled.
If you have any thoughts or questions, please send me a note.
Founder & CEO
mark at thaiwasteexchange.net