Acaia Coffee Scale: Interview with Aaron Takao Fujiki


 

Nothing excites me more than toys, tech toys to be exact.  And if that tech toy happens to involve coffee in any way, shape, or form.  Well, let's just say that gets my blood pumping.  So when I came across the Acaia Coffee Scale on KickStarter.com, I was pretty excited. So excited, that immediately after committing to buy one, I made contact with Aaron Takao Fujiki, the co-founder, via Twitter to see if he would let us interview him or his partner Rex Tseng.  

Let me tell you a brief bit about this fantastic piece of technology.  It's not just a kitchen scale. It's a scale specifically for brewing the perfect cup of coffee.  Complete with industrial grade internals, ample processing power, and so feature-rich, your head will spin!

 

Here's a few features from Aaron's press kit that will give you better idea of what the Acaia is, and why it's better than anything on the market.

  • Coffee and liquid proof - no nooks or crannies for elements to seep in.
  • Smart auto-off feature - as long as there's weight on the scale, it stays on.  So your brew methods that take 5, 10, 15 minutes… will work perfectly with this scale.  It won't shut off on you.
  • Accuracy to 0.1 grams - I'm not this nerdy with my coffee, but maybe you are?
  • Built-in stopwatch - time your brews for the perfect taste!
  • It's small but not too small - 6in x 6in to be exact.  You can fit your Chemex on it, no problem!
  • Even bottom - on piece of silicone covers the bottom to ensure that it's always level.  Most scales have four legs that can wear or fall off over time, this silicone pad will stick forever well, almost.
  • Lithium-Ion battery and USB charging - if it's good enough for the iPhone, then it's good enough for the Acaia!  Try and find another scale with this battery I dare you!
  • Micro-controller chip - only found in industrial scales (SM59R16G6) - Acaia is the first consumer-grade scale to incorporate this kind of processing power.
  • Bluetooth connectivity - You can go do laundry and check on your brew progress with your iPhone!  Now that's cool!
  • iOS App - remotely view the scale, monitor brews, time brews, take notes on your favorite coffee beans and brew methods for later use!
  • API for Developers - This means more apps can be made by third-party developers, adding additional functionality to your scale!  Check out the interview below, Aaron tells a bit more about the Acaia API.

 

Interview with Aaron Takao Fujiki - Co-founder of Acaia Coffee Scale

SipLocal: How long have you been working on the Acaia?

Acaia: Been working on it for like 2 years. I talked to my friend Rex about coffee brewing, on how to improve the taste of my coffee, then we came up with the idea of a smart coffee scale, and started doing some research and prototypes. 

SipLocal: Many projects on Kickstarter or Indiegogo rarely ship on time, how did you decide on January/February delivery, and do you feel you will still be on time?

Acaia: We decided because we wanted to give backers who loved our product the shortest waiting time. The delivery is a real challenge since we have changed our design during the kickstarter campaign to better our products.  We wanted to build the product better and better, so we improve from the feedbacks of our backers. It took us some time, but we want to keep our promise and work hard on it. So far we are still looking to ship the early birds in January. 

SipLocal: From the photos and video, it looks like you have an operational prototype, how far along is the project?

Acaia: We are very close to completion. The prototypes in the photos and videos are real production parts. We are now tweaking the features and software to make it better for our backers.

SipLocal: Is the app already done?

Acaia: The acaia scale is already in production, and we just released a backer only update of the iOS App this week, the feedbacks are pretty positive, we are going to release a public update on the iOS App and the Android app soon.

SipLocal: The scale obviously has ever tool a coffee lover would want, do you have any plans to add functionality for any other kitchen uses (i.e. foods)?

Acaia: A lot of people is asking this question, right now we want to focus on improving the acaia coffee scale’s user experience for coffee brewing, because we want to make sure the acaia coffee scale can satisfy the need for every coffee lover. After we perfected the acaia coffee scale, we will then proceed on developing a product line for different purposes of the acaia scale, one step at a time, we don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the acaia scale, because the acaia is a designer product, a result of the combination of art and science for the coffee community, not just an ordinary piece of consumer electronics. 

SipLocal: Once the Kickstarter project ends, will you be accepting pre-orders through your website?

Acaia: Currently our plan is to make the products for the backers on kickstarter first. We will then gather feedbacks and inputs from these backers, for they are the first to use this product and we really like to know what they think. We are committed to this product, and we want to learn from our users how to make it even better. We are the first to introduce connected APP for the brewing community and we want users to help us build the future products. So at this moment, we will not be doing pre-orders on our website, but if anyone is interested, they can still contact us and we’ll see what we can do.

SipLocal: After the Kickstarter, do you have any retailers lined up to sell the acaia?

Acaia: We have some retailers and shop owners who are interested in selling it, but we have no definite plans yet. We just want to make sure we will deliver a great product to the consumers. I am sure there will be a lot of feedbacks from our backers. Whether it is good or bad, we will listen, learn and improve. I think this is very important in building a great product. That is also why I wanted to make this product on kickstarter, so I can interact with the users.

SipLocal: Can we sell it? haha

Acaia: Sure!

SipLocal: Do you have a post-Kickstarter retail price in mind?  /  What can consumers expect to pay for acaia after the Kickstarter?

Acaia: We are planning the retail price to be around 89, but we still want to gather the feedbacks on the product from the kickstarter backers. Since we are building both the hardware and the software APP, there are a lot of features and functions that we can add/remove from the product.

SipLocal: Tell me about the API.

Acaia: We wanted to build a scale that can have many talented developers make their own APP to work with our scale. We believe that having a connected weighing sensor can do a lot of things. You can build tools for diabetes patients or apps that provide cooking recipes. We want to provide people with a great device that they can create their own applications with it!

SipLocal: Do you have any developers lined up to make apps for the acaia?

Acaia: We have got some developers and companies that shown a lot of interest in the acaia, so we are quite excited about this!

SipLocal: Do you have any plans to release an android or windows mobile/rt/8 app or a web app for those without an iPhone, or would like to use their computers?

Acaia: We are already developing Android APP that works on android 4.3 with bluetooth 4.0 supported devices. We will have a public update on our software status this week. Currently we have no plans on windows mobile yet, we got our hands full with iOS and Android at the moment. 

 

If you want one… you had better act fast!  Only four days left in the KickStarter campaign.  After that, as Aaron said, they're looking to raise the retail price and you'll have to wait a lot longer.  Here are the colors currently available (more have been added to KickStarter) for shipping early 2014:

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December 15, 2013 by Mark Evans
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