Browsing articles in "Product Reviews"
Dec 12, 2013

Impress Coffee Brewer, reviewed

Impress Coffee Brewer

The Impress Coffee Brewer is a new product that french press fans will immediately be attracted to. It’s a single serve coffee brewer that also doubles as an insulated cup, so you can brew your coffee and take it with you without compromising on time or the quality of your coffee. Gamila, the maker of the Impress, recently sent me an Impress to try out at home and I couldn’t wait to test it out. I had a bad experience with another product that promised to do something similar, so I kept my fingers crossed that the Impress would live up to my expectations.

The brewer works like a french press. You place your grounds in the cup, fill it with hot water and allow it to brew for a few minutes. Then, you press down a filter canister into the cup, trapping the grounds, and you’re ready to enjoy your freshly brewed coffee. The primary difference between this and a traditional french press is the size of that filter. The holes on it are tiny – so tiny that not only will coffee grounds will not be able to get through it into your cup, but they will force so much water out of the grounds that brewing will cease completely. This means that, unlike a french press, you can really take your time drinking the coffee without worrying about it over-brewing. The Impress is also heavily insulated, so it will keep your coffee piping hot while you slowly savor it.
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Sep 11, 2013

Le Nez du Cafe, reviewed

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Even people who aren’t regular wine drinkers know that wines are chock full of flavors like berries, herbs, chocolate and other elements. There are classes you can take to increase your wine tasting knowledge and skill, and flavor wheels to help you learn to put a name to the notes you’re picking up. But coffee drinkers don’t usually have the same resources. Coffee tasting classes are few and far between, but there is a Coffee Tasting Kit at Uncommon Goods – a fun shop that always offers up unique gift ideas for men (here) and for women (here) – that can help you conduct your own coffee tasting workshop at home.

The Jean Lenoir Le Nez du Cafe includes a brief guidebook and six tiny bottles of fragrance that contain six common – and very different – scents that are often found in brewed coffee. These scents include Garden Peas, Blackcurrant, Butter, Caramel, Roasted Peanuts and Roasted Coffee, and the handbook describes them in great detail and also gives hints as to which types of coffee you might find these aromas in. The general idea is that you can use these bottles to memorize key scents in coffee and you can later call them back to better identify the flavors in your coffee and to better describe them. Continue reading »

Mar 22, 2013

Minibru Coffee Mug, reviewed

Minibru Coffee Mug

A french press is one of my favorite tools to make a great cup of coffee. You can brew any type of bean or roast in there and get good results, and they’re easy to use. The only problem with a french press is that they’re typically designed to brew a whole pot. Now some are smaller than others, but if you only want one cup of coffee you might find yourself looking for an alternative. The Minibru Coffee Mug is one possible solution: a single-serving french press inside of a mug that promises to let you brew a great cup of coffee and drink it, too.

I recently got a Minibru¬†and couldn’t wait to try it out. The instructions are simple: add coarsely ground coffee to the coffee line, add water to the water line, brew for 3 minutes, press and drink. I tried it exactly as written and my first few cups were terrible and incredibly weak. I watched a video on how to use the Minibru and noticed that they were using a lot more coffee than I was, so I decided to deviate from the directions and see if I could encourage a better performance out of the mug.

Minibru Coffee Mug

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Feb 5, 2013

Consumer Reports tests K-Cup Alternatives

K-Cups

Single serve coffee makers are, hands down, the most convenient way to make coffee at home. The Keurig machine takes just a few minutes to warm up, the coffee is prepacked and and there is virtually no cleanup. The downside is that K-cups are fairly expensive (unless you are a very savvy shopper) and they can add up quickly if you drink a lot of coffee. Consumer Reports recently (March 2013) set out to see if there are K-cup alternatives that would work as well, but that could save you a little money in the long run.

They estimated that someone who drinks one K-cup a day ends up spending somewhere from $220-$275 on the little cups over the course of the year. They tested both disposable and reusable cups that work with Keurig machines but that are designed to be filled with coffee by the user. The original K-cups were still winners when it came to convenience, but they found at least one good alternative that could save you some cash in the long run.

Simple Cups are disposable cups that you fill with your own coffee. They cost less than the K-cups, but not by much. CR estimated that a cup-a-day drinker would still spend around $185 a year with these, including your own coffee. EZ Cups are reusable cups with disposable filters inside, and you also use your own coffee. They turned out to run about $135 a year, including coffee. Neither model was as easy to use as a K-cup and could be difficult to close.

The winner when it came to saving money and ease of use was the Keurig K-Cup Adapter, with its reusable cup and filter system. It’s only about $18, so your only cost after that is the coffee, at about $80 a year. It does require cleaning, but it offers a good value and was Consumer Reports top pick for a K-cup alternative.

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