So what's the deal with this new caffeine machine? And most importantly, how does it stack up to your regular, everyday, semi-giving French press?
Made by a Raleigh, NC design firm, the Impress works on the same principles as a French press: you coarsely grind up beans, dump them in a container, pour in hot water, then press the water into the beans. The main differences are that the Impress doubles as a mug, has a hard metal filter reminiscent of an espresso machine, and is really, really cool looking.
To see if this $40 gadget is worth upgrading to, we tested it against our regular old French press (Bodum plastic model) in the categories of design, heat retention, flavor, texture, and clean-up, by brewing a bag of Counter Culture's early harvest, single-day lot Tairora Project coffee beans from the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
So read on to see just how impressed we were with this new gadget. C'mon, we had to.
This commonly used French press is nicer looking than your average drip machine, but it leaves a little to be desired. The plastic liner feels cheap, although the ball at the top of the plunger is really a joy to look at and plunge. Very low chance for spillage, but you're also not going to impress any design-nerd ladies.
It's no surprise this came from a store called Designbox. It looks like it'd fit perfectly into the cup holder of a Porsche. The hypnotizing, screen-printed pattern on the side might turn into a sailboat if you stare at it long enough. Pressing down the interior chamber onto the grinds feels like you're pressing a stick of butter into a hot frying pan -- it's really smooth, and, also, there's a tiny bit of splash-back. When pouring the coffee, there was some spillage, but this thing is so good looking that if you spilled coffee on yourself on the way to a job interview, you might still get the job.
20mins in, the coffee is still warm, but it's warm like relaxing bathwater, not warm like a hot shower that will wake you up and help you do a ton of work.
Despite the sippy top, the directions suggest you wait 20-30mins to drink straight from the container lest you scald yourself. I waited that length of time and still scalded myself.
A heartier, fuller taste. Notes of coriander, leather, plum, and bottomlessness.
A little spicier and earthier. Notes of curry, fresh wood, apricot, and pretension. Mmm, pretension!
WINNER: A TIE
Still better than your average drip. Has a lot of body, but it's heavier. If this were a pair of jeans, they would be apple-bottomed. They would potentially also have the boots with the fur.
There's a more tea-like texture to this. It's silky and gives you a feeling of luxury and refinement. If this were a pair of sheets, they would have a thread count so high you couldn't afford them.
Let's be real, despite the cleanliness is godliness mentality of the fancy coffee world, most people aren't disassembling their French press and giving it a thorough bubble bath after each use. Toss the beans, rinse the carafe and filter, and you're good.
The cup-like aspects of this thing make you feel obligated to scrub it every time. Although the filter is easier to wash, there are five parts to this thing
, including a rubber interior piece that is a real pain to take off.
WINNER: FRENCH PRESS
If you've already got a French press in your life, you're probably set. But should your trusty vessel spring a leak (and you're willing to spend an extra $20), the sleek design, silky java texture, portability, and incredible ability to keep the coffee lawsuit-level hot make the Impress a gadget that any coffee drinker will wanna get their hands on.
Dan Gentile is a staff writer on Thrillist's national food and drink team. He owns more coffee makers than suits and dress shoes combined. Follow him to ultimate caffeination at @Dannosphere.