Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bodum CHAMBORD French Press Coffee Maker with Starbucks Coffee

I've always enjoyed going to Starbucks, like the 'third place' concept very much and think they hire good people. So when CEO Howard Schultz released the new book a few months ago on how they managed the crisis a few years ago when the company was in trouble (they were losing customers to McCafe!), I quickly bought in on the Kindle.
Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul
It's a fascinating read, with so much information about the backstories and how Starbucks operates. I like how they revamped their mission statement which is now: 'to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time'. Anyone in the service industry struggling with issues on expansion, authenticity, quality... should get it.

In the book, it's mentioned that the kind of coffee Schultz likes is the kind he can prepare at home, using an apparatus known as the French press. I thought wow! Maybe I should get one myself, whatever he's having cannot be that bad! The picture below is a screenshot of the book with the barista serving coffee from a French press.

The sort of coffee that's made with a French press is called, simply, 'brewed coffee'. This can be made at home, and there are at least two ways to make this kind of coffee. The most common is the 'drip' method where water is allowed to drip through ground coffee (coffee that's crushed to small pieces) with a piece of filter paper. The other method is the 'steep' method where hot water and ground coffee are mixed so that coffee is produced. Another kind of coffee is the espresso, and this is produced by highly pressured water being blasted through ground coffee. You need a 'espresso coffee machine' to do this.

Starbucks sells espresso and its variants such as cappuccino, latte and mocha. You can also get brewed coffee and what's fun is that you can also bring coffee home and brew it yourself like what Schultz does. My colleague Fuad helped me understand how this works. Starbucks sells whole bean coffee. This is coffee that is not ground yet so they are big and fat. So what happens is that you choose a flavour, give it to the person at the counter (barista). The size of the grind needs to be 'coarse' for a French press; it cannot be too fine. The barista will open the packet, pour the coffee beans into the machine, and use the same packaging to collect the ground coffee, and then give it back to you.

I got the Bodum CHAMBORD, an elegant piece of equipment that is probably the gold standard as far as the French press is concerned. It's available at the basement of CK Tang and Takashimaya. They have basically cornered the do-your-own-coffee-with-the-French-press market I reckon.
Bodum CHAMBORD and Starbucks Pike Place Roast coffee
So what you do is:
  • Put coffee into the flask*
  • pour in boiled water that's cooled a little
  • stir for a while (this moment is magical)
  • wait for 4 minutes
  • push the plunger down to filter the coffee
  • serve!
*2 Starbucks 10g-scoops with 12 fl oz. (360ml) of water, enough coffee for a 16 fl oz. Grande cup or 3 Bodum 7g-scoops with 12 fl oz. of water. This is equivalent to 3 European or 2 US cups of coffee. The Bodum CHAMBORD is listed as having 32 fl oz. or 8-Euro cups capacity.
    After stirring...

    Close the top and wait for 4 minutes, then push the plunger in!
    The coffee is delicious, with the oils still intertwined, unlike the drip method that removes the coffee oils. I think the great thing about preparing coffee like this is that it's loads of fun, plus the quality of the coffee is unparalleled. I just finished the pack of Pike Roast Place, and now am trying the Guatemala Antique which I also tried at the store. I think my home-made version is better! I'll get the PRP again in the future, it's quite fantastic too...


    Nick said...

    Hey Jeff, how does it taste without milk and sugar? I'm assuming you drink without adding any of those! :)

    jeffyen said...

    I don't add milk but I do add sugar. It tastes great!

    Nick said...

    Hi again Jeff!

    I've decided to try the coffee made with a French Press for myself (since I already had one lying at home).

    The aroma is magical! I've made a note of my first attempt and I'm going to improve on it until I get it right :)

    Although this method requires a bit more time than buying straight from Starbucks, it's worth every second because of the fragrance that lingers in the room!

    Thanks for sharing! I now do readings on my Kindle and sip Pike Roasted coffee from Starbucks :D


    jeffyen said...

    Hey Nick, that's a great story! Kindle + homebrew coffee sure is wonderful! LOL