Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Tale of Two Coffee Makers





















Fresh off the presses from Sprudge, the coffee hipster's National Enquirer, come two posts in succession about coffee makers. Far be it from these guys to notice any irony about the juxtaposition, so allow me...

The first is an interview with the creator of the Ratio, an admittedly beautiful appliance that for a mere $580 (or $640 equipped as shown with its de rigeur Able filter) brews almost as good a cup of coffee as you can with a hot water kettle and a Chemex.

The second is a lovely Vimeo profile of Alan Adler, inventor of the Aeropress, which costs $29.95 on Amazon. It brews a much better cup of coffee than any drip brewer, electric or manual, makes extra-strength coffee that while it's not espresso is certainly delicious in a cappuccino or caffe latte, and is the ideal travel coffee maker. Plus you can buy twenty of them and still have enough money left over to buy a bag of obscenely overpriced Third Wave beans to brew in it. 

I highly recommend checking out the Ratio coffee site and its videos, reading the interview with the inventor if you're a glutton for punishment, and then contrasting the lifetime supply of precious pretentiousness you just ingested with the humble warmth of Mr. Adler. Derivative drip dreck for $600 or versatile originality for $30....geez, I just can't decide. 

If the Ratio videos and website style seem eerily familiar, it's because they're clearly using the same PR firm as The Timmy Brothers, whose priceless video can be seen at the link. 




12 comments:

  1. It's gotten bad when even Chemex released a $350 dollar electric drip maker.

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  2. Yes, the "Automatic." Well it's certainly much closer to being worth its asking price than the Ratio is. I noted when I refreshed my memory about its specs on the Chemex web site that they take such pride in its pre-infusion and brewing at the correct temperature, only to recommend 1 rounded tablespoon of grounds per cup. Just reinforces my long-held view that the Chemex is a beautiful object designed to turn coffee into tepid, papery tea.

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  3. Here's another Aeropress-like device that's pretty affordable: http://www.waterbobble.com/black-stainless-steel-coffee-press

    I haven't tried it yet, but I'm very curious about it as it has a few advantages over the Aeropress: a built-in filter, an insulated body, and is a totally self-contained system.

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  4. Hi Andre -

    I've seeh the Bobble before and it does look like a nice brewer, but it's basically a French Press. As you say it being self-contained is certainly an advantage in many situations, but it seems to me the Aeropress is much more versatile, in that it brews in less than a minute (vs. 3-4 for the Bobble), yields an espresso strength shot or shots that can be used as-is for cappuccinos or caffe lattes or diluted to drip strength and has the superior clarity that only paper filters can provide. The Aeropress really is unique, whereas the Bobble is a pretty cool non-Bodum French Press.

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  5. I've had the Bobble Presse for a few months and it does indeed make a flavorful cup of coffee in about 4 minutes. Barely any sediment gets into the coffee which stays steaming hot in the insulated vessel for literally hours. The downside for me is the 12-13 ounce capacity which is much too small for my household in the morning. It is great for travel though.

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  6. Hi Jordan - glad to hear another positive report on the Bobble. I can see how it's well-suited for travel, but brewing into and then drinking out of double-walled stainless steel is not an attractive proposition. You'd want to preheat it so that the brew temperature is right, but while 200 degrees F. is great for extraction ideal drinking temperature starts at 160, and it'd take a very long time for coffee in the Bubble to get there. Seems to me you still need a cup to pour the brew into much of the time, in which case why not use the Aeropress which brews a better cup in 1/3rd the time, is more versatile and weighs less. I just see no advantage to plunger pot coffee vs. the Aeropress or Clever.

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  7. Hi Kevin - all valid points you make, I agree. But still, the Presse's coffee is quite good. And the portability factor (I can brew 12 ounces at 8 AM, set the Presse in my car's cup holder, drive to work and pour delicious (not bitter) hot coffee into my office cup at 9:30 AM) is really a big selling point for me.

    No, I don't work for Bobble :-). In fact, at home I much prefer my Bonavita drip.

    In an older post Kevin, you showed a photo of an economical way to make multiple cups of great coffee: a thermal carafe with a brew cone on top....that's it. I loved that.

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  8. Thanks Jordan. I'll have to get a Bobble for just that kind of occasion.

    My mother-in-law has a Bonavita electric brewer that I use when we visit; the coffee is excellent. Since I live at 5000 feet it isn't a good option, and most days I use the #6 filtercone atop a Nissan double-wall stainless steel thermos setup you saw in my earlier blog post. I'd have to buy the Brazen if I wanted a home electric drip brewer, but I prefer manual methods anyway. I'd love to see a Kalitta that brewed into an insulated double-wall thermos and offfered a decent (~1 liter) batch size.

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  9. I think you are going over board by calling the coffee the Ratio makes dreck, I am sure it's good when making a full batch. And some of it is just preference I dislike the aeropress the coffee tastes muddled to me hence I dislike press for the most part too.

    Now if you want to go off on the cost of the Ratio and taking a humble beverage like coffee and trying to make it a luxury good then by all means fire away sir!

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  10. I own an Aeropress and never cared for it. It seems underextracted to me, takes WAY too much coffee to get a reasonable extraction and then I'm over caffeinated. I personally have always preferred manual pour to all other methods. Been doing it for about 45 years. I recently bought a Bonavita 1800, mostly for my wife who says she has never gotten good at manual. She also wanted a simple machine without a lot of bells and whistles. The Vonavita has a single button on it. So she likes it a lot. I have to admit I am impressed with the Bonavita. I measured the temp of the water coming out and it is right on after about 30 seconds. Makes a very decent pot, as good as any I've had our of an electric drip machine. I'm now using it nearly as much as my manual setup

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  11. Noticed you've had good things to say about the Technivorm and Bonavita brewers, but unless I'm missing particular models, these seem to top out at 40-50 oz of brewed coffee. What would you suggest as an auto-drip for someone looking to brew a little more, say in the 75-100 oz range?

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  12. 64 fl. oz. (a half-gallon) or more puts you squarely into commercial rather than residential brewer territory. A plumbed-in Bunn, American Metal Ware or Fetco brewer with all of the bells and whistles would be my first choice.

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