By December 4, 2007

Starbucks stainless steel Solo French press travel mug review

One of the contestants in the Gibberish travel mug shootout was the stainless steel insulated French press mug from Starbucks. I bought this little guy using my employee discount. It’s about $27 in the store.

I was anxious to continue making French press coffee at home, but my larger, glass-bodied press allowed the coffee to cool before I finished it all. I either had to race to drink the coffee while it was still hot, or toss half of the batch I’d made. I also wasn’t too keen on drinking eight cups’ worth of coffee in a standard French press.

I hoped that the solo stainless steel press from Starbucks would solve both of my problems: a race against time and overconsumption.

The Starbucks press mug is very well built. It has a thick, rubberized plastic top. The lid has grooves in it but snaps down; I guess the grooves are to keep liquid from possibly seeping out of the mug. The mouthpiece is perfect for me — just wide enough to allow a good sip, but not too wide so that I have to be concerned with coffee spilling onto my face. The mouthpiece is covered by a very hefty hinged guard that snaps into place. The mug has a good “weight” to it, and the handle seems sturdy. The plunger is located in the center of the lid, and has a rubberized plastic plunger knob at the top. The press shaft is metal, and the filter is made of plastic … which is where our troubles begin.

My first pressing tasted great at first. I filled my black ceramic STFU mug halfway up. I patiently drank my coffee, knowing that the rest of my pressing was warm inside the mug’s insulated belly. I drank another cup, and it tasted just slightly off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. By the time I drank the bottom third of the press, my coffee tasted like plastic.

I steep my French press coffee for four minutes. Some people do a little longer, some a little shorter, but regardless you still leave the plunger and filter sitting in the bottom of the batch. The plastic filter was in contact with my coffee for about a half hour. The plastic leeched into my yummy beverage. I tried my best to get rid of that “new plastic filter smell.” I washed the press a few times with hot, soapy water. I ran a few batches of hot water through the press method, submerging the assembly for a half hour at a time. I never got the plastic taste to go away.

I have resorted to making my coffee in the Starbucks Solo and then pouring it into my pre-heated ThinkGeek caffeine molecule mug. Yes, this is an extra step. Yes, I feel like an idiot with two stainless steel mugs on my desk. Yes, this means you can’t take the Solo with you in the car and drink French press coffee on your commute. However, the alternative is a plastic-flavored coffee.

Would I recommend the Solo? I got mine at a significant discount — it was dinged up at the bottom so I saved some money right off the bat. If the plunger and filter were stainless steel, I would definitely recommend the Solo. However, given the glaring weakness of the plastic leeching into the coffee, I’d suggest you spend your $27 elsewhere.

Starbucks stainless steel Solo French press travel mug,
I give thee three plasticky STFU mugs!

full STFU mug full STFU mug full STFU mug empty STFU mug empty STFU mug

No tags for this post.
Posted in: review

9 Comments on "Starbucks stainless steel Solo French press travel mug review"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Config says:

    I’m surprised you even gave it 3. Plastic taste = out with the trash, for me.

  2. drfaulken says:

    Well, the idea is if you can transfer the coffee out fast enough the plastic taste doesn’t set in. I would give the Solo a lower rating as a standalone, single travel mug.

  3. Barbara says:

    Not only do you get a plastic TASTE from the solo French press, but far worse is the health hazard of drinking melted plastic. . . . LOTS of scientific research shows us that it is highly toxic. THANK you for the review.

  4. Jon says:

    You can remove the filter portion by unscrewing it from plunger if you really wanted.

  5. Josh Parrott says:

    “remove the filter prortion?” tell me that was a joke…

  6. Dora says:

    Looks like it could be easily toppled over with an elbow.

  7. mike says:

    It only falls over occassionally.

    I use my mug every day (for years). I either don’t taste the plastic (anymore) or I don’t notice it. I have noticed that the temperature of the water really matters. Too hot ruins the taste.

    BTW, the best gulp of coffee is the last one (assuming you don’t mind it being a little crunchy from the grinds).

  8. Carolyn says:

    I have the same FP and always seem to get grinds in my coffee – even when I grind the coffee quite large (not fine). Perhaps I have a defective one…

  9. Jürgen G**** says:

    I bought a stainless steel FP from Starbucks on my first trip to the USA back in 2000 (!) The outer design is a little different, but lid and press part look similar. The mug is still in daily use. The filter is a very fine mesh of stainless wire. Even the sealing rubber is still OK. Maybe new lids are made of plastic now to save some bucks in production.

    I came across your page by looking for a replacement lid without the press, cause I am on a tea trip now 🙂
    Any Ideas?