Brew Method: The Sowden SoftBrew


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!

Shop for Sowden Softbrew

posted by on 12.13.2010, under Brew Methods, Brewtorial, Design, Misc., Products, Videos

SoftBrew, a new way to brew


There has been a steady rise in the variety of new (old) brew methods being used in the last few years. While the hardcore have always played with multiple methods, the average coffee fan generally doesn’t wander far from the French press, percolator, or Mr. Coffee™. Recently, a sexier and less violent, Italian cousin to the french press was introduced to the world.

Meet the SoftBrew, designed by George Sowden, who has a distinguished career as an industrial designer for Olivetti, Alessi, and Pyrex. He knows his coffee and believes that making a good cup of it seems to have become complicated and violent. Now designing for himself for the first time, Sowden has created a line of housewares, this beautiful porcelain coffee maker being the first product.

The way the SoftBrew works is straightforward, but it’s Sowden’s application of a new technology that’s makes the method unique. Inside the porcelain pot, a stainless steel cylinder with half a million photo-etched holes contain the coffee grounds, while the hot water softly extracts the flavors of the bean. Let steep for 4-8 minutes and enjoy.

The only retailer in the US right now is Oren’s Daily Roast in NY and he seems to be sold out already. When the time comes, I’d love to try one out. And if it doesn’t brew the greatest cup I’ve ever had, at least it will look great on my kitchen counter.

Check out the interview with George Sowden in the New York Times

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posted by on 10.08.2010, under Design, Products