Impress Coffee Brewer Lives Up to Its Name

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Impress Coffee
The Impress—a coffee press and travel mug all in one. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I live in Portland, Oregon, but I don’t drink coffee. I know, I know, I must be a crazy person, but I just never really acquired the taste. My wife, however, picked up a coffee habit shortly after we moved back here a couple years ago. Since she’s the only one in the family who drinks coffee, we never got a coffee maker. Instead, she’s been using a small French press—and usually a travel mug. That meant one cup of coffee resulted in a lot of dishes to wash:

French Press
All this for one cup of coffee. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

(And that’s not counting the mini food processor when she was grinding her own beans, or the couple Coffee Joulies tossed into the travel mug.)

As the non-coffee drinker who generally ended up washing all of this stuff, I wasn’t entirely pleased, but the only solution we’d come up with for a while was that she agreed to wash her own coffee press. So when I heard about the Impress coffee brewer, I figured it was worth a shot.

The Impress by Gamila was funded on Kickstarter in late 2012, and raised $131k, though I missed it at the time. It’s now available from TinyLightBulbs, an online shop specifically for crowdfunded products (which is where I first discovered it). It’s a combination coffee press and mug, and it’s delightfully simple—and easy to clean.

Here’s how it works:

Impress Coffee Press
Components of the Impress coffee brewer: insulated outer container, inner container with filter and rubber seal, rubber lid. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Impress has three main components, all made of stainless steel and rubber. On the outside is an insulated stainless steel container, with a rubber pad on the base that keeps it from slipping around. The center is a metal sleeve that has a screw-in filter on the base (see photo below), along with a large rubber seal that fits on the end. The rubber seal has two flanges and is quite watertight. Finally, there’s a rubber lid that has a couple of air holes and a flap that seals off the drinking vent.

Impress filter
The bottom of the middle section shows the coffee filter and the rubber seal. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Here’s a closer look at the bottom of the center component. The segment is a metal cylinder, open at both ends, with a narrower section at the bottom where the rubber seal fits. There’s also a small bowl-shaped piece, with filter section in the center, that screws onto the end; the flared lip holds the rubber seal in place.

Impress coffee brewer
Using the Impress coffee brewer. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The photo above shows how you use it:

    1. Measure the coffee (you can turn the middle section upside down and use the filter section as a measuring cup) and dump it into the main cup.
    2. Pour in the hot water.
    3. Let it steep for 3 minutes. (You can put the middle section on top, if you want to keep the heat in.)
    4. Slowly press down on the top, pushing the inner cylinder down.
    5. Yep, keep going until it’s all the way to the bottom.

Enjoy your nice cup of joe straight from the Impress!

When you’re done with the coffee, you just pull it out, and it’s really simple to rinse out and dump out the grinds. You don’t even have to fully disassemble the inner cylinder each time you wash it, though it’s probably good to do that occasionally.

My wife’s been using it for a couple weeks now, and we even took it with us when we went to visit my parents (who also aren’t coffee drinkers) so that she’d have an easy way to brew away from home. It’s easy to use and works pretty well.

There are a couple of caveats: first, the coffee stays really hot. It’s well-insulated, and my wife found that with the lid on she usually had to wait about half an hour to drink the coffee straight from the Impress. That’s great if you’re making coffee to take somewhere, but not so great if you want a sip right away. Her solution has been to use a little less water so there’s room for a couple of Coffee Joulies, and those bring the temperature down more quickly. (That, or pour into another mug that lets it cool down.)

Also, because of the venting holes in the lid, it’s not watertight even when the flap is shut. The lid is recessed a little bit so if some coffee comes out and you don’t slosh it it’ll stay on top, but it’s fairly shallow. It’s fine if you’ve got it on your desk or something, but it’s no good for throwing into a bike bag if you bike to work (which my wife does often). It’s also just slightly large for the standard car cupholder, so you may want to check the dimensions if you want to use it as a travel mug. (The outer mug is 3.25″ in diameter, and doesn’t taper at all at the bottom.)

However, the Impress does brew coffee really well: the grinds stay completely separate from the brewed coffee once you press down, and my wife reports that her coffee is free from grit, which wasn’t always true by the last bit of French press coffee. On my end, I’m happy to have something that’s much easier to wash and put away.

If your coffee habit is about one big mug a day, the Impress is a nice way to make that without a lot of extra equipment and fuss, and may be worth trying out. For more information, you can also visit Gamila’s website.

Disclosure: Thanks to TinyLightBulbs for sending me a sample Impress to try out!

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