Top critical review
15 people found this helpful
Great Ideas, but poor execution...
on May 3, 2012
I bought this item because it was a great deal for the price. The glass French press I currently use works well, but the coffee gets cold before I have a chance to enjoy the whole brew. A glass French press with no thermal insulation generally costs close to the price of this one, so this fact is worth taking into consideration despite my review below. That being said, below are issues with the design of this item (it is definitely worth a read before you purchase this item).
First of all, it seems as though the base (the double walled, vacuum insulated carafe) was made by one manufacturer and the top (lid, plunger and screen) was made by another. The base is a great design with the double walled vacuum insulation and it does its part in creating a thermal barrier to keep the coffee hot. It even has a rubberized lip along the top, which is intended to create a proper seal with the lid once it mates.
The lid however is NOT insulated and it does NOT create a proper seal with the base. The lid is a thin piece of plastic (solid but little insulation value) which is about a 1/8 of an inch too small in diameter. So there is a bit of side to side movement between the lid and the base, which means no air tight seal. There is a "turn to open or shut" function for the lid, but if the lid doesn't create a proper seal there is no point to it. If you tilt the carafe, coffee will come out whether the lid is turned to open or to shut! As we all know heat rises. With the lack of a proper seal between the lid and base and a lack of insulation in the lid itself, the function of the thermos is diminished significantly by this lid design. If you touch the base, it feels cold (meaning no heat is escaping through here); however if you place your hand over the lid it feels hot (there is a great deal of heat escaping through here). Coffee gets warm in less than half an hour. But this is forgivable since it is still better than a basic glass French press with no insulation.
This brings us to another issue: the screen mesh. The function of the screen is to push the coffee ground down so that it does not end up in your coffee. Again, the manufacturer has another great idea by providing a screen with a very fine mesh (small gaps). The finer the screen mesh the less coffee ground (and "silt") ends up in your coffee. The problem is that the screen may be a bit too fine such that it prevents flexibility or the ability to collapse/gather to a smaller size. The lack of flexibility may also be due to the way it is folded for strength along the outer edge. This may have made the screen too stiff.
Like in any other Coffee presses, the screen is designed much like a sombrero. The screen's outer circumference designed to be a bit larger than the inner circumference of the base/pot. There is a circular spring which goes behind the screen (top of the sombrero), which serves to push the screen against the inner wall of the pot as it is inserted. [The spring for this item is very firm and it serves its function well.] As the screen mesh is inserted into the base, the base forces the screen mesh inward (causing it to shrink) as the spring behind the screen pushes it outward (causing it to expand). Between the two, the basic design creates a tight fit as the screen is pushed downward by the plunger. At least this is what is supposed to happen in theory. In order for the screen mesh to conform to the base, it needs to be able to collapse and expand much like pantyhose or fishing net. The screen used by this manufacturer is not very flexible. So rather than the screen shrinking or gathering along the outer edge, it folds, creating accordion like folds around the edge. These folds essentially allow large coffee grounds to escape and end up in your coffee. So the finer mesh, which was intended to keep the fine silt out, results in allowing both silt and large coffee grounds into the coffee!
Finally, this brings us to the aforementioned rubber seal which was intended to create a tight seal between the lid and the base. When you pull the screen mesh out (to discard the used coffee grounds), the screen snags on the rubber seal on its way out. The screen mesh is delicate; so snagging it each time you clean the press is not a great idea. The only solution I figured out was to pull it up half way, and then tilt the handle/screen sideways (close to 90 degrees/vertical) and then pulling it up the rest of the way. The screen still rubs on the seal, but it doesn't cause it to snag awkwardly.
I returned mine. Although the thermos function does partially work (which is a great feature by the way for the price), the lack of proper screen function does ruin an otherwise good item. You could always replace the screen ($5-10) for a more flexible one, but you may damage that one too while pulling it out each time you clean the item.