Hario Sommelier Gives New Shape to the Syphon

06.26

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Shop for a Sommelier Syphon

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Here’s a video of the Sommelier in action from Hario:

 

posted by on 06.26.2013, under Brew Methods, Design, Products

The Portland Press: A French Press in a Jar

05.23

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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

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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.

Bucket is currently taking pre-orders at Crowd Supply.

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posted by on 05.23.2013, under Brew Methods, Design, Products

The Espro Press: The Rebirth of the French Press

03.04

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Learn more at Espro or pre-order the Espro Press Medium on Kickstarter

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posted by on 03.04.2013, under Brew Methods, Misc., Products

Gizmo Piamo: A Microwavable Moka Pot

02.08

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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.

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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.

The Piamo is currently being “next started” on Germany’s “Kickstarter” ($55)

 

[via FastCo Design]

posted by on 02.08.2013, under Design, Misc., Products

Clive Coffee’s The Craft of Espresso

01.08

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.

Pick one up for $12 at Clive Coffee.

posted by on 01.08.2013, under Coffee 101, Design, Products

The Hario V60 Coffee Machine

01.06

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.

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UPDATE

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.

posted by on 01.06.2013, under Products

DCILY’s Coffee Lover Gift Guide 2012

11.25

Dear Coffee, I Love You is approaching its three year anniversary [crazy!] of discovering and writing about the greatest things in the world of specialty coffee. With all the hours spent discovering, learning about and sharing new things, I’ve developed a growing wish list along with suggestions for upgrading and improving your own coffee experience. As a follow-up to the last two years 2010 & 2011 DCILY gift guides, I’m happy to share a new list of holiday gift suggestions for the coffee lovers in your life.

1. Hario V60 Drip Scale -$65- A gift for the trendsetting barista. I recently reviewed the new drip scale from Hario, which includes a timer built in to the display. It comes at a premium price, but was designed to work with an optional, drip tray and pour over stand (not included). It accurately measures up to 2000g and looks much better than the competition—sure to impress. Shop for Hario Drip Scale

2. Craft Coffee -$30 to $240- A gift for coffee curious connoisseurs. Craft Coffee began just over a year ago selling monthly subscriptions that include three 4oz bags of coffee from various specialty coffee roasters around the US (first-look review). It’s a great way to try coffee from several roasters and to learn about new ones before buying more than you can drink. Shop for Craft Coffee

3. Able Kone Filter v.3 -$60- A gift for paper-conscious Chemex lovers. The Kone was listed on the very first Gift Guide, but since then, some changes have been made for the better. Version 3 of the popular Kone filter is safer, more rigid and brews a much cleaner cup. Read a full review including comparisons with past versions. Shop for Kone

4. Porlex Mini Mill -$75- A gift for the traveling barista. The Porlex Mini is a hand crank, ceramic burr grinder thats better then pretty much every electric burr grinder for the same price. It’s well made and fits perfectly inside an AeroPress for compact packing. It’s the ultimate grinder for any nomad’s traveling coffee kit. Shop Porlex Mini

5. Organic Cotton V60 Filter -$10- A gift for the v60 loyalist. The Hario V60 is a well-trusted brew method that’s been put to the test by countless cups of coffee over the years. For someone looking to experiment more with cup quality but has no interest in giving up their beloved cone, these organic cotton filters from American Coffee Trader add a whole new dimension and clarity to the cup. Shop Cotton Filters

6. DCILY KeepCup -$15 to $17- A gift for coffee drinkers on-the-go. The KeepCup is a reusable replacement for disposable paper cups–it’s not a thermos. They are perfect for brewing directly into while traveling, especially with an AeroPress. I’ve happily used mine in trains, planes, automobiles and boats. Shop for KeepCup

7. NotNeutral Lino Cups -$15 to $40- A gift for design-minded homebodies. There’s nothing better than a proper ceramic cup to enjoy your coffee from. I’ve yet to find another cup that I enjoy holding and drinking from as much as the Lino. Co-designed with Intelligenstia Coffee, these uniquely shaped cups properly elevate the at-home coffee experience. Shop for NotNeutral Cups

8. Bonavita Variable Kettle -$90- A gift for the technical perfectionist. As the search for the perfect cup of coffee expands, so does the myriad of technical details you can control in an attempt to improve your coffee. This flagship kettle from Bonavita combines the pouring control of many other gooseneck kettles with electric boiling and variable temperature control within 1 to 2°. Shop for a Bonavita Kettle

9. The Coffee Story -$10- A gift for the caffeinated bookworm. Peter Salmon’s debut novel will not teach you anything about coffee, but as the lead character Teddy, heir to his family’s coffee company lies dying in a hospital bed, you’ll learn all about his father, his wives and his treasonous ways. From Teddy’s travels in Ethiopia, England and New York, this book is heavily styled, vulgar, and hilarious. Shop for The Coffee Story

10. Trip to Melbourne & WBC2013 -$2500- A gift that won’t be forgotten. At the top of my list and anyone else’s’ who is just as abnormally excited about the coffee industry, a trip to the 2013 World Barista Championship in Melbourne is the ultimate gift. The chance to experience the countries massive café culture and witness the world’s best baristas compete live is a stocking stuffer to remember. WBC 2013 in Melbourne

*Buying from local shops is highly encouraged, but for those without the luxury of well-stocked businesses nearby, shopping through DCILY’s curated Amazon Store and sponsors help support this site and the content you enjoy.*

For more gift inspiration, browse past gift guides:
2010 Coffee Lover Gift Guide
| 2011 Coffee Lover Gift Guide

posted by on 11.25.2012, under Gift Guides, Products

Your #KeepCupStyle Could Win You A New Bike

11.20

The team behind KeepCup, the environmentally friendly and reusable take-away cup, are offering two talented Instagrammers a chance to win a more environmentally friendly way to get to their favorite café.

To enter, just share your best photos of you and your favorite KeepCup on Instagram and tag with #keepcupstyle before November 30th. A panel of judges will select two of the best photos, whose lucky photographers will win a customized ride from Mojo Bikes.

Don’t have a KeepCup (read my thoughts on them here)? Lucky for you the latest shipment of DCILY KeepCups have just arrived in 8oz & 12oz sizes. So get yourself a KeepCup, fill it with your favorite coffee and start snapping photos of it around town. Next time you’re out and about, it could be on a fancy new set of wheels.

Visit KeepCup Style for more details and to browse your competition.

posted by on 11.20.2012, under Misc., Products

Prima Tamp: Adjustable Angle Tamper

11.19

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).

More info at Prima Coffee

posted by on 11.19.2012, under Design, Products

The Hario Drip Scale

11.18

At every coffee event I attended this year, the Hario booth always had some of the most lust-worthy products on display. The highlight of their product line was always the newly released V60 Drip Scale. In a departure from Hario’s specialization in glass, this scale represents the companies continued focus on the growing coffee market. The scale includes the simple but brilliant addition of a built-in timer, which may not be new, but it’s the first time I’ve seen one specifically made for coffee brewing.

The scale is beautifully designed and upon its release became one of the nicest looking available on the market. It has a small footprint (140mmX190mm), but is still large enough for a Chemex. Its clean lines, touch sensitive buttons and unique shape are finished in a lovely matte black that looks great, but emphasizes finger prints.

The scale has a 2kg (2000g) maximum capacity with 0.1g increments up to 200g and 0.5g increments up to 500g. After you reach 500g, the scale only measures in 1g increments. Powered by two AAA-batteries, the scale automatically turns off after 5 minutes of inactivity, so a mid-pour shut-down should never be an issue. The display is clear the scale measures accurately, but it’s not as fast as I’d expect for the price ($70).

What makes this scale different than others available, is that it was specifically designed with coffee brewing in mind and includes a timer right beside the weight display. This may seem like a trivial addition, but once you’ve used it, you’ll wish every scale had this feature. Best of all, you no longer need to lay your smartphone below a stream of water (freeing it up to take photos for Instagram).

Hario also designed a clear acrylic pourover stand and drip tray that pairs perfectly with the scale. While it’s obviously designed with the V60 in mind, any pourover cone from Kalita to Melitta would work just as well.

The scale and stand are sold separately from each other, and the stand isn’t necessary to enjoy the scale. The clear acrylic is easily scratched with cleaning and also costs nearly as much as the already pricey scale ($65). However, if money isn’t an issue and you feel the need to brew with a stand, go all in like Petraeus.

I’ve always been a fan of Hario’s design and the quality of their products. The new scale and drip stand are no exception, however I do believe they’re priced too high when compared to other quality scales on the market (i.e. Jennings CJ4000). That said, once design is factored into the equation the new Hario scale has little competition and will look better on your counter than most options available.

Shop for the Hario Drip Scale and the Hario Acrylic Stand

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posted by on 11.18.2012, under Design, Products