Last year, the fine folks over at the American Press headquarters sent me an American Press brewer to check out and review (I was upfront with them and let them know it would take me some time to evaluate the brewer).
When my package arrived, I was quite impressed with the contents of my rectangular brown box—the American Press is fancy looking. I have spent many months field testing this unique brewer and here are my thoughts:
Introduction- What is an American Press
The American Press is a relatively new brewer to the market. Funded by an Indiegogo campaign in early 2016, it takes an innovative approach to manual brewing. It is sleek and somewhat resembles a French press in look and outward brewing mechanics.
The American Press is different from the the French press because of what happens on the inside of the carafe. With a French press, when the coffee is finished brewing the coffee grounds are (mostly) filtered away from the brewed coffee by a mesh filter that is plunged downward through the coffee sludge.
In contrast, the American Press has a filter basket that holds the ground coffee separate from the brewing water. As the filter basket is pressed downward through hot water, the water is forced up through the filter basket creating a slightly pressurized extraction environment. The 100 micron filter basket keeps most of the muck out of the brewed coffee and doesn’t absorb the oils like a paper filtered coffee.
The result is a delicious cup of coffee and, due to the design, a fairly repeatable brewing process.
The Clever Coffee Dripper is a manual brewing device that is near and dear to my heart. Its ease of use and low barrier of entry made manual brewing approachable to me. I have many fond memories of brewing up my homeroasted coffee fresh out of my Behmor 1600 and savoring the interesting and intense flavors.
Unfortunately, my Clever’s clear plastic body slowly became cloudy and coffee stained. One day, I couldn’t take it anymore and threw out my clever coffee friend.
A year or two later, I ended up purchasing a new Clever Coffee Dripper and writing a review on the blog. One of the only negative things I could say about the Clever Coffee Dripper was that it would inevitably stain and “look a little scary”.
Andrew contacted me a few weeks ago and let me know that he had come up with a solution; he made a Clever Coffee Dripper out of black plastic. It was a simple change but possibly a major improvement (embarrassment over a heavy stained Clever Coffee Dripper is a real thing and no one is talking about it).
Cascara (a.k.a. coffee cherry tea) is something that is picking up steam in the craft coffee world. A few years ago, I would hear some mentions of it here or there but would have had to actively search if I wanted to find some (let alone a recipe for brewing it up). These days, I see cascara in many coffee shops and online roasters. If you have questions about this trending fruit tea, here is an informational and brewing guide.
What is Cascara?
A brief history
Coffee is the seed of a fleshy, cherry-like fruit that grown primarily between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (you can read more about green coffee here). In most cases, the flesh of the coffee cherry is removed and discarded during coffee processing. This discarded flesh from coffee processing can be a nuisance and can even create a pollution problem if it is not dealt with properly.
WARNING: Do not confuse cascara made from coffee cherries with Cascara Sagrada. Cascara Sagrada (sacred bark) is the dried bark of the cascara buckthorn plant that grows in the Pacific Northwest. It has an extremely bitter taste (allegedly) and is known for its laxative properties.
Traditional consumption of coffee cherry tea is thought to be even older than roasting the coffee seeds (beans). Legend has it that coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian herdsman (Kaldi) and his goats. He began making a caffeinated tea out of the fruit (which eventually morphed into roasting the seeds themselves). A drink made from the coffee fruit has been consumed in Yemen (called qishr*) and Ethopia (called hashara) ever since. Cascara is also consumed in Bolivia under the traditional name of sultana.
The credit for the recent rise of cascara’s popularity has been given to Aida Batlle, a renowned coffee grower from El Salvador. It is said that during a cupping, Batlle made an infusion out of some discarded coffee cherries and coined the phrase cascara (which means skin or husk in Spanish) because coffee pulp wasn’t a very marketable name.