Review update from Margaret (February 3, 2019): This review was written based on the Rite Press unit I received in late November/early December 2018, but given that as of February 2019, it appears that the majority of the Kickstarter backers have yet to receive their presses and the company is being evasive and difficult with communication, I cannot recommend this product as it seems practically impossible to get your hands on one!
Back in February 2018, 21,771 people (myself included) pledged money on Kickstarter to bring the Rite Press into existence. The Rite Press, with the tagline “The ‘No Mess’ French Press,” clearly hit a nerve because the $20,000 goal that the Rite Team set was smashed into oblivion and the final amount the company ended up raising was an astounding $1,086,974!! Sounds like a lot of people wanted a less messy way of brewing with a French press – apparently this is the #1 crowdfunded coffee product of all time! Here is a link to their (now closed) Kickstarter campaign.
The Rite Team offered various colors and sizes for their Rite Press; I chose the 1/2 liter stainless steel model in silver. All of the Rite Press models come with double-walled construction for insulation, a built-in thermometer, a magnetic hourglass timer that attaches to the side of the unit, and a removable bottom for easy cleanup (with an extra replacement gasket). The 1 Liter models come with a handle, while the 1/2 Liter models do not – instead, they have a silicone sleeve around the unit to protect your hands from the heat.
(Anyone else see a face grinning in the spout?)
The features like the thermometer and hourglass were handy, though I don’t think I personally will use them at home, since my Bonavita electric kettle performs both of those functions quite well. However, if I were making coffee without my kettle and didn’t have a timer handy, these features would be useful, so I tested them both out. The thermometer proved accurate, registering in the green zone when the water was 200 degrees Fahrenheit, +/- a couple of degrees. I also liked that it nestles into the plunger when not in use, so it’s less likely to be misplaced when stored properly.
The hourglass timer, on the other hand, proved more finicky. The Rite Press team states that they designed the timer to pour at a perfect 3 minutes and 30 seconds. I affixed the timer to the magnetic spot on the Rite Press, turned it over, and hit the “start” button on my electronic timer at the same moment to test this. The first run, the timer did indeed empty at precisely 3:30.
The second run, when I flipped the timer, took longer (around 3:47).
I repeated this on both sides of the hourglass and the results were similar – one side of the hourglass drained at exactly 3:30 while the other took longer (4:10 on the next attempt!). I had no explanation for this but Shutterbug, who has an engineering background, examined the hourglass and pointed out to me that the shape was not the same on both sides, so the pour rate would be affected. One side has a more pointed V-shaped design, and the other has a more bowl-shaped design that would cause the sand to release more slowly. Having the V-shaped side on top was the way to go if you want your timer to be exactly 3:30, but as I prefer to brew my french press coffee for 4:00, and I’m rarely without my phone these days, I think I’ll just stick with using electronics to time my coffee. I don’t relish sitting and staring at an hourglass anyway – feels too Days Of Our Lives if you ask me.
I brewed my coffee with the normal 1:16 ratio I use for coffee : water (25 grams coffee to 400 grams water). The Rite Press does not come with any measuring tools, so you’ll need to figure out your measuring preferences over time if you’re not going to use a scale. There is a line in the interior of the press, which I presume is a “do not fill past this point” line, but at my coffee : water ratio, this was NOT a “fill to here” line.
After plunging, the coffee poured from the spout cleanly with no dripping, which was great. I was concerned about coffee dripping onto the thermometer, but that was not a problem. The plunger had the most satisfying construction of all the french presses I own, in that the mesh basket fits really flush with the other parts, and the whole thing feels snug and well-designed.
Does it eliminate sludge? No, which disappointed me slightly, but I am quite used to just not drinking the last bit of coffee in my mug so it’s no worse than brewing your coffee in any other French press. The flavor of the resulting coffee was terrific – equally good as any coffee I’ve had from a French press.
Cleanup – The removable bottom was touted as a big selling point that would make cleanup a breeze compared to traditional French presses. I admit it’s cool to have the grounds compacted and to be able to twist off the bottom for disposal, but it doesn’t feel “easier” to clean this vs. a normal press.
My regular French press cleanup routine:
– Knock grounds into a bin for disposal
– Rinse carafe of grounds, either hand wash or put in top rack of dishwasher
– Disassemble plunger mechanism, hand wash components and air dry
My Rite Press cleanup routine:
– Disassemble bottom, knock grounds into a bin for disposal
– Rinse bottom
– Rinse the carafe interior of any stray grounds
– Disassemble plunger mechanism, hand wash components
– Hand wash carafe and bottom OR place in dishwasher, removing the rubber gasket beforehand (I don’t want the heat from the dishwasher to damage the gasket and lead to a lack of sealing in the future)
– Replace thermometer and hourglass for future use once all is clean and dry
The fact that the Rite Press is metal is a benefit if you are clumsy (I’ve broken a glass carafe once by dropping it in the sink while hand-washing it, and I could see the possibility of someone breaking a glass carafe while accidentally knocking it against the side of a trash can). The double-walled insulation is a nice feature in theory, but I’ve never quite understood the logic of having it in a french press, since every moment that the coffee grounds are in contact with water, they are extracting soluble particles from the beans, so even though the Rite Press team touts that the double-walled insulation can keep coffee for up to two hours, you’re not going to want to drink coffee that’s been in contact with the grounds for two hours! There’s no way to fully stop the extraction with the inherent design of a French press. Stick to pouring your freshly brewed coffee into a separate insulated tumbler (I’m a fan of the Zojirushi brand for keeping hot liquids hot for hours).
One add-on accessory that the Rite company is offering is a tea kit, which is a specially designed thermometer and trio of hourglasses with colored sand: green, black, and white, to correspond to the optimum brewing times for the related teas. I did not purchase this add-on, but if you enjoy brewing loose-leaf tea, a french press is a great way to do it, so this could be a worthy purchase. I’d be curious if the hourglasses have the same accuracy issue as the coffee hourglass though.
Summary: Check out the Rite Press if you are looking for a sturdy and virtually unbreakable french press, that has the convenience of a built-in thermometer to tell you when your water is at the perfect temperature for brewing. I personally don’t care for the hourglass feature for a variety of reasons but it is a nice feature for anyone that doesn’t have access to or doesn’t want to use an electronic timer. The parts (except the thermometer and the hourglass) are dishwasher safe, and this takes a lot of the guesswork out of making a good cup of coffee. Great for travel/camping, or simply using at home. I don’t think this will replace my ordinary Bodum glass french press, but it’s certainly a worthy addition to my coffee arsenal and I’m happy to own it.
I am not a spokesperson for Rite Press, just an ordinary backer like the other 20,000+ people that contributed to the Kickstarter. If you are interested in the Rite Press family of products, they have links to order their stainless steel (in silver and matte black finishes) and ceramic Rite Presses at their website below. Note that the stainless varieties come in 1/2 liter and 1 liter versions; the ceramic models only come in 1 liter versions. All products as of press time are available for pre-order only (not available for immediate delivery) and are scheduled to begin shipping after January 2019.