Some like it hot
July 21, 2013 10:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to improve my husband's coffee experience with a birthday gift. His number one issue is that hot drinks get cold too quickly. He also doesn't totally love having two things to clean up (french press + coffee cup). So I thought I'd get him something nifty to solve these problems. Does anyone have recommendations?

He makes two cups of coffee in a french press at work every morning, and microwaves them about four to six times over the next half hour. He also drinks coffee and tea in the weekends at home and has the same issue, but the microwave is more convenient at home, so I'll be happy if I can fix the work problem.

I've had two ideas so far, but I'd be happy if anyone else has suggestions, and/or can comment on these two below:

-I LOVE the Planetary Design French Press Mug, but I can't find it for sale outside the USA. Even Amazon won't ship it here. The only French Press Mug I can find in Australia is this Bodum one, which is about $30 more than the Planetary Design one and doesn't really look like a mug at all. It's huge and has no handle. So does anyone have any idea where I can get the Planetary Design Mug in Australia, or something similar at a reasonable price? I will be in Europe next week, so could buy it there instead, or order it from somewhere that will ship to my hotel in Germany or Norway.

- I also like the idea of these double walled cups, but most reviews focus on their looks rather than their insulating properties. Do they really keep your drink piping hot for, say, 20 minutes or more?

I'm open to other suggestions for gifts to help him keep his coffee hot. But I don't think he wants to change his coffee brewing system, or to add extra equipment like a separate thermos flask.
posted by lollusc to Shopping (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm just the opposite with my coffee - I like it to get lukewarm as quickly as possible, which is why I stopped using this REI combination french press/travel mug. It keeps the coffee hot WAY too long for me, and it solves the cleaning-two-things problem.

One annoying thing about the REI mug is that the french press lid is not watertight - it does pretty well to catch the coffee that dribbles out, but it dribbles out nonetheless. Also I'm not too sure about US-Based REI's international shipping.
posted by ltisz at 10:45 PM on July 21, 2013

I own not one, but two of these stainless steel double walled/insulated french presses by bodum. Also, they are shiny. Mine is the eight cup, but as we normally get 4.5 caffeine addict sized cups out of them, I bet the three cup will do for you. With mine it takes about an hour for the coffee to get really appreciably cold.
EDIT: I failed to read the last part of you post, Here's an, link for the same, if you're shipping to Europe.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 10:52 PM on July 21, 2013

Response by poster: Yeah, the REI one is great, but the site wants to charge me $25 shipping, so I'd rather find something from an Australian or European store if possible. It's certainly still a possibility, though, since even with that shipping it works out to about the same as the Bodum one, and I think the REI one is nicer.
posted by lollusc at 11:07 PM on July 21, 2013

For the last couple years I've had my eye on the Bodum french press/go cup. I never buy it because, like you, I think it's a little spendy for what it is. But I will say that I've been consistently impressed with every Bodum product I've ever owned, and I do keep going back to that french press/go cup combo. I'll probably finally get one this winter.

(FWIW it's less of a "mug" per se and more of a travel coffee cup. It's insulated so you just hold it like a regular cup. Like the disposable ones you get from Starbucks or whatever.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:16 PM on July 21, 2013

Zojirushi travel mug. You want to get him a Zojirushi travel mug.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:28 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I recently bought some of the double walled cups you linked (the size up from those) and they definitely do work at keeping the drink warm (or cool). I haven't timed it but I think 20 mins is probably reasonable. I'm not sure it's a good thing though - I think my body is conditioned to be drinking, say, 10 mins after making the drink and when it's still too hot that's a little annoying.
posted by neilb449 at 11:30 PM on July 21, 2013

I have a french press that mostly collects dust. I have switched to a #2 coffee cone, as the cleanup is a snap -- toss the used filter/grounds into the compost bin.

Only makes one cup at a whack, so there is the standing-around time of waiting for the drip to finish, but that's just a subjective 20 minutes (actually about three, but when coffee is wanted...).

And did I mention the cleanup? My charming lady was a french press believer, but the cleanup convinced her to change her mind.

No recommendation on thermal mugs though, I drink my joe way too fast to worry about it.
posted by drfu at 12:09 AM on July 22, 2013

I'd second the recommendation of the double-walled vacuum stainless French press, but there's also another way to keep a full French press piping hot: the coffee cozy. The sources of these that I know about are mostly local US coffee shops, which seem to be a bit niche-y for non-US distribution, but perhaps you can find a local source to custom-sew or quilt one (like these folks?). This might resolve the cooling problem without causing any other possibly problematic change to the rest of the brewing system.
posted by RogerB at 12:11 AM on July 22, 2013

Based on my own experimentation, pre-heating a standard ceramic mug will get you about the same if not better heat-loss characteristics of a double-wall. Pouring 200F coffee into a room-temperature ceramic mug will drop the temp of the coffee 20-30F in the first 2-3 minutes as the heat transfers to the mug wall (depending on cup mass and coffee volume). If he's sitting at a desk for most of the time I would stick with your current equipment and just get him an electric mug warmer like this:
posted by bizwank at 1:25 AM on July 22, 2013

He makes two cups of coffee in a french press at work every morning, and microwaves them about four to six times over the next half hour.

Get him a coffee capsule machine, so it's easier to make just one cup at the time. Machines like this one requires almost no cleaning.
posted by iviken at 1:45 AM on July 22, 2013

As far as keeping coffee hot, I use a candle warmer I bought for about $6 from Michael's. They're starting to make them in beverage warmer flavors too, like this Mr. Coffee version, which is the exact model I have, just colored differently.

Alternatively, any insulated travel mug or thermos will do. I bought an affordable Thermos with a flip-top lid at Target - it keeps my coffee hot for easily 4-5 hours, and keeps iced drinks iced for 8 hours or more.

I understand the trouble of washing up the French press. I've been using a cone filter recently to indulge my laziness. It produces decidedly inferior coffee, but with much less cleanup. With the French press, I tend to leave the grounds in overnight (drained of all remaining coffee-sludge), and I clean up the press in the morning as the water boils. It does necessitate replacing the mesh portion of the filter every year or so.
posted by WasabiFlux at 2:26 AM on July 22, 2013

I have one of these Contigo travel mugs. It keeps coffee hot for hours. It claims 4 hours, but I'd say more like 5-6.
posted by number9dream at 4:48 AM on July 22, 2013

You want a Hydroflask.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:51 AM on July 22, 2013

Best answer: Liquid Planet will ship the planetary design mug to Australia.

(I know because I think I'm about to buy one and I checked)
posted by chiquitita at 5:31 AM on July 22, 2013

Coffee Joulies are an invention I remember seeing at Kickstarter, but it looks like they are available now. They are intended to get your hot drink to the "ideal" drinking temperature, and then keep it that way longer.

I think the set of 5 is pricey, but they do get rave reviews. Also, I'd be curious whether the temp they get drinks down to is still as piping hot as your husband prefers.
posted by juliplease at 5:55 AM on July 22, 2013

i nearly got the impress coffee brewer when it was on kickstarter, but my husband started working at home.
posted by nadawi at 6:35 AM on July 22, 2013

My Planetary Press Deskpress keeps coffee screaming hot.
posted by BrashTech at 6:39 AM on July 22, 2013

Get him an Aeropress coffee maker. It is 100 times easier to clean than a french press. You eject the grounds out the bottom and the plunger seal squeegees the vessel walls while you press. It's also great for camping because it is made from tough plastic.
posted by scose at 7:07 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, seconding an Aeropress - my SO wants one for similar cleaning-up reasons.

Is there any reason why he can't just make the coffee separately with the kettle each time? (I#m not a big coffee drinker, so I get along with tea and a teapot when I have this problem.) You can buy devices that keep the water at permanent boiling point, such as the Quooker, but they are expensive.
posted by mippy at 9:24 AM on July 22, 2013

I suggest doing an internet search for "usb mug -warmer" to come up with items like this (in the UK) or this (Australia). I have something similar and find it much more effective than mug warmers or simple insulated mugs.
posted by TristanPK at 9:36 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I second the suggestion to get a Zojirushi travel mug. I have this one, and I fill it up around 7am and when I open it around noon, I still burn my mouth.
posted by ohmy at 10:58 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

It seems like you have your answer, but I just have to come in and continue the Zojirushi trend.

I once filled my Zojirushi for a night shift at 6 PM, forgot it at home, got home the next morning and had still-hot, perfectly-temperatured coffee waiting for me at 8:30 AM.

Plus it's so much fun to say: ZooooooooooJIRUSHI!
posted by InsanePenguin at 11:19 AM on July 22, 2013

Response by poster: Chiquita, thank you! For some reason I didn't realise that they would ship here, because the Amazon one is handled directly by them, and won't ship here. Shipping is still around $25 (and annoyingly you have to fill out the entire order details up to the credit card info in order to find this out), but I think I'll probably go with that.

Many people here don't seem to realise quite how hot my husband likes his coffee. Mippy - it's not that he is microwaving each new cupful: he microwaves after every few sips! That's why a dripper is no good. By the time it's dripped through, it's too cold for him. And as for a pod machine: the department got one, which is when he changed to using his own French Press. He says pod coffee tastes like instant.

The joulies look very clever, but cooling his coffee down from boiling would be a problem. He microwaves the coffee immediately after pouring it because of the cooling down it did in the French press already, so 140 F is going to be too cold.

Finally, everything I have read about USB coffee warmers says that they are basically gimmicks - that they can't possibly put out enough energy to keep the coffee warm. Is that not true?

The Zojirushi looks pretty good to me, but I think he is not very keen on sipping from plastic or through a lid. He'd probably switch happily enough in order to benefit from the niftiness of an all-in-one coffee maker like the REI, Bodum, or Planetary Designs one, but not just for the heat solution. That's why he hasn't ever gone for a normal insulated mug before. (And that's why I thought of the double walled glass cups I linked).

Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions! You guys are the best!
posted by lollusc at 3:35 PM on July 22, 2013

Response by poster: (Oh, and while pre-heating his ceramic mug is a great solution, it's not much of a birthday present! But I'll suggest it in the meantime.)
posted by lollusc at 3:36 PM on July 22, 2013

For what it's worth, my wife uses a boring old plug-into-the-wall mug warmer (120V), and it keeps the coffee very hot, close to brew temp. I can't comment on the USB ones except they only have 5V to draw from, so I can't imagine they do as good of a job as one plugged into the mains.

And yes, advice makes a lousy present, but seriously preheat everything the coffee will come in contact with, including the french press. Maintaining heat is easier then replacing it.
posted by bizwank at 7:11 PM on July 22, 2013

Best answer: I'm in Australia, and last week saw in T2 that they had double walled glass coffee mugs but think the kind you can buy in Starbucks with a little sippy hole at top! But glass, and classy looking! Amazing, and I will be getting one to keep my hot green tea scalding hot by my computer. Hope that helps!
posted by shazzam! at 2:36 AM on July 23, 2013

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