When Scott Billadeau founded Planetary Design and bought Porter Products, they had one product: a French press mug called the Big Sky Bistro. Mark Porter had designed a plastic French press mug after shattering his glass French press on a hiking trip. Scott could see the potential in changing a well-known glass design into something practical, something that could withstand the bumps of life. He drew on that inspiration when designing and patenting the AirScape Storage Cannisters and other products. He became the first to hold the patent for a revolutionary storage system that forces the air out of the canister to keep your dry goods as fresh as the day you opened the package.
Planetary Design’s Director of Media Skyla Sisco, says, “We strive to deliver these products with a big smile and pride ourselves deeply on good old fashioned customer service.” They are a little company out of small-town Montana with around 20 full-time employees and sales-reps. Because of that, their products are designed in Missoula, MT and are then manufactured out of the US. The relationships are strong with their over-seas factories, and Scott travels to and from regularly to ensure the working conditions and wages are the best.
Table Top French Press
While comparing stainless steel French presses it became abundantly clear to me that the options are very limited. There are very few companies that offer similar designs, if any at all. These run from $42-$62: $42 for the 20oz., $53 for the 32 oz., and $63 for the 48 oz. (which is what we are giving away!). There is very little variation in price on the market.
Our friends over at Planetary Design sent me two Tabletop French Presses; one to fall in love with, and the other to give to one of you splendid people. It came just days before our annual family camping trip, and it made the trip that much more enjoyable. There are few things worse than awful, cold coffee on an already cold morning.
Let’s start with the design. It’s very nice to look at. Clean lines and curves, and mine is a beautiful, brushed “Green Tea” color. The one we are giving away is a lovely neutral “Mocha. They are both 48 ounces, the big mama size. This size produces 6 small cups for normal people or 3 regular cups for me. It is a restaurant grade stainless steel design, double-wall insulated, and vacuum insulated. This means your coffee stays piping hot for hours. On my trip, I poured myself a hot cup of coffee 2 ½ hours after making it. It was magical. It also comes with a dual strain design. There’s one strainer in the plunger and a small straining screen that covers the pour spout. There were no grounds in my coffee, and that was a camping first. The outside is scratch resistant. This feature was fully tested while it was toted through brush to get cleaned in the river (no, there is no running water where we camp) and then dropped on the ground by ravenous kids digging through our supplies looking for nourishment. It remained beautiful and surprisingly dent-free. It is sturdy but light-weight. Perfect for travel. There are also non-slip rings along the outside and a rubber bottom so it doesn’t slip and slide.
The flavor was clean. I didn’t bring any fancy coffee, just good old Folgers but it lacked that slightly burned flavor you can get from your regular coffee pot. And cleanup was a breeze. Just take the top off, tap out the stuck grounds, soap and rinse in the river (we call that “camping clean”). That’s it, clean press.
I did learn along the way that it is important to wipe off and clean the rubber ring on the inside of the lid. If you don’t the lid can slip a bit when you are pouring your coffee. It never fell off, just sort of shimmied up a bit. And you are still going to need a way to heat up the water separately, just like with any other press. The rubberized bottom is not meant to be heated. Luckily, I had my trusty tea kettle so we were all good.
Over all, I love it. The whole business. I love that they stand for quality over quantity, and not just with their products but for their employees as well. It will become your new favorite way to have a cup of coffee. I know it has become mine.