Kuissential Versa Travel French Press Review and Brewing Guide

When I learned that Kuissential, the maker of one of my favorite manual burr grinders, was going to release a travel french press, I knew I had to get my hands on one. Luckily, Kuissntial reached to me and sent one my way in exchange for honest feedback. This review is fair, honest, and the words are totally mine.

The Kuissential Versa is a travel french press brewer, but with its own twist. Instead of pushing a plunger and the coffee grounds down, you pull them up and remove them entirely. The idea isn’t a new one, but few brewers have been able to achieve the pulling action without making a mess.

I’ve been using the Versa for about a month. I’ve brewing using a handful of recipes and have played with my own little tricks. After this review, I will lay out my own guide to using the brewer. Let’s dig in.

The Kuissential Versa Review

I opened the Versa with much excitement. Basic instructions covered the box. An insert with brewing information fell on my lap.

The brewing chamber holds the coffee grounds and water. Protruding from the opening is a rod with a fine stainless steel mesh filter at the end. On the opposite side is a pronged based with a little sphere holding the rod. The second chamber (doubled walled – excellent) slides over the first brewing chamber and twists into place. When you’re ready to filter the brew, you flip the whole thing over and pull up on the sphere, separating the grounds from the brewed coffee.

The Good

The Versa brews a solid cup of french press coffee. It has the classic heavy body, but there was very little sludge at the bottom of my coffee each time. I found the flavor to be on par with any other french press brewer.

The brewer feels very sturdy in my hands. Built with stainless steel and a durable, dishwasher-safe plastic, it doesn’t feel flimsy or poorly constructed at all.

The attachable travel-lid really is spill-proof, which is a huge plus in my mind. You could throw that coffee in your bag, throw the bag around, and you wouldn’t have to worry about spilling coffee everywhere.

Overall, the build and idea are great, but I noticed some minor quirks that kept me from falling in love with the Versa.

The Not-So-Good

The distance between the brewing chamber wall and the filter is very small. I didn’t have a problem filling it with water because I have a gooseneck kettle, but I can imagine it being difficult without one.

The outer chamber wouldn’t twist and lock in until I began to pull the filter in a little bit. If I pulled the filter in, the sphere would be out further than the pronged base, making the whole thing wobbly. I ended up just waiting to lock it in until I was ready to flip and pull.

I also noticed that the brewing chamber could afford to be bigger. At only 8oz, it seems small compared to the 15oz outer chamber. The extra 7oz of space isn’t being used during the brewing (or after, if you like your coffee black), and it seems Kuissential could have increased its size to allow for larger batches.

My Conclusions On The Kuissential Versa

In general, I found that the Kuissnetial Versa is a solid step towards travel brewing, but I don’t think Kuissential has quite hit the nail on the head just yet. It brews great coffee, but it doesn’t function ideally.

I believe the small entry and exit area for brewing will be a challenge for users without a narrow spout kettle, and the small 8oz batch size seems like an inefficient use of space (since the larger chamber holds 15oz).

The Versa isn’t the travel brewer for me, but it could be exactly what you’re looking for – especially if you like to add cream or sugar to your coffee to use up that extra space. At only $30 on Amazon, it’s worth a try if you find yourself still interested!

Kuissential Versa Brewing Guide

If you’ve pulled the trigger and are enjoying your Kuissential Versa, I hope you’ll find my method to using it enlightening and empowering. Let’s get started!

For this device, I like to use 15g of coffee and 250g of water, which fills up the brewing chamber to the tip-top.

1. Collect your freshly boiled water, freshly ground coffee, and Versa brewer.

2. Slide your coffee grounds into the brewing chamber, then fill the chamber all the way up with water just off the boil.

3. Set a timer for 4 minutes and set the outer chamber over the brewing chamber. Don’t flip just yet.

4. When the timer nears 4 minutes, grab the Versa by the bottom prongs. Using your other hand, pull the stainless steel filter into the brewing chamber by the sphere, locking the ground coffee inside. Then screw the outer chamber in place

5. Flip the Versa and pull up on the filter rod until it is raised as far as it will go.

6. Unscrew the chambers and lift the brewing chamber out slowly. Be careful! It’s hot!

7. Dispose of the coffee grounds by pushing the filter out and rinsing the device.

8. Enjoy your french press coffee!

You can then pour in some cream or flavor and attach the travel lid and take your coffee to go. Excellent!

Happy brewing, folks!

Black Friday / Cyber Monday Deals for Coffee Lovers: 2016 Edition

It’s stock-up-on-coffee-equipment season, thanks to some excellent Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on coffee beans and equipment. There will be thousands of sales and specials, but finding them all is nearly impossible. Instead of a comprehensive list, here are some of the best sales I’ve been able to find.

black Friday deals

Many of these businesses run out of product quickly, so make sure you read the rules so you can grab exactly what you want when the sale begins.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Coffee Deals

Prima Coffee – Always one of the biggest sales for Black Friday. Lots of things on sale 15% or more. Cyber Monday deals are unannounced yet, so sign up for their newsletter to stay up to date.

Whole Latte Love – Firstly, WLL is giving away 3 espresso machines! This site has a larger catalog than Prima, but the sales aren’t quite as enticing. Still, if you’ve been looking for something particular, you are likely to get a discount.

World Market – Not a coffee business, but a carrier of many coffee and tea goods. Some people reported up to  50% off of Bodum products last year. Sales not displayed yet, so sign up for the newsletter.

Espresso Parts – Not announced yet, but EP always has a major Cyber Monday sale. Sign up for their newsletter to make sure you get a chance at your favorite items.

Bean Box – Taste Seattle roasters in this subscription service. Sign up to their email list for 10% off a subscription plan or 20% off any $60+ order with the promo code: BLACKCOFFEE.

Final Tip: Sign up for your favorite coffee roaster’s email list and you may get a chance at a deal that I won’t be able to find.


See a great deal that others should know about? Drop the tip in the comments below!

Holiday Gift Guide: 2016 Edition

Coffee innovation has soared over the last few years. Groundbreaking grinders, all-in-one brewers, and coffees from new origins came to the US specialty market this year. Picking the right Christmas gift among so many incredible products can be difficult, so I’ve written this guide to give you a deep look into some excellent product choices, and some wacky ones too.

Click Here to jump to the Black Friday and other holiday deals!

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2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Here are my top picks for coffee gifts this year. Some of them are brand new, some of them I’ve only recently become acquainted with. All of them are sure to make some special coffee lover happy.

Pocket Change – $0 to $35

Madesco Cold Brew Pouches – Make cold brew the easy way with these cloth pouches. They make cleanup a breeze and produce a rich flavor and clean body.

Goat Mug – Goat Story’s travel mug is odd looking, but it’s 100% leakproof, comes in a variety of colors and materials, and easy to strap on for travel.

Kuissential EvenGrind – I’ve used this hand grinder many times and am confident it’s one of the best out there (and cheapest). Check out my review.

Angel’s Cup – This is my absolute favorite coffee subscription service. There’s none like it. It’ll make you a better taster of coffee and expose you to many of the best roasters in the world. I cannot suggest this coffee subscription enough!

Sudden Coffee – Though I haven’t had the pleasure of trying Sudden Coffee myself, many of my coffee professional peers have praised it for being instant coffee that’s actually very tasty. I’m curious about it – are you?

Bialetti Mini Express – This mini mokapot has been on my radar for a while. It’s small, cute and can brew a very concentrated form of coffee that can be used in mixed drinks or as faux-espresso. I do not currently own a mokapot, but this is the one I have my eye on.

Stick To The Budget – $36 to $120

It’s American Press – I have really enjoyed using my own It’s American Press the last couple months. It’s durable, simple, and brews a killer cup. Read my full review and guide.

Stagg Pour Over Kettle – The kettle from Stagg is durable, counterbalanced, and has a thermometer on the lid. It’s a comfortable kettle to pour with and is beautiful to behold.

Kruve Grind Sift System – Uniform coffee grounds are essential for balanced, rich coffee. Most coffee grinders struggle to achieve uniform grounds, sadly. This series of sieves enables anyone to filter their grounds to achieve that uniformity that grinders cannot.

Bellman Milk Steamer – Cappuccinos and hot chocolate at home. My wife and I love our Bellman Milk Steamer. It’s brought us many moments of caffeinated joy. It’s not the easiest milk steamer to use, but you can achieve professional-quality milk with it with some practice.

Cold Bruer – Drip cold brew for the masses! This home brewer is easy to use and produces rich and crisp cold brew coffee.

Budget Breakers – $121 to $300

Baratza Sette – Rave reviews and a groundbreaking design set Baratza’s Sette coffee grinder apart. Excellent for brewed coffee and espresso, this could be the last grinder you ever have to buy.

Kitchenaid Precision Press – I’ve taken my Precision Press on many trips. It has a built-in scale and timer, which reduces the amount of gear I need for great coffee. This would be a good one for a newcomer to home coffee brewing. Read my review.

What Have We Done – $301+

Opti-Pure Water Filtration System – Water is a major player in coffee taste, and it’s a variable that is very difficult to improve. This filtration system takes everything out of the water, and then puts a little bit back for perfect coffee water. Most coffee shops use this system. I know you want it.

Linea Mini Espresso Machine – Make home espresso with a nearly-commercial machine. It’ll put a dent in your wallet, but you’ll be able to rely on it to caffeinate you with delicious espresso drinks.

Hottop Coffee Roaster – Roast your own coffee with this tabletop coffee roaster. It’s a fun hobby, and many people save money on coffee by roasting their own green beans. It’s also difficult to achieve a balanced, flavorful roast. Are you up to the challenge?


Well, there you have it: my picks for gifts in 2016.

Make sure you check out the Black Friday / Cyber Monday Deals Post. Some of the items above will be discounted over the next week!

It’s American Press Review and Brewing Guide

As soon as I saw It’s American Press’ Indigogo campaign last year, I knew the product would be a great success. It’s a year later and I find myself brewing with the device a couple of times a week. It’s captured my attention and is a brewer I will keep close for years to come.

american press

Here are a few of the reasons I love the new It’s American Press.

It’s Designed to Last

There’s no doubt about the quality of the materials. When I opened the box for the first time and held the cylindrical brewer, I was a bit surprised at how heavy it was. Not because it’s bulky (it’s not at all), but because it’s built to operate for a lifetime.

The double walled carafe would probably survive being thrown from a plane and the stainless steel mesh that makes up the two filters on the coffee pod aren’t going anywhere.

It’s Easy to Use

Unlike just about every other coffee brewer, you start the brewing process by pouring water into the carafe without the coffee present. You then submerge a pod full of ground coffee in the water, let it steep for a few minutes, and plunge the rest of the way down.

As you plunge the pod down, the water below rushes through the coffee with intense pressure and sits on top of the silicon pod. It’s a visual coffee experience that I haven’t found anywhere else.

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The Coffee Is Delicious

A rich flavor and medium body have characterized most of the cups I’ve had from It’s American Press, but there are some ways to change that. One cup I made using a coarse grind and a longer brew time had a lighter, tea-like body and a rich, crisp flavor. I typically stick to a medium-fine grind and a 3 minute total brew time for the heavier body.

I was concerned that the metal filters would produce too much sediment to allow me to really fall in love with the It’s American Press, but that fear was quickly laid to rest. It seems the mesh filters are very fine and capable of producing a cup that is sediment light.

It Will Go Anywhere

I’ve already taken my It’s American Press all over Texas and can say it’s been one of the easiest brewers to travel with.

  • There’s no paper waste
  • Clean up is very quick
  • It’s cylindrical with no protruding parts
  • It’ll survive longer than I will

If you’re constantly on the move and don’t need to brew more than 12oz at a time, this is a brewer to keep on your radar.

My Only Hesitation

The current press only brews about 12oz of coffee (14oz if you live life on the edge). It’s enough for me and my wife on most occasions, but some days we need a bit more. Being so easy, brewing coffee twice isn’t painful, but it’s not quick either.


Overall, I find It’s American Press to be a very capable no-fuss coffee brewer without any serious faults. It’s durable, easy to use, brews great coffee, and is a great travel companion.

Check out It’s American Press Brewing Guide to see the exact recipe I like to use.

Make sure to visit the It’s American Press website to learn more about how the device was designed and to keep up with future developments.

GINA: One Coffee Brewer To Rule Them All

There are dozens of coffee-related Kickstarter campaigns at any moment in time, but few are able to stick out in memorable ways and create a stir. GINA, the new coffee brewer by Goat Story, is one of these stand-out brewers.

In my opinion, it’s THE stand-out brewer.

In the time it’s taken to write this blog (about 30 minutes), the GINA has secured over $1,500 $2,500 in Kickstarter funding. The goal of $50,000 has been accomplished on the first day! Watch the video. You’ll see why.

The GINA smart-brewer is a multi-functional coffee device that can achieve pour over, immersion, and cold drip brewing. I am aware of very few brewers that can perform more than one style of brewing effectively, let alone three.

The device incorporates a digital scale into the base. This feature takes the guessing out of coffee and water ratios and makes it easy to brew great, balanced coffee every time. A dedicated app offers brewing guides and a way to take notes on your coffee experiences.

GINA is more than a brewer, she is an experience. Her quality materials, multi-functional features, and striking design maker her a powerful rival to all other coffee brewers.

Gina

I often wonder what my ideal home coffee brewer would look like and how it would function.

  • It would brew coffee via immersion, pour over, and cold brew methods.
  • It would be easy to clean.
  • It would look beautiful.
  • It would eliminate the need for many extra accessories (scale, timer, ect).
  • It would last a lifetime.

There’s no longer any need to wonder. I believe GINA is that brewer. If I were to start my coffee equipment arsenal from scratch, I would buy a grinder, a kettle, and the Gina. Nothing else would be necessary.

You can back GINA on Kickstarter and get your own brewer for $145 (super early bird price). Make sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign to see all of GINA’s beauty.

 

Hario V60 Essentials – Building Up Your Pour Over Coffee Kit

This guest post is written by Justin from the Alternative Brewing. He is a pour over nut! His favorite brew method is easily the Chemex, especially using it for making iced coffee to battle the Aussie heat!


So you’ve begun to explore some coffee brewing alternatives and decided that the Hario V60 pour over is the method for you. Now whether you’re a complete coffee brewing novice or you’ve dabbled in the home coffee brewing arts before, it always helps to have a bit of a roadmap of what kit you need to get started for your method of choice.

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Now some coffee snobs lovers will tell you that you cannot begin brewing without a fully comprehensive kit that features all the bells and whistles on offer. But let’s be honest, the average home barista’s love of coffee grows with time, and so should your kit.

Running the Alternative Brewing site, we often get asked what our favorites are; or what are the must haves for Hario V60 coffee brewing, so we’ve put together our ultimate Hario bundle to help you get everything you need to make a cup of coffee that rivals that of your favorite barista.

Hario V60 Pour Over

This is pretty much a given. You can’t brew without it and is therefore the ultimate must have for making your perfect pour over brew. You can pretty much pick your V60 based on your personal style and budget, with the only main difference being the size (1 or 2 cup), and the material (glass, ceramic, metal, or plastic).

The ribbed side walls; the cone angle which helps the coffee to sit in the container ensuring all coffee grounds are utilised; the large flow hole in the bottom, ensuring your coffee flows properly into your cup for you to enjoy are all standard across every model.

To get brewing, simply fold your filter paper along the seam and insert. For best results, pour hot water over the filter paper, this not only preheats the coffee decanter, but also removes any paper tastes. Dispose of this water.

Hario Skerton Grinder

Facilitating an advanced Ceramic Coffee Grinder mechanism, its results are a gorgeous true coffee flavour that hasn’t been altered in the grinding process ensuring a flavorsome, pure cup of coffee. Not only does it produce superior coffee, it will never rust and will give you superior life-long use. With a capacity of 100g it is great for pour over, cold brew and French press coffee applications. Which is handy if you plan on branching out your brewing methods as your coffee passion grows.

This grinder is fully adjustable for your brewing preferences from fine to coarse, depending on your taste. To adjust, turn the locking screw counter clockwise to remove it, remove the handle and stopper, and then turn the grind adjustment to the desired grind level.

For best results we usually recommend to grind your coffee as fine as salt as a rough guide. If it drains too quickly the grinds are too coarse, or if it’s taking too long, the grind could be too fine.

Add 15g of ground coffee to the V60 and tap gently to settle the coffee grains. 15g of coffee to 240mL water should take about 2 minutes to drain through and produce a flavoursome brew.

Scales with Timer

How are you supposed to measure such an exact amount you ask? Premium coffee scales are expertly engineered to the second decimal, making it easy to make accurate, finite measurements to improve your V60 brew one decimal point at a time! Many coffee scales on the market boast USB charging, and Ethernet connectivity which may seem over the top, but once you start experimenting, they become very useful features.

hario scales

Our favorite coffee scale is the Hario metal drip scale. Designed for up-market professionals, and you at-home coffee masters; this scale is very user friendly with many useful features included in its smart design.

Timer l Scale

The weight is displayed on the right side of the scale, and the extraction time is shown on the left side of the scale. Couldn’t be easier!

LED Black Light

Reverse LCD with white numerals on top of black matte, ensures readability in low light conditions.

Stainless Steel Weighing Platform

This feature allows the weighing platform to withstand heat and contains materials to insulate it and stop heat transferring to the base plate. The flat acrylic plated top of the main body allows water and coffee spills to be wiped off easily.

Non-Slip Main Body

Rubber feet are fitted to ensure the platform remains stable enabling brewing consistency and accuracy. It can also be stored when not in use on its side to save space.

USB Friendly

Charge it up with your USB for 4 hours and you will get 80 consecutive hours of running power.

You may think to yourself that you can live without scales, but don’t fall into this trap! The only scientific way to a better brew is by measuring and experimenting. Coffee brewing is as much a science as it is an art!

Hario Buono Stove Top Kettle

A stunning addition to your kitchen with good looks and great performance. The Hario Buono Stove Top Kettle is the ultimate in accuracy and sharp precision circular motion pouring, guided by one finger. It has a super comfortable easy to grip handle, most important for drip brewing methods. The fabulous slim goose-neck allows you to achieve the perfect pour over grounds by not agitating them to produce a rich non-bitter flavour.

The Hario Buono Stove Top Goose Neck kettle has a strong light-weight stainless steel body with a flat bottom suitable for electric or gas cook-tops. Capacity is up to 1 liter of water. A 1.2 liter capacity kettle is also available.

When pouring your water onto your grounds, start by pouring just enough water to wet them evenly (about 40g). This is called blooming. Hot water forces the coffee to release trapped gases. Once the coffee has bloomed (we let it sit for around 30 seconds), begin pouring in the remaining water in a small circular motion around the center of the dripper. Keep the water level even and avoid pouring around the edges of the filter.

For Enjoying Your Brew At Home

hario range serverHario Clear Range Server

Add this elegant heat-proof, microwave proof glass coffee server to your V60 Hario Brewing collection. Not only is it an elegant coffee server, the lid can be utilized with the V60 series as a stand for the Hario dripper. Available in 360ml, 600ml and 800ml capacities to suit your every need.

We love these servers as they do a great job of keeping your fresh brew hot and make the brewing process just that little bit easier. We all enjoy a stress free environment especially pre-coffee!

For Enjoying Your Brew On The Go

Hario V60 Travel Mug

In a hurry? Take your freshly brewed coffee with you in the Hario V60 travel mug. The stainless steel and ceramic construction with a double wall design ensures you don’t get burnt, while being completely leak proof. It works flawlessly with any V60 dripper and has a capacity of 350ml. Great addition if you like to take your coffee for the morning commute.
There you have it, absolutely everything you need to brew the perfect pour over coffee! Remember, building your kit doesn’t have to be a race but more a journey of discovery! Start with the your v60 and scales and build up your kit as your budget allows.

Happy brewing!