Chemex Might Make You Not Want to Use Your Regular Coffee Maker Again

It was fawning interest at first sight and then love at first drink with the Chemex Filter-Drip Coffeemaker.

I love to drink coffee, and the fact that our coffee of choice is Peet’s made me think I was kind of a coffee snob. (Wonderfully, our local grocery store sells Peet’s whole bean by the package, and often on sale.) But deep down inside I knew that my reliance on a standard coffee maker–and only very occasional use of a French press–meant coffee brewing snobbery was still an aspiration.

Chemex scratches that itch, but in a non-pretentious way. I’ve been enjoying regular use of the Ten Cup Glass Handle Chemex for the last couple weeks, which Chemex kindly sent my way for review.

It comes with its own filters. Behold:

Chemex even included an awesome leather coaster to put the glass on.

Now, it’s time to make the coffee. Pretty simple (and there was an instruction sheet included):

  • Grind the beans, medium coarse
  • Put them in the filter on top of the glass brewer
  • Boil the water (Chemex has this sweet looking thing, but I just used my tea kettle)
  • Pour the water over the beans and let them “bloom” for 30 seconds (Chemex tells me the bloom is “escaping gas that has been trapped in the beans during the roasting process”
  • Pour water over the beans, so that it goes almost to the top of the glass
  • Repeat

This is the smoothest cup of coffee I’ve ever had at home. There’s not an ounce of sludge, anywhere in sight. Even the pour from the Chemex to mug is perfectly clear and clean. Here’s an image of the drip brewing:

Mmmmmmm.

Drinking coffee from the regular coffee maker the next day was a serious step down. (Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for coffee in all its forms!) I had no idea what I was missing.

The design is awesome. The glass is strong. The filters are easy to use and don’t leak. The handle makes pouring easy. Maybe the only thing I’d add is some kind of cozy or heat cover. You can put this on the stove on low heat (if gas or glass stove top), but then I’d have to remember it’s there! (I.e., no auto-off.) But I put the brewed coffee right into a Thermos, so that works out well.

Learn more about the Chemex at its product page here. Two thumbs (or in this case, mugs) up!

Canvas Classic Backpack, by Baron Fig

I have tried for three years to like the Command TSA-Friendly Messenger Bag from Timbuk2, which I (used to) use most days for work. It has a lot going for it, but the metallic hook and loop closing system just bugs me. Plus, it’s kind of bulky, and I’d rather have a backpack.

Within one day of using Baron Fig’s new Canvas Classic Backpack, I’d found a new bag, and haven’t changed since.

Baron Fig really nailed its goal of “minimal design focus[ing] on the basic essentials.” It’s got:

  • a padded pocket for a laptop and/or iPad (I easily fit both at once)
  • a big main pouch
  • two side pockets for water bottles, granola bars, apples, coffee mugs, etc. (and they’re not too small to actually hold a good-sized travel mug!)
  • a couple little pouches inside for notebooks, etc.
  • two external pockets, for easy access to pens, wallet, phone, etc.

Check it out:

 

1_Outside View

 

2_Inside View

 

Front View

 

The zippers are high quality and easy to grab without looking.

 

Zippers

 

Bonus: the branding on the back is minimal and not obtrusive.

 

x_Branding

 

I didn’t realize this until recently re-watching Season 1 of Stranger Things, but the backpack could be straight out of 1984 Hawkins, Indiana! Compare.

I was concerned at first that lack of padding on the shoulder straps would either make it uncomfortable or not able to handle heavy loads. No concerns here after a fair amount of use. (Although I still might like to see padded straps on future iterations… I’m guessing those were skipped this time to keep things simple and lower cost.)

 

4a_Straps

 

4b_Strap Closeup

 

The straps are easy to adjust for a good fit. And this is one of my biggest water bottles, fitting just fine in the side pocket:

 

Water Bottle

 

Quality-wise, everything looks great, except I just the other day (after using this for two weeks) noticed a fabric flaw. I’m not sure if this is wear (pilling?) or if it was like this when it came.

 

5_Fabric Flaw

 

What’s in my backpack right now?

And, somehow, it all fits really well without compromising the light and slim profile of the backpack.

I love it, especially in the blue slate color. Baron Fig has really knocked it out of the park with this backpack.

The backpack is $68. You can find it here.

AND… if you shop at Baron Fig (for anything!) through this affiliate link, you get $10 off a purchase of $20 or more, which would apply to this backpack.

 


 

Thanks to Baron Fig for sending the backpack so I could review it! This did not influence the objectivity of this review. This review will also be cross-posted at Words on the Goods.

New from This Is Ground: Mod Tablet 5

It’s the Everyday Carry for your Everyday Carry: the Mod Tablet 5 from This Is Ground.

 

 

First thing I did when it arrived: I emptied out my pockets and satchel pouches and put my EDC into this suave, all-grown-up version of a Trapper Keeper.

Behold:

 

 

There are more compartments than I have been able to use this first week of owning it, but I think that is sort of the point here: maximum versatility.

 

 

Here it is from the front. You can see at the left that it’s got a collapsable carry handle, and a front pocket for a phone or notebook that you want to regularly reference.

 

 

The construction is careful:

 

 

The logo on the back is subtle and done well:

 

 

Here’s a closer look at some of the lines and zippers:

 

 

It’s got a pretty slim profile. It measures 8 x 11 inches and weighs 1.4 pounds—not light, but pretty compact for all it does. It’s easy to throw into a satchel or carry around on its own.

So far there are two things I find wanting:

  1. There are tons of loops for pens or cords, but most of them are too big for just one pen or pencil to securely stay put.
  2. There are lots of little pockets (and the mesh insert pictured above is awesome), but just one big pocket for an iPad or larger notebook. One more large pocket would help.

However, the “modular case” is “built to solve the needs of those that carry tech and other small gear,” so perhaps it’s best conceived as one part tech Dopp kit, one part notebook/writing utensil holder.

Where it really excels is in its versatility in helping the user stay organized… plus it looks and feels really good. The leather pictured above (“Rhum”) comes from South America. And it’s full grain!

The Mod Tablet 5 isn’t cheap: $385. In that sense I’d consider it a luxury item.

It’s been a lot of fun to use this first week—I’ll post more after further use. The color of the Mod shown above is “Rhum,” a beautiful, dark, rich brown.

You can read more about it and find purchase information here.

 


 

Thanks to This Is Ground for the review sample, sent without expectation as to the content of my review. See our other This Is Ground reviews here and here. Cross-posted also at Words on the Goods.

Toy Review: PlaSmart’s Watermelon Ball JR

This summer we played with PlaSmart’s Watermelon Ball JR, a water toy I thought the kids might play with for a couple minutes and then get bored. But we all found it really fun!

As you can see, it floats! Here the predator stalks its prey:

 

 

But it also moves underwater really well. Whether at the beach or (better) in a swimming pool, we had lots of fun passing it to each other and playing keep away by pushing it through the water. Even though it pops up to the surface to float, you can move it around pretty easily underwater.

The ball comes with a mechanism to easily fill it with water from a hose—we filled it to probably about 2/3 full, which ended up working just fine. It hasn’t leaked at all.

Here are a couple of more images from PlaSmart.

The Watermelon Ball is so named because it is:

Designed to look, feel, and behave like a watermelon in water. Real watermelons are nearly neutrally buoyant: first sinking to the bottom then slowly rising to the top, making them ideal for all kinds of water games.

It probably would have been pretty fun to be among the group of people testing out real watermelons to discover that they are “nearly neutrally buoyant” (probably a pool party accident). I didn’t cross-test this toy against a watermelon, so can’t speak to the similarities, but the toy definitely does what it promises.

Here is the product page. You can follow PlaSmart via Twitter and Facebook. And here’s the ball on Amazon.

They are also the makers of the “cool, cool car”! and this play mat that we reviewed a few years ago.

 


 

 

Thanks to the good folks at PlaSmart for the review sample, provided for review but with no expectation as to the content of this post.

 

Feetures Plantar Fasciitis Sock: My New Favorite

One good turn deserves another. I’ve been enjoying my second pair of Feetures socks even more than the first.

You know how a lot of runners have that certain shirt or pair of socks that they are bummed about when it’s in the dirty laundry and not ready for their run? That’s how I’ve gotten to be with the Feetures PF Relief sock.

“PF” is plantar fasciitis, which, like so many other runners, I have unfortunately developed the last couple months.

I’ve tried just about everything. The kind of hideous-looking recovery sandal from OOFOS (but with good arch support), KT tape, rolling my foot out, physical therapy, a podiatrist, etc., etc. Especially since I am trying multiple things at once, it can be hard to say what all is working and what is not, but these socks with their intense compression have been a welcome companion on my runs.

There’s so much compression that they’re a little tricky to get on! In fact, when I first put them on I noticed some thread stretching/thinness where the heel goes in to the rest of the sock. Maybe an inevitability given the compression?

 

 

 

My contact at Feetures told me that seam stretch is normal. She said, “It’s a result of the Y-Heel construction of the sock and is more evident in the PF sock than some of our others!”

I worried about the sock unraveling, but after dozens of runs, everything is secure.

I generally prefer no-show socks, but I like the quarter sock I have here, since it gives me more sock to hold on to when I get it on. Here’s another view:

 

 

There are “L” and “R” socks in each pair, so you’re always putting the same one on each foot. I am a size 13, and the XL sock (12.5+) has been true to size—a perfect fit, in fact. The sock is 88% polyester and 12% spandex.

There are four different PF relief socks now, in black and white. Check them out here.

My only complaint about this sock is the price point: $29.99. Feetures is a great company and, from all I can tell, a worthy place to spend money, and these socks are my new favorites, but $30 for a pair of socks is tough to swallow.

I’m not sure if these socks will come down in price. I hope they do. At the same time, runners looking for PF relief are willing to try just about anything. The “lifetime guarantee” on this sock doesn’t hurt either.

And I just learned about an affiliate program Feetures has, so if you are a new, would-be customer and want $10 off—on that sock or any other—clicking here will give you a discount.

 


 

Thanks to the good folks at Feetures for the review sample, provided without any expectation as to the content of this review.

Feetures Running Socks

Remember as a kid, when you would get socks in your Christmas stocking and think it was a super-boring present?

As an adult, that feeling changes. (I have been happy for every pair of wool socks I’ve gotten.) As a runner, I’ve come to appreciate good socks even more, to the point that I eagerly check the mailbox multiple times a day until an awaited pair of running socks arrives.

I reviewed Thorlos running socks here. I thought those two pairs would be enough. But I was curious what else was out there, so I reached out to Feetures, and they were kind to send me a sample pair of socks: the Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab Sock.

 

 

It was a good mail day, the day they arrived:

 

 

The first thing I noticed and appreciated was this small touch: the socks are marked “L” and “R”:

 

 

This sock is 95% nylon, 5% spandex, so it feels a bit what I would imagine putting on pantyhose feels like. They are a comfortable fit, and the “light cushion” is just a bit of added protection from the pounding of feet on the pavement. (Feetures has other cushioning options.)

The compression the socks provide is noticeable but not at all uncomfortable; these feel great to put on and wear. They are excellent at wicking away moisture, whether for a short, intense run, or long, slow distances.

One of my favorite things about the socks is it boasts the “The Perfect Toe®” technology (yes, that is all rights reserved!), which means just “no irritating toe seam,” which seems to be a rarity, even among athletic socks. I really didn’t think at all about these socks when I was wearing them—which is a good thing.

My personal preference might be for more cushion, but that’s in part due to some extra support I’m looking for these days to stabilize things after an ankle sprain last fall and developing plantar fasciitis (woo hoo). But there is definitely a place for these light cushion socks, especially if you don’t have lots of room in your running shoes. And Feetures even has a PF-specific sock!

Check out the socks above here. The Feetures site has plenty more options, too.

 


 

Thanks to the good folks at Feetures for the review sample, provided without any expectation as to the content of this review.

Short Review of the Brooks Ravenna 9 Running Shoe

Ravenna 9I just posted this short review to Brooks’s site, and thought I’d share here, too.

The Brooks Ravenna 9 is the best Brooks shoe I’ve tried. It’s springier and faster and lighter than the Ghost 9 and Ghost 10. It holds up well, too, for 5-10-mile runs. It’s got good support, especially in the heel.

It’s not a stability shoe, per se, but it feels plenty stable, without compromising weight. Coming from the Ghost, I found this shoe really fun and easy to run in. It’s a good blend between being fast and supportive enough for longer runs.

My only complaint is that the amazingly bright yellow and blue color isn’t available in the wider version (black only for that). I had these bright shoes for a few days and got lots of comments. My runs were good, too, but the right shoe was too narrow, so I returned them (super easy process with Brooks) for the 2E wide black ones, which feel much better. That said, both the normal and wide width could stand to be just a bit roomier in the toe box, as the Ghost is.

All in all, a great shoe. Find it here on Amazon (affiliate link) or here at Brooks Running.