A BETTER CUP OF JOE
Want the ease and chic of a French press but hate the gritty
Kitchen real estate is always at a premium, but for many home cooks, it's impossible to resist the siren call of shiny new cooking gadgets that promise to make your culinary experience faster, easier--and, equally important, more stylish. We tested the newest arrivals and found a few that are worth making room for.
A BETTER CUP OF JOE
Want the ease and chic of a French press but hate the gritty grounds at the bottom? The $30 AEROPRESS coffeemaker combines the best of both press and drip technologies for a smooth rich brew, with the full flavor of espresso but without any bitterness. To keep your beans fresh prebrewing, the COFFEE BEAN VAC storage container has a motorized vacuum pump that creates a secure seal in seconds. (The canister stores a pound of coffee and can also keep baked goods fresh.) The true java junkie knows the best way to achieve great freshness is to roast the raw coffee beans yourself. Ordinarily, that can be a messy endeavor. Not with the new I-ROAST 2, which streamlines the process.
CUPS THAT MEASURE UP -- AND THEN FALL OBLIGINGLY FLAT
Silicone first appeared in kitchens in the form of French-made Silpat baking mats. Next, the versatile nonstick material made its way into ultra-heat-resistant pot holders, super-slippery spatulas, whisks and colorful baking pans. Now Sur La Table has some gadgets that take advantage of silicone's flexibility while saving on storage space. The POP COLANDER, POP STRAINER and CHEF'N SLEEKST0R collapsible measuring cups pop open into full-size utensils for use but collapse completely flat for easy storage. Silicone's continuing kitchen evolution can save you from having to fumble for the right lid for your pots. The UNIVERSAL NONSTICK SILICONE LID is a one-size-fits-all pot topper that can also serve as a spatter guard or trivet.
HERB YOUR APPETITE
If you dream of a culinary life in which you step outside your kitchen door to snip some fresh herbs while making a meal but are instead stuck with slimy supermarket packets in an apartment kitchen, the new AEROGROW AEROGARDEN is here to help. This "aeroponic" system--a sort of electronic hydroponic garden, in which the roots of plants grow in water without soil--makes even the darkest kitchen counter a fertile plain. Using the AeroGarden is foolproof: plug it in, fill the basin with water, pop in the seedpods and watch things grow. The unit has a lighting system that cycles on and off to give your plants the perfect amount of light on which to thrive. The downside is that you have to use AeroGrow's proprietary seedpods, but at least the choices are vast, ranging from salad greens to cherry tomatoes to chili peppers.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Looking to brighten up your sink? The HANSACANYON LED WATER FAUCET has light-emitting diodes that change color as the water temperature changes, so you can see when it's too hot, too cold or just right. KWC'S EVE FAUCET provides an even more illuminating experience. Inspired by his nearsighted grandmother, who never quite got all the grit off her garden veggies, designer Michael Lammel integrated LEDs into a transparent plastic ring within a pullout faucet. Press a button, and the light shines on whatever you're rinsing.