This un-conventional French Press really speaks quality when it's in your hand. Espro is definitely a company that produces only the best quality items. I had owned their Espro click tamper, and 12oz Toroid pitcher. Definitely all top notch material and quality. For this alone, Espro press is worth the price tag if you're the person that seeks build quality and esthetics. Also, it comes with a very comprehensive but simple manual for first timers. A good starting point for beginners. A very pleasing overall first impression.
The very first reason I seek for a stainless press like Espro Press was to replace my broken cheap glass French press and the glowing review by Coffeegeek members helps too. My old glass French press just decided to crack itself even though I had been very careful and pre-warm it before using hot tap water. That's the downside of buying cheap things I guess. Anyway, with the quality of Espro, I really doubt that I will ever break it or even need to replace it.
This press is not any harder to use than a conventional French press. Similar to your normal press, just put in ground coffee, add hot water, and plunge. Simple as that. The cleaning isn't that different too. Just rinse them with hot water and it should be good. The inside of the wall is probably harder to clean if you have a big hand. I would say most of the processes are very similar to a conventional French Press. There are just some slight differences versus French press which can be summarized: sweet eye candy, cleaner cup with less sludge, durable vessel that will never break, waste a little more coffee.
i) It's a more elegant way of preparing French press. Imagine the shiny vessel that holds your coffee.
ii) Higher thermal retention as compared to normal press due to the stainless steel (vacuum insulation) double wall, holding the temperature relatively constant throughout the extraction process.
iii) Heavy and quality stainless steel with mirror finish
iv)Gives much less sludge, cleaner cup but still with good body.
i)The main shortcoming, to me, is the retained coffee.
ii)Slightly harder to plunge because it filters that much better, really not a big deal
iii) To get best result, it's best to use it to its capacity and expect to waste a little coffee.
iv) When washing, it's harder to reach the inside of the wall because it's too narrow for an adult hand. Maybe I just have big hands.
v) Remember to wipe it with microfiber cloth after washing to prevent water spots on the mirror finish.
I guess most points are pretty much straight forward. It's a really good French press substitute, some might argue it's even better. It gives much less sludge but still have a good body. However, there is a point I would really like to elaborate more because I haven't seen this emphasized enough in the reviews. This point has a huge impact on my purchasing decision that I think could be the same to others too.
As mentioned, the Espro press retains a fair amount of coffee behind the filter because of how it works. For example, you're brewing 1:16 ratio of ground coffee to water for a total of 10 oz. But you will only get 8oz from that (20% loss). The 2 oz will be retained behind the filter. Some people will be okay with this for the sake of better coffee. But some "cheapo" people (like me especially) that appreciates every grain of coffee will feel that this is too wasteful. It gets worse if you're trying to make less than the capacity - I tried once to brew 5oz of coffee and only ended up with just about 1.5-2 oz. The coffee retention increases if you are brewing a less amount.
HOWEVER, there is a workaround for this. Just that it requires a bit of work and prudence in doing so. You can tilt the Espro press with the spout pointing into your cup, then "pump" the plunger in and out to get all the retained coffee out. It takes a bit of efforts but it works. Caution: Be very very careful when doing this. There were twice I accidentally pulled too hard and all the coffee with ground splashed on my desks. Very very messy outcome and you do not want this especially if you're doing homework while wanting to drink a cup of coffee. Lesson learnt. It's better to use the Aeropress if you're going for this small amount. Aeropress also gives very little sludge (very close to Espro if not similar or better) with the metal filter disk with good body.
The greatest strength of Espro press is that it is able to give less sludge as compared to French press without compromising the body noticeably. Sludge was never a big problem for me; so, to me, the greatest benefit of Espro press is that it will give a very similar taste to French press. All in all, you will get the great French press tastes without the silts if that's what bothering you in conventional press.
I am very impressed by the quality and look of the Espro press. My only grudge was that the filter will retain a fair amount of coffee. The Espro Press is the perfect one for someone who :
i)Doesn't mind wasting a bit of coffee for better cup
ii) Makes a full cup (8-9oz) at a time
iii)Bothered by the sludge in conventional French press
Try it if you have never had good French press without silts before. ;-)