If you use a Keurig K-cup brewer, there’s a great alternative to throwing away hundreds of K-cups per year, and that’s a refillable/reusable cup like this one from Ekobrew. For $17 (Amazon link), you get a stainless steel cup that you can fill with your favorite ground coffee. There’s also a plastic version available for ~$8.
A new lever-based espresso machine called the Nomad is attempting to launch over at Kickstarter. It’s designed to be portable and easy to use, and the video seems to back up that claim. Seems simple enough…the one feature that I noticed right away was the pressure gauge on the top surface, a very nice feature that I haven’t seen in all lever based systems. Price for early adopters is $165. Check out the video below.
Starbucks is offering a reusable $1 coffee cup, and giving people a $.10 discount whenever you use it. At that level, the break-even point is pretty attractive…this just might catch on. You also get that $.10 discount with any other reusable cup or tumbler.
The Velopresso is a mobile, pedal-powered coffee making machine designed by Royal College of Art grads Amos Field Reid and Lasse Oiva. The rider/barista uses pedal power to grind the beans, and the espresso is made via a manual lever style press. It does, though, use a small gas canister to heat the water.
Designer Enrique Luis Sardi has crafted this edible espresso cup for the Italian coffee company Lavazza. With a cookie outside and frosted inside (to make it watertight, and also sweeten the espresso), may seem like a fanciful concept that will never make it out of the laboratory, but it’ll actually be hitting the market in Europe. Given the US’ love of drip coffee and mega-sized espresso drinks, I doubt we’ll see this on our shores anytime soon (really, when’s the last time you saw someone order an espresso at your local Starbucks?). Kinda cool though.
After a thousand or so shots of espresso, my beloved Gaggia espresso machine finally gave up…no lights, no pump, nothing. Depressed, I took it apart to troubleshoot the problem, and was delighted to find it was a relatively simple issue of a malfunctioning power switch! My joy turned back to depression when some online searching yielded no sources for the switch, just lots of references to having to buy all three switches as a group for around $75.
Luckily, there’s a better option – go generic. For about $5 (with shipping), I was able to get an equivalent switch from Digikey that, while it doesn’t look the same, functions great and leaves me more money to spend on coffee. There are two options I found at Digikey. The first, part number EG1531-ND, has a translucent red button that illuminates when on. The second, part number EG1529-ND, is just solid black so blends in with the machine better (though I prefer the safety aspect of having an illuminated power button).
While these instructions are specific to this particular Gaggia model, their machines are all so similar that much of this could be leveraged for others.
Replacement was really easy. First, unplug the power from the wall! Then, open the water filler lid, and remove the screw that’s in the center of the water opening there. The top then snaps off.
Unsnap all three buttons and push them out the front, but leave the wires disconnected for now. Remove one wire at a time from the power button and connect it to the same spot on the new power button. Snap the switches back in, replace the top, and you’re done!
If you decide to get an illuminated switch from a different source, you might find that there are different types of illumination available, incandescent and neon. Note the voltage associated with those! Incandescent will probably be 12V and will burn out instantly when plugged into 120V AC. Go for the 125V neon option instead if you want it to last more than a millisecond.
Here’s an interesting variation of the original french press design…instead of a single metal mesh filter, it basically adds a second filter. This allows for the filtering of more of the fine particles that conventional french press filters let through (as such a fine mesh filter would get clogged up filtering out the larger coffee grounds). It’s far from cheap, selling for $70 at Amazon, but does look like a definite improvement for those people hooked on french press style coffee in the mornings.
The Handpresso is a portable espresso maker powered by your car, but for what purpose? I haven’t quite figured that one out for myself yet, especially when it’s selling for over a hundred dollars at Amazon. It’s a cool gadget, but one of those things I see using once or twice and then forgetting about. Being powered by a car’s cigarette lighter gives it some nice mobility, but you do still need to plan ahead – you need to have water and an espresso pod (E.S.E pod) on hand, and if you’re that good at planning you could instead just plan on driving by a Starbucks to grab some espresso there. It’d work well for camping perhaps.
While this does require the use of pods, keep in mind that you can make your own pods instead to save money and also maximize quality.
I admit the convenience of single serve coffee machines is great…you get great tasting coffee quickly and with little effort. That convenience really comes at a price though, as this article in the NY Times explains. Maybe we’re just all getting used to pay a lot for coffee from our local barista, but when you stop and do the math, k-cups just don’t make sense. As the NY Times found, the K-cups contained around 5-8 grams of coffee each, or to put it another way, you can easily be spending more than $50 per pound for this coffee!
So, what’s the answer? If you’re hooked on the K-cup idea, just buy a reusable coffee filter and get your beans from your grocery store or local roaster. You’ll begin saving money on the first pound of coffee you buy, even when factoring in the cost of the filter!
Another nice option is the Aeropress…similar to a french press, but a bit easier cleanup in my opinion.
Seems I’m a bit late to the game reporting this, but…if you own a Tassimo Single-Cup brewer, it’s been recalled due to a burn hazard. Bosch models numbers TAS100, TAS200, TAS451, TAS46, and TAS651 are potentially affected if their date code is in the range of FD8806 through 9109, as is the Tassimo Professionl TAS6512CUL with date codes FD8905 through 9109. Read more over at the CPSC website.