French Coffee Press – Steeped Coffee

French Coffee Press Review

Steep your coffee like tea

SterlingPro French Coffee Press

Coffee is good.  I’ve been drinking it since high school.  My kids tease me and say that it is the reason I am short.  🙂  It’s estimated that 83% of adults drink coffee every day in the US to the tune of 587 million cups consumed per day.  Wow.  Coffee is a huge business.

I am not one of those people who are a very picky about their coffee.  You know the ones that have to brew at the correct temperature (which is apparently between 195 F and 205 F) and pay close attention to the coarseness of the grind and on and on.  I really just buy one of three brands of coffee (folgers, kirkland, or eight o’clock) depending on what is on sale or where I am shopping.

I also don’t have a fancy high end coffee maker either.  We have our ‘fancy’ programmable Black and Decker coffee maker.  It’s just a drip coffee maker that can be programmed to turn on and brew your coffee just before you get out of bed.  It also has the “steal a cup” feature for when you cannot wait for the brew cycle to finish.

I have seen a few coffee enthusiasts use a french coffee press at work.  They claim it is the best way to enjoy coffee.  It is supposed to give you the best flavor out of your coffee.  To me, it is more of a novelty item, but it did get my curiosity.  I started to think, this would be good for those one or two cup small batches when I didn’t want to brew a whole pot.

Amazon has a bunch of french presses for sale, I didn’t want a piece of junk or spend a bunch of money.  This was something I don’t really need.  I found the reviews and the price of the SterlingPro French Press to be favorable, so I ordered it.

First impressions and use

I unpacked the french press and thought that the glass body was a bit fragile, but not any more fragile than a regular coffee pot it- in fact this glass is thicker than a coffee pot.  French pressThe handle is hard plastic and sufficiently bulky to hold the press.  The press comes with a lid and integrated strainer, a replacement strainer screen, and the body of the press itself.  It has metal feet, and the lid, strainer and screen are made well.

The first thing I did was put coffee grounds into the carafe.  It takes about 2 scoops of grounds to make a full carafe of coffee.  Then you put on a of water to bring the temperature up to almost boiling.  Don’t put boiling water into the press!  I was even afraid of shattering the glass with nearly boiling water, so I pre-heated the press under some hot tap water before pouring in the water from the kettle.

Next was to pour the hot water onto the grounds in the press and then put the lid on.  This is where you steep the grounds for 2-4 minutes.  I used the plunger/strainer to mix the grounds up in the water instead of having them sit on the bottom, then let the plunger sit above the water and waited out the 2-4 minutes.

After the steeping time is over, push the plunger all the way down and then pour your coffee into your cup.  That’s it.  I was very surprised that there were absolutely no grounds in my cup of coffee.  The taste was not noticeably different that using my regular drip coffee maker.  However, the second and third cups are more bitter in flavor.  This is because the coffee keeps ‘brewing’ the longer it sits in the grounds.

After you I had my coffee, its time to clean the press out.  What a mess this is!  One cannot simply dump the coffee grounds into the garbage (never put the grounds down the sink!) can, grab a paper towel or two and wipe the grounds out into the can.  Then wipe off the plunger before taking it all to the sink for hand washing.

Conclusion

The french press is an easy way to make coffee.  If anyone needs to make small batches or out camping, this way of making coffee is for you.  Coffee will taste just as good as your drip brewer, or better if you know what you are doing.  There were no grounds in my cup of coffee as I had expected.  This press is well made and will withstand use for a long time if you are careful when cleaning it.  Cleaning out the grounds is a pain in the butt, but in the end it is more healthy and sanitary than a K-cup. (read here about K-cups)  I only use my french press occasionally now when I want a cup or two and don’t want to brew a whole pot of coffee.  That is fine for me.  Maybe someday, someone will show me what I am missing with the french press and instruct me how to get the best tasting coffee out of it.  Maybe that person is you.  Leave your comments below.

Garage Heater – Stay warm while you work

Garage Heater Review

Heat your garage and work year-round in comfort

Comfort Zone CZ220 Electric Ceiling Mount Heater -5,000 watts

I love working in the garage.  It is one of the ways that I relieve stress from the day.  Whether working on my boat or my 1972 Buick, I cherish the time spent on these projects.  But, if you live in the north like I do, the winter is usually a time for hibernation.  Watch TV, surf the internet and dream of the summer are some of the ways to pass the time. Only the rich own a garage heater, right?

This fall I thought of how much wasted time happens in the winter.  Then all my projects get compressed into the fringes of spring and fall along with all summer.  Why spend the summer working on these projects when I should be enjoying them?

I’ve used a propane garage heater in the past, one of those turbo torpedo units like this one.  They will warm your garage up pretty fast!  The thing I didn’t like about it was the noise from the heater.  I love to play my music while working out there and that torpedo heater would drown it out.  This forced me to cycle my heater on and off based on how warm or cold the garage was getting.

I needed an alternative method to heating the garage.  I researched garage heaters and browsed through the offerings on craigslist.  Many of them were natural gas and 220 volt powered. I had neither 220 or natural gas to my garage.  I’ve run electric before and I had already planned on adding a separate line for my air compressor so I figured I could do both at the same time.  Running natural gas was another animal that I didn’t want to handle.  Further research pointed me in the direction of a 220V electric heater and the positive reviews convinced me to buy one.

Installing the Garage Heater

The first thing needed is a dedicated 220V line.  According to my research 10 gauge wire can handle 30 amps, which is enough to power this heater.  Be sure to consult an electrician if you are unsure about your specific situation.  This heater is hard wired to the electric – it does not have a plug.  Wiring the heater is easy. Comfort Zone heater wiring Unscrew the bottom panel on the unit and feed the wire through a knockout on the side – you will need your own romex clamp to secure the wire to the unit.  There are two terminals to screw down the power and then a separate screw for the ground.

When you mount this to the ceiling, please follow the instructions and allow for all the proper clearances.  You will need to locate a ceiling joist to screw the supplied lag screws into it.  I oriented my heater at an angle to the joist and could only use one lag screw in the center of the bracket to attach it.  The bracket is strong enough to allow for this, but if you don’t need to angle your heater, use two lag screws.

Once the heater is suspended from the ceiling and you have wired it in, there are three separate angles you can tilt the unit to help direct the heat. Comfort zone heater adjustable mountI wound up using the third angle to aim the heat down.  There are also four vanes on the unit that can also be angled to fine-tune where you want your heat.  Once the unit is running you can readjust the position of the heater and the vanes to your liking.

Operation

The heater has three heat settings that are selected by a rocker switch.  You can choose between 3,000/4,000/5,000 watts of heat.  Comfort zone cz220 garage heater controlsWhich setting you choose depends on how cold it is and how fast you want to heat up your work area.  I leave mine on the lowest setting unless it is cold and I want to bring the temperature up faster.  The heater runs just as well on all three settings with a noticeable difference in heat output.

There is also a thermostat on the heater that is not marked as to temperature, but the further clockwise you turn the dial, the hotter it will be in your garage.  I have left my heater on all winter at about a quarter turn on the thermostat which leaves my garage at a constant 40 degrees.  When I want to go in there and work, I will turn the thermostat up to about 3/4 of the dial and switch the heat setting on the highest.  This has warmed my garage up to 60 degrees when the outside temperature was in the 20’s.

Sadly, there is no on/off switch on the heater, but if you turn the dial all the way counter clockwise, it will be ‘off’.  I still would like to see an on/off switch because the power light on the heater remains lit constantly. You may want to install a switch somewhere in your power supply if this bothers you.

Conclusion

I can truly say that I wished I had installed this heater in my garage years earlier.  Those lazy winter days wishing I could work in the garage are gone.  My garage now stays 40 degrees all winter long on standby.  Whenever I want to go out and work in the garage, I will set the thermostat to about 3/4 and the heat setting on high, then go back in the house for 20-30 minutes while the garage heats up.

My garage is about 25 x 20 with 12 foot ceilings and it is insulated.  It is a big garage, but it heats up very nicely thanks to this heater.  I have had to dial back the thermostat and shed my sweatshirt because the temperature had gotten up to 65 degrees.

The increase in my electric bill has been minimal.  I estimate it to be about $15-20 dollars a month extra to keep my garage at 40 degrees constantly and accommodate work sessions a few nights and on the weekends.

You should get one for yourself.  You will be glad you did.