Did you ever think you’d enjoy coffee from a device that comes to you from the dude that invented the Aerobie flying ring? Did you even know such a thing existed?
The Aeropress is a funky little doodad that kind of looks like a giant syringe without a needle. For a coffeemaker, it’s an extraordinarily affordable $30-ish; about the same as the cheapest of Bodum’s press pots, for example.
Using the device is easy enough — take the filter cap, pop in a microfilter (a bunch come with your initial purchase, and it’s about $5 to replace 350). Screw the cap onto the chamber, put the coffee in, put the chamber over your mug, fill with hot water, quick stir, then use the plunger to force that now-delicious liquid into your mug.
From grinding to drinking it’s pretty darned quick–give or take 4 minutes, depending on the grinder and how you’re getting the hot water.
One thing that’s wonderful about the Aeropress is the “mad scientist” effect–it’s a pretty forgiving device that doesn’t necessarily require a specific grind/steep time/technique to create better-than-average Joe. However, there are so many possibilities for tinkering that you can really make your coffee shine by changing some of those variables. One technique that’s even become popular amongst coffee geeks is the “reverse Aeropress” method, in which you turn the whole thing upside down and attach the filter cap last, then flip it over and plunge it (see here for a nice video example).
Let’s be clear: while Aeropress coffee shares some characteristics with espresso, it is not espresso. Remember, espresso is a specific thing: about 9 bars of pressure from a pump. I couldn’t even guess what the average “bars” of pressure are on an Aeropress (and there’s definitely variance, depending on how hard you plunge). Being that I’m a more of a coffee fan than an espresso fan, this is a good thing; Aeropress may sort of split the difference between the two, in a good way. Kind of like a much cleaner version of Moka Pot coffee, perhaps.
Is it the best coffee ever? Umm, nah. Well, maybe. I’ve been very pleased with my results: usually a clean, flavorful cup spotlighting the characteristics of the beans, whether bright or bold or syrupy or whatever. A clear disadvantage in my book is the lack of volume versus, say, a press pot. Sometimes you want a large, hot cup of coffee, and Aeropress needs to be a double shot, or mixed with hot water or something, to get past “medium” size.
But, back to the plus side, the coffee, while different than press pot and moka pot, is equally, or even more, delicious, and yet different enough in mouthfeel and experience that it doesn’t invalidate those methods. Rather, it’s a wonderful complement to your coffee-making arsenal.
Oh, and here’s where the Aeropress wins: the cleanup is so amazingly easy. Pop out that puck, either toss the microfilter or clean it for re-use (should be able to use several times), then just the chamber, filter cap, and plunger need a gentle wash.
For coffee nerds, highly recommended. For anyone looking for the easiest home coffee upgrade (aside from purchasing a proper grinder), this is definitely for you.