The French press hasn’t changed much since it was invented in 1929, and still, coffee snobs know it’s one of the best products for delivering a consistent, robust pour with every brew.
There’s just one problem: It often leaves a gritty residue in the bottom of the cup.
A company out of Vancouver, Canada, aims to reinvent the French press with a design inspired by Mercedes Benz fuel-cell vehicles. ESPRO claims its products keep coffee hotter longer and sludge-free, thanks to its car-inspired revamp.
A typical French press has one flat filter that sits on top of the grinds and pushes them down. The manufacturer has to keep the holes in the filter relatively large so it doesn’t clog or get stuck, which lets through a lot of fine particles from the grind.
The ESPRO founders, one of whom worked on the fuel cell vehicle design, knew there was a way to do it better.
The products, which range from $27 to $139, do away with the single, round filter and replace it with two mesh baskets that are 9 to 12 times finer than traditional French press filters. Their shape allows them to break through the foamy top layer more easily, and provides more surface area to catch particles — delivering a cleaner cup of coffee.
“We’ve been in the filtering area for a long time,” Chris R. McLean, vice president of development at ESPRO, tells Tech Insider. Surprisingly, the experience had nothing to do with coffee.
McLean met his cofounder Bruce Constantine while working at QuestAir Technologies, a company that develops gas separation and purification systems for companies in the biogas and industrial hydrogen sector. The pair collaborated on a filtering technology that pulled oxygen from air in order to make fuel-cell cars, including those developed by Mercedes Benz, more efficient.
Principles from that design inspired them to improve the French press.
The basket filters fit snuggly in the container thanks to a silicone lip that runs along the rims. This sealing, which imitates one they designed for the fuel-cell vehicles, helps prevents grinds from creeping into the pour and creates a vacuum seal, keeping coffee hot for up to three hours. The stainless steel walls of the container also help to insulate.
All French presses require some level of maintenance, including disassembling and washing the individual parts. Still, the extensive clean-up might be worth a rich, clean cup of coffee.
Besides, ESPRO isn’t targeting the convenience-coffee crowd with this stunning machine.
“We’re looking at the people [for whom] coffee is almost a hobby,” McLean says, adding, “a hobby or an obsession.”