Rite Press has proven to be one of the largest scams in the coffee world. And we were on the verge of Great Press. We were this close. How did the most successful coffee-related project become a trainwreck? Let’s see.
Rite Press vs usual French Press
Or we might ask, why mess with perfection? What’s wrong with the traditional French press design? It worked well for the last almost a hundred years or so. Well, there is one small thing that every French press owner hates.
Cleaning. One of the most annoying processes connected to the French press. You need to carefully scoop out the debris so it doesn’t end up everywhere in your kitchen. Or kick your French press on the trash can walls and wait for disaster to happen. You can’t just put it under the tap, as the coffee grounds will clog your pipes.
Rite Press should have had made cleaning easy. I mean, just look at the pictures.
A game-changer invention
The story is simple. A removable (and patented – look) bottom solves the problem of coffee grounds. You just unscrew it, give it a slight kick, and your French press is clear. No more scooping, washing and kicking the trash can. No more fear that your French press will simply break. All the other things were just cherry on the top, like:
- Double walls for more heat retention
- A built-in thermometer. You could even pull it out and use it elsewhere, too. It had a green zone to mark the ideal brewing temperature, around 94 C.
- Magnetic hourglass set to 3:30. Some claim, the perfect brew time for the French press.
- Micro-mesh filter for perfect filtering and no ground in your cup
You even had an option to add $10 to your order and get a Rite Press tea version, with a special thermometer and hourglasses included.
What to say. The idea was perfect. The Kickstarter campaign project was almost perfect. What should have been one great story about vision, innovation and dreams, ended as the most expensive scam in coffee history. Three years later, the backers haven’t got their products or a refund. And all these words and promises sound sarcastic now.
Of course, it is easy to say the whole campaign was plain stupid. But it wasn’t. It was one of the most enthusiastic coffee campaigns ever.
And big names showed only support.
What happened with Rite Press, or how can you screw an idea this good?
Rite Press should have been the turning point in the coffee industry. It was a bold try to re-invent the classical French press. And everything was perfect and professionally done.
The Rite Press collected over $1.3 million in crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. That was in March 2018.
Let’s skip to February 2019. Almost a year after the campaign has ended. Sargam Patel, CEO of the Rite Company, asks additional $30 from his supporters. Sargam says there have been some manufacturing challenges and, to say it nicely, he needs more of your money for you to get the thing you already paid for. He also claims he spent almost all his life savings ($280.000) to keep the idea going. That’s when the whole thing started to look like Fyre Fest. But people still had hope. Some even backed the project again.
In May 2019, the Rite Press official website was launched. You could order a Rite Press straight from the website. That, of course, made Kickstarter backers even madder, as they haven’t yet received their initial orders. So, they showered the website with bad reviews. Needless to say, they still wait for their Rite Press.
So, how and why does the company takes new orders but still hasn’t delivered the old ones? And what happened to $1.3M? Did it vaporize?
Well, Patel says he spent all the money responsibly, whatever that is supposed to mean. He also blames himself for two things:
- Setting the initial price too low ($25-$50, depending on the model)
- Offering free shipping in the USA
That is great. Self-criticism is rare these days. But it doesn’t answer the question: where did the money go. Well, here is what Patel says.
The Excel table speaks 1000 words
Now, we again have two options.
- This visionary who created the Rite Press “applying his engineering and physics background” had a nasty case of not knowing the primary school math. He got carried away, and that’s how $1.3M dissappeared.
2. Bear with me now – he kinda ripped off his supporters on Kickstarters and Indiegogo.
Also, bear in mind that Patel “forgot” to include money from the Indiegogo campaign, and a few other, smaller sources, in this equation. How much did our friend forget to add? Around $250K. It happens.
Rite official webpage is officially down, but their domain is still active on GoDaddy. It expires on August 2022. So if anyone wants to buy this trustworthy domain, here is your chance.
Where is Sargam now?
As for Sargam Patel, you can still find him online. For instance, his LinkedIn profile says that our friend Sargam is:
The last time Sargam posted anything on LinkedIn was three weeks ago, to support one of his connection’s campaign for mayor of NY. His other social channels show no signs of activity.
Was Rite Press ever functional?
Patel says that 7000 first supporters received the Rite Press. It leaves room for doubt. Especially when you read about people getting faulty ones. The reviews usually claim:
- Leakage from the removable bottom
- The magnetic hourglass just falls off
- The thermometer is just not precise
- Some even got the broken products
Michael Swain got one in good condition. He made a video showing the production of the Rite Press in a few Chinese factories. You can look at this link. He also found the third-party vendors that sold Rite Press on the web. The Alibaba link from his video doesn’t work anymore.
The Amazon link still works. However, this is not the original, sleek, stainless steel design. It is an Essential Plus model, initially sold directly on the Rite Press website. This version is made from cheap plastic but still costs $39,99. And the reviews are bad. Even the positive ones are very possibly fake.
The life after Rite Press
As you can see, Rite Press has left lots of unhappy people behind. And not just the backers but also the companies that produced the presses. Also, some companies saw the opportunity to hop into the niche.
Flamix – the victim of Rite Press scam?
Flamix company still sells Rite Press. They even quoted Sargam on their webpage, which sent the wrong message to customers. Also, they published a Rite Press promo video on their Youtube channel. The video was published on March 7, 2021. As you might think, they were piled with angry Rite Press buyers and backers demanding either their money or the product.
Flamix responded to each angry comment with the same answer:
First of all, we understand your feelings. No one can accept the fraud, including us. Secondly, we were actually victims too, because we were the manufacturer of the coffee maker, and after we received some money from Rite, we went into mass production, but we never received the balance payment from Rite again. Imagine what it means to have a warehouse full of coffee POTS with the Rite logo, but Rite doesn’t come to pay the balance.
There is no doubt that we are losing money. Again, we try to minimize our losses by selling it on the Internet. Our sales have nothing to do with Rite. We just didn’t realize that the brand had broken so many people’s hearts. As a manufacturer, let’s face it, the quality of this coffee machine is pretty good. Finally, if you really like this product, we can sell it to you at a discount, please leave a message to us. Thank you!Flamix
Flamix put a price of $129,90 on their version. Not cheap.
25.11.2021 update – it seems that the Flamix webpage is down…
Qidfce company – not a typo
Qidfce is a Chinese company that designed and modified the original brand. It is hard to find any detailed info about them. We assume it’s just another Chinese factory that had issues with Rite Company. You can check their product on Amazon. You will notice it’s the same product, but with the Rite Press logo hidden. We understand them completely. And $35.99 for this metal version sound much better than giving more money for the plastic version.
The 0 reviews on the Amazon page is the thing that bugs us. Perhaps it is nothing, but still…
We can say about Rite Press what we want. But, their name was catchy and easy to say/write. Nobody thinks about the writers anymore. After Qidfce, meet OVRLNDR, the product of Planetary Design.
Although they are not affiliated with Rite Press, Planetary Design offered a 25% discount to the original Rite Press backers. That turned out to be an excellent move.
Their BruTrek OVRLNDR – Travel Coffee French Press is also priced reasonably, $50. Not cheap, but hey, at least they don’t ask $130. The reviews are also decent. Let’s not forget that Planetary Design is in the coffee equipment business for almost 20 years.
The marketing part on Amazon: The OVRLNDR is the only coffee press on the market with a patented removable bottom got us a bit confused. We could have sworn we saw a few other French presses with the removable bottom.
What have we learned today?
- It is not nice to lie to your Kickstarter backers and spend their money. But so far, you can get away with it. We are still waiting for an update on this situation. The thousands of backers, too.
- Kickstarter is just a platform for campaigns, not someone you should be sending your refund requests to. Also, they hold no legal responsibility in this case. But, these cases make people lose faith in the whole platform.
- For a $1.3M, you could have produced a whole lot of French presses. A lot.
And the most important one:
All the negative reviews of all these French presses, from Rite to OVRLNDR, include one crucial point – the removable bottom simply leaks. Not always, and not in every case. But having movable parts combined with a (hot) liquid usually means leakage. And leakage means mess. The thing all these products promised to eliminate.
We guess the time of wonder French press is not here yet. Stick to your classical French press, at least until these newer models don’t prove their worth. So far, they kinda look just like more complicated French presses, nothing more.