Higher Grounds is proud to announce that we will now be carrying top of the line coffee gear from Fellow. Our starting product range will include:
The “Raven” Stovetop Kettle
The “Clara” French Press
The “Stagg X” Pour Over System
We also have their “Carter Move” mug, featuring artwork by local artist Em Randall! Let's get into it…
Starting with the Clara: At Higher Grounds, we love manual brewing. We love the control we have over the outcome and the delicate flavors of the end result. A clean cup of coffee is important to us. The Clara French press has everything you love about a typical French press, but with more flair, more delicacy, and it’s clean.
Let's start with the mesh filter, the bread and butter of any French press. The one we find on the Clara is particularly fine and durable. This opens up more grind possibilities and helps keep your coffee a little bit cleaner during the final press. A second filtration system during the pour catches anything that might slip past. The coffee brewed is still smooth and robust, just cleaner and more refined.
She has a 24oz capacity, plenty for two to three people to enjoy a delicious cup. Maybe you're brewing for yourself though and that sounds like a lot? Not to worry. The Clara is incredibly well insulated and, in my personal testing of the device, I was able to enjoy hot coffee with it for the full duration of my morning routine. Only my third cup had a noticeable heat drop off, but it was still hot. For reference, my routine incorporates two to three cups (depending on drinkware size).
In a two hour time frame, the Clara kept my coffee hot and fresh.
Last of all, the clean up: my biggest gripe with a French press is cleaning it. Most presses have either a glass or clear plastic body that inevitably tarnishes with time. The mesh filters usually detach into a few relatively fragile and lose-able parts, or worse yet, don’t come apart at all. As I said before, the mesh filter on the Clara is strong. It cleans up very easily and is dishwasher safe. The body of the Clara itself is an insulated stainless steel with a PFOA-free non-stick coating. It is not dishwasher safe, but it doesn’t need to be. Leftover grounds fall right out. A few swipes with a soft, soapy sponge and a quick rinse is all this French press needs.
Next, the Stagg X Pour Over Set:
Unboxing this pour over, I was greeted by a very hefty device indeed. The Stagg X is an all-metal beast of a brewer that feels like it will outlast the ever changing world around it.
Composed of three different and totally essential parts: The brewer itself, a drip tray that doubles as a relatively accurate dosing tool, and a funnel for grounds that doubles as an adapter for different receptacles. We’ll get into the brewer in a second, but I was surprised at the usability and functionality of its accessories. The drip tray invites you to enjoy mess-free coffee brewing, but before you even get there, it has two levels of dots inside for dosing coffee. The first dot is supposed to be 20g, the second is 40g. Now, the professional in me cannot help but insist that you get a scale for coffee, but in a pinch I found this dosing tray to be pretty accurate and totally usable.
The funnel is great; it keeps things mess free and allows the Stagg X to seal onto most cups/carafes. It’s worth noting that these things all clamp onto the bottom of the Stagg X when not in use, keeping all of its accessories safe and secure in one place. This pour over system is...dead simple. It is clean, effective, and consistent. This seems to be a trend with Fellow’s whole line as best as I can tell.
The first thing that stuck out to me was the speed of the pour over. My pour over recipe with a traditional V60 is typically a six minute brew time. On the Fellow Stagg, I’ve been making the same recipe in roughly three minutes. In blind taste tests I conducted throughout the company, most of my coworkers preferred the Fellow or could not detect a notable difference between the Stagg and the V60. I repeated this test with a few of my favorite coffees, namely our seasonal Revel blend and our Miriam Betty Perez Honduran Microlot, all with relatively consistent results and the variables that I expected. It left me with an obvious question: Why am I getting similar results in less time?
I attribute this to a few things:
- The Stagg X has a total of ten holes on the bottom for coffee to drip through.
- I suspect the filter is thinner than the filters we use for V60 in our shop.
- This one is just a suspicion of mine, but in my brain it makes sense. I notice that once I start brewing, the Stagg X creates a gentle seal between itself and the drinking receptacle. I can’t help but wonder if this helps pull the water through the coffee.
Okay, maybe that last one is a little hokey; I can’t find other reviewers pointing this out. I still think it’s worth mentioning. Regardless of the why and how, this discovery made me feel like I had an incredibly wide berth in which to experiment. Where I found myself pushing the V60 to its limits, the Stagg encouraged me to try different things. I ended grinding the coffee a little finer, making slightly heavier pours. I now find myself enjoying a cup of our Miriam, beautifully extracted over a 3:45 brew time on the dot.
As far as the flavor, the tasting notes seem to be more easily discernible and the aftertaste seems to be more pleasant on average. The coffee I’ve been brewing with the Stagg X seems to have a thicker body and mouthfeel than the other pour over methods available to me for testing (excluding full immersion methods like French press, aeropress, etc). One major advantage is that the construction of the Stagg yields a hotter cup of coffee. Its metal walls retain heat in droves, whereas its glass compatriots leak it in every direction and at every opportunity.
Ultimately, this pour over set is opening doors for me and it is exciting. I am experimenting again and it has honestly been fun. I can’t wait to keep going with it and I can’t recommend the product to you enough, dear reader. If you want an addition to your coffee bar that brews as good as it looks, the Stagg X is definitely for you.
This kettle is interesting and surprising. As a local adult, I feel like space is important. Quality, multi-purpose items that do the job of two or three different things are hard to come by and highly valued whenever I do. Behold, the Raven kettle from Fellow.
This kettle has a built-in tea basket that is well made and easy to clean. Most importantly, it works. When brewing tea, I recommend pouring heating water in a different vessel (go ahead and use the thermometer built into the Raven’s lid to check your temp). Insert the tea basket in the Raven, put the desired amount of tea into the basket, and pour your water in. Place the lid in and wait. When ready, you will be greeted to a delicious two or three cups of tea with an easy clean up.
This kettle is also a decent pour over option. No, it’s not as specialized as a goose neck kettle, but its performance is surprisingly good, and if you don’t have a cupboard dedicated to different kettles for different purposes, I find the Raven easy to recommend. The thermometer built into the top is accurate and has coffee-friendly temperature readings. Remove the tea basket, fill it to the desired amount with water, and set the Raven on the stove. When your water is the right temperature, prepare for a pretty reasonable pouring experience. The kettle's spout comes to a very fine point and, thanks to its counterbalanced handle, controlling the water stream is a relatively simple task. If you’ve never used a gooseneck kettle, the difference will be revolutionary. If you have, with some minor technique changes you’ll be brewing in no time. Also, I’m not going to lie, I definitely heated water with this kettle to cook some Top Ramen with. Worked like a charm.
In line with the rest of Fellow’s products, the sheer quality of this kettle is second to none. Just like the others, it is easy to clean and will look incredibly attractive on anyone’s coffee bar. And, as I said at the beginning of this review, this kettle does it all. If I can use one tool to make three of my favorite things, I call that a win.
Thank you for sticking around for this brief-ish look at our new merch! These can be picked up on our website and at our cafe, where we would love to discuss these (or any of our brewing equipment) further with you! From myself and everyone else at Higher Grounds Trading Company, we wish you happy holidays!