Aromatic French pressed coffee ~ Bodum Shin Bistro Cafetiere.
Written: Jul 17, 2012 (Updated Sep 19, 2012)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Sturdy, dishwasher safe, attractive, easy to use, only two parts to clean.
Cons:Coffee not as robust-tasting or piping-hot as I wanted. No electronics to break. No volume-markings.
The Bottom Line: French pressed coffee lovers, this device is about as good as it gets. Might not work as well at altitude, though.
This is my second French Press coffee maker, another glass model which I purchased at Target on a whim. I've tried all sorts of coffee makers, and decided that my favorite are the automatic espresso/cappuccino machines you find at upscale lounges and cruises. After that, I'll take a cappuccino from Starbucks. But for home brewing, I'm still looking for one that will brewa perfect cup of coffee. I thought I might get an aromatic, full bodied cup with my new Bodum Shin Bistro model.
Description: This model is nicely sized, holding 1 liter or 34 ounces when filled to the top. I rarely make more than a single serving at a time, though. It's made from dishwasher safe glass, which is likely tempered to withstand the rigors of dishwashing. My last French Press seemed less sturdy, and eventually the glass cracked and I had to recycle it. This French Press has a plastic handle attached to the beaker/carafe. The handle attachment feels fairly solid, but it wobbles a bit when you lift the carafe. I tried tightening the screw, but that didn't make much of a difference.
Use: To make a generous cup of coffee, you simply add two heaping scoops of ground coffee to the beaker, fill the beaker about half full with hot (not boiling) water, and insert the plunger about halfway down. Instead of stirring, I swirl around the beaker to combine the water and coffee. Then, I let it sit and steep for a minute or two. The directions say to let steep for 4 minutes, but I find that makes the coffee too strong for me. When the coffee is ready, I push the plunger all the way down and pour into my cup. The plunger resists the process a little bit, from the drag of the filter mesh against the carafe. But, it just takes some firm pressure, and the grounds are completely separated from the coffee.
This model lacks any markings to help gauge the amount of water you're pouring in. That is a definite "con" in my opinion. I'm always estimating the amount of water, and sometimes I go under or overboard.
Taste: So, how does the coffee taste? It's pretty good, but neither as piping hot nor as aromatic as I would prefer. The taste seems better when I ground the coffee fine, but then I end up with sludge in my cup. I have a very old grinder, and the quality of my grind may be holding back the taste in my cup. I use Starbucks French or Italian roasted whole beans, so the quality of my beans is very good (in my opinion). I don't get a complex flavor from brewing my coffee in a French Press, and I'm kind of puzzled by that. I always heard that this method produces the best tasting cup, so I wonder if Denver's altitude is responsible? At a mile high, water boils at a lower temperature (202 degrees F.) so it might not be hot enough to extract all the flavor components from the grounds.
In any case, this device is great for making a decent cup of coffee very quickly, and without electricity (as long as you've got nearly boiling water). For example, it would be good for camping or a dorm room, if you had an electric kettle or access to a hot water dispenser. I do think the coffee tastes better, and has fuller body, than instant coffee. And, it might be even better tasting at sea level. However, if you crave piping hot coffee, as I do, you may be disappointed.
For those who value longevity, this has no moving parts or electronic bells and whistles that could break. Of course, I still have my eye on a fancy-shmancy hotel model which brews up cappuccinos and lattes at the touch of a button, but the maintenance on those machines is probably a nightmare. It still might break, though, if I dropped it.
One last thing ~ this French Press is very attractive. I am glad it only has two parts and stands on its own, without needing a cage. The mirror-polished stainless top is quite contemporary and the body is sleek, neither too modern nor retro. It's a solid model which has lasted me several months already, with daily trips through the dishwasher. Overall, I give it four stars for being better than average, but still not delivering the perfect cup of coffee I long for!
** A note about models: some Shin Bistro models have a double-walled, insulated carafe, while others do not. My Shin Bistro carafe is not insulated. When you are choosing from the Shin Bistro series, you might wish to choose the insulated carafe, as that may keep you coffee hotter. I wish I had known about this before I purchased it.
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