Coffee Tech: Remaking the Vac Pot

Coffee Tech: Remaking the Vac Pot

Oh… shiny! Don’t let the modern lines fool you… it’s not a new brew technology but a new take on the classic vac pot, from designer Lina Fischer. I have wine bottle-stoppers that look the like brewing end of this thing… wonder if that’s where the inspiration came from? [via...
Starbucks’ Shiny New Shamrock

Starbucks’ Shiny New Shamrock

Listen… Hear that? . . . . . . That’s the sound of thousands of coffee retailers gasping for air, reeling from a sucker-punch. These are folks who’d aspired to get themselves a Clover… the commercial, cup-at-a-time coffee brewer that’s been described as the signal development to usher in the age of brewed coffee, the way to change how we think about brewed coffee, and — most earnestly — as a major point of differentiation between independent coffee shops and the behemoth that is Starbucks. These are folks who’ve just found out that Starbucks has decided to acquire the company that makes the Clover brewer. That’s right… Goliath just bought David’s slingshot. And that odd tap-tappity-tap noise you hear? That’s the sound of every single coffee retailer who has a Clover on order speed-dialing Seattle to see if they’ll still get theirs. But honestly, how could Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz resist? After all, it was Howard who issued the much-leaked clarion call that railed against the commoditization of the “Starbucks experience.” Howard wanted romance; Howard wanted theatre; Howard wanted the smell of ground coffee to once again permeate Starbucks stores. And most recently, Howard showed us all he wanted a consistent experience, by shuttering every single retail Starbucks for a day to retrain its barista staff. The Clover brewer delivers all that — and most importantly — it delivers a really, really great cup of brewed coffee. Provided, that is, that you start with really great coffee beans. So far, the couple hundred Clover brewers in the market today can be found at boutique (call ’em Third...
The Bodum Bistro… Not So Hot.

The Bodum Bistro… Not So Hot.

Some months ago I expressed my deep covet of the very attractive Bodum Bistro manual drip brewer. What, after all, is not to like? It takes a page from the classic Chemex pour-over coffee brewer, offers a nod to the Eva Cafe Solo, and ups the ante by leveraging the twin-walled, heat-resistant borosilicate glass that’s proven extremely successful in Bodum’s revamped glassware line. Turns out, the Bistro’s not so hot. Literally. The Bistro’s dual-walled construction *is* a marked improvement over the Chemex, but its thermal qualities pale when compared to most any stainless thermos. And that other advance — the Bistro’s gold-plated permanent filter — while more eco-friendly than the Chemex’s fussy, folded, paper filters — don’t hold a candle to, say, SwissGold permanent filters. In the end, the Bodum Bistro is more style than substance. It *is* pretty. And it’s well made. (Which is not to say that it isn’t extremely fragile!) I appreciate that Bodum dares to take risks, and to keep pushing the envelope of brew tech. Not every product will enjoy the success of say, the electric Santos, but surely some will. This Bistro, however, just doesn’t add up. Meanwhile, if you’d like to try one of these for yourself — they do look elegant on the table after all — Amazon has them at fire sale prices, probably until they’re all...
Keurig vs. Tassimo: A Single-Cup Showdown Update

Keurig vs. Tassimo: A Single-Cup Showdown Update

Autumn has blown into our neck of the woods with a mighty draft of whirling leaves, the aroma of wood smoke wafting from neighbors’ hearths, and — hey, this is new — a raft of folks banging on an increasingly-dated review of single-serve coffee machines here on Bloggle. I guess there’s nothing quite like a cold spell to put folks in touch with their inner caffeine junkie… or maybe folks are already looking ahead to their holiday gift lists. Whatever the reason, an update to the single-serve marketplace is long overdue. So, let’s get to it… The Tassimo Lineup Designed and distributed by Braun1 , manufactured by Saeco, and with its coffee supply produced exclusively by Kraft and its army of licensed brands, when the Tassimo launched two years ago it painted itself as the smartest single serve coffee brewer yet. Certainly the Tassimo’s got brains. Like the Keurig brewers, this brewer relies on a micro-processor to manage brew volume and temperature. More, the Tassimo automatically adjusts brew volume, temperature — and even some aspects of how its pump drives the brew cycle — to match the parameters of beverage you wish to brew. How? Well… it reads, of course. But we’ll get back to that. Offered in two models –the TA 1400, and the TA 1200 (which I can’t seem to find to link to) — the Tassimo fits the same kitchen counter real estate as the Keurig (and the Senseo, and the Bunn Home Café — let’s face it, these machines are all of them fairly compact). In overall looks the Tassimo is singularly rounded and squat....
Rocketing to the Top of My Wish List

Rocketing to the Top of My Wish List

Following in the footsteps of its eSantos brewer line, Bodum has, I suspect, a new instant classic on their hands. Their new manual drip Bistro model takes a page from the classic Chemex pour-over coffee brewer, and offers a nod to the Eva Cafe Solo. And then Bodum ups the ante by leveraging the twin-walled, heat-resistant borosilicate glass that’s proven extremely successful in their revamped glassware line. There’s two notable improvements over the Chemex here. The first — and long the Achilles’ heel of the Chemex — heat retention. The Bistro’s dual-walled construction solves that issue, and looks spectacular, too. Second, the Bistro forgoes the Chemex’s fussy, folded, paper filters — which were always a challenge to align just right — and uses a gold-plated stainless permanent filter, instead… and in so doing makes this an appropriately green design. Other design bits: a silicone and rubber grab handle at the neck of the brewer, likewise a lid to further retain heat when the glass filter assembly is set aside. I appreciate the fact that the whole kit can be chucked in the dishwasher. And did I mention the, “Hey, my coffee is hovering above the table!” effect? Tres cool. It remains to be seen whether the Bodum gold filter functions as well as, say, those made by SwissGold, but I’m hoping for the...
Best of 2005: Coffee Brewers

Best of 2005: Coffee Brewers

So maybe that whole Cyber Monday thing was just a gimmick to get you online, but the bald facts remain: the holidays are upon us, the shopping season is short this year, and you’ve got coffee hounds on your list that have high hopes (and high expectations) for what they’ll find under the Christmas tree this year. (I’ll save the Holiday tree / Saturnalia / Feast of Lights / Winter Solstice debates for other folk… at Bloggle it’s Christmas. So there.) Every year I get lots of emails (for a given value of lots) packed with questions from harried shoppers — Which brewer should I buy? Which coffee? Got any ideas for stocking stuffers? — and every year I answer as honestly and completely as I can, ’cause you never know, they might be buying something for me. (Hasn’t happened yet.) And thus, the Best of Coffee 2005 is born. This is a compendium of coffee products I’ve tried this year, and liked. Everything on this list has seen a fair amount of hands-on scrutiny, some have seen lengthy reviews, and all have my personal thumbs-up. The List Best Auto-drip Coffee Brewer Long-time readers of these pages know that I’ve been a fan of the Bunn line of home auto-drip coffee brewers since way back. So it will likely turn their heads that my choice isn’t a Bunn, but the Zojirushi Fresh Brew. Sure… the Bunn’s always-on system and reservoir is still about as easy and convenient to use as ever (and one remains on the kitchen counter even now… herself uses it for the first pot of the...
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