The Great ODC Coffee Tasting

As the ODC team grows, so do the opinions of how to make the perfect cup of coffee. For a long time, ODC'ers made their own single cups of coffee with an Aeropress, but then the team got bigger, and so did our wait time for coffee. Call it impatience or an addict's cry for help, but waiting two minutes for a cup of coffee in this office is one minute too long. We knew we had to look at other options.

The Taste Test

What better way to decide the new office coffee making method than a taste test? We decided to test five different techniques with one of our favorite roasts from Big Shoulders Coffee: The Cold Brew, The French Press, The Aeropress (there were some loyalists), Chemex, and a good ole' fashioned coffee maker. We rated these techniques on flavor; specifically, acidity, flavor, body, aftertaste, and balance. Although it was a blind taste test, we wrote short, persuasive descriptions of each technique to help members understand each unique process.

Cold Brew

Cold brew is iced coffee’s trendier— dare I say— “cooler” cousin. The primary difference between iced coffee and cold brew is temperature. That is, cold brew is brewed cold and never heated, while iced coffee involves the same brewing process as regular coffee that’s then cooled down. You’re a big iced coffee advocate but are skeptical to try cold brew? Don’t be. Watery, diluted coffee is a bummer, and cold brew not only alleviates this problem but it allows you to control the dilution and level of intensity. Side effects may include jitters and increased productivity.

Other benefits of cold brew include: Staying fresh for up to a week, tasting great heated, freezing well for coffee ice cubes, and when feeling particularly European, you may take a shot like espresso. And the most obvious advantage of course is that you never have to burn your tongue on scalding coffee again!

The process involves 12–24 hours of contact between the ground up beans and water to get the desired extraction. Once the beverage has brewed in the fridge to your liking, it is then ready to strain and drink at copious amounts.

Coffee can taste better, “chiller," and stronger!

Electric Coffee Maker

Also known as a coffee machine or a “dripolator” this coffee type is not to be overlooked. Invented in the era of Mad Men, this coffee maker prioritizes quantity and convenience. It’s a cup of coffee after all— this drink is about waking you up and fueling your potentially sleep deprived self through the day. This isn’t about flavor and enjoying the little moments. This is the American workplace, You need a coffee maker that is efficient!

Coffee makers are the everyman of coffee maker types. Approachable, honest, no frills, the what-you-see-is-what-you-get cup of coffee. Do you think today’s politician would admit to using any other coffee maker other than a Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker? Absolutely not— because this kind of coffeemaker is what America is all about.

Choose this coffee not because of taste, but because you’re taking a stand against bourgeois coffee snobs. Fight the good fight.

The French Press, Oui.

Also known as a press pot, coffee press, coffee plunger or Melior, the French Press is a simple way to make a rich and decadent cup o’ joe. First patented in 1929 by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani, the French Press packs concentrated, robust flavor into a small package. Light roast drinkers you’ve been warned.

Being the design-minded people that we are, we take note of the details. The elegant glass and sleek stainless steel receptacle that is the French Press wins our vote for really lovely design. And it’s French— so there’s an undeniable chicness and sophistication. Not convinced yet? For one, it’s environmentally friendly; it has a self containing mesh plunger used to push the coarse grounds to the bottom of the pot. Secondly, it’s hassle free; the french press is dishwasher safe and super easy to clean. And lastly, it’s quick; 4 minutes or less is all you need to steep your full bodied cup.

Really the only downside to this brew method is that it’s less quantity than an electronic coffee maker or the cold brew method— but we certainly don’t mind.

Chemex

So Chemex has been around for awhile. If you’re a hipster you probably used this brewing method before it was cool. If you’re more mainstream— you saw someone using it and thought to yourself, “isn’t that the coffee maker they had in Friends?” Either way— the Chemex is very hot right now. As it turns out, owning a Chemex also makes you somewhat of an art collector as it is currently the only coffeemaker that is also featured in the MoMa.

In addition to the cool status you get as the owner of one of the “best designed products of modern times” the Chemex also makes good coffee, and lots of it. Basically, you get the amazing flavor of the Aeropress with the ability to make 6 cups of coffee for the effort of one.

Only downside is the small heart attack you have every time you pick it up in fear your drowsy hands will slip and you'll be the goon in the office who not only shattered art, but also everyone else's hopes and dreams of a morning cup of coffee.

Aeropress

Perfect for singles and those who only drink one cup of coffee, the Aeropress is a true example of American ingenuity. A guy named Alan Adler took one look at the french press and thought, we could make this with plastic, and the Aeropress was born. Using two cylinders, coffee drinkers plunge out the freshly brewed coffee for knock your socks off flavor and intensity.

Aeropress is great for a few reasons. First, if you’re a pretentious coffee snob you have an opportunity to talk about it every single time you grind beans to make your one cup of coffee. Second, it's pretty fast. After you grind the beans and heat the water and do all the prep work- you have a delightful cup of coffee in about ten seconds. Third, there is nothing more satisfying than launching those grounds Nerf gun style into the garbage can for a smooth clean up.

Aeropress has just one major drawback. You’re not making coffee for anyone else in the office. Sharing is not caring when it comes to the office Aeropress. Solid cup of coffee though.

The Results

As you can see from the results, French Press was the clear winner. But given the rate that this office consumes coffee, not to mention our impatience in waiting for coffee, we went with the Chemex. We even got this fancy water drip to go with it! Overall, we're really happy with our Chemex, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to unite delicious coffee and design into your morning caffeine ritual.

One Design Company is a research-driven design and development studio. For over a decade, we’ve explored the intersection of experience and technology—where powerful brands come to life. Want to learn more? Let’s chat.

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