I discovered the Hourglass Cold Press Coffee Maker after reading a headline in a Better.tv e-mail newsletter that touted “Acid-free Coffee.” Hardly believing that this could be true, I clicked on the link to watch the video. Well, Mr. Rinaldi, the president of Hourglass, always used the qualifier “virtually” when he said “acid-free” during this interview and demonstration. But he allowed the interviewer, Brook Carlson, to repeat the acid-fee claim without the qualifier. The Hourglass website states clearly that their coffee maker brews coffee with 69.6% less acid than hot brew coffee, and they have lab test results to prove it. The Hourglass coffee maker is also promoted as being eco-friendly because it uses BPA free plastic, and also because it uses no paper filters or electricity. Sounds great, and personally, I love cold brew coffee. I also agree that it can be a healthier alternative for those who have medical conditions that make the acid in hot brew coffee an issue for them. But I see a few problems with this product.
First of all, there is the price. The Hourglass Cold Press Coffee System costs $69.95 plus shipping. Not only are there cheaper cold brew coffee systems for sale, but there is an inexpensive alternative to buying a specialized cold brewing system at all. My article, Making Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press (Associated Content), explains how to make delicious cold brew coffee using a simple French press. You can purchase a basic French press for around $15 from almost any store that sells other types of coffeemakers. If you cannot find one locally you can always find one on Amazon.com.
Second, there is the size of the Hourglass Coffee System. From the video on Better.tv the Hourglass brewing system looks about as tall and wide as an average coffee maker. However, since you don’t usually need to make cold brew coffee everyday this is something most people will want to store inside a cabinet and not on their countertop. This product will definitely require more precious shelf space than a French press. And for its size, it still only makes half as much coffee concentrate as my 32 ounce French press.
Finally, this product is still made of plastic while my French press is made mostly of glass and stainless steel. (The handle and lid of my press are both plastic, but neither of these parts touches the coffee while it brews.) BPA free plastic may be safer than other plastics, but it still cannot beat glass and stainless steel for being eco-smart. Also, once the coffee has been brewed, you will need to clean your coffee maker. Since the Hourglass Coffee System has more and larger components, a simple French press requires less energy and water when it comes to clean up.
So, if you would like to try this healthier way to brew coffee, my suggestion is to buy a French press. And as an added bonus, a French press can also be used to brew hot coffee or even loose leaf tea.