The Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker produces the best American/drip style coffee I’ve ever tasted. There, I’ve said it and I mean it! I’ve come out and made the aforementioned claim because the AeroPress looks more like a high school chemistry prop than a world class coffee maker and looks can indeed be deceiving when it comes to making excellent coffee at home.
Here are the facts on the AeroPress:
The unit retails for $29.99 and was invented by Stanford University engineering lecturer Alan Adler (Adler is also the inventor of all the cool Aerobie sports products).
The AeroPress coffeemaker makes coffee in about 30 seconds (typically a French Press coffeemakertakes about 4 minutes and a high end espresso machine about 10-15 seconds).
Adler designed the unit so that boiling water is not needed. Rather, the unit specifies using water at the 175 F (80 C) mark which prevents the typical bitterness and acidity found in drip machines.
The unit requires fine grind coffee (an espresso grind) as opposed to a course grind used in French press coffee makers. Adler argues that fine grind coffee has more surface area for better extraction of full bodied coffee (I love when products are designed with science/engineering in mind!).
The unit does require small, paper, microfilters. Thankfully, a large amount of paper filters are included with the unit and they should last 6 months (brewing two daily cups).
The unit is not made out of fancy stainless steel or tempered glass but rather high quality plastic which is easy to clean, will not break, or become a smudge attractor.
The unit works by way of creating air pressure in a small chamber that houses both the ground coffee and hot water. After filling the chamber with coffee and hot water, the user stirs the mixture for 10 seconds and thereafter plunges down for a steady 20-30 seconds. The coffee is brewed right into your favorite mug.
Here are my observations on the AeroPress:
The flavor component of the coffee is excellent but one shouldn’t expect the unit to produce true European style espresso with crema and complex notes of chocolate, for example. The AeroPress excels at producing superb American style coffee (and by superb I mean the best cup of American brew I’ve ever tasted).
To produce a full cup of American style coffee you actually brew 10 ounces of rich coffee. Thereafter, you top off your mug with hot water (this was strange at first). I consume my coffee without milk and just a bit of sugar.
The unit comes with a large scooper and requires 2 scoops for about 10 ounces of coffee. The AeroPress unit does require more coffee than, say, a typical French press maker. Specifically, I’m using about twice as much coffee on a weekly basis since incorporating the AeroPress into my early morning and post lunch coffee habit (i.e., two 10 ounce cups per day).
You can make a great mug of coffee in about 1 minute (20-25 seconds to grind your coffee beans, 10 seconds to stir the hot water/coffee mixture, and 30 seconds to plunge).
Although the unit creates a cup of coffee in under 1 minute the user does have to fiddle with lots of items. For example , the main unit is comprised of a plunger, chamber, filter holder, and filter. All of the aforementioned parts needs to be assembled and then the user needs to grind his or her coffee and make hot water. Thereafter, the coffee needs to be scooped into the chamber and stirred. Finally, the user has to plunge the mixture into a single mug and add more water to yield a single serving of American style coffee.
Cleaning is very easy and the plunger also acts as an extractor to gently push the spent coffee grinds out of the unit. The plastic components just need a quick rinse. My French press maker, as a counter example, is a royal pain to clean.
At $29.99 the price point on the AeroPress is a huge bargain. The unit includes enough microfilters for 6 months (350 individual microfilters) , a coffee scoop, a stirrer, funnel for grounds, and the unit itself.
Overall, I prefer the AeroPress over a French Press maker and the countless drip style makers on the market. The AeroPress produces a rich, flavorful, and hearty cup of American style coffee that is the best I’ve tasted in both the US and Europe. The AeroPress should not be confused for an Espresso maker, however, as it cannot compete, for example, with a semi pro home machine like the Rancilio Silvia (yet the Silvia costs about 20X more than the AeroPress). I can imagine ubergeeks and techies using the Aeropress along with coffee aficionados looking for a more refined variant of the French pressed cup of coffee.
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