Saturday, April 2, 2011

Non-Electric Gadgets, Part 1

Isn’t it amazing how so many items have become “electrified”?  Some people can’t imagine life without an electric can opener.  Personally, I’ve never had, nor wanted one (although I hear it’s a great way to call the cats).  Just seems, well, unnecessary.  Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are many people who actually need to use some of these gadgets because of medical conditions.  But in general, how many gadgets do you have that are pretty much just taking up counter space and increasing your electric bill?  Not to mention the fact that when the power goes off, Ms. Kitty is going to be pretty ticked off if you don’t have the means to open her can of Fancy Feast.
So I’ve been slowly but surely replacing household electric items with their people-powered counterparts.
There hasn’t been an electric coffee pot in our house for years.  We started out with one of those drip ones, then moved on to an older style percolator type.  Both were constantly on the fritz.  Granted, I couldn’t fathom spending more than $20 on a drip style coffee maker (and we went through several) and you get what you pay for, but the percolator cost like $65 and it didn’t last a year. 
Once again, my friend Stacie came to the rescue (she’s the one that got me hooked on cloth napkins).  She & her husband are coffee drinkers & one day while we were visiting them, she whipped out this neat looking coffee / tea press.
Not being a coffee drinker, I had never laid eyes on such a thing.  What simplicity!  What genius!  What was I doing buying those crappy drip coffee makers?
Since it also lends itself to making tea, I was determined to get one for our house.  Come to find out, they are pretty pricey.  The larger one cost something like $30 without the shipping cost.  Yes, I know it’s still “cheap” when compared to other electric coffee makers, but it’s just a handle, mesh plunger & a glass carafe for goodness sakes!  But I bought one.  And of course I end up breaking the carafe just a few months later, rendering the rest of it useless.  Tried to find a replacement carafe but they were just as expensive as the entire unit.  I’m not sure what we did in the interim (I vaguely recall using a coffee filter and sieve) but I finally found one at Wal-Mart around the holidays.  I should have bought the entire lot of them.  Because, yep, I broke that one too. 
So we were without a coffee / tea press.  Again.  Finally after hemming & hawing for a month, possibly longer, I finally bought a set on Ebay for $40 delivered.  It was a larger used Bouden press and a smaller one-cup Starbucks press. 
Not a week later, I was in town with Mom & we went to the newly-opened TJ Maxx to see what kind of glamorous and exotic clothing and household items they brought to our little corner of the world.  And what did I see?  You guessed it.  Coffee presses!  So I bought two of them, one large & one small.  And they both cost me under $20. 
Now if I break one, I won’t have to resort to pouring boiling water through a coffee-filled paper towel draped over a coffee cup secured with a rubber band.
Pathetic, I know.  Do I at least get points for resourcefulness?


  1. The whole idea of a coffee press is interesting.
    I need to know how they the coffee better tasting?

    We are using a Bunn ($90) and with our hard water, they just last a few years. It does make wonderful coffee though and we do love our coffee.

    I know what you mean about all the electrical gadgets. It gets ridiculous.

  2. There is a fine metal mesh strainer attached to the plunger. You take the plunger/strainer out, pour in your coffee grounds, pour in the almost boiling water, let it steep for abut five minutes, give it a stir, then put the top on & depress the plunger. The plunger pushes the grounds to the bottom of the carafe & then you just pour from there. Paul says it's better. Maybe because the strainer allows more of the oils to stay in the liquid whereas a filter would catch those oils. He has also been using fresh ground beans and that makes a huge difference. The only problem with it is that it leaves some sediment at the bottom of your cup.

  3. Dont you need electricity for the coffee grinder to grinde the coffe beans or do you have a hand crank coffee grinder to get the right grind.

  4. I wish we had a hand-crank grinder, but I haven't picked one out yet...and they are pretty pricey for a good one; like close to $200 pricey.

  5. Good for you! I use my great-great grandmother's hand grinder and a Melitta drip coffeemaker. Of course, I broke the glass pot, but I put out feelers on freecycle and ended up with an even better one! With which I am very, very careful. I have a stovetop percolator as backup, too. I

  6. I know I am late to the party, but you can purchase a metal, fine mesh sieve that sits over a standard coffee mug, put the loose tea in it and pour the water through - they are about 5 dollars.

    Or a tea ball [also for lose leaves] you can put in a cup or a tea pot [easy to find and cheaper than a tea maker to replace if it breaks.]

    Hope that helps. :)