The French Press Myth
A week or two ago, Kyle Glanville of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea shared a thought on Twitter: many high-end coffee shops that pride themselves on the quality of their espresso serve downright mediocre filtered coffee. This is not a sentiment I can agree with based on my own personal experience, as I've not been able to frequent many such shops in person, but I do agree with it in principle.
I was asked to help a friend of a friend answer a question on Twitter today: "Does anyone know the science of why coffee made in a French Press is so much better?" It didn't hit me until after I responded that I had been contemplating the inherent problem with this question for a long while, and that Kyle Glanville's observations hinted at the answer. Most folks in America don't understand the flavor potential that coffee has; much of it is brewed very weakly, and of the coffee that is not brewed weakly, very little of it is actually good coffee. Very little. I'll be brutally honest here: those large drip machines you see in coffee shops that brew a couple liters of coffee directly into those air pots are not the way to go when you want a good cup of coffee. Yes, they're convenient, but no, they're not likely to be doing the coffee justice...and that's if the coffee is good to begin with, which is also unlikely.
So, back to the topic at hand. All of this creates an environment in which any brew method that offers a stronger -- and therefore, what will likely be perceived as a more flavorful and superior -- cup of coffee is seen as The Best Way to Brew Coffee. Unfortunately, this just isn't true. Ridiculously delicious coffee can be made through paper filters, cloth filters, even glass filters, and that's before a french press is brought into the equation. Pour-over brewing, which is done by pouring hot water through a filter holding ground coffee, can yield a surprisingly flavorful cup, and one that doesn't have the muddy sediment that plagues a french press. The syphon, or vacuum pot, has been around for about 180 years, but it takes a fair amount of skill and patience to master it.
The french press enjoys a fair bit of popularity these days, but it's far from the only way to enjoy a flavorful cup of coffee that hasn't been made in an automatic machine. Please don't hear this as me saying I don't like french-pressed coffee; far from it! I'm sipping on coffee from a press as I type, and believe me, it's delicious.
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As the interest in specialty coffee continues to increase, so does the interest in brewing methods that best compliment the quality and ideals of specialty coffee. Up until this point there have been limited options when it comes to pour over brewing devices that offer both a small learning curve as well as excellent results. Garnering praise for both their calculated design and ease of use, the Kalita line of pour over brewers are helping that small list of brewers grow. The Kalita Wave Dripper is being offered in both small (1-2 people) and large (1-4 people). The small size is offered in both glass and stainless steel while the large size is offered in glass, stainless steel, and ceramic. For an overview of the unique style the Kalita Wave Dripper brings to the pour over method, a feature chart that overviews the design, technique, and advantage can be found below.
$449.00The Baratza Vario looks much like Baratza's other offerings (i.e., the Encore, Virtuoso, and Preciso) in regard to silhouette, footprint, and general design. Those who've used them extensively, however, know that there's far more than mere nomenclature that separates the Vario from its brethren. Practically speaking, it has shown to give a consistently uniform and desirable grind for the full grind spectrum, all the way from espresso to press pot, something no other non-commercial grinder currently out on the market can boast. It is a highly efficient machine, wasting very little in the way of coffee grounds, but it shines in its ability to produce excellent espresso, shot after shot after shot, a feature aided by the three timed dosing presets it allows the user to store and recall at the push of a button.
Hario Skerton grinder is handy for manual home and travel grinding, it can also be slightly more cumbersome for an extended road trip where only a small amount of grinding will be done (for a more detailed comparison of the two grinders, check out this blog post: Hario Skerton vs. Mini Mill). For those trips (or homes) where a minimal amount of grinding is needed, the Hario Mini Mill Slim is the perfect grinding solution. The Mini Mill employs adjustable conical ceramic burrs for grinding any of the wide range of grinds employed in today’s coffee market. It can effortlessly handle 24 grams of anything from fine espresso to a coarse French Press setting. Because of its lightweight (0.5 lbs) and sleek plastic body, the Mini Mill easily fits into small carrying bags and suitcases without adding a lot of extra weight. This, in conjunction with the Aerobie AeroPress coffee maker, has the propensity to make excellent coffee anywhere hot water and fresh beans are available.
The Hario Mini Mill is a traveling coffee enthusiast’s dream come true.... and with its ability to grind to the fine quality needed for espresso, it can be paired with a hand-held travel espresso maker such as the mypressi TWIST (and an excellent choice of beans) to achieve a quality rivaling the product found in many high-end espresso machines. Whether the need is grinding beans for a french press, Aeropress, or mypressi, the Mini Mill Slim is the perfect travel solution.