Monday, February 16, 2009

Bodum Chambord French Press

Until I bought my Freiling French Press, the Bodum Chambord was the French Press that I used for years. There isn't going to be any glaring differences in the quality of the coffee you will make using different French Presses. As long as the mesh screen is held tightly against the wall, it's going to make good coffee.

Unless you need a durable coffee pot like the stainless steel Freiling, it comes down to aesthetic appeal. Ok, I guess I should take a step back: don't get a plastic walled French Press. The plastic will give off a taste that will affect the coffee's final taste. With all of the scare about baby bottles being bad news, do you really want Bisphenol A leaching into you coffee? I don't know about you, but that kind of ruins it for me. I notice a taste difference when I pour my coffee into a travel mug, which is a supposedly more chemical resistant plastic than polycarbonate, so I know I'm not messing around with the plastic French Presses. Sorry for the rant.

The Bodum is a nice French Press. It looks attractive on the counter and disassembles easily for cleaning. You can also buy replacement glass in case you happen to break yours.
Here's my Bodum:If your plan on only using the French press at home, I wouldn't hesitate to pick one of these up.

Freiling Stainless Steel French Press

My standard coffee at home is made in a French Press. They just make good coffee. It's that simple. They will blow away any of the standard drip coffee machines. I've tried Krups, Mr Coffee, Braun, etc. They all suck. If you want something easy and convenient, by all means, get a drip machine. If you buy your coffee already ground, get a drip machine.

But if coffee means more to you than getting your caffeine fix, get a French Press. They are cheap, readily available, and make damn good coffee. I discuss how to make good coffee in this post.

My current French Press is a Freiling double walled, stainless steel version. A while back, I was getting ready for a camping trip and I wanted something better than tea made from a tea bag, so I thought of bringing my glass walled French Press along for the ride. My camping trips involve loading all of my stuff in my Land Rover and bouncing down the trails. Glass? Something just didn't seem right about stuffing a thin glass French Press in a box with a bunch of metal stuff. Murhpy's law hasn't treated me well in the past, so I started searching out some alternatives.

After spending some time on Amazon, I found the Freiling:

This is a nice heavy chunk of stainless steel. It has some heft to it. One really nice feature about it for traveling like I do is that it is double walled. I think the designer of the press probably wanted to design an insulated French Press. The whole concept of an insulated French Press is a flawed concept. The French Press is for making coffee, not storing it. You should make your coffee, and get it out of the press right after you press the grounds down to the bottom. If you leave the coffee, it will continue to steep in the grounds and will get nasty. In my application, the double wall would allow for dings and dents on the outside of the press and the inner wall would remain unscathed. The inner wall needs to be perfect, or the coffee grounds will pass by the plunger since the seal against the wall will be compromised.

If you want a good French Press that will double as a camping coffee pot, this is the one for you.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Victor's Coffee (Redmond)

I was surfing the net the other day and stumbled across a coffee roaster in Redmond. Yes, you read that right: a coffee roaster on the Eastside. I hadn't heard of it, so I had to go check this place out to see it for myself.

Victor's is located in the downtown shopping area of Redmond at 7993 Gilman Street:

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As I walked up to the place, something seemed out of sorts. It didn't look like a standard coffee house. If anything, it resembled an Irish pub. Walking in the front door, it even felt like an Irish pub. It really looks like they took a bar and added an espresso machine and a pastry container and plopped it on a bar. It definitely had that comfy, welcoming atmosphere that you'd expect an Irish pub to have. The only real difference is that the black stuff that they were pouring was coffee not Guinness.

I was pretty caffeinated already, so I ordered a small latte. This is what they served me:

It's kind of hard to tell from the picture since there isn't anything to reference in terms of size, but this was the biggest "small" latte I've ever seen. I looked around the room and it seems that the specialty of Victor's is to serve the largest cups of coffee in the Seattle area, let alone the Eastside.

That was my only real complaint of the latte. The flavor was really smooth, but it just tasted diluted. It was more of a coffee flavored milk drink than the other way around. If you are the type of person that doesn't want to throw back a quick shot of espresso and would rather take your time and drink a large volume of liquid this is the place for you.