Thursday, February 25, 2010

baristas sound off on the Coffee Catcher

With a healthy schedule of cuppings lately, we've been getting more and more feedback on the Coffee Catcher from Baristas.  Greg from Victrola Coffee says,
"This is the most surprising thing I've ever tasted in coffee."
While Jason, a taster at PT's Coffee, who was visiting from Chicago, reviewed the Coffee Catcher French Press brew saying,
"This is a much cleaner tasting cup!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rosettas for Relief

Coffee Chroniclers, Nate and Charity Jones, attended the recent Seattle edition of Rosettas for Relief, which uses latte art as the catalyst to fund raise for Haiti.  According to "Why Not? Coffee":
10 cities nationwide will take part in the Rosettas for Relief all across the country including: Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and even Vancouver, B.C!  Baristas from cafes of all shapes and sized will be getting together to raise money to aid the Haitian quake victims. The event is a latte art competition, with out the ego.  (read more...)
The Seattle edition took place at Visions Espresso on 1st Ave S. and wound up raising nearly $2000 for Haiti relief efforts!  Here are some brief thoughts in retrospect from Nate:
The place was packed, and very high energy, considering how quick the beer was disappearing :) 

About 20 competitors raised at least $100 buy-ins to participate in the latte art competition. Coffee Catcher supported Tom Pikaart of Visions Espresso and Porchlight Coffee, who was also sponsored by Slayer and won a prize for his savvy fund-raising abilities. The latte art was beautiful, but I really enjoyed the lively, laid-back conversation.
"Thank You" to all the participants, attendees, and to Visions Espresso for hosting the event.  The Coffee Chroniclers were proud to be part of such a demonstration of community compassion and coffee-skill.

Monday, February 22, 2010

heard it on the Tweetvine

Our new favorite French Press mentions in Twitterdom:
"all this coffee talk is making me rethink my position on ownership. *hmmmm* my hubz wants a frenchpress. All I think is clean up X"
Coffee Chroniclers say: Ha!  Cleanup's not a problem anymore, let him get his French Press (+ Coffee Catcher), you'll love the flavor!

"Give me ONE GOOD REASON I shouldn't turn this into a 2-French-press morning, huh?"
 Coffee Chroniclers say:  We don't see any good reason why it shouldn't be...

"Coffee addiction taking hold.  Bought a Frenchpress Sat. I am excited to go to bed tonight so I can wake up to it."

 Coffee Chroniclers say: Welcome to the wonderfully delicious & rewarding "dark side". Enjoy your press!

"In Ecuador regular coffee is called 'pasado.'  La Sierra only drinks cinnamon tea. We packed a French Press along with the first aid kit"
 Coffee Chroniclers say: A wise traveler is a well-caffeinated traveler.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

upcoming cuppings..

Recently we've been posting the user reviews from our Cupping, Product Demonstrations, and Taste Comparisons, and thought perhaps it's time to get an event calendar up on our website so readers can taste the difference for themselves.

We have a couple of events coming up in the next two weeks that we'd love for our readers to make it:
  • 02.18.10 - Cupping and Taste Comparison
    at Visions Espresso

    2737 1st Ave South, Seattle WA
    2:00 - 4:00pm
    Hosted by Sarah Dooley and Nate Jones, we're going to show you the Coffee Catcher in action and get your impressions of the difference the Coffee Catcher makes to the flavor experience of French Press coffee.  Sarah is working with us to test the improvements we've tasted and to explore the reasons behind why the Coffee Catcher makes such a difference.

  • 02.27.10 - Cupping with the Seattle Coffee Club
    at the Urban Coffee Lounge

    9744 Northeast 119th Way, Kirkland WA
    2:00 - 4:00pm
    We will be joining the Seattle Coffee Club for this cupping and product demonstration.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a longer-lived cup

One of the challenges of being a French Press user is the problem of brew longevity.  Coffee tastes best when it's slightly cooled below brewing temperature, allowing the bean's flavor to blossom.  Unfortunately, due to the bitterness that comes from over-brewing in the carafe and from the brew tail making it into the cup, French Press brew can face a short cup-life.

Usually with the French Press there is a brief window, only minutes, between the the point where the coffee cools to drinkable temperature and where the carafe becomes over-brewed, or the coffee becomes bitter because the oils have begun to deteriorate.  At a recent tasting, Eric from Seattle's Cafe Ladro spoke of routinely pitching half his cup of coffee and how frustrated he was at the waste.  Eric went on to describe the improved Coffee Catcher brew "the drink just doesn't fall apart and there's some kind of bitter oil that's missing but all the good oils you love are still there."

With the addition of the coffee catcher, the oils from the bean are still allowed into the brew to enhance flavor, however, the over-brewed oils in the brew tail are sealed below the plunger and retained separate from the drinkable section of the carafe.  Without these detrimental oils, the flavor of the cup stays intact, even as the coffee cools down toward 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  This means that the cup can be full enjoyed, even in its cooler stages, which actually allow for a stronger flavor experience to compliment the bean.

Really, it's a win-win on taste.  And no more burning your mouth trying to drink your French Press brew before the flavor degrades.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

barista comments on flavor

Who better to review the Coffee Catcher than professional Baristas in Seattle, the coffee mecca of the United States?  So, with the goal of seeing what the coffee-slingers had to say, we hit the streets armed with a French Press and a Coffee Catcher.  Here's some feedback from the coffee virtuosos, themselves:

From Trabant Coffee in Seattle's Pioneer Square, Tom commented, "It saves time", candidly summing up the Coffee Catcher's effect on the French Press routine.

Eric at Seattle's Cafe Ladro on Union St. really enjoyed tasting the difference the Coffee Catcer made to his French Press brew.  "It's a whole new experience, I've never tasted anything like this" he commented as he savored the possibilities in a longer lived cup.  And we take it seriously when this 40 year coffee veteran exclaims, "why didn't anybody think of this before?"

Monday, February 15, 2010

French Press tell all

In light of our recent article about keeping your French Press economical (see article, "that's good economics"), we thought that some insight may be needed into ideas for how to optimally use the French Press.  Here are some excellent parameters (and the "why" behind them) from Coffee Chronicler, Nate Jones:
  • Use quality, fresh-roasted beans.  The French Press will produce a great tasting cup from any quality bean, but connoisseurs especially love earthy coffees with dark undertones in the French Press.  If in doubt, look for a good Sumatra or other Indonesian coffee at your local shop. Roasted beans will degas for the first 2 days after roasting.  The flavor of a day-old bean is outstanding, but be careful to leave room for lots of bubbly bloom at the top of your press.  The sweet spot, bean-wise is about 3-7 days old.
  • Use clean water at a proper temperature.  Water is more than 97% of your cup, so use filtered water if you can afford to.  Pour warm (not boiling) water - if you have a kettle, let it sit for 45 - 60 seconds after boiling to cool before pouring.  If you use a thermometer, you should aim for a brew temperature between 195 - 205 degrees Fahrenheit.  A cooler brew is a little less sensitive time-wise, so if you're one of those people who pours and runs off to do something else while your coffee brews, you'll do better with a cooler brew.  Fair warning, though, you'll enjoy the brightest, crispest flavors with very hot water, a slow pour and very precise brew timing.
  • Grind consistently.  It's hard to get a consistent cup from a blade-style grinder since the blades chop the bean at 20,000 - 30,000 rpm, heating off flavorful oils and producing coffee dust and chunks along with your desired grind size.  If you want to experience the best flavor from your beans, splash out a bit of $ for either a high quality burr hand grinder or a low rpm electric grinder.  Your blogger (Nate) personally prefers the total control and cool grind of the hand grinder - I know none of the oils in my beans are being evaporated off!
  • Dose and time properly.  Use two heaping Tablespoons of grounds per 8 oz cup.  In a medium or large press, brew your cofee for about 4 minutes.  In a very small press you may find that a 2-3 minute brew extracts flavors fully.  Keep in mind that there's an inverse relationship between water temperature and brewing time.  If you forget your kettle on the stove for a couple of minute, you may want to allow a tad more time for extraction before you press.
  • Pour and enjoy right away!  French Press coffee without a Coffee Catcher has a life of 20 minutes at most.  Your coffee stays in contact with the grounds even after you press the plunder and will quickly over-brew unless you pour it right away.  Heat often hides flavors, so this blogger recommends avoiding insulated mugs (or presses). Insulated presses tend to over-brew easily, and insulated mugs slow the cooling process of the coffee.  The extra heat seems to decrease the coffee's flavor lifetime without give you a chance to enjoy the full range of flavors that bloom at a lower temperature.
  • (Of course) Add a Coffee Catcher!  Three Reasons:
  1. Less water (and grounds) down your drain - meaning fewer plumbing problems.
  2. Clearer, cleaner flavor.
  3. A longer-lived cup (you drinkers with cool palates will really appreciate the extra 15 minutes to savor your creation).  For more on the flavor question, see "does the Coffee Catcher improve flavor?"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

that's good economics!

A recent Consumer Reports tasting found that coffee blends have been taking a flavor hit as roasters try more economical beans in their blend:
"NEW YORK (Reuters) – After tasting 37 different blended coffees, Consumer Reports couldn't find one that measured up to its "excellent" of "very good" ratings, the publication said Tuesday.The less-than-glowing report follows a year that saw tight supplies of high-quality arabica coffee beans in Colombia, followed by steep premiums that caused some roasters to look for cheaper and more available options for their blends."      view the complete consumer report...
It has become de rigeur to post blog updates filled with tips for belt-tightening in today's economy. I often give conventional wisdom a wink and keep moving, but I have been thinking about how and why the french press continues to be much-loved and much-used despite new fad brewing methods and even as incredible espresso machines make the quest for the perfect shot less about a holy grail and more about your local cafe. Why do many espresso aficionados use a french press at home?

The acknowledged truth among connoisseurs is that it's hard to beat the french press in terms of flavor-for-bucks. If watered and dosed properly, the french press produces a consistent cup that reflects the full flavor profile of any good coffee. The press is at its best with full-bodied coffee with plenty of dark notes and undertones. Though connoisseurs will admit that the press (at least without a Coffee Catcher!) tends to muffle the lighter, brighter notes of some coffees behind muddy undertones, the press's simple brewing process delivers an intimate, full-flavored mouth feel that can't be had any other way.

When enjoyed socially, the press is participative theater and ritual, too. By contrast, an espresso is a spectacle to be observed and inevitably evokes the expert-novice coffee relationships of the cafe. Even when brewed at home, the presence of the shining espresso machine with its (hopefully) expert operator reminds us that the beverage we are about to enjoy is a one-way experience, pulled with pride by a barista for an individual consumer. The french press, on the other hand, is participative theater. It's placed on the table between friends, any of whom has the expertise to press and pour. When drinking from a french press, everyone receives their drink from a common carafe. Brewing or emptied, the press presides over the middle of the table, reminding everyone of a shared drink and (implicitly) a shared moment.

When we drink alone, the french press impresses for its simplicity. Add grounds, add water, press and pour. We can do that with a headache or with a couple hours of sleep. The one major drawback of the personal press experience, of course, used to be the cleanup process. For too many of us, the otherwise elegant morning routine has started with shoveling and scraping the leftovers from yesterday's "elegant routine." Sitting and savoring a cup is priceless, but the hassle of starting the day amongst the grounds got to your bloggers after awhile. The Coffee Catcher completes the circle of the french press ritual, and conserves that sense of calm and elegance we experience through brewing, pressing and pouring.

The solid following for the french press amongst coffee connoisseurs is grounded in the wonderful value the press offers. For a couple of twenties, even an impoverished coffee lover can enjoy a beautiful coffee maker that delivers world-class flavor, that is a conversation piece and community builder, and that is elegantly simple to use. A cup from a Chemex or a vaccum pot is a novelty, and drinking espresso is sophistication itself, but none of these lovely ways to enjoy coffee encompasses
simplicity, ritual and flavor the way the french press does.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    The Coffee Catcher is a Perfect Fit!

    We are tickled pink to announce that testing is complete and the results are in:  With three size models to choose from, The Coffee Catcher fits all major brands of French Press! (See which size fits your Press...)

    We had already tested the Coffee Catcher with most major brands, the only remaining one being the IKEA French Press.  So, in the spirit of data collection, inventors John and Nate boarded a bus in downtown Seattle for the one hour ride out to area's nearest IKEA location.  There they were able to obtain an IKEA French Press.  Size testing concluded that the IKEA French Press fit perfectly with the Coffee Catcher!

    So, if you were worried that the Coffee Catcher might not work for your Press, fear not!  We offer equal-opportunity Pressing.

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    does the Coffee Catcher improve flavor?

    We've received quite a bit of feedback during tastings lately about how the Coffee Catcher positively affects flavor.  We at the Coffee Catcher know this isn't by chance - there's a very good reason why.  In order to help explain the technical reason behind the flavor advantage, here's a great analogy from John Custer, co-inventor of the Coffee Catcher:
    "You don't squeeze the last few drops out of your teabag when you're brewing, do you?  That stuff is over-brewed and nasty.  Well, the Coffee Catcher creates a drainage space for those drips of over-brewed coffee underneath your grounds and then the solid construction of the Coffee Catcher coupled with the extra compressed cake of grounds keeps these drips from getting into your drink when you pour."

    Or, for your visual learners out there:

    And all of this adds up to mean "better tasting coffee".

    Fact is, many French Press users don't bother drinking the last half of their press pot because the coffee is already over-brewed and has become bitter.  And it pains us to think of all that beautiful coffee being dumped down the drain and never enjoyed.  With the Coffee Catcher you can enjoy your entire pot, because the over-brewed tail at the bottom is kept separate from the part that goes in your cup.
    1. Less wasted coffee brew (check!)
    2. Fewer wasted grounds (check!)
    3. Less money spent on beans (check!)
    4. Better tasting coffee (check!)
    This is worth celebrating.

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    Whispers of a French Press

    How does one choose a French Press?   Here's an excellent article, written by Jason Coffee for that details some key elements to consider when courting a new carafe:
    "When looking at French Presses cost is dynamically connected to quality. I have found coffee presses on the internet for as low as $10. Once I received it in the mail however I was a bit surprised to find that it was flimsy, light weight and small. It did the job and the cup of coffee I drank tasted just fine but it only made enough for one cup and was not something that I would be proud to break out at a dinner party. So, If go cheap, you get cheap..."  read more...
    We think that Jason Coffee raises some excellent points regarding French Press design.  Which brings us to our latest announcement: the brain team behind The Coffee Catcher currently have a new French Press design in the works!  As Nate, one of the inventors, describes it:
    We're designing an all new French Press right now with the same attention to functionality that guided usas we developed the Coffee Catcher.  Jason Coffee [of] is right, you get what you pay for with a French Press.  We're looking to develop a press that consistently brews the best French Press coffe in the world through rigorous attention to the small details of the French Press experience.  People have been fiddling with espresso machines for years.  We think it's high time someone brought that same passion and attention to the French Press.
    The new Press is scheduled to debut in the next few months, and our coffee beans can hardly wait!


    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    SCAA Membership!

    We're excited to announce our membership to the Specialty Coffee Association of America.  Here's a little history on the organization, as per their website:
    "Established in 1982 by a small group of coffee professionals seeking a common forum to discuss issues and set quality standards for the specialty coffee trade, the SCAA is now the world's largest coffee trade association with nearly 3,000 company members. SCAA members can rightfully be credited for much of the growth and success the specialty coffee industry has experienced over the past twenty-five years."

    We have also reserved our spot at the 2010 SCAA Symposium in Anaheim, CA on April 14 - 15, 2010.  See you there!

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    notes from a recent tasting

    At a product taste testing, one of the reviewers said this about The Coffee Catcher's influence on the flavor of the bean:
    "...precision is a key word.  The Coffee Catcher removes the muddy flavor from the coffee that otherwise stays the same from bean to bean and from brew to brew.  It allows each bean to burst out and be itself.

    "This is just a superior cup of coffee."

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    surely there's an easier way...

    These posts picked up via
    "just burnt myself. my french press broke and sprayed molten coffee on my abdomen. 1 1/2 degree burn. my abdomen has turned a rubicund red."
    "When your day begins with the words, "I think I broke the French press," it's not going to be a banner day."

    Oh man, these folks need an easier way to reduce breakage!  The Coffee Catcher can help by eliminating "hit the carafe against the trash can" syndrome, helping ensure your Press can live a long (and injury-free) life.
      Post Options