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I'm looking for some options for measuring TDS.

Everything seems to point back to the VST Refractometer, but at $700+ I'd like to try some other options first.

I founds a low cost TDS meter on Amazon, but it has proven to be highly inconsistent. Measuring the same brew multiple times provides multiple results that can vary greatly.

Thoughts on other options for TDS meters, or will it make the most sense to just pony up for the VST?

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You're on the right track with using a refractometer to measure coffee, but most people don't need a unit that expensive. There are more affordable refractometers if you don't need the VST CoffeeTools software.

One example is the Atago PAL-1, which costs around $300. This is a digital refractometer. If you want something more affordable, you can get a manual brix refractometer which will start around $20.

There are many brands of digital refractometers other than Atago, a quick Google search came up with some around $100-200, so there should be something in your price range and quality that will work for you. Good luck!

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I was thinking of going with the Atago PAL-1 also.. I can't afford the VST at this point in time, but it will eventually become a necessity for troubleshooting my coffee.

One note, don't get one of the 30 dollar manual refractometers. I did, but the Brix scale of 0-30 or whatever it is makes it nearly impossible to read any difference between coffees unless you are comparing a very over extracted vs. a very under extracted. Guestimating 1.8 vs. 1.9 Brix and then doing the math to find you have no idea what the real number is, leaves you wishing for something better.

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