Allow us to introduce the SteepShot, a new breed of coffee brewer.
Designed by Ari Halonen in Norway, this intelligent and considered 1-cup coffee maker utilises pressure to create delicious coffee simply and speedily.
Having spent the last few weeks brewing almost exclusively with the SteepShot, and having enjoyed the process immensely, we wanted to share our experiences with you. If you'd rather watch our overview than read it, you can access the video here or at the bottom of this piece.
Why is the SteepShot different?
We first became interested in preparing filter coffee inside a pressurised brewer since Gordon Howell won the UK Brewers Cup championship in 2015. Jeremy Challender then won the next year brewing inside a regular Thermos before decanting and filtering.
This approach can produce a really fantastic cup, but as well as being a little slow and messy, the techniques – both of which involve repurposing numerous pieces of drinkware and kitchen equipment – highlight the potential of the SteepShot to produce unique, delicious cups of coffee.
It truly is unlike anything else we've brewed with. Developed by Ari Hanolen in Norway, the unique, patented brewing technology permits the brewer to utilise the benefits of brewing in a pressurised environment, whilst keeping the process fairly simple, with clean down being much easier to handle.
It isn’t like espresso or stovetop brewing, which are essentially pressurised percolation brew methods, and it isn’t like a regular immersion method such as French Press, Clever Dripper or Aeropress, as it utilises the pressure built up within the chamber to speed up the brewing process.
Ostensibly a single-cup filter brewer, it requires quite a bit of headspace to allow pressure to build up inside the chamber to accelerate the extraction process, SteepShot's main benefit is that this allows you to brew faster and still achieve nice high, even extractions without some of the more common obstacles faced in filter brewing, like channelling – where the water effectively ‘misses’ pockets of your ground coffee.
Components & Assembly
At first glance, the brewer might look a touch complicated when compared to a regular pourover, which is just one piece of brewing kit. However, with only one more component than the AeroPress, it all fits together easily and is incredibly intuitive to use.
Like any coffee brewer, there will be a certain part responsible for actually filtering the grounds out of the brewed coffee, and in the case of the SteepShot, this is a perforated metal disc. The disc that comes with the brewer has holes that measure 100 microns, which is relatively small and will catch most if not all of your coffee grounds even if you’re grinding quite fine. If you like the fuller body and mouthfeel of coffee from a French Press, but don’t like waiting for so long to let it settle to deal with the sediment that tends to come with it, then this provides a nice solution. This filter isn’t going to create anything viscous and heavy like coffee from a Mokapot or espresso machine, but the brewed coffee tastes a little creamier and rounder than that prepared with an AeroPress of Clever Dripper.
If you favour clarity of flavour and a slimmer bodied cup then there are a couple of alternatives available. You can buy a second disc with 60-micron holes, which will help further reduce the sediment in the cup. Otherwise, there’s also the option of using AeroPress filter papers for an even cleaner cup, but they obviously aren’t reusable in the same way that these metal filters are.
The metal filter disc sits into a filter holder cap and is then locked in using a ring that sits above the metal or paper filter.
The last part of the SteepShot is called the Deflector, which is a lever that screws onto the lid to create an airtight seal. It contains a small rubber O-ring, which is integral to the brewing process as it's what creates a seal and helps create the pressure.
Once assembled, everything is placed onto the brewing chamber, which is double-walled stainless steel, so you can add boiling water to it whilst still being able to comfortably pick it up and hold it.
Our Recommended SteepShot Recipe
We'd highly recommend experimenting with the SteepShot and the main ways you can do that are by altering your grind size and steep time. The rule of thumb to follow is that a finer grind will require less brewing time, whilst grinding coarser will require a longer steep.
However, we've been getting excellent results with the following recipe:
Where to Set Your Grinder for Your SteepShot
As each grinder will be subtly different as a result of manufacturing discrepancies and the degree of wear experienced by their burr sets over time, the following setting recommendations should be treated as jumping-off points. However, the following grind settings are where we'd suggest starting from to create a predominantly sweet cup, with integrated acidity and minimal bitterness. To learn more about how to approach grinding your coffee you can watch our video here.
Cleaning & Other Considerations
Dispensing the grounds isn’t quite as simple as with the Aeropress or a pourover, but you easily knock your spent coffee out into your compost bin or rinse the brewing chamber and catch the grounds in a little sieve as you discard the water into a sink. If you’ve got any extra boiling water you can also brew an empty chamber and use that to clean out the brewer and your sink quite nicely. However, we do recommend either placing the brewer in the dishwasher or cleaning it with hot, soapy water to remove all of the coffee oils and avoid tainting subsequent brews.
No brewer is without its own set of hazards, to it's also worth considering how to use the brewer safely. Once you’ve added your coffee and hot water and sealed the lid, the inside is pressurised and so you should never open the deflector when the brewer is upright, as coffee can spray out upwards.
The other point is that when you’re ready to release the coffee into your cup it will come out quickly accompanied by some steam, so keep your fingers nice and clear and on the deflector lever, with the opening lowered down into your cup to reduce the risk of spilling coffee everywhere.
Ultimately, the best SteepShot recipe and technique is the one you most enjoy making and drinking and so we encourage getting familiar with the brewer by experimenting.
The main ways you can tweak your SteepShot technique are by altering your grind size and steep times, as well as by playing around with different filtering mediums. You can definitely trial super quick brewing styles with a nice fine grind, and SteepShot themselves claim you’re able to get a nice extraction in just 30 seconds.
Whilst initially dubious about this claim, we've found that if we move through the steps involved in preparing a cup very quickly, then a fast but impressive and full extraction is indeed possible. Unlike a quickly-brewed AeroPress, we've consistently found that rapid SteepShot brews taste sweet, complete and balanced with a long finish.
You’ll find that if you opt for the finer mesh filter, and even more so with a paper filter, that your draw-down will slow down a touch, but the pay off is a slightly cleaner cup. Through clarifying the brew liquor more effectively you may find the mouthfeel gets lighter, but flavour clarity can jump up, and so depending on what you want from your coffee, as well as what particular beans you’re using, you can make the decision for yourself.