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 Hario Woodneck Drip Pot is one of the less championed but more interesting manual brewers. Also known as the “Nel” drip (an abbreviated reference to it’s cotton flannel filter), this brewer consists of a glass carafe with a wood collar, a reusable cotton flannel filter and a wooden handled hoop to give the filter structure. It is a pour-over style brewer that comes in two sizes, the larger of which can hold around 480 mL of coffee.
Despite some extra maintenance and cleaning quirks, it is currently one of my favorite manual brewing methods. It produces a flavorful and full cup that has more body than traditional paper filtered coffee but less “sludge” than some of the metal filter options.
Brewing With the Hario Woodneck- My Nel Drip Method
As a manual pour-over device, I treat the Hario Woodneck a lot like I would treat some of the more common pour-over brewers. The flow rate is going to be a little slower than a traditional V60 brew, so I grind a little courser. I typically find myself one or two clicks to the east of my V60 setting on my Virtuoso grinder.
It’s time to talk about cold brewed coffee. If you didn’t know or haven’t heard, it is pretty wonderful. It is a refreshing drink on a warm day, an easy hack for bypassing your horrid office coffee and actually a great way to get into manual coffee brewing with pretty much no specialized coffee equipment.
While I must admit, I typically prefer a hot brewed cup of coffee. It is a great brewing method and sometimes it just hits the spot. You owe it to yourself to try it if you never have and it never hurts to have a fool-proof cold brew recipe in your back pocket.
What is Cold Brew
Cold brew is an immersion brewing method where cold water is added to ground coffee and steeped for a long period of time, usually between 12 and 24 hours. The result is a cup of coffee that is less acidic, lacking in aromatics and has a slightly different chemical composition than a cup of coffee brewed with hot water.
Cold brew is often incorrectly used interchangeably with the more general term iced coffee. Iced coffee refers to cold brew as well as a few other brewing variants of coffee served over ice*.