In follow-up to our test video that we posted yesterday, we thought we’d break down and compare the different cold brew options we have — including the Sowden / Hario / Bodum variety and more!
|Dual purpose for hot and cool drinks, making cold brew in your french press will give you that kick in your pants all summer long. Whether you make it as a coffee concentrate to dilute or if you drink it STRONG like the SCG crew, all it takes is your desired amount of coffee, cold water and 12 hours in the fridge. This is great for making a big batch and stocking it up so it’s available whenever you need a cup o’ cold joe.|
Sowden Soft Brew Coffee Maker
|While you can use it to make cold coffee similar to that from a french press, the Sowden Soft Brew gives you more flexibility in that you can use different grind consistencies. The microfilter features over a million tiny holes that enable you to brew with even the finest grind, producing a richer cup or more concentrated coffee in a similar amount of time. This can also be used for make hot coffee, as well.|
|It may look like a science experiment, but the science of the Chemex is easier than it looks. Unlike the french press and Sowden, you’re going to start your coffee out hot and as it brews it’ll cool down in the second chamber. All it takes is placing a good amount of ice in the bottom chamber, placing a paper filter in the top chamber, filling it up with your desired amount of coffee, pouring hot water over the coffee and watch as the coffee is extracted on to the ice giving you a smooth, cold and refreshing cup o’ java.|
Hario Cold Brew/Mini Pot
|Made specially for cold brewing, the Hario Cold Brew and Mini Pots come in a sleek glass pitcher that will guarantee you will extract the most flavor out of your coffee. No need to heat up your water, whether it be cold or room temperature, fill up your pot’s nylon filter basket with coarse grounds, pour the water and brew it in the fridge for about 12 to 24 hours. You won’t need to finish your brew all in one sitting as it can keep for up to one month in a sealed container.|
Hario Cold Brew Dripper
|If you’re fancy and have a lot of time on your hands, the the Hario Cold Water Dripper is what you need. A unique way of making your average cup of coffee or coffee concentrate, this dripper uses the classic cold-drip method. With every drop of water per second it saturates your coffee and drip by drip it will extract 26 oz. of coffee concentrate in about 5 hours. With a little more patience and learning curve, once you get the hang of it you’ll be sipping on some non-oily and acidic-free java.|
In follow-up to our recent post on gear you can easily take on the open trail, Gail gives us her recommendations for what coffee accoutrement she recommends for back country excursions.
When it comes to great coffee or espresso, it doesn’t always mean it has to come out of a fancy shmancy high-tech espresso machine. Check out 2011′s most popular gear that didn’t require an outlet.
#1: Aeropress – $25.95
A specialty tool approved by many newbie espresso lovers and coffee connoisseurs alike, the Aeropress is a one stop shop to make that caffeinated drink you love when you’re on the go. Simple, easy to use and with minimal necessities, all you’ll need along with the Aeropress are coffee filters, grounds and hot water and you’ll have a cup o’ joe as good as (or better than!) your local cafe.
#2: Hario Coffee Coffee Dripper V60 – White Ceramic – Medium 02 – $22.55
Perfect for that single serving or a small group of friends, Hario pour overs are simple to use but produce an excellent cup. All you need is a coffee filter, your favorite coffee grounds and hot water and you’ll be sipping on a quality drink in a matter of minutes.
#3: Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker – 6-cup – $24.95
Want that strong cup of coffee without the hassle of plugging it in? The Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop just needs hot water, your favorite coffee grounds, a few minutes on the stovetop and it’ll be percolating a rich cup of coffee in a flash. (And if you really want to avoid electrics, throw it on your wood stove!)
#1: Sowden Soft Brew Coffee Maker with scoop – 27 oz. – $39.95
Some like it hot while others like it cold, and the great thing about the Sowden Soft Brew is that it’ll brew both kinds of coffee. Using a micro-thin metal filter with half a million microscopic holes, the Sowden Soft Brew brews up a smooth cup of coffee with no need for plungers. All you need to do is measure out your preferred amount of coffee, pour in hot or cold water, brew for four to eight minutes (for hot coffee) or overnight (for cold coffee) and you’ll be sipping on rich and smooth java.
#2a: Chemex Handblown 6-cup (30 oz) coffee maker with wood collar and tie – $35.90
Not your average looking coffee maker, the Chemex uses a chemically corrected method of brewing to extract the most flavor out of your favorite coffee beans. Using glass that is both heat resistant and does not absorb odors or chemical residue, you’ll be drinking a more natural cup of coffee with a full, rich-bodied flavor.
#2b: Frieling Insulated Coffee Maker French Press 1-2 cups – $49.95
Frieling has taken the french press process up a notch by giving their press double wall insulation, keeping your coffee hotter four time longer than your average glass french press. Multipurpose and seasonal, not only can this stainless steel press be used to make coffee but take out the plunger and it becomes a stylish pitcher for cold drinks on hot summer days.
#3: La Cafetiere Thermique Cafetiere – 8 cup – $39.99
Sleek yet sophisticated with a little whimsy to it, the La Cafetiere Thermique Cafetiere changes up the average french press by giving the press a new look and style. Taking a cue from other upgraded presses, the Thermique keeps coffee hotter three times longer with its double wall stainless steel body. And unlike other presses made of glass or stainless steel with a round look, the Thermique has a unique angular design.
#1: Bodum Santos (Pebo) Stovetop Vacuum Coffee Maker – $79.95
Why not combine coffee and chemistry — or at least a little mad science? While you’re really crafting a delicious cup of joe, it will feel like you’re mixing chemicals to make some crazy concoction with this vacuum pot. But fear not! Watch the magic happen as you place the Pebo on the stovetop, and see the water from the bottom orb get sucked up into the top orb, then saturate your favorite coffee to produce an excellent brew.
#2: Handpresso Portable Espresso Machine – with Domepod – $99.99
Whether it be at the top of the mountain while you’re hitting the slopes, out in your tent in the middle of the forest or at the airport before you catch your flight, owning the Handpresso means there’s never a place where you can’t scratch that espresso itch. An easy to use portable espresso machine, it’s also lightweight and small, so can fit almost anywhere.
#3: Espro 3-cup Press – $69.95
Can you really improve on the well-designed, classic press pots of yore? Espro thinks you can! Their Single Serve Press outshines other presses by micro-filtering and preserving your coffee’s flavor twice. With a unique metal filter, it keeps grounds out of your cup and lets the oils in so your cup o’ joe is richer with a full-bodied flavor.
#1: MyPressi TWIST Portable Espresso Maker 2.0 – $149.00
New gadgets are always fun to find, but they’re even better when they make life a little simpler. For coffee lovers who are always on the go, the MyPressi TWIST provides excellent espresso shots no matter their locale. Using N02 & C02 capsules to facilitate extraction, your shots will rival those of the cafe’s down the street.
#2: Walkure Karlsbad Porcelain Coffee Maker – 12.5 oz/28.5 oz – 80.00/120.00
Straight from Germany, this innovative coffeemaker will amaze you! Who would’ve thought you’d get a smooth clean cup of coffee through a ceramic filter?! The Walkure Karlsbad Porcelain Coffee Maker uses a two chamber method, allowing you to brew your coffee like a pour over with its crisscross ceramic filter. Customers love it because it’s easy to clean, easy to use and — unlike other pour overs that use paper filters — it’s less wasteful.
Do you really need a fancy, specially-designed gadget to brew up a batch of cold coffee? Or can you just use your trusty ol’ press pot? While we carry a couple of different cold brew options (from Hario and Sowden), we wanted to see if using one of them (namely, the Sowden) produced a better, worse or similar cup to making a cold brew with a La Cafetiere french press.
So we put Allison to the test! Watch as we brew up a batch in each, using the same grind and coffee-to-water ratios, allowing them to sit over night and then giving them a taste test. We also compare how much sediment appears in the cup. So exciting!
We’ve been doing a lot of product testing and wanted to update you on gear we have decided to carry and that is now in stock:
Modern Stainless Steel Knock Box Replacement Bar
At long last, RSVP is now carrying replacement bars for their very popular Modern knock box. If you don’t want to go DIY and replace it with rubber tubing from your local hardware store, you can pick up a brand spankin’ new replacement to have on hand.
Krups KM7000 Pro Grinder-Brewer
We tested three coffee makers from Krups and this was one of our favorites! Featuring grind and brew functionality, programming options and the ability to tweak your dosage to improve your overall cup, this very popular coffee maker fit in nicely with our other grind-n-brew crew.
Krups XP5280 Precise Tamp Programmable Espresso Machine
Another Krups model that we dug was this automatic espresso machine that had several surprising features. Gail was not expecting much and this little champ outperformed her expectations. We love its unique tamping mechanism, temperature regulation and diminutive size. As usual, some plastic is involved — but it does feature more metal than is often seen in this class — and the optional cappuccinatore system isn’t anything to write home about.
After we tested this small semi-automatic espresso machine, we decided it was a keeper. Sure, it has a lot of plastic involved. Yes, it’s not a high class machine. But it is easy to use, fairly consistent and has a compact footprint. It’s not every day we get to say that.
We tested a wide variety of scales and elected to carry two: The Salter Electronic Scale and the ADE Pocket Scale. Both of them performed well, consistently read out the same weights regardless of item positioning and are a good fit for weighing portafilters (Salter) or weighing very precise, small amounts (ADE).
2 New La Cafetiere Coffee Press Designs
While we didn’t test these specifically because they use the same great press pot design as the others made by La Cafetiere, we did add two new models to the line-up that are both elegant and funky. The Lexi Bone China 8 cup is ridiculously sleek and modern looking, and we love its high-quality porcelain design. Contrast that against the curvy and classy Unique, a double-walled stainless steel model that we couldn’t say no to when we met with it at the SCAA. While the Lexi is a one-size-fits-all, the Unique ranges from 12 oz – 35 oz options.
La Cafetiere Jack Cups
If you’re a fan of double-walled glass cups, these latte, cappuccino and espresso versions by La Cafetiere are stylish and functional. They’ll keep the cool cool and the hot hot, just how you like it.
This is a pretty standard electric kettle, but it does allow you to select a specific water temp to which your water will boil. Great for specifying mildly different temps for varying teas or even dialing in a more accurate temp for pour over coffee.
Arguably our very favorite electric kettle around, this semi-sophisticated water boiler will not only bring your water up to your desired temp, but it will hold it there. We love this for brewing multiple cups of tea or pour overs without the wait time or guesswork sometimes related to other, more lo-fi kettles.
Capresso CM200 10-Cup Coffee Maker
Ain’t nothing fancy about this simple, straightforward coffee maker, but sometimes we don’t want any more pizazz in our life. Sometimes, our talented jazz hands are more than enough. Sometimes, it’s all we can do to keep ourselves from heading on a one-way trip to Fancytown. And it’s those times when we look to this coffee maker that will get the job done with limited muss and fuss.
In response to a few customer requests, we performed the following tests related to french press / press pot coffee. First: Which of the insulated stainless steel press pots retain their heat the longest? Second: How does the coffee taste at different steeping intervals?
#1: Insulated Stainless Steel Temperature Testing
We took the 8 cup versions (roughly 35 oz.) of the Bodum, La Cafetiere and Frieling double-walled stainless steel presses and filled them with hot water. We then measured their start temp and checked in on them at regular intervals — 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours and 24 hours. Watch the excitement unfold:
Since you don’t actually want to keep your coffee in your press pot for hours on end (the ideal way to prepare and serve coffee this way is to pour it out right after the desired steep time has completed, either into serving cups or an insulated pitcher), arguably the most important interval in the test was the first one, right after 30 minutes. In that round, the winner was the La Cafetiere, which lost only 19.1F degrees, as opposed to the Frieling’s 21.4F and the Bodum’s 21.6F. But still, these were all pretty close so selecting any of the three models will still be a good choice.
#2: French Press Steep Test
Next, we wanted to find out how press pot coffee tasted when steeped at different durations — 4 minutes, 6 minutes or 8 minutes. We loaded up three 8 cup Bodum presses and then tasted them. Possibly a bit more scintillating than the video above — and this time with 100% more Allison!
The inner workings of competitive businesses — especially those that have had closely intertwined histories, management and ownership like Bodum and La Cafetiere — often result in limiting consumer access to specific products. This isn’t because the products themselves aren’t great, functional, reliable or well-built; it’s often because of exclusivity agreements or international patent laws that prohibit selling an item in a particular country. Last year, the dust finally settled on the long-term, semi-acrimonious international tete-a-tete between Bodum USA and La Cafetiere’s parent company, and the latter is finally able to sell their wares in the U.S.
There’s a reason that the word ‘cafetiere’ is synonymous in Europe with what we Americans call a French press — it was the original inspiration for all presses to come, developed by a French clarinet factory. The presses that La Cafetiere produces are both classic and gorgeous — from the simple glass-and-stainless-steel-frame model to the sleek stainless steel thermal version — and are available in a variety of sizes, from 3 to 12 cups. We are also offering their Tea Swizzle (which we now refer to simply as the ‘Twizzle’, of course!) and will be adding more products in the future.