Milan-based Sowden was founded in 1981 by George J. Sowden. The company specializes in strictly utilitarian products that are sexy and minimal. What you get, then, is a purist product of the highest quality. Take Sowden’s award-winning SoftBrew series, for example. Combining a back-to-basics approach of using a jug and hot water with high technology, coffee and tea made with a SoftBrew filter are as good as the beans and tea leaves from which it is brewed.