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Warm to the last drop

Wed., March 18, 2009

Coffee Coats wrap around French presses, keep drinks insulated

French press, press pot, or cafetière – whatever the name, this simple method of brewing coffee has one serious drawback in a drafty kitchen – it can catch a chill.

That’s what inspired chef Sylvia Wilson and her friend Jill Murdoch to create a little side project they call Coffee Coat Co.

“Both of us use French presses and we realized we both used kitchen towels to keep them warm,” says Wilson, owner of Feast Catering Co.

Murdoch says they started by looking at the neoprene wrap on her travel press, but wanted something with a little more style. So, they hit the store for fun fabrics and designed an insulated wrap that fits a standard 8-cup press such as Bodum or Bonjour.

Wilson, who is also the former owner of Mizuna restaurant, sewed the prototype, including a Velcro closure to keep the coffee cozy before it is poured.

A French press is generally made of glass or clear plastic and includes a plunger with a wire mesh disk that filters the coffee. To make the coffee, coarse grounds are put into to the bottom of the pot and near-boiling water is poured over them. When the coffee has steeped, the plunger is pushed to the bottom of the pot.

“With the water in constant contact with the coffee and no paper filter to remove volatile oils, the French press is able to capture virtually all of the characteristics of a roast,” writes author Daniel Young, in his new book “Coffee Love: 50 Ways to Drink Your Java.”

Murdoch and Wilson took their prototype to a manufacturer in Los Angeles, where they worked together to tweak the simple design. The Coffee Coats are made from the fabrics the pair gathered and filled with cotton batting. Designs include their favorite black and white floral design, red stripes, black toile, green and brown stripes and simple linen. The closure lies flat under the handle of the pot.

The newest “coats” will have the funky fabrics on the outside with the silver fabric found on potholders and ironing boards on the inside for even more heat preservation.

The longtime friends say they’re still surprised that such a simple design wasn’t already everywhere in the online marketplace. They dawdled a bit finishing the idea because both are busy with day jobs, Wilson with catering and Murdoch as a dental hygienist.

They had barely finished the Web site for the Coffee Coats when Bon Appétit magazine called about them. Wilson says they sent samples to the magazine for a possible feature story.

Coffee Coats are $16.95 or $12 each for wholesale orders of 10 or more. They envision making personalized French press coats for businesses, restaurants or other customers. The Coffee Coats also are available at The Kitchen Engine in the Flour Mill in Spokane.

For more information, go to or contact Wilson and Murdoch at

Reach staff writer Lorie Hutson at (509) 534-4924 or

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