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During winter nights, drinking a hot cup of coffee or tea is what makes me stay awake to finish off important assignments and presentation especially if I have to pull an all-nighter. However, there's alway a problem that any hot coffee or tea that I make gets cold easily while I was distracted on my laptop. I found my solution in this Smartcafe cafetiere hot mug.
I first discovered this product at a friend's house when we had a group study session together. She has one of these Smartcafe cafetiere mug and I was impressed by how well this mug work. So I decided to buy one for myself. Each Smartcafe cafetiere mug is retailed at around £ 10.00 but I bought mine from amazon.co.uk for a lower price as usual. I paid about £ 6.50 for the red mug with free delivery.
The actual product is very light, weighing only at 150 g. It has a double-wall designed to keep drinks hot longer by reducing the heat transfer between the drink and the colder environment. On the actual product description, it says this mug is dishwasher and microwave safe but I haven't had the need to use either of them, so I can't say with absolute certainty. This cup is very easy to wash-up and I usually do it by hand rather than using a dishwasher.
Making a genuine tasting hot cup of coffee with this mug is really easy as it says. Put the desired amount of ground coffee in a dry mug and gently filled the mug with hot water. It has a fill line to advise the user as well. I give the drink a gentle stir and then use the plunger and pressed it down slowly. Then I add milk and sugar and whatever
strikes my fancy. I always follow the same steps for making a hot cup of chocolate with this mug, this is especially useful since the chocolate power I use are one of those medium grounded chocolate and it leaves bits if I don't use a plunger. I am also an avid tea drinker and this mug still comes in handy even though I don't need to use a plunger to make tea. However, due to it's double-wall, it keeps my tea warm for longer.
The only drawback of this product is that it doesn't come with a lid, so it is not ideal as a travel mug. However, in contrast, this makes a very nice mug to make drinks with at home. For about £ 6.00 per mug, it comes to about the same price as most novelty mugs these days. However this Smartcafe mug has the added benefit of keeping drinks hot longer. Therefore, price-wise it is really worth it.
Overall, I am really satisfied with the product and I have been using this mug for a little over a year now. I like that fact it is very easy to clean up and also keeps my drinks warm for longer. Even so I can think of a few improvements like having a lid and making the mug capacity bigger. Nevertheless, this is still a wonderful product for anyone who enjoys a hot drink.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. :) x
On the face of it, this may seem like a travel mug. let me say this straight away: it isn't. There's no lid on this little beauty, so it shouldn't be treated as such. However, it doesn't mean you can't use it when camping, etc.
Basically it's an all in one filter coffee maker. Usually, making filter coffee can involve three or four separate components, all of which need to be kept separate once the drink is made, either making their way to the bin or to be washed up. This all in one creation allows you to enjoy your coffee and clean up with minimal fuss afterwards.
Costing anywhere between £6 and £10, a mug such as this has a very sturdy feel to it. A glance inside tells you there's a bit of space lost due to the insulation element of it, which certainly allows you to keep your coffee hotter for longer, especially handy if you use this for outdoor purposes, which is can be suited to. The concept is rather simple and is designed for filter coffee. First add the coffee to the bottom of the mug, then pour in the hot water. It works like a cafetiere would do in that you need to give it a short amount of time and then you take the extra component of it, (which is a disc with a filter as its base), by the handle that extends vertically up from it, and slowly plunge down. As a cafetiere would, the fine coffee grains are kept underneath the filter disc and the liquid permeates the filter and sits in the mug. Ready to drink!
It actually works very well. The design has been perfectly adapted to ensure complete suction where the plunger meets the insides of the mug, to ensure no grains escape at the sides. In fact, it's quite tricky to make a mistake when plunging as it just doesn't go off kilter at all. I've tried and although you could force it, I could feel the handle starting to feel the strain and so didn't push it any further.
The mug is comfortable to hold, easy enough to get my fingers into and around. Some mugs often aren't especially with fat finger syndrome like I have! I also prefer to hold the mug around the outside with my hands when it's a bit chilly out, and the thermal element of the mug means that the outside does get warm, but not scaldingly hot like regular mugs can. The mug is durable and therefore suited to outdoor use, particularly if you have everything in place for boiling hot water and you want to take this camping with you. I find it ideal for that sort of thing, as although I have instant coffee for most of the time, the real aroma and taste of filter coffee does supercede it and is often nice to have.
There's no lid with this though, so it's not specifially designed as a travel mug. It's more portable due to its durable nature, but be warned that not having a lid makes it less ideal for car journeys, for example. Also, while you can use it for other hot drinks and not actually need to use the plunger, if you omit it then it affects the flow of the contents and it comes slopping out a bit quicker. The plunger sort of counters the swirly slops you often get from a regular mug.
Overall then, I really like this mug. As mugs go, it's certainly not the cheapest, but this offers much mroe value by being able to make an entire mug of filter coffee by just using the mug and not having to faff around with throwing out the filter and grains before drinking it. You do this afterwards. It's easy to wash as long as you don't leave it too long and let the grains dry; just make sure to properly wash it and keep it dry otherwise you'll get bits of coffee in places you just don't want them. Great product, highly recommended.
Being a university student having a good supply of coffee is a must for late night cramming; but there is only so much instant coffee you can put up with! I looked at buying a bodum cafietiere but on a student's budget I couldn't really justify the high price, that is where the Smartcafé Mug came to my rescue!
Having read reviews on Amazon I decided to take the plunge and ordered one for roughly £6, it has changed my coffee drinking forever!
It is such a simple yet innovative device, you insert your coffee into the bottom of the mug then after you have let it sit for the desired amount of time, load the press filter into its slot and push down slowly, the press will then slot into the mug and out of your way so you can enjoy your beverage without being hindered
Another feature that people over look is that the cup appears to be insulated and keeps your drinks warmer than a normal mug, and can also be used for any hot beverage, not just coffee!
Some tips about using the device to get optimal performance
MOST IMPORTANT: Always keep it dry!
- This is to ensure that your coffee doesn't stick to the sides
What this isnt, is a travel mug, as there is no lid so to speak to keep liquid from spilling when you are out and about; think of the product as a convenient alternative to a Bodum (or similar) french press, which are quite pricey. This is a perfect introduction to the world of "real" coffee, better than the instant muck! Trust me, I bought mine after christmas, and havent looked back since!
A quick word on cleaning the product, the only real problem in cleaning the product is if you leave it sitting overnight after using it coffee can stick to the underside of the filter making it slightly difficult to clean but it isnt a major issue.
Also, if you are using it for any other liquid without the filter in, be careful as liquid could escape all over your face when tilting it towards your mouth due to the "track" where the filter slides in not being occupied!
I have two of these mugs, one for me and one for the ogther half as they are so versatile and well designed, I bought them both in John Lewis in a sale and paid £8 for the pair which was about 25% off the normal retail price if my memory serves me right. There were lots of colours to choose from and we have a dark green one and a red one.
These are great when you are on your own and only want to make a single cup of filter coffee and not a whole cafetierre. These are extremely well designed with a small plunger to allow you to add the filter coffee directly to the mug, add the water and then after it has been left for a few minutes, the instructions suggest 3-4 minutes, then you insert the plunger and depress it smoothly. There is a mark to show the maxiumum amount of water to add and the instructions also recommend rinsing the cup before use with boiling water, I guess this is to add some heat to it initially but I often either can't be bothered or forget this task.
These are great to take when away camping, they are thermal designed so they keep the coffee warm and they are pretty robust as well as they are made from strong plastic and while camping this means you can have a quality cup of coffee in the morning rather than the instant rubbish.
They are nice and easy to clean although obviously you do need to be careful with the filter and plunger as this is the most vulnerable part of the cup. The lip of the plunger is the same colour as the body of the mug and it sits flush with the rim of the cup.
These are a simple design but a very smart one and I would certainly recommend them as a good purchase.
I am a big coffee drinker so much so that I can't even begin to think about starting my day without at least two cups of it.
I got this mug about a year ago as part of my works secret Santa and at first thought it was just a thermos mug and didn't realise until a couple of months later when I actually looked at it properly that it is actually so much more than just a simple thermos mug.
Instead of just adding some instant coffee to the mug to keep it warm you can actually use this to make your own fresh coffee. It is an ingenious little invention but one which is simplicity itself in its design and I am surprised that I haven't seen more of these for sale on the high street.
The mug has its own built in filter to make fresh coffee from ground which works really well and it takes no time at all to brew up a decent cup of coffee. It works like a mini cafetiere so you need to add a spoonful of fresh ground coffee to the mug then use the plunger to push the grounds to the bottom of the mug and release the coffee.
The filter works really well and completely seals all the ground coffee grounds at the bottom of the mug and doesn't let any through to ruin the taste of the coffee more so than my actual cafetiere. Obviously though it is much smaller than my cafetiere but the mug is large enough for one person to get a decent sized cup of coffee.
The mug itself is made of plastic but is really good quality and is insulated to ensure that coffee remains hot for longer than it would in say a china mug. I also find that the handle is a fairly decent size for my fingers to be able to grip it comfortably. I am not overly keen drinking my coffee from a plastic mug as I think that sometimes you can taste the plastic when drinking but I can honestly say that this hasn't been a problem with this mug.
As I mentioned this is an ingenious little product and works well to produce a good cup of fresh coffee with minimal faffing around. I can leave this in my desk at work and use it when I am in the office to make nice fresh coffee and it is both easy to use and also because it only consists of two parts it is also easy to clean. I personally would have preferred if this had a proper lid so that when I had made the coffee I could have taken it in the car or the train but I suppose I have a proper thermos for that.
These mugs cost around about £8 and I have to say that I think this is a good price for them as they are really good quality and the fact that the seal is so strong transforms this from something which could have so easily been a novelty item into something which is genuinely useful for a coffee lover.
It has been said that the best solutions are the simplest ones. Where the Smartcafe Cafetiere Mug is concerned, this couldn't be more true: it has just two parts but it does the job to perfection.
Over the years we have used any number of devices to brew a cup of coffee from grounds. Most recently this has consisted of a simple filter holder and paper filters, fitted on top of a mug and into which are poured the loose grounds and hot water. However, not all coffees work well in paper filters, even some of those that state that they have been milled for this method. Often you will find that the flow has slowed to drips or even stopped completely, before even half has drained through to the mug.
Then we spotted the Smartcafe mug. It was only around £7 in Robert Dyas so we bought one to try. It's made out of a hard plastic, grey outside, black inside in our case although other colours are available, and has a slot on the inside by the handle, into which slides the filter. The filter is simply a fine mesh screen fitted in a circular horizontal frame, attached to a vertical handle that fits into the slot. The outer edge of the filter frame has a soft washer that fills the gap between the frame and the inner surface of the mug, to stop coffee grounds from leaking past. The mug itself is double walled so that no matter how hot the coffee is, it won't burn your hands.
In use you simply spoon a measure of coffee grounds into the mug, pour on hot water and then rest the filter on the surface of the brew. When you are happy that the coffee has been brewing long enough you simply press down on the filter handle and the filter slides down the slot to the bottom of the mug, pushing the coffee grounds before it. There they stay whilst you drink your coffee.
When you've finished you simply pull up the filter and either wash the coffee grounds down the drain or if, as we do, you have a council that collects kitchen food waste to recycle, knock the grounds out into the food waste bucket.
This has been a great purchase and other methods of making coffee have, in our house, large fallen by the wayside. Smartcafe also makes a travel mug that is similar in design but uses a standard cafetiere type plunge filter, fitted into a non-leak lid, with a small seal-able drinking hole so that the lid doesn't have to be removed.
Ever since I bought my first Smartcafe Cafetiere Hot Cup two years ago I have used them ever since and been a big fan of the simplicity and convenience of the whole idea and design of the product. The idea is that instead of buying expensive coffee on the run, you carry the Hot Cup around with you as it is easy to store and saves a fortune in the long run! You may be wondering why I don't just use a flask, but the Hot Cup is so much smaller and is sized to fit neatly into my bag and aswell as being simple to transport it is well sized to store enough coffee for one good drink.
The Hot Cup comes with the instructions to load, pour, plunge and then drink! The simplicity of the idea fits into my lifestyle easily enough, and I think the design is fantastic! The Hot Cup is double walled to keep your hot beverage hotter for longer and is great for storing a single cup of fresh tea or coffee very easily. The built in plunger is also a real convenience, too, as I can make my coffee whilst on the go without having to compromise on quality over paying through the nose for a cafe-bought brew.
The Hot Cup comes in a large range of colours to suit your personality - mine is a subtle black colour. If only you drink coffee in your household then this product is also ideal for you at home. I have a Hot Cup at home, as it is wasteful using a large cafetiere to make coffee from. The Hot Cup allows me to make great tasting real coffee on the go or at home instead of the horrible instant coffee. As it doubles up as a mini-flask it can also hold your tea or basically any other hot drink, so it has a variety of uses.
I would strongly recommend this Hot Cup for those wishing to save a few pounds a day buying cafe-bought coffee on the go. Within a week you will be in profit, and it so simple and easy to set up before you dash out to work in the morning - ideal for the daily commute.
Smartcafe Cafetiere Hot Mug
This is a great mug to have around if you want a nicer cup of coffee during a short tea break or without relying on a cafetiere. I use mine on a regular basis and it is great to just throw in your bag and take out with you. I have not only used this in a home or office setting, but I have taken this mug along on camping or hiking trips. Personally, I love a mug of good, hot strong black coffee and with a bit of coffee and a thermos of hot water you can use this with minimal fuss anywhere that you can carry it.
This mug is very easy to use, just add the fresh ground coffee, then hot water, leave it for a moment before plunging the plunger and then add milk or sweeten to desired taste and simply sit back and enjoy. This is easy to clean, just rinse and wash with soapy water after using to keep it in tip top condition.
This is quite a chunky mug to hold and although it isn't the most attractive design its great functionality makes this a great addition to any kitchen. It is also available in a selection of colours, I own the black version, a friend of mine has a snazzier looking red version and I am pretty certain that a grey one is available.
The filter (plunger part) is very good, I have hardly noticed any coffee granules floating around when I am drinking my coffee. Also if like me you love hot coffee then this is one of the best coffee cafetieres of its nature. They people who designed this very cleverly made this mug double walled to keep the coffee hotter for longer.
These mugs typically retail for around £10, but by shopping around a bit these are often available at cheaper prices and I got mine for £8 from John Lewis. I have had and used mine for a while now and it is still working perfectly.
I think that this product deserves a well earned four out of five stars, it is a great, quick and handy way of making a nice cup of coffee from fresh granules rather than relying on good old instant. When it comes that time when mine needs replaced I wouldn't hesitate in rushing out to get another one of these. I would happily recommend this to anyone who is looking for something along these lines, it is a very good idea that has been designed with functionality in mind.
This purchase came about because instant coffee is not real coffee. The only use for instant coffee is as a source of caffeine. I also work out in the country, away from baristas and ground coffee. This location of work was a recent development, so I was having serious withdrawals from real coffee.
Since there was no way I was going to bring in a full-on espresso machine, I settled on the next best thing - filter coffee. Now I weighed up the various options and a standard plunger cafetiere seemed like too much work for me - I mean I would have to make the coffee and then pour it into a mug, and then clean both? No - I needed something suited for the very lazy coffee snob.
So I was very excited when i found and purchased the Smartcafe Hot Cafetiere mug from Lakeland for around £6. Its an all-in-one cafetiere and mug.
The mug itself: I had a choice of grey or grey...after much agonising I went with the grey. It is not a pretty work-of-art mug. It is unashamedly practical made out of thick plastic (I assume to keep the drinks hot) with a black band along the top of the mug. The inner filter is also made of black plastic with a silver filter. It is very well made and produces a tight seal to minimise coffee ground escaping from the bottom.
The making of the coffee: I purchased a packet of fairtrade filter coffee (I was in an environmentally-conscious mood). I put a tablespoon of coffee into the mug, filled with boiling water, waited a minute and then pressed the filter down slowly (well maybe not slowly, it was early in the morning and I needed my coffee fix). Once the filter was fully pressed down I had a large cup of freshly made filter coffee ready to go which tasted delicious. It did however have a slight number of grounds in it, but I attribute that to my 'slow' pushing. If you want you can add sugar and milk at this stage. Cleanup couldn't be easier, I removed the filter, emptied the coffee grounds, and rinsed - all ready for my next cup, and the next, and the next.....
Really, this mug can do no wrong and it takes pride of place on my desk. And everyone's jealous and out to buy their own.
*Amazon addict gets a gift*
I have to confess to being something of an Amazon addict. The fantastic range of products, the predictive searching and free delivery when you spend a fiver or more means that it's very easy to make a small purchase for either a gift, or yourself if you're feeling naughty. I've managed to pick up a few small items for my girlfriend this way and was very pleasantly surprised when she reciprocated by ordering me a red Smartcafe mug from my wishlist.
I should add that Amazon is currently one of the cheapest places to pick up the mug, at less than £5. That's less than the cost of three lattes from Pret (my coffee shop of choice). If you drink one mug of brewed coffee a day this mug will pay for itself in no time, even when compared to the subsidised coffee cart that sits outside my office:
*I'm the Smartcafe mug and I pay for myself*
Smartcafe mug + really good bag of organic Fairtrade coffee (perhaps 15 mugs) = ~£8/£0.54 a mug. Subsequent mugs are even cheaper, at solely the cost of the coffee involved, ~£0.20 a mug!
Coffee cart (subsidised brewed coffee, also organic and Fairtrade) for 15 mugs = £1.25*15/£18.75
So, my mug paid for itself on the seventh day of use and subsequent mugs of coffee have been costing me £0.20 each, which means you're getting brewed coffee for less than vending machine coffee.
*The world is full of failed gadgets?*
Despite the positively glowing reviews for this product already on Dooyoo, I had to admit that I was a little cynical that anything 'gadgety' would live up to the hype. A quick search of the gadget websites will illuminate a chequered history of easy coffee makers that claim to be as good as coffee shop coffee, with none of the fuss. Unfortunately for the caffeine addicted populous, most of them are rubbish!
The Smartcafe mug, I'm pleased to report, is the exception to this trend and going into work has never been so minimally hateful :D
*Thoughts on the design*
As others have stated, it's not the prettiest of containers: a thick plastic beaker is fixed within an outer shell of plastic and there would appear to be a slight gap between the layers to aid insulation. While it's a little on the chunky side it's actually considerably lighter than a typical china mug and appears to be very robust. The plastic is smooth and well machined and a minimal seam around the handle and the middle of the mug is all that reveals the fact that it's a manufactured item.
Perhaps a small gripe, but the handle is a little bit cramped for those of us with hands which aren't tiny and it may not be suitable for those with arthritis, limited mobility, or who prefer a larger handle for safety reasons.
The sliding press that transforms the mug from a large plastic beaker to a cafetiere fits neatly into the moulded groove provided and has a well fitted bottom of narrow grade plastic mesh that filters the coffee very well. Contrary to other reviews, I do find a small amount of grains in my coffee, but that's probably due to the fact that I use a lot of coffee and can be a little impatient about plunging my morning brew. It's certainly far superior to traditional cafetieres as the parts fit together much better and a welcome bonus is the fact that there's less components. Simplification is always good, especially when it means that you have less dishes to do! It's dishwasher safe too, for those of you lucky souls who can justify owning a dishwasher.
There's a computing phrase 'garbage in, garbage out/GIGO' that can be applied quite neatly to coffee. If you buy nasty cheap instant coffee you will end up with a nasty cheap cup of coffee that's a pale ghost of its superior brewed cousin. If, however, you are willing to buy a decent bag of ground coffee you can enjoy a wonderful treat at an affordable price. The Smartcafe mug facilitates a good cup of coffee by keeping it hot (no loss of heat through pouring etc.), minimising waste (the mug is really well made and there's no wasted space) and by allowing you to enjoy a rich mug of the good stuff without getting a mouthful of grounds.
I'm aware that I'm a coffee evangelist, but the drinks made in this mug really are black gold.
I was wandering around the Avoca store in Dublin last week and came across this marvellous little gadget. An all in one cafetiere, thermal, coffee mug. It's called a 'Smartcafe Hot Cafetiere Mug." It does what it says on the label! It doesn't look particularly smart but under that rather plain exterior lurks a really 'smart' little innovation which was designed by Sebastian Conran.
My mug is red and black but another five colours are available. If I had seen the silver one I probably would have bought that.
They are a sturdy plastic two toned mug with a built in filter. The filter slides down a groove on the inside of the mug. Holding the coffee grounds safely out of your drink.
The process goes like this.
Measure coffee grounds into the mug.
Pour on boiling water to about half an inch from the top.
Wait a short while for the grounds to steep.
Slide plunger/filter thingy into grooves inside the mug.
Push down to the bottom.
Voila! A perfect cup of hot fresh coffee!
~~~This mug has a lot of things going for it.~~~
1. It is economical. There is not the wastage that you can get with a normal cafetiere.
2. The thermal sides of the mug means that the coffee stays hotter for longer.
3. There is no heat loss as you transfer coffee from the coffee pot or cafetiere to the mug.
4. You can make it as strong or as weak as you wish.
5. No one pinches your coffee whilst you are upstairs getting dressed waiting for it to brew!
6. The design of the filter means there is no seepage of coffee grounds into the drink. You don't get a mouthful of bits at the end of your drink. (Yuk!)
7. It is very easy to clean, you just remove the filter and tap the grounds out into the compost bin. Wash as you would a normal mug.
8. The filter/plunger is well made and looks sturdy enough to last for a long time. The nylon mesh is fine and the construction looks seamless so I don't expect it to crack or come away from the molding. It fits easily into the groove so there is no fiddling whilst you try to fit it in.
9. The handle is a comfortable size and shape and doesn't get hot.
10. It's ideal for taking out into the garden, it keeps your drink warmer for longer whilst you potter about and it won't break if you knock it over.
~~~A few things I'm not so keen on~~~
1. It's not pretty. I usually drink out of a bone china mug. This is definitely not one. It is a chunky plastic mug and looks like one!
2. If I have to drink out of a plastic mug it could look a little less boring.
3. It cost me 8 Euros. Nearly £8.00! Having said that, Avoca is a lovely shop but it is expensive. Perhaps these mugs are cheaper elsewhere.
~~~Does it work?~~~
Yes, it works beautifully. It's efficient, economical, easy to use, easy to clean, there is no taint from the plastic so your coffee is delivered just as it should be.
The plunger when depressed fits flush to the inside and top of the mug so it can't be dislodged easily and is almost invisible. There is nothing sticking out to snag on accidentally, which is important if you are handling a mug of hot liquid.
It is a very useful object if you want to make just one cup of coffee. As far as I can see it would also be very useful for brewing loose tea and herbal infusions, with absolutely no mess involved!
It is also dishwasher safe. (Which would be very handy for me if I actually had a dishwasher.)
It's really nice to find a kitchen gadget that does what it's designed to do so well.
It's a highly recommended, well designed cafetiere mug!
(My kids will all be getting one as part of their Christmas present!)
I'm not one for spending hours in the kitchen, so with the possible exception of the kettle there isn't really much in there I could write a review about. I love to drink coffee and tea though and when I'm home alone and fancy a change from the instant coffee I find this item is particularly handy.
I'm no coffee snob, as I say I can drink the instant too, but I do enjoy a good coffee and I like to buy beans and grind them at home (coffee grinder, I do use more things in the kitchen!) There's enough washing up to do every day without buying some complicated machinery to make coffee with, so I stick with a cafetiere, but that's a bit much when it's just me around.
Quite by chance I wandered into a Whittard's some years ago and browsing the sale I came across the SmartCafe Hot Mug. I think it cost me about £1.99 at the time and it has proved to be a most valuable purchase. So valuable that I often cannot find it as my girlfriend has taken to using it whenever it is available.
Well, it's a mug. But wait! This is not an ordinary mug. It has one of those plunger things that you find in your everyday cafetiere. So to use, simply put your coffee grounds in the bottom, add hot water and allow to brew before pushing the plunger, brilliant!
The excitement doesn't stop there however, the mug is double walled, so if you like to take your time drinking your coffee then it's not going to get cold quite as fast.
Does it work?
Yes, it does. The plunger has a rubber edge to allow it to glide along the inside wall of the mug whilst maintaining a good seal. The handle part slides into the wall of the mug by the handle. The mesh in the plunger is fine enough to keep the coffee grounds in their rightful place. Sometimes I do get some in my drink, but this is often after I've just rinsed it instead of washing it properly and some grounds have found their way to the top edge of the mug.
As far as keeping your drink warm, well it does work well. I do sometimes leave a drink sitting around and wander off somewhere, only to find it 20 minutes later. It's definitely still a drinkable temperature.
Cleaning is simple as it only has two parts, the mug and the plunger. I think it would survive a dishwasher but as I am the dishwasher in our place I take care with everything anyway.
Be careful not to overfill it though. There is an indent in the top of the mug by the handle where the plunger handle goes. If you overfill it then coffee will run down from here. It's not a bad design feature, just something you may not think of the first time you use it.
I must have had mine for 4 years, maybe more. It's built of tough plastic and isn't showing signs of wearing out yet. Definitely a value for money purchase in my opinion.
Where can you get one?
I was forever checking back at Whittard's looking for another one of these and I began to despair that I would never be able to buy another as they never stocked them again. Good news is that they are online if you look hard enough.
Right now Amazon are selling red or platinum coloured ones for £4.86 and £6.50 respectively. I recently bought the red one (cheapest!) for my girlfriend so there is now a chance that mine isn't in use when I want it. I really wanted to get the pink or light blue for her, but couldn't find them. I'll still be keeping an eye open though.
In conclusion I'd say this was an ideal purchase for a coffee drinker, especially if they are a lone coffee drinker in a house of tea drinkers or even if they just want to reduce the washing up. It's been a great purchase for me and now my girlfriend is enjoying her own too.
(also posted on ciao)
Five years ago whilst traipsing around Lakeland stores in Glasgow I happened to come across a couple of travel mugs which looked slightly different to anything I had seen for a long time. Being Lakeland who try to look for unique products, the silver and chrome looking travel mugs looked too garish for the likes of me although for an instant I was swayed by the fact that it had a straw hole as well as the normal flap which seals the drink in. At £12-95 however there was no way I'd consider something like that. However sitting next to them was a grey and black thick thermal travel mug with a cafetiere plunger by a company called "Cuisine," and at the price of £8-95 I bought one. So it's a pity that after just two years the mug's plunger decided to give up the ghost after being put through the dishwasher. After the plunger died it seemed like a waste of money to throw away the mug, and amongst my box of Tupperware, that mug is now consigned to the rest of the plastic cups and tumblers I've collected over the years.
These mugs however are called "Smartcafe," mugs and in general thick thermal insulated plastic with a hi/low permanent lifts out filter are classed as cafetiere's in their basic design.
Knowing to be knowingly overpriced, the biggest surprise has been John Lewis stores who are selling what looks like the Cuisine mug again, only this time it falls under the name of "Smartcafe." Two colours are available; the same again dark grey/black cup I had years ago and a nicer, warmer coloured red/black mug. The only slight downside is that at JL, you can only buy a boring office grey mug or as a bright red one, similar to the colours that Thermos adorns their plastic flasks with. Whilst here on Dooyoo there would appear to be a bit more on offer if the photo is anything to go by. And from the website, it seems that the colours of Candy Pink, Cool Blue, Dark Green, Graphite (must be the grey one I had then) Platinum, Red and Yellow variations are all available. Importantly though the range has been designed by Sebastian Conran and despite the colours available it still has a black interior in each version. JL's price is a cheaper and realistic £4-95, which appears to be little more than half the price of mine when purchased all those years ago.
Now if memory serves me correctly there used to be a stack of 10 to 15 plastic brown filter coffee cradles at supermarkets which had a disposable factor to them. Oh yes, many a time I've bought them only to be burnt by the poor plastic which cracks under pressure and a mess when shoved on top of a mug or cup before final removal. Price for those is also on average between £2-95 and £4-95.
As plastic quality goes however the Smartcafe Cafetiere/Travel Mug is purposefully designed with smart, speckled textures on the thick easy to wipe down plastic body and an unusually thin handle which I find surprisingly comfortable. Sometimes I end up holding the mug just by holding onto the main body because of its useful thermal quality. Being a travel mug in its design stage means the plastic is Thermos quality and thick all over whilst the rim at the top has a soft rounded nature for the hungriest of mouths and the roughest of lips. It is not dissimilar to the Cuisine mug and could well be the same product with a new company logo as it has the same ribbed push down plunger with a sealed/tri-bonded mesh filter at the bottom to push coffee powder down to the bottom just like a standard cafetiere system. Thanks to that one sided plunger, a permanent slider wall juts out of the mug internally but it is still quite easy to keep clean despite this. It is however not microwave safe despite the use of all plastic in its construction.
And whilst it may well warn that its not dishwasher safe, I've already put mine in my parents dishwasher without the plunger added - because this is how my original Cuisine mug was damaged. Sadly due to its construction the bonded white mesh filter is similar to the mesh types you find on plastic tea strainers and worlds away from the metal mesh you'll find with standard glass cafetiere jugs. This is perhaps why the product isn't completely dishwasher safe. The mesh filter however can be washed in soapy hot water.
Generally I find that the capacity of liquid the Smartcafe mug can take is similar to a medium porcelain mug - around 200 millilitres (ml) or 7 fluid oz.
Making coffee - for what it is designed for - is very easy even if you have to hold one part of the mug and use your other hand to plunge the coffee grounds down. The mug is only big enough for a single consumer, so the smaller quantity of coffee can be used here against the usual 4 to 5 tea spoons for a glass jug. As such I use decaf or normal cafetiere filter coffee in this mug and find it a handy mug to have particularly when studying or doing paperwork late at night. Certainly it weighs and shortens up the time to produce a whole jug of coffee that I'm not going to consume and therefore is an ideal economy saver. What doesn't work is loose-leaf tea due possibly to the bigger leaf particles against finely ground coffee, which is a pity if you like to mix up your own blends of real tea. The plunger does have a rubber ring around its main central rim but I find its not air tight enough to keep loose tea leaves from filtering into your drink: I suppose if you took time to grind down tea leaves there would be the slight possibility that the Smartcafe could seal the leaves in then. One suggestion which comes direct from the user manual however is to fill the mug with a little hot water first and this is ideal if you want to heat the cup up a little; after all it's the same principle for coffee cups on a standard espresso machine and here the same policy is no different. Unlike the smaller cups however once the drink is filled to the top, the Smartcafe mug is extremely stable.
After the coffee and water has been filled, simply lower the plunger slowly until it hits the bottom; then treat the mug as you would do any other with desired milk and/or sugar. Despite the plunger remaining at the bottom sugar always breaks up on contact so there is never any sediment left at the bottom once the drink has been consumed. Washing up is generally very easy too after the plunger has been pulled out and the coffee grounds disposed of.
One of the biggest drawbacks of this product however isn't its novel design or thermal insulation (which I find lasts between half an hour and an hour depending on how hot the boiling water is) but the fact that it doesn't really suit the "travel mug" connotations that John Lewis have advertised this product at. The only reason is simply because the Smartcafe mug is an open design mug with no additional lid which can be installed at the top. Needless to say if there was an airtight top lid available, this would be an ideal mug to grab in the mornings and take to work with you. However despite this, it does save for those hankering after a real cup of coffee. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008
Once in a while I find something both simple and exceptionally useful. Even more rarely the item is also great value for money. The Smartcafe cafetiere mug is one such product and has been in near constant use since I bought it back in April.
I drink coffee, my husband drinks tea. It's our only really significant incompatibility. At work I suffer disgusting coffee machine slop but at home, I drink cafetiere coffee. I have a number of small and mid sized cafetieres but I'm always a bit annoyed that they're too big for a single cup and I hate waste. As I make a cup every few hours, I seem to spend my life washing them out.
My other problem is that I get distracted really easily and my coffee often gets cold before I get round to drinking so this new mug solves all my problems in one go.
What is it?
It's a thermal cafetiere mug! You make the coffee in the mug - so no dirty cafetiere - and the dual wall construction keeps the coffee warmer, longer. It will stay warm enough for me for about half an hour.
How do you use it?
The plunger slides into the side of the mug. Take out the plunger and rinse the cup with boiling water - this is recommended in the instructions, I guess it's like warming the tea pot. I don't bother with the pre-warming step but it's up to you. Add a scoop of ground coffee to the cup and pour on boiling water to the 'max' line.
The instructions say stir well and leave for 3-4 mins but I'm too impatient for that - it generally gets a quick stir at most. Then I insert the plunger into its channel and press down. It's important to hold the mug with one hand when you do this as the side-plunge action can be a bit unstable and I have been known to attempt a 'one-handed-plunge' and spent ten minutes mopping up as the mug slides across the kitchen counter. Once it's fully plunged, just add milk and sugar or sweeteners (however you like it) and away you go.
After you've drunk your coffee, pull out the plunger, rinse out the mug and start all over again with the next cup.
After six months, mine still looks like new.
Where can I get it? How much?
I got mine - a lavender pink one in the bottom row centre of the picture on the listing - in the household department of Debenhams in Salisbury for £5. The makers have a website www.smartcafe.co.uk where you can order direct or just plug the name into google and there are lots of suppliers to choose from
Who else might want one?
* People on the move - My parents have a camper van - we call it the Minibago because it's smaller than a Winnebago - and my mother had been looking for months for a plastic cafetiere that she could take on her travels. She doesn't like to have glass and other breakables in the van - and if you saw how she drives you'd understand why. She loved this product on sight and now has one for the van and one for the house. It's also light enough to put in your camping kit.
* Students - just because you are living on the cheap doesn't mean you have to drink crap coffee. You can have one of these for the price of a couple of trips to Starbucks.
* Anyone who has access to a kettle and has had enough of their company's coffee machine.
The instructions say it's not microwave safe (that seems wise) or dishwasher safe (I've been putting mine in for nearly 6 months and it hasn't exploded yet). But then if your dishwasher is as excitable as mine, a glass cafetiere isn't dishwasher safe either so it's not such a big deal.
Ladies, gentleman - it's only a fiver! Go on, give it a try.
* cuts down on washing up
* keeps your coffee hot for longer
* seems to be pretty much unbreakable
* Quite funky looking but it might look out of place if you are serving afternoon tea in your best china cups.
Three years after first writing about these, I now have five hot mugs - three at home and two at the flat I use during the week. They're all holding up well and are still effective despite years of dishwasher cleaning.