Impress Coffee Brewer In-Depth Review
The Impress ($39) is a new, Kickstarter funded, all-in-one coffee brewer; the sort that lets you brew and drink from the same vessel. It’s made of three parts–a stainless steel double-walled tumbler, a stainless inner press that has a metal filter & silicone seal on the bottom, and a soft silicone lid that presses on to the top. The basic idea is that you steep your coffee and then press the inner filter down to trap the coffee at the bottom, which leaves filtered coffee in the inner chamber.
Impress or Aeropress?
The Impress reminds me a lot of the Aeropress, and few challengers come close to the Aeropress for ease and quickness. The Impress has a high bar to hurdle in that respect, with a few selling points that might win you over:
- it removes a step or two from your morning routine (press and go in the same vessel)
- it adds a metal filter as standard, which gives more body and can accentuate the sweetness and balance of flavor for some coffees – however, the holes are larger than the Disk Fine I would typically use, so it lets quite a bit of sediment through unless you increase your grind size accordingly
- if you use it as directed, it’s basically a triple-walled insulated mug, and it keeps your coffee piping hot as long as you don’t open the lid – mine was still undrinkably hot after an hour long car ride. This can also be a drawback if you’re thinking of sipping it on your morning commute; I tried and it burned. But if you want hot coffee at your destination, you’re good to go.
The higher cost ($39) of the Impress is close to what you’d spend on an Aeropress and an aftermarket metal filter like the Able Disk Filter or Kaffeologie S Filter. It is easier to clean than a French press, but still not as easy as an Aeropress, so that’s a draw.
Tossing out the Instruction Manual
However, few coffee geeks use the Aeropress the way it was originally intended, and I feel like the Impress is ripe for similar innovation. For instance – why plunge and trap the coffee at the bottom, where it can still extract a bit every time it’s sloshed around over time (even if this is minimized by design) when you can just as easily brew inside the inner filter and simply pull up when you’re done? This also makes cleaning a lot easier, as the filter unscrews from the end.
A few other hacks immediately came to mind. For one, this might work best as a cold-brew travel mug. Instead of using the inner chamber to trap the coffee in the bottom, brew it in the removable part and just pull it out when you’re done brewing, leaving you with cold, filtered coffee in an insulated travel container.
I’d also consider this a nice loose-leaf tea brewer, if you don’t mind the stainless steel. If you steep with the inner chamber plunged, then you can simply remove the tea leaves and use the removable filter to hold them for a second or third brew.
Above – Brewing some tea
Above – Trying to fit it into a cup holder, and failing
Unfortunately, and strangely for a portable coffee cup, the Impress doesn’t actually fit in a cup holder. Maybe it will work if you have one made for a big-gulp cup, but if you have standard sized holders, you’re out of luck (Above, you see me trying to stow it on a recent business trip… no luck, had to hold it the entire time! So much for getting some work done on the ride over).
The Bottom Line
The Impress is well made with sturdy components. It really does keep your drink very hot, and it does remove a step or two from your brewing routine. The removable filter also suggests future accessories, the first of which will hopefully be a finer mesh. However, its main draw–portability–is undercut by a lid that isn’t water-tight or super secure (you can’t toss this in a bag to carry around for later), and by not fitting standard car cup-holders.
Ultimately, this is a product that I’m sure will fill a niche for some coffee drinkers who have specific situations where these features will make life easier for them. For the rest of us, it may have appeal for hacking (cold brew, tea, and who knows what else someone can come up with), but as of yet, doesn’t really cross the threshold from novelty to must-have.
Have one? Have an opinion? Sound off in the comments!