The syphon (or vacuum coffee maker) is one of those brew methods that truly embodies coffee geekdom. Everything about it feels more like a science experiment than a morning coffee routine and it always creates quite a performance at the coffee shops who use them. The invention of the syphon coffee maker dates back to the early 1800′s, which makes it one of the oldest ways to brew coffee. While it’s taken many forms over the years, the modern syphon design hasn’t changed much—until now.
Hario, one of the more prominent manufactures of syphon brewers, has just released an elegant and curvaceous new model called the Hario Sommelier. I saw what looked like a prototype of this in Portland last year which piqued my curiosity, so Hario sent me one of the new production models to try out. If you happen to be in Nice this week for the World of Coffee event, they will most likely have them at their booth.
The new SCA-5 has left behind the glass globe from former syphon models and embraced a look that’s more familiar to wine aficionados. The new syphon bowls are handmade in order to achieve its extreme shape, but also contributes to its heftier price ($260). As the name implies, this syphon is meant to enhance the aromatic experience of the coffee, while also catching the attention of fine dining establishments.
One of the primary differences with this syphon, aside from the shape, is its separation from the stand. This allows the coffee decanter to sit on its own, which changes the experience of pouring and presentation. The neck is also covered by a thick, finned silicone collar that can be easily removed for washing.
Functionally, the Sommelier syphon works just like other vac pots, but Hario seems to have designed it to work primarily with their new metal filter. The filter is laser cut and works quite well, leaving behind sediment that’s comparable to the latest Kone filter.
The stainless steel and silicone filter is easy to clean and looks like it will survive a significant amount of re-use, however, the clarity of cloth filters is what I love most about the syphon. The Sommelier comes with both a cloth and metal filter, so you can decide yourself what works best for the occasion.
There are two things I had issues with while using the new design that I’d like to point out. First, the extreme bell curve at the bottom of the decanter is meant to trap sediment when pouring coffee, which is great when you’re using the metal filter, but frustrating when you’re using cloth and want all the coffee to pour out easily.
The decanter needs to be tipped at a fairly extreme angle to get everything into your cup. The lip on the decanter itself is also fairly wide, so the control of the pour isn’t as precise as the woodneck or V60 decanters, but I assume this is a result of it being handmade.
Hario may have gained inspiration for the Sommelier (name and shape) from fine wine, but now they’re using their expertise to help elevate the coffee experience in fine restaurants as well. Whether Noma ever intends to switch from brewing delicious coffee on V60s or you just really want to impress your dinner guests, the Sommelier syphon definitely makes a gorgeous conversation starter about coffee.
The Portland Press is a beautiful and responsible new approach to manufacturing a coffee brewing staple—the French press. This is the first product from Bucket, a two person startup in Portland, Oregon who wants to manufacture products as responsibly as possible while creating relationships between customers and the craftsmen who make their products. The coffee market seems like a good place to start.
Bryan Kappa and Rob Story wanted to develop a French press that was manufactured locally using materials from the US and wasn’t as fragile as the typical French press glass that most of us have probably shattered ourselves more than once.
The Portland Press is a french press for a Mason jar, made in the state of Oregon, out of materials sourced in the USA. It’s a simple, clean, practical design made out of fundamental materials: glass, wool, steel, wood. Most importantly, the Mason jar is easy to replace if it breaks, and the rest of the Portland Press is backed with a lifetime warranty. -Bucket
While I continue to support the French press as a simple way of introducing people to the joys of brewing fresh coffee at home, I do wish Bucket could have partnered with Espro to develop a next generation version of this lovely product.
Responsibly made also doesn’t come cheap, and $100 for a 24oz French press positions this on the high end of the price spectrum. Maybe the lifetime warranty will help offset the sticker shock or maybe the beauty of the Oregon maple lid and the wool sleeve are enough to persuade you to part with your money a bit easier.
This week at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, thousands of people will gather to watch the World Barista and Brewers Championships and wander through endless aisles of the latest coffee equipment. There will be meetings with coffee exporters from around the world and new product demos, all accompanied by a limitless number of drinks served from a myriad of complimentary coffee bars.
Usually all this free expo coffee leads to lots of wasted paper cups, but the homegrown Australian company KeepCup is going to try and limit that waste. Coinciding with the launch of a new global campaign called “Salute the Reuser,” KeepCup will manage three wash stations at this weekend’s coffee expo where they’ll wash reusable cups (of any kind). Beyond just keeping your mug clean, they will be donating 10 cents for each cup washed to Coffee Kids, a non-profit that supports families in coffee growing regions.
As the official Sustainability Sponsor of this year’s expo, KeepCup is tackling an issue that often gets discussed, but rarely addressed at these types of events, “how to reduce disposable waste.” I’ve used my KeepCup on planes, trains, boats and mountains—wherever I don’t have easy access to ceramic or glass, my KeepCup is there. I’ve been an advocate of the KeepCup for some time (and even sell DCILY versions), not just for the practicality of the product, but for the authenticity of the brand and the contributions the company has made to the coffee community. This is a a great initiative and we should not only salute the reuser, but also KeepCup for their continued efforts.
KeepCup has also worked with some of the world’s best letter artists, Jessica Hische and Timba Smits, to create several versions of their mantra for the campaign—they’d look great on a reusable tote. Salute the reuser and damn thy disposable.
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.
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.
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.
Hopefully you’re reading this and a great wave hasn’t destroyed our coastal cities and the world hasn’t come to an end. But if it does, I hope you had a great cup of coffee this morning, the Mayans never even had the chance to taste it.
However, one civilization that does have a taste for coffee are Lithuanians, who I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting several this past weekend. Coffee Inn, Lithuania’s largest specialty coffee chain, has over 20 locations throughout the country and plans for many more. While I’ve yet to visit one, they roast their own single origin coffees and brew them with Hario V60s alongside a full espresso menu.
Last month, the company released this great ad, inspired by Hokusai’s famous woodblock print “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa,” for a campaign introducing the flat white to Lithuania. A quite poetic way of illustrating the message of “less milk, more coffee” to woo latte drinkers away from so much dairy.
My good friends at Koppi Coffee in Helsingborg, Sweden have teamed up with local tattoo hero Jonas Pedersen at Crooked Moon to bring us this fantastic t-shirt. Jonas has several unique styles, but his Cherokee inspired mandalas and native indian art have always been personal favorites (she’s crying because she ran out of coffee).
Koppi is taking pre-orders to cut down on excess inventory and to try and deliver before the holidays. If I were to add one more item to the DCILY Coffee Lover Gift Guide, it would be this t-shirt and a few bags of Koppi coffee. These shirts are un-branded, 100% cotton, and delightfully soft. Sizes run small (think American Apparel fitted).
Price includes shipping from Sweden: 220sek ($33 or 21£ or 25 €)
Orders must be in by 5 December
If you’d like to order one, send an email with subject “T-shirt” to firstname.lastname@example.org
Prima Coffee (a DCILY sponsor) has just unveiled an innovative take on a standard tool of the barista trade—the tamper. With an attempt to aid better tamping technique and reduce strain due to of awkward positioning, this adjustable angle tamper allows those who have been searching for a better way to try something new.
The Prima Tamp is our answer to the challenges of everyday espresso prep: fatigue and form. Proper tamping technique allows the barista to compress coffee evenly and comfortably over and over again, but this is tough to achieve with an ordinary tamper. A handle that sits perpendicular to the base either forces one’s wrist and arm off center or requires a specific posture that’s just unnatural. With a tilted handle, a barista can easily take a position that encourages improved technique. -Prima Coffee
I haven’t worked regularly on a bar in years and have never considered any other way of tamping, but I can understand the potential benefits of this and would be interested to hear feedback from anyone who’s given it a try. This beaut is made in the USA using Indiana black walnut and Kentucky stainless steel ($140).