Two months ago, I wrote about a new way to brew with the Sowden SoftBrew. I immediately fell in love with the object itself and looked forward to comparing it with my trusty press pot. An early article by the New York Times helped the SoftBrew sell out quickly through its only US distributor at the time, and it was initially back ordered until mid-January. I was fortunate enough to get ahold of one a few weeks ago and since then, Sowden has caught up with demand in time for the holidays.
Initially I was disappointed and skeptical of Mr. Sowden. After brewing a number of really weak pots, I increased the brew time to 6, 7, and 8 minutes as suggested by the manufacturer, but that just seemed way too long for a pot of coffee to brew. So, I started playing with the grind to discover the micro-filter’s sediment threshold—slightly finer than drip—and after a few days I dialed in my method. I settled on a 4-minute brew time with a grind that’s in-between a drip and a French press.
The SoftBrew has replaced the press pot as my preferred morning brew method for a few reasons. First, I just love using it. The porcelain is solid, feels nice in my hands and it won’t shatter with a slight tap on the edge of the sink. I can pull the grounds out of the pot right after brewing to prevent over-extraction and the micro-filter creates a cleaner cup, while still producing a full flavor. The porcelain also maintains heat better than a glass carafe and it’s much easier to clean.
Last week, I included the SoftBrew in the DCILY Gift Guide, but realized not everyone is familiar with it, so I made a video to show it in action. Enjoy!
If you haven’t heard of an Aeropress, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to brew your coffee. This relatively new invention has been rapidly rising to prominence in the coffee world recently, it even has its own World Championship. While, its initial popularity was among home brewing coffee geeks, many cafes serving specialty coffee now have one behind their counter as well.
The Aeropress was invented just 5 years ago by Alan Adler, who also invented the Aerobie flying disc. To be honest, when I first heard about the Aeropress, I dismissed it as a gimmick destined for SkyMall and late night infomercials, precisely for that reason. Afterall, what could a guy who makes frisbees and yo-yos, know about brewing coffee?
Apparently quite a bit. The Aeropress has made some of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had—and in some of the better cafe’s I’ve visited, it’s used exclusively to brew drip coffee. Adler’s intent for inventing the Aeropress was based on his personal desire for a cup of coffee that was as full in flavor as a French press, but created a cup that was cleaner, smoother and less acidic.
Adler’s solution was to affix a thin paper filter, which allows for a fine grind, to a plastic tube a svelte 2¼ inches in diameter. (The smaller surface area is easier to plunge.) In many drip methods, the size of the grind dictates how long the coffee brews. But with the AeroPress, you choose the grind, and you decide when to plunge. –New York Times
While the Aeropress is extremely simple to use, it is also open to a wide range of experimentation. One great aspect of the Aeropress is the ability to play with various grinds, brew times, and water temperatures to achieve new results. However this can unententionally lead to endless hours of trying to dial in the “perfect” cup. The clean up is also remarkably simple, it packs well for travel or camping and it only costs about $30. Just add coffee grounds, hot water and plunge.
While I was in New York in May, I drank a lot of great coffee and hung out with a lot of great friends, including the brothers behind eco-fashion company Holstee. Their shirts and accessories, made from recycled materials, are awesome—but they also voluntarily curate their store with other responsible products they love and support.
One of those products is the Presso—a manual espresso machine, that’s fun and easy to use. Just add hot water, fresh ground beans, and a little tricep power, and you get a surprisingly good shot for much less than most home espresso machines ($150).
So we got together, drank a lot of espresso (I think I had 8 shots myself) and made a video showing how the Presso works. Enjoy!
Over the last couple months, I’ve been to a number of cafes that use the Abid as their weapon of choice for pour over coffee. It’s a nice hybrid of full immersion brewing, like a french press, with the filtered cleanliness and single cup simplicity of a V60 or Melitta.
I had been considering getting one myself to experiment with when I found this lovely video on BrewMethods. I then found my way to a great write-up about the Abid, by David on The Other Black Stuff. Enjoy!