OBrew Prototype Initial Thoughts
Today I got a late prototype of a live (but ending soon) Kickstarter product - the OBrew. It is going for $20, and funding is really low right now. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/769235125/obrew-a-simple-coffee-brewing-method
It's a well made product by the looks of it. A very flexible, grippy, spongy silicone tube that very carefully holds on to stainless steel mesh. The colour is not the best in my photos (I haven't edited these); the green is a true Kickstarter Green colour. Think Neon Green.
So how does it work? It's basically a flexible cup sieve you use to filter grounds from a pot of coffee. You brew your coffee, immersion style, inside any vessel. Let steep, then pour through this sieve. Depending on your brewing vessel, most of the grounds stay behind.
In operation, I thought it worked fairly well. The sieve is wide, so it won't work on smaller diameter cups. 8oz and above cups should be fine. Technically you can brew almost any volume, since this is just a pass through design (brew passes through, grinds stay behind) but sticking to the 200-400ml brew sizes seems to work best with this device.
Fines... fines do get through. More sediment that a press pot, in my five brewing tests. But they are more "fines" than the typical grit from a press pot - in other words, all the particles are smaller than the typical leftovers from a press pot pour, but there are more of them. One of my photos shows the fines from a 250ml brew.
There's more fines because of the pass through filtering - in a press pot, most of the fines and solid grounds sit at the bottom of the pot and below the filter. Pressing down pushes some of those fines through, but it's not the same effect as pouring water through a filter - gravity can do more fines delivery than resistance filtering.
How it sits - it sits on your cup slightly bowled in - I'd say the concave dip is about 5-8mm (less than a centimeter). Enough to keep grounds sitting in place, but the more coffee you brew, the more will clump on top of this filter when you pour.
Cleaning? Dead simple. Rinse, done.
The product has other uses as well - it can be a on demand sieve for straining during cooking (pouring into smaller vessels); has uses for tea too.
Do I recommend it? Well, if you are super tight for space (say a college dorm or travelling), it's a good replacement for a press pot. No glass to break (well, except for your glass coffee carafe, but you can use other vessels to brew the coffee in), folds flat, super easy to clean, you know the score. For travel, this is a great option, and for travel, I do recommend it.
If you want a superior cup of coffee though, this might not be the best choice for immersion brew. While I don't mind fines making it to the cup, many do; that said, this product isn't finalised yet, and who knows, if it really takes off on Kickstarter, maybe the inventor can offer different sieve options - finer, coarser etc. A finer sieve (or double sieve) might dramatically reduce the fines that make it through.