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French Presses Review: The Espro Press

A wonderfully handsome, technically impeccable device, offering peak French-press performance.

Espro 18 Ounce Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Press

The Espro Press entered the market about five years ago with the distinction of having been the focus of one of the earliest successful coffee-related Kickstarter campaigns. When the crowd-funding platform itself was less than three years old, the Espro project raised over 550 percent of its $15,000 goal, then actually shipped its promised product to backers only three months later. So, not only did the company pitch, design and manufacture a superlative product, but its fundraising efforts and follow-through were also exemplary.

Indeed, this press pot is in a league of its own. The carafe of the Espro Press is faultless in build and performance and impressive in appearance. Fabricated entirely in polished steel, its commanding, elongated form is further emphasized by a long handle that gracefully curves almost from the top of the carafe to the bottom. The weight of the carafe in hand imparts a reassuring sense of sturdiness and potential longevity.

And that steel isn’t just for looks. The combination of double walls and a relatively tall, narrow carafe adds up to the best heat-retention of five French presses we tested, keeping the contents safely within the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) recommended range of 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for the duration of a typical French press brew cycle. When 600 grams of 205-degree water was added to the carafe following a one-minute preheat with freshly boiled water, the temperature dropped to 199 degrees within 30 seconds, losing only another six degrees over the course of five minutes. No other press performed as well in our tests.

Espro’s marque innovation, the patent-pending micromesh double filter, works exceptionally well on its own, reducing the amount of silt in the cup to a wisp, unlikely to provoke a complaint even from a pour-over paper-filter devotee. Additionally, the Espro offers the option of sandwiching a custom paper filter between its dual layers of micro-mesh, thus combining the appeal of both pour-over and French press, and potentially netting a cup with the richly blended flavor and sweetness associated with full-immersion brewing, yet with the lighter mouthfeel and more delicate, articulated aromatics associated with filter-drip brewing.

A thoroughly high-quality cup is further ensured by the very effective double filter-gaskets on the outer edge of the filters that segregate not only the grinds but also an ounce or two of brewed coffee at the bottom of the carafe. If you really love your coffee, you may feel you want it all, but this little pool of withheld brew is the byproduct of an intentional design focused on producing a consistently bitterness-free cup, unmixed with any coffee that has tended to over-extract by remaining in contact with coffee grounds at the bottom of the carafe after the plunge.

This retained bit of liquid does make for a slightly gloppier clean-up, though, unless further effort is applied to strain the grounds before scooping them out into a kitchen compost bin.  Another very slight hitch comes upon rinsing the cup-shaped interlocking components comprising the double filter system. There are a lot of tiny corners in the eight rectangular windows of mesh that make up each of the two filters, and because the micromesh is so effective, a residue of fines may cling stubbornly to the corners of the inner filter. It takes a bit of focus with a sponge to get every nook fully clean, and the plastic-and-mesh filter components feel fragile enough to suggest that extra care should be taken in this process. Espro sells replacement filters for $18.95, should a corner spring a leak.

At the end of the day, however, all French presses are a bit finicky come clean-up time. The Espro filter at least rewards any added effort with outstanding performance.

The Bottom Line: Quality comes at a price, and we would argue that a mild splurge on an Espro Press is well worth it. A niggling issue or two around cleaning the brewer keeps it from scoring even higher, though its heat-retention, its subtly elegant design and its nearly silt-free cup bring the Espro Press closer to perfection than any other press pot we tested.

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