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Ode to a Coffee Press

Coffee press and Fair Trade coffee

It takes a little longer, but wow, it's worth it!

Until recently, I was not a coffee drinker. I couldn’t understand what the appeal was, quite honestly. Every time I saw a Facebook update that mentioned coffee, my eyes sort of glazed over. Sometime over last summer, though, I got it.

It was really hot here. Everywhere I looked someone was drinking an iced coffee. After watching the millionth person contentedly sipping away, I decided to see if I was truly missing anything. I tried a Starbucks iced coffee, and was hooked. Once I got hooked on the cold version, I decided I was going to be brave and try a hot coffee. I wanted to brew it at home, though. I’d need a coffeemaker. However, once I actually had to think about the brewing process, my whole sustainable/natural lifestyle thing came into play and I had my work cut out for me.

I was honestly conflicted. First, I didn’t want to drink coffee that was coming out of a plastic pod or brewed by dripping through a plastic coffeemaker. If BPA was leaching into room temperature water bottles, I couldn’t imagine how much would be transferred during the traditional brewing methods available today. Try a percolator, someone suggested, but I was a little put off by the potential for waste and chemical contamination. For example, just how is a paper filter produced? (We throw away millions of them daily, by the way.) I found out that the majority of filters are bleached, and may contain dioxins, which may cause cancer and a number of other woes. No, I needed another way to make my coffee. After a little more research I decided that a French press — a glass one — would be the best option.

Also called a coffee press, I found several options online, but I wasn’t going to buy any old press. I wanted something that was made here in the States or in a European country. (Meaning I didn’t want anything made in China.) Once I narrowed down my choices — glass with minimal plastic — I emailed the companies asking them where they sourced their products. One of the brands I was leaning towards, La Cafetiere, was nixed when I received the following email from their customer relations team:

Hi Karen

Unfortunately our all our pot do come from China now.

Many thanks

(Overlook the typos as this is a verbatim account, and the author is probably located outside the U.S.)

Then I called the folks at Bodum, another French press maker. I was told that their stuff is mostly made in China, with some exceptions. Their Bistro Nuevo, Brazil Classic, Chambord, Eileen, and Kenya French presses are made in Europe. Whew. I had found my new French press. It was Christmas time so I put it on my list, and my wonderful father-in-law made sure it was under their Christmas tree for me.

Now, after using it almost daily for two months, I must say I am completely ruined for all coffee except coffee made in a French press. Sure, it takes me five minutes to heat up the water, put it into the press along with coffee, and wait until it seeps, but WOW, that’s some good coffee. I sort of equate it to making homemade chocolate chip cookies versus buying a package at the store. While it might take more time, the end result is worth it.

When it comes to buying coffee, I stick with Fair Trade Certified organic. I really like Trader Joe’s Organic French Roast. In case you don’t know, Fair Trade Certified means that the coffee (or any product) is manufactured or packed in a way that fairly compensates all of the workers involved in the process. The process also takes the environment into account, making sure that it is sustainable. You can read more about it here, but considering how most traditional coffee is made (the National Resources Defense Council has a good primer), it was a no-brainer for me.

Now, I won’t buy coffee out anymore unless I am at a diner or someplace else that uses washable cups. I’ve even stopped drinking the coffee brewed at Little Girl’s Mommy and Me. They are really behind the times. They still provide styrofoam cups. At last, I’ve been able to completely eliminate any waste associated with my coffee fix. No little plastic “pod” cups to recycle. No paper filters to compost. No plastic lids to agonize over. But the best part really is the taste. There is absolutely nothing like an individual pot of fresh brewed coffee. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!

This post is how I am participating this week in Real Food Wednesdays and Fight Back Fridays — two awesome campaigns to get people eating real food again.

2 Responses to “Ode to a Coffee Press”

  1. Michael Mirich says:

    hi karen, (10-28-12)
    i’m about a year behind you looking for a non china-made French press coffee maker.
    you said the following in a blog: “Then I called the folks at Bodum …. I was told that their stuff is mostly made in China, with some exceptions. Their Bistro Nuevo, Brazil Classic, Chambord, Eileen, and Kenya French presses are made in Europe. Whew. I had found my new French press.”
    Is that still true? have I found my wife’s new French press? I’m interested in the exceptions as you were.

  2. kb says:

    I’m not sure, but if you call the manufacturer they will totally tell you! Also, I suggest picking up a vintage percolator! Worked for me even better than the press, which only does one cup at a time.

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