French Coffee Press Review

French Coffee Press
French Coffee Press

I used to think a French coffee press was just another one of those snobby marketing ideas. As I quite often do, I’ve changed my mind a bit on the Coffee Press method of brewing coffee as I’ll explain in this review. First, a little history about how a French Press Coffee maker ended up in my home: I bought my, 8-Cup Bodum coffee press about 15 years ago when I started drinking Starbucks Coffee. For many years, I didn’t like Starbucks Coffee. In fact, I only drank light roasted coffees. I thought the Starbucks Dark roasted coffees tasted smoky and lacked the richness of lighter roasts. It wasn’t until I actually went into a Starbucks Store and ordered a regular cup of coffee that I got a new found appreciation for their darker, cream tasting roasts. The home coffee makers just don’t do a decent job. One: home coffee brewers don’t make it hot enough. Two, home coffee brewers don’t extract the flavor of the dark coffee grinds. Because the darker grinds are well roasted, the window for unlocking their flavor is extremely critical So, one day about 15 years ago, I asked my Starbucks store representative what kind of coffee maker it would take to get the coffee to taste as good at home as it does the store. They showed me a Bodum French press and I bought it on the spot. Why?

 

What is a French Coffee Press

A French Coffee Press is a bit of a peculiar looking contraption, isn’t it? Some would have you believe it’s a beautiful relic meant to be proudly displayed in your kitchen. I wouldn’t call a French coffee press ugly, but I wouldn’t exactly call it attractive either. At any rate, a coffee press is indeed an interesting looking device. My Bodum coffee press consists of an 8-Cup glass carafe with a plastic base. The lid has an 8” metal rod going through it, with a mesh-metal filter attached to the bottom. A spring-type mechanism wraps around the circumference of the mesh filter and is designed to push the grinds down and keep them out of your coffee when you press it. So, how do you use a one?

How to Use a Coffee Press

Using a French coffee press is a far more simple process than the looks of this contraption would have you believe. I actually enjoy using mine, but it does require a couple of little extra steps to prepare. The first thing I do is grind the coffee. Because a press uses no paper filter, it is important not to grind the coffee too fine. In fact, the coffee grinds can be quite coarse and still get a good roasted flavor. I usually turn my coffee grinder on for no more than about 10 seconds. I also like to use more coffee than I would with a traditional coffee maker. It’s up to you how strong you like your coffee. Dump the coffee grinds into your French coffee press carafe and some water either on the stove or with a microwave proof container. Since my own French Press holds 8 cups, I usually boil 2-8 cups of water, depending on how much coffee I want to make. Then, while the boiling water is piping hot, pour it into the carafe over the coffee grinds. Gently put the lid on without pushing the rod down. Allow the coffee to steep for about 3-5 minutes then slowly press the rod down to the bottom of the carafe. The Coffee is now ready to pour. When prepared with my Bodum, the coffee is hotter and more flavorful than with the Cuisinart Coffee/Grinder and several of the other coffee makers I own, including the old-fashioned percolator! And I like the idea that the French coffee press is so old-fashioned that it’s simple to use and clean. Just dump the grinds into the sink and wash the carafe and parts and set them in the sink basket to dry.

Cons of the French Press

If a coffee press is so simple to use then you’re probably asking why I would ever use anything else. There are actually three reasons: One: My Bodum Press simply doesn’t make enough coffee for an entire family. Two: The coffee doesn’t stay hot very long as there is no heating element on the bottom. Three: You will have some fine coffee grinds sediments in your cup. I don’t mind this, but others might. The coffee press has its place among my other coffee makers and I use it when I want just one or two cups of the fullest bodied coffee I can get my hands on at home.

Best Coffee Bean Grinders

Best Coffee Grinder

What is the Best Coffee Grinder?

If the best coffee bean grinders are supposed to last forever, there might be a few on the market now from very cheap to very expensive that fit the criteria. On the other hand, which is a coffee bean grinder that you want to last forever? The very first coffee been grinder I ever owned was a Christmas gift from my father-in-law 25 years ago. This small, electric Krups Coffee Bean Grinder still works as good as it did since the first day we used it. It is the best coffee grinder based on reliability. This is amazing considering the number of times I overfilled the small storage bin and had to use a thin knife to pry it open. Once coffee is ground in an overfilled grinder, they tend to become very hard to open. This problem lends itself to analyzing the second part of my opening statement. Is my highly durable coffee bean grinder one of those appliances I wish would last forever? I can’t say that it is for one reason: It is too small. Don’t get me wrong; our Krups Coffee Bean Grinders are plenty big enough to grind enough beans for one, 12-Cup Pot of Coffee. The problem is that over the years, the novelty of grinding beans prior to brewing a pot of coffee has worn a little thin with me. Even the best coffee bean grinders need to do a little more for me. I’m a little bit tired of having to scoop beans into the coffee grinder, plug it into the kitchen wall outlet then make a tremendous amount of noise grinding them for the next 30 seconds while people are trying to watch television in the adjoining den. My favorite coffee is still the “Roasted by Starbucks” brand at Costco which comes only in the whole bean variety. I would prefer it if were pre ground and I could simply use my air-tight canisters to keep it fresh. Once the bag of coffee beans is already open, I don’t see how it can be kept any fresher. I’d prefer to grind larger batches of coffee beans at a time. I also get a little bit sick of having to plug the coffee grinder into the wall, then deal with wrapping up the messy cord. As I’ve mentioned before, I loathe electric cords and cables. Unfortunately, the Braun is a well made indestructible coffee maker which has never given me enough reason to replace it. While I’ve tolerated all of these years, I started wondering if there was a bigger, larger Industrial or Commercial Coffee Grinder that would grind an entire bag of coffee at one time? Or, perhaps there is a battery or hand crank coffee grinder that could make the job at least more convenient, if not easier. Sounds like it’s time for a review on Coffee Bean Grinders. Best Coffee Grinder? Here are a few of the popular brands and models. I’ve also included some of the other types; hand crank coffee grinder, battery coffee grinder, etc.. If you’re looking for cheap coffee grinders, they will be covered at the very end of this review and the results may surprise you. The Best Coffee Grinder is not the most expensive.

Pavoni Coffee Grinder

When I looked into larger capacity Coffee Grinder, I ran into the La Povoni La Moka Burr Grinder brand which can grind up to nearly 9 ounces at a time. Unfortunately, the user reviews on the Pavoni Coffee Grinder quickly turned me off. Users complained that the grind was often too course, despite the adjustable settings. The fit on the housing was not tight which often resulted in a mess. The overall impression of over 16 users seemed to be that the Pavoni Coffee Grinder is cheaply made. They ranked it only 2.5 stars out of 5. The most common Pavoni Model is the PA-8801B. There are others, but none with very impressive reviews.

Macap Grinder

While looking up Industrial or Commercial Coffee Grinder brands, the Macap Grinder was the first one I found. This is definitely a commercial quality, high grade Expresso grinder that will quickly make your typical home coffee drinker kick the habit when they see the price tag. The Macap Grinder goes for $600 – $700. This was not cup of tea – and way too expensive as a coffee grinder! Don’t get me wrong, the Macap Grinder is a beautiful machine, but it’s too expensive to be gracing the presence of my kitchen.

Rancilio Coffee Grinder

Another one of those Industrial Coffee Grinders – the Rancilio is beautiful, large and worthy of strong consideration if not so expensive. A Rancilio Coffee Grinder ranges in price from $350 – $1,400. Again, not exactly your typical kitchen appliance. It is interesting to read some of the comments on the Rancilio Rocky brand which sells for around $350.00. For a real espresso connoisseur, the purpose of a coffee grinder goes well beyond convenience and reliability. It’s about how precision and how fine the grind. I’m not trying to knock these expensive commercial coffee grinders. They have their place; but what I am after is an inexpensive, high capacity coffee grinder.

Ascaso Coffee Grinder?

When I stumbled upon the Ascaso Grinder, I began to wonder if it was possible to find an affordable high capacity product for under $100.00
The Ascaso Grinder sells from $299.00 to $349.00. Like the Rancilio and Macap, It is a high capacity grinder geared towards satisfying the need for precision ground coffee. The Ascaso Grinder comes in 4 different colors and 3 or 4 models. I was unable to find any reviews on this product. If you’ve tried or own an Ascaso, please leave feedback.

Solis Coffee Grinder

A good Solis Coffee Grinder will only set you back about $149.00. The Solis Crema Maestro Plus G385 Conical Burr Grinder has a decent 3.5 Star rating by over 42 users. The 40 levels of grinder settings should please most espresso and coffee drinkers. A Solis Coffee Grinder is still not quite what I had in mind. I’m looking for a high capacity, simple-to-use coffee grinder. It doesn’t need to have 40 different settings for precision grind varieties.

Virtuoso Grinder

Another $200 Coffee Grinder, The Virtuos Grinder is a well made, Italian crafted product with over 40 grind settings; French Roast to Espresso. The 8 OZ bean capacity is just what I want, but again…It’s $200.. Doesn’t quite fit my budget for a down & dirty home coffee grinder.

Breville Coffee Grinder

The Breville BCG450XL Conical Burr Grinder is very close to what I’m looking for. For $69.00, here is a coffee grinder that will hold and grind 6oz of coffee at a time. What I like about the Breville Coffee Grinder is that it is a very well tested and used product. Over 250 users rated the Breville Coffee Grinder 4 stars. Users seemed very satisfied with the quality stainless steel base of the Breville. They also liked the adjustable settings, ease of use and preparation, use and clean-up. I’m thinking the 6 ounce capacity to be a little small, but better than what I’m used to. We’re getting closer. Maybe I can’t grind an entire bag at once, but 5 or 6 times should be enough to grind an entire 2lb bag of Starbucks Costco Whole Bean Coffee.

Baratza Maestro Coffee Grinder

The Baratza G 285 Maestro Conical Burr Grinder is one of the most popular Coffee Grinders on the market. It really looks nice in your kitchen and has a wide variety of grind levels from Turkish, Espresso to French Roast or regular Home Brew. Baratza Maestro Coffee Grinder Users seem very happy with the quiet operation of this unit and are generally pleased with it’s quality control, operation and durability. The G 285 didn’t suit everyone’s taste. Some users complained that they were unable to come up with a grind which produced tasteful coffee or espresso. Other’s complained that the machine would occasionally become clogged with coffee grinds. Still, out of 45 users, its 3.5 star rating proves that it’s worth your consideration for just $99.00.

Hand Crank Coffee Grinder
Hand Crank Coffee Grinder

Hand Crank Coffee Grinder

Sometimes it’s fun and convenient to do things the old fashioned way. A Hand Crank Coffee Grinder has no cords, batteries or preparation to deal with. Shove in the beans and do a little elbow work. If you’re a coffee snob, don’t expect to get the perfect French, Turkish, Italian or Espresso grind with one of these hand crank grinder units. What you can expect to get is a very affordable, decorative addition to your kitchen. Hand Crank Coffee Grinders are one of the best kitchen conversation pieces you’ll find anywhere. Another cool thing about Hand Crank Coffee Grinders is they can be very old, antiques.

Hand Coffee Mill

A Hand Coffee Mill is simply another name for a hand crank coffee grinder. It is important to use both terms when shopping for these types of grinders. You will often not find what you are looking for by only searching for one or the other.

Dual It Coffee Grinder

 

Gaggia MDF Grinder

There are a few different varieties of Gaggia Grinders on the market. The most popular one happens to be the more expensive one; The Gaggia 8002 MDF which sells for about $250.00. Over 250 users rated the Gaggia 8002 4 Stars. Certainly, one of the highest rated coffee bean grinders on the market, if its in your budget.  Over 34 grind settings and a built-in Doser which dispenses the coffee grinds directly into your filter holder. The hopper will hold up to 10oz of coffee beans, making it one of the largest capacity coffee grinders on the market.

General Electric Coffee Grinder

A common household name for cheap coffee grinders, but do they hold up as well as the Krups.. Read on.

Battery Coffee Grinder

A Battery Coffee Grinder would be nice, but I’ve not been able to find one or get any information on them. Stay tuned.

Best Small Coffee Grinder
Best Small Coffee Grinder

Cheap Coffee Grinders

Small Coffee Grinders

It so happens the Best Small Coffee Grinders are also the cheapest coffee grinders. No surprise here. The very highest rated coffee grinder in this entire review is the very same one we started with; the Krups 203-42 Coffee grinder. The cheap, Krups Coffee Grinder pictured to the right is identical in looks and performance to the white Krups Coffee Grinder my wife and I received as a Christmas present 25 years ago. There is a reason this cheap coffee grinder has lasted for 25 years – it simply continues to work forever. Scanning over some of the 480 some-odd reviews on this popular, Krups Coffee grinder, it’s obvious that users have very little to complain about. If there is one common complaint that’s shared among users, it is that the bean hopper is too small. Funny, that was the very reason for this review. Even if ou buy a larger, more expensive, 10 ounce coffee grinder with 40 different grind settings, you’ll still want to have one of these cheap coffee grinders in your kitchen. It’s bullet proof and it just happens to be the best coffee grinder.

Papua New Guinea Coffee Review

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Papua New Guinea Coffee

The Scoop on Papua New Guinea

If you have trouble pronouncing or remembering how to spell it,  the chances are pretty good it’s either the name of a gourmet coffee or a country you know nothing about. In this case, it’s both. Papua New Guinea Coffee is a delicious gourmet coffee that you can buy in 3lb bags at Costo for $13.99. Of course, this is also indeed a country located in the southwest pacific on the island of New Guinea, but I’ll talk about that in an upcoming review on the top-10, most often mispronounced vacation spots. For now, we’ll talk about the delicious coffee that comes from the region and place where it originated: Costco. Okay, not really. While Costco does roast and sell the coffee in its stores, the coffee beans do in fact come from the southwestern pacific island of New Guinea, in Oceania just north of Australia. New Guinea is the second largest island in the world with an ideal, volcanic altitude and climate for growing excellent coffee beans.

Where to Buy

At Costco, Papua New Guinea Coffee can be found in the coffee aisle, packaged in a black and orange, 3lb, bag with a blue butterfly on it. Papua New Guinea is labeled as a Kirkland Signature brand coffee and sells for just $13.99.

As I’ve mentioned in previous coffee articles, the Kirkland Roasted-by-Starbucks brand of Coffee in the 2lb bags for just $9.99 has been my favorite for years. I like it not just for the price, but for the consistent freshness, roast and taste. The green-bag roasted-by-Starbucks coffee really is the closest thing I’ve found to being able to make a fresh, Starbucks-tasting cup of coffee at home. Over the last several years, I’ll confess that I’ve gotten bored and curious and have tasted some of the other brands and varieties on the Costco coffee aisle. In each and every case, I’ve always ended up disapointed and looked forward to finishing them, so I could go back to my old-standby in the green, 2lb bag. When I saw the 3lb bag of Papau New Guinea, I became tempted one more time.

I already knew that Papau New Guinea was considered an excellent brand of gourmet coffee because I’ve spotted it for sale at the coffee shops for about $13.00 for just a 1lb bag. For just $13.99 for a huge, 3lb bag I had to take a chance on the Costco version; despite the fact there was no label informing me that the Papua New Guinea was roasted by Starbucks as it is in the green bags. The graphic icon on the bag did indicate that it was near the dark end of the roast spectrum which. I like really dark coffee roast, but not the very darkest like Espresso.  This one looked just right. I threw the bag in my cart and headed home.

I’m pleased to say that the Papua New Guinea coffee is not just a bargain for its low price, but for it’s incredible roast quality and taste. From the moment I opened the bag and smelled its freshness and examined the perfectly roasted dark beans with the shiny oil around them, I knew it was a great roast. I would describe this Kirkland Signature brand as being superior to my old favorite in the green bags. The taste is a bit darker, deeper, earthy and more complex. While I enjoyed it the first time I brewed it, I didn’t fully appreciate it as my favorite until the 3rd or 4th time.  After a week of drinking the Kirkland Papua New Guinea, I can honestly admit that it is now my new favorite coffee. As quickly as I go through a 1lb bag of coffee, I could never afford to drink something this good every day if I purchased it at Starbucks. The 3lb bags at Starbucks should last me 3-4 weeks. $14.00 – $17.00 a month for quality coffee seems too good to be true.

Papua New Guinea Coffee: Final Tasting Note

One last note: While I’ve recommended them only for lighter roasts, the Papua New Guinea is excellent in my Westbend Percolator. The intensity of the flavor, if anything, is turned up a notch when it is brewed and poured piping hot from the percolator. The aroma of percolated Papua New Guinea coffee in your kitchen will rival  Starbucks on its best day and save you a good amount of money in the process.

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