Caffeine and Cantilevers

of coffee and cyclocross with jared falk

French Presses that don’t suck?…maybe.

It is commonly thought that the french press is a crappy way of making coffee.  Who thinks this you say?  Well, me.  And maybe a few other people.  But let’s be honest with ourselves, when you have guests over and want to make coffee quickly, it’s really easy to jam a bunch of coarsely ground beans into a glass and dump a load of scalding water on it, let it sit, plunge, and then serve it to your guests and pass it off as a reasonably acceptable cup of coffee.  That sounds super pretentious, I know, but there is a lot of truth to it (however, if I’m a guest in your house, I’ll gladly drink the coffee you serve me and enjoy it.  As long as you accept that I’ll likely do the same to you and make you enjoy it as well).  Making coffee at home for a large number of people, without using a drip machine, is a common problem for a lot of people.  In fact, I have this discussion with different people at least once a month.  Just this week I was visiting with Mr. Velo Artisan Bread and family, and they were looking to improve on their french press method, and brought this handy device to my attention.

The Espro Press is interesting, because it has a double filter system, and part of the issue with press pot coffee is the sludge left in the brew after the press.  Now a lot of that sludge in your cup is a grind problem.  With a blade grinder and some lower quality burr grinders, particle sizes differ so greatly that smaller particles make their way through press pot filter while the larger particles (the kind you want for press pot) are trapped by the filter.  So, if you don’t have a good quality burr grinder or have no desire to get one, a double filter system might be right up your alley.  Now the Espro Press comes in two different sizes, 8oz and 30oz, so you can chose whether or not you want to make coffee for yourself or share with your guests.  Also, Espro is a Vancouver based company, so supporting Canadians is cool.

Now if the Espro Press is really interesting to you and you’re looking for a good recipe, you can always trust the folks over at Heart to know what they are talking about.  They’ve got a great review of the product and a recipe to go along with it, here.

Another product in a similar vein will show it’s face on the market soon.  The Impress Coffee Brewer is currently in the Kickstarter phase, but looks promising as a french press alternative.

At the heart of the product, it’s a two piece nesting press pot.  The filter however, is quite different than the ones you would normally see in a french press or in the Espro as it is more akin to a portafilter (the kind you find on espresso machines).  Now it’s a very selfish product because it’s made to be a grab-n-go vessel with a lid, not really made for sharing with your guests.  And currently it’s only available in a 14oz variety.  Since this product showed up coffee blogs and general gadget geek sites in the past few days, they have more than met their Kickstarter goal of $50 000, so you can hopefully expect an actual product in the next few months.  But, if you want to still donate and get one of the first runs of the Impress Coffee Brewer, then head over to their Kickstarter page, you have 21 days still remaining.  And in the meantime, check out this great video on how the new product works.

So both the Espro and the Impress have a modified filter system which will allow less sludge through and in to your brew.  But what about the grind?  The other beef I’ve got with press pots is the fact because of the filter sizes you need to grind your beans very coarsely and brew much longer to get a decent taste.  And even then, while a course grind does well with oils, much of the flavour is still left un-extracted, even after a 4-5+ minute brew, which often leads to a more bitter taste overall.  I’m hoping that we see a new trend in press pots like the Espro and the Impress which will allow the products to brew with a much finer grind or, dare I say it, also a paper filter?  What can I say, I’m not a big oils fan.

If you are looking for a little bit of history on press pots and tutorial, then head over to Mark Prince’s article, from way back in 2003, at Coffee Geek.

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This entry was posted on October 12, 2012 by in coffee, coffee gear.

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