$500 Challenge - February Edition

Yes, I know it's not February yet - but  I couldn't wait for this one!  This month's purchases were the ones I was most looking forward to... mainly because I'm a coffee snob (and some would say addict!!).

I make my coffee in an unusual manner, which came about due to my sister, who, many many many year ago, gave me this:

It's called a filter holder, and is one of the simplest ways of making coffee:  you put that on the top of your mug, add a paper cone filter, coffee, and pour boiling water into it, until your mug is full.

 My sister bought it for me, simply because she thought it would come in handy for a university student, and it was much cheaper than a "normal" coffee maker.  As you can see from the staining, it has received a lot of use, because I think it makes a truly excellent cup of coffee.  It's made to fit a #2 sized cone filter, but I use #4, solely because they are about 1/2 the cost of the #2 filters.  And yes, I do know that I should be using a reusable filter, but I do not like the sludge they leave.  Same issue with French press makers (e.g. Bodum).  I did have a Bodum I used quite often for large amounts, since this method makes only one cup at a time, until it broke.  I also have the usual coffee maker, that I tend to only use when I need to make a full pot of coffee.  (What, doesn't everyone have three different ways of making coffee in their house??)

To boil the water, I used this:

Now, 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning, generally a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate after work (in the cold weather), and another of the same before bed, means I am using the kettle 3-5 times every day, and the filter holder 2-3 times a day.

And they are both plastic.

So these items were very high on my list to replace for this challenge.

First, the kettle.  As much as I LOVE this one, I cannot bring myself to pay that much for a kettle.  This one caught my eye (glass, cheap), until this happened:

That mug shattered in less than a second after being filled with hot water.  It was bad enough having a cup of hot water all over - I do NOT want to ever deal with a kettle full!  So, I decided on stainless steel.

I realized when I stared this challenge that the two main obstacles would be price, and country of manufacture.  What I didn't realize is how hard it would be to determine the country!  I do a lot of "shopping" on line - not necessarily buying anything, but it is invaluable to do research into the products, before you buy.  However... take that Le Creuset kettle up there.   Le Creuset makes all their products in France.  Fantastic.  Until you realize they don't - the kettle is made in Asia*.  I did find a Canadian company that makes stainless steel kettles (assuming I want to pay ~$70 for one), except they also state they import products, and are not clear on which they make, and which they import.  So if I am going to end up with an imported kettle, then I will take the simplest and cheapest route, and go to my local store to buy one, instead of paying much more (plus shipping!) on line.

Hence, my new "Betty Crocker" kettle:

FYI, I looked at some on-line reviews, and they all said the handle gets hot and the whistle is pitiful.  Neither issue is true with this kettle, so I assume the manufacturer made some changes.
And yes, that is pie in the background - apple pie.  And yes, it is good :)

As for the filter holder, I found a FANTASTIC retailer in Toronto:  Green Beanery.  (Again, to make it clear, I have received no consideration for the Green Beanery, financial or otherwise.)  All profits from the Green Beanery go to their charity, and they also supply organic and free trade coffees.  Perfect!  (I have not looked into this charity, but will if I decide to buy my coffee from them in the future).

This is a #4-sized filter holder, made from porcelain, and made in, as far as I can determine, Germany. 


It fits much better on my mugs (and really, who wants their morning to start off with coffee grounds all over their kitchen, which has happened on more than one occasion!), and fits the #4 filter perfectly - which means I can even make enough for my large thermos in one go!
Put the holder on the mug, put a filter in the holder:
 Add freshly ground, free trade, organic coffee:
Fill with hot water:
 Watch as it slowly filters through:
And enjoy a perfect cup of coffee!  (and of course, put the filter and grounds in your compost!)

Kettle: $34.98 + $4.55 tax  = $39.53
Filter holder: $18.99 + $5.50 shipping + $3.18 tax = $27.67  (I bought some coffee at the same time, and averaged the shipping costs)

Total: $67.20
Balance: $393.26
*This isn't the post to get into the discussion of overseas manufacturing, and why it's okay to buy something made in France (or Germany), but not okay to buy something made in Asia.  It's is a truly complex discussion, and I still grapple with this, but my two biggest concerns are food (and worker) safety and human rights issues.

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