Coffee Press

Last week, I broke my second french press carafe this year. It was just a small bump against the counter, but the crack ran through the thin glass (I feel kitchen counters should be covered by a pliant rubberized mat now rather than fashionable-but-less-practical marble). Thoughts about replacements ran towards Lexan, but the overkill spiral ended up at stainless steel.

I did order one at Amazon, but I soon realized that we’d save more buying a coffee press locally than waiting a week on Amazon’s free shipping, all the while buying cups of coffee from the local grocery store. Starbuck’s actually has coffee presses, and their stainless steel model is basically the Bodum one available at Amazon, but with a rubberized handle. Also, they were having a sale, and I paid ten bucks less than if I had kept the online order. Plus, they threw in half a pound of coffee for free (I don’t know if they do this normally for buying home coffee makers, or whether it was because the one I got — the last one in the local store — was “open box”, which wasn’t much of an issue because it’s a hunk of metal rather than delicate electronics).

The dimensions of this coffee press are identical to the glass one; I can use the plunger from the old unit. Interestingly, the filter is a single piece of plastic with a bonded mesh, whereas the glass one had a stainless steel filter than you can disassemble for cleaning. The Starbuck’s manager told me that replacement filters are available for a buck once the one I have wears out. (Some of the Amazon reviewers of this press were freaked out by plastic coming in contact with hot water, which isn’t an issue with modern materials. Arguably, you should never eat out if you’re afraid of plastics coming in contact with your hot food.) The main drawback with the design of the plastic filter is that the skirt is kind of narrow, compared to the skirt on the stainless steel one. It’s possible to misalign the filter when plunging, leaving enough of a gap for coffee grounds to get through. I never had that problem with the old plunger. If it bothers us enough (and I keep forgetting to be careful of alignment), I can just use the old one.

One can argue that Starbuck’s is undermining itself by selling coffee making equipment for home use. It’s sort of true in my case: my Starbuck’s visits declined drastically once I started making coffee at home. On the other hand, Starbuck’s isn’t really selling coffee per se. It’s selling coffee that’s right there, right then, for all the people walking past it or working near it. And (most particularly in crowded places like New York), it’s selling somewhere-that’s-not-your-apartment; selling coffee, espresso and snacks is merely a way to monetize their living room away from home.

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