If you’re a fan of the French press, but not the fine particles that cloud your brew, the Espro Press is about to change your morning cup for the better. The Espro is a press pot that uses a dual micro-filter that’s 9 to 12 times finer than the mesh on a standard press. I first encountered the Espro Press at the Houston Specialty Coffee Event nearly 2 years ago, where I enjoyed a cup of Yirgacheffe from 49th Parallel. I was quite surprised by its cleanliness and depth of flavor, but believed I had “matured” beyond such methods.
It wasn’t until a visit to Coffee Collective in Copenhagen last year that I was encouraged to give it another look. When I saw the Espro being used on bar at Coffee Collective and after thoroughly enjoying a cup of Esmeralda Gesha from it, I realized the press pot had been reborn—renewing my enthusiasm for a faithful old brew method.
A year ago, Espro launched a Kickstarter to fund the production of a large 30oz Espro Press—raising over $80,000—to complement its original 8oz version. This week, the Vancouver, Canada-based company is back on the crowd-funding site for help producing a new 18oz size press, which not only offers a more practical size, but will also include a few design refinements over its small and large counterparts.
The French press is one of the most common ways for people to brew their coffee at home. It was the method I first used to brew at home and it’s even the most popular way to brew among Verve Coffee employees. At one point in time, it was a preferred method of brewing coffee in some of the great specialty coffee shops before the pour over craze converted many of us to the pleasure of sweetness and clarity that paper filters provide.
While the full immersion brew method and simplicity of the French press are great, its muddiness and grit can mask and distort some of the more nuanced flavors in coffee, which is why you may have noticed them disappearing from some of your favorite cafés. But their ease of use and the ability to brew large quantities for guests is nearly unrivaled by most home brewing methods. Espro takes advantage of those positive aspects and has done a great job addressing the negatives with their redesigned filter.
The Espro filter system is comprised of two (BPA-free) plastic frames that are wrapped with a micro-mesh and nest comfortably into each other, creating twice the filtering of a standard press. The filter then screws onto a plunging rod like other press pots so it can be unscrewed and cleaned once you’re finished. The pot itself is polished, double-wall stainless steel, which keeps things warmer longer, although I highly suggest decanting the coffee immediately after brewing to prevent over extraction (bitterness).
The filter system is a remarkable improvement over the standard French press and it’s surprising that it took so long for someone to accomplish something that seems a bit obvious. There is however one issue I have with the large size press that Espro sent me for testing—which the company says they addressed in the design of the new medium size Espro—and that’s the retention of coffee below the filter cup. Since the current filter system fits so well into the pot, and there are no holes in the bottom of it, the Espro traps a substantial amount of coffee at the bottom that ultimately goes to waste.
When brewing 750g of water in the Espro, I decanted 554g of coffee. After “rocking” the pot back and forth, the total increased to 568g of coffee. With the Bodum press however, I brewed 750g of water and was able to decant 674g of coffee—giving me another half cup of coffee. You can squeeze a bit more coffee from the Espro by slightly raising the filter or continuing to rock it back and forth, but this also risks increasing the amount of sediment that passes through, which defeats the entire purpose of the product.
Below I’ve run an experiment to illustrate the difference between the sediment in the Espro compared with a standard Bodum French press.
I brewed coffee with each press using the same parameters and technique: 45 grams of coffee to 750 grams of water (coarse grind, 8-A on a Baratza Vario-W), a 2 minute steep followed by a stir, followed by 2 more minutes of steeping and a controlled 30 second press. The coffee was immediately decanted to prevent further extraction. I then poured the decanted coffee through a rinsed V60 paper to capture the sediment and give a visual approximation of the differences.
Overall, the coffee brewed in the Espro had more sweetness, more clarity and more acidity than in the standard French press. The resulting cup was not entirely sediment free, but it was reduced to a small bit of mud from fines rather than a gritty mouthfeel throughout. Depending on variations in your method (i.e. the cupping method of skimming before pressing) it’s possible to further reduce the sediment.
My goal with this test was to replicate a more standard use of the press pot than to examine the most effective sediment reduction methods. I found the amount of sediment from the Espro to be similar to what you can achieve with the Able Kone, but with the approachability that a press pot offers to beginners who are looking for a less intimidating way to start brewing much better coffee at home.
The Madrid-based coffee bar, Toma Café partnered up with Visual Shakers, a local film studio to develop this short and hypnotic look at the Chemex brew method. The process is beautifully filmed, edited and will easily inspire you to brew another cup. Enjoy.
Once you’ve learned how to appreciate and enjoy black coffee, what should you do with all the unnecessary coffee accessories, like wooden stir sticks? You could follow the lead of Jonathan Brilliant and make beautiful art with them.
Jonathan has developed a method of weaving together coffee stirrers (preferably the 7 inch round-tip ones from Starbucks) that use their own tensile strength to create large, organic sculptures with no adhesives or binders.
The installation shown here was created in Sumter, South Carolina in 2007. It took 14 days to weave together the 60,000 stirrers that flow through a rotunda and wrap around a glowing chandelier. They stirrers held together for an incredible 6 months before they began to separate and fall apart—at which time they were donated to local schools.
Moka pot. Microwave. Espresso pods. Three things I would never recommend for improving your coffee experience. However, two German brothers decided to combine all three and team up with San Francisco-based Lunar design to create the Piamo—an inverted, microwavable moka pot. Sigh. At least it’s not disposable.
It’s lovely, it’s iconic, it fits in the palm of your hand. But that’s about the only thing going for it. If you’re into espresso pods and nuking your water, this might just be your thing, otherwise ignore all the design and tech blogs this will be most likely be posted on in the coming weeks (guilty). But whether or not it makes good coffee, it will look just as nice on the shelf next to the other moka pot I own and never use.
In the latest celebrity specialty coffee sighting, singer/songwriter/actor and kleptomaniac Landon Pigg is seen falling in love over Stumptown Coffee in Brooklyn.
The video for his single “Coffee Shop” was filmed in the Greenpoint café, Brooklyn Label, where the star can freeze time long enough to steal apples, scarves, balloons, and even a bicycle (the worst kind of thief) to woo his equally melodramatic love interest.
If you have an affinity for roller derby or Ellen Page (guilty) you may recognize Pigg from the 2009 film “Whip It” where his role as a guitar playing heart throb first began on the big screen. Directed by Lenny Bass who’s no stranger to videos in coffee shops.
Stumptown just released the latest installment of their video series, which in the past has captured the beauty and the process of hard work that takes place at origin, now highlights the passion for coffee from within Stumptown’s own walls.
The film shares an honest and poetic behind-the-scenes look at Stumptown and serves as a tribute to the coffee loving team who live for the work that they do. It’s a well polished glimpse of the industry for the professional coffee crowd or just the coffee curious, with the kind of aspirational sheen you’d expect from a Levi’s commercial.
Created by Trevor Fife, the filmmaker who’s famous for the opening credits of True Blood and the BMW Unscripted series, does the specialty coffee industry far more justice than the Travel Channel has. Brew a fresh cup and enjoy.
Trevor has been a long-time collaborator with Stumptown: traveling to source with Duane starting in 2006, shooting films on farms like Guatemala Finca El Injerto, and traveling across Colombia, Ethiopia and Kenya, blending clean, pristine digital images with gritty and textural Super 8 and 16mm film. His work is not only easy on the eyes but captures the living, breathing spirit behind the coffee farms and the surrounding communities.
So you got that new espresso machine you wanted for Chrismukkah, but have no idea how to use it? Are you pouring out your shots and wishing you just asked for a Nespresso machine? If so, Clive Coffee is here to help you get a grip on your portafilter and understand the basics of pulling better shots.
Portland, Oregon-based Clive Coffee (a proud DCILY sponsor) has published this beautiful printed primer to making espresso at home, called “The Craft of Espresso. The book is artfully written by Hanna Neuschwander (author of Left Coast Roast) lovingly illustrated by Ben Blake (creator of Draw Coffee and current Sprudge intern) and elegantly designed by Jenn Lawrence.
Coffee is either nothing—a brackish fuel, a necessary accomplice—or it is something: an education in taste, a way to be playful, a daily sacrement…this book is a primer for those who want to tap into the somethingness of coffee through its most exalted method: the art of making espresso.
The book’s letter pressed cover and hand-stitched binding gives it that tactile quality you just don’t get from a blog post and it’s ripe for the reading while sitting in your kitchen or lounging in your den. With no pretension and lots of great information, the book covers a brief history of the drink and explains the core principles of grinding, pulling shots, steaming milk and clean-up.
The Craft of Espresso illustrates and defines the different types of grinders and espresso machines available, while gently making suggestions towards certain preferences without making definitive claims or assertions.
There’s step-by-step instructions and a few troubleshooting tips as well to help solve the common problems you’re bound to run into. If you plan to take the time and craft your espresso by hand, it’s nice to have a companion book that you can read with them.
Discovered in the depths of Instagram comes this question generating photo of a prototype for what appears to be a programmable, fully automatic water dispersing device for a Hario V60 setup—the V60 Coffee Maker. We want to know more!
Is this something to look forward to in 2013? Does it have a scale? Does it have a timer? Does the base rotate? Will it meet Scott Rao’s approval? Is it fake? Is it the iPhone 6? Will the “v60″ type be kerned on production models? Will it compete in the Brewers Cup? Will Crossland sue? So many questions and so few answers.
I’ve got an email in to Hario for comment, or a cease and desist. Until then, enjoy letting your imagination run wild. If anyone out there has any more details, please share.
Thanks for all the tips. The mystery has been solved with a bit more digging. It retails for about $165USD and also comes in “wine red.” It doesn’t seem to be available outside of Japan right now, but you can (try to) read more about it here.
Happy New Year everyone! While looking forward to great things in the coming year, here’s a look back at 2012—a great year for drinking coffee. It was my first full year living in Sweden so there was a big shift in the coffees I was able to have on a regular basis at home. Thanks to a few trips back to the US and those generous and willing enough to ship overseas I was still able to get a fair share of coffee from US roasters as well, many of which the bags were given away to other coffee lovers on this side of the world.
A few things I noticed in 2012 that I’m looking forward to becoming even more prominent in 2013 are the continued variety of fantastic coffees from El Salvador and coffees from new areas in Ethiopia, which taste great, but nothing like Yirgacheffe. I can also confirm that every coffee I tasted from Sumatra was still absolutely terrible.
All of the coffee bags above can be browsed in large scale on Flickr (or Pinterest)
For the second year in a row, Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz have wrapped their limited Gesha offerings in lovely cans that reflect just how special these coffees are. While I won’t be reviewing the coffees, which Verve was kind enough to send all the way to Sweden, but I will say that they were two of the finest I’ve tasted in 2012.
Gesha (or Geisha) coffee is a variety of coffee cultivar that is known among coffee connoisseurs as one of the most unique and complex coffees available. Excluding the immoral and over-hyped coffees that are extracted from animal poop, Gesha coffee is the most expensive in the world. In 2010, Gesha from La Hacienda Esmeralda set a new record at auction with a price of $170/lb. for green, unroasted beans.
Last year’s cans were dressed in black, but this year they’ve taken on a lighter tone, adding a new level of elegance to the industry common theme of black-on-craft aesthetic. The labeled cans are letter pressed, foil-stamped and hand numbered, but are beautifully simple and refined, contrasting the complexity of Verve’s standard bags.
The cans remind me of whiskey bottles that often come packed in elegant tubes to better protect the luxurious products inside. When you’re paying $45 to $65 for half a pound of the world’s finest coffee beans, the buyer may expect more than just a different sticker on a standard coffee bag. While others have used glass jars in equally elegant ways, these cans create the same impact without greatly affecting the shipping weight.
Investing in design to better communicate the value of your product is a great way to change the perceptions of those who see coffee as a cheap commodity with no difference in quality, no matter where it comes from. If specialty coffee truly is special, it should begin to look and feel that way more often than it does now.