Reviews

Aeropress Review

June 28, 2017

Do you remember the days when you had to send messages via telegraph?

MOM PERIOD CAN YOU PICK UP MILK ON WAY HOME PERIOD THANKS PERIOD

No? Well, pretend you do. Pretend you were alive 150 years ago when the only method of long range communication was to tap a long, thin bit of metal wire a bunch of times.

(Also pretend that the costly telegraph system was, for some reason, used to tell parents to pick up groceries.)

the aeropress on a mug

Fast forward a few years and you find yourself live video-chatting your sister who’s on her phone in the middle of the Gobi desert!

Technology does that. Sometimes a new, superior device or machine is created that changes the world as we know it. There was a time, many years ago, where the telegraph was cutting edge technology. The telegraph! And now it’s totally forgotten, perhaps to be mentioned briefly in internet articles written by extremely handsome men.

Well, the Aeropress threatens to do that to the coffee world. It might not be quite as world-changing as the telephone but it’s pretty cool and may just change the way you drink coffee.

Where did it come from?

So this thing was invented less than 10 years ago and was made by a company that made its name selling frisbees – Aerobie. Yes, you’re reading that right. In fact, the Aerobie Pro frisbee set the world record two times and it was also the first object to be thrown across the Niagara Falls!

The Aeropress was invented by serial engineer and inventor Alan Adler, a man who has lectured at NASA and Stanford. The story goes that Adler was irked by what he saw in coffee makers on the market.

The traditional drip machine was too slow, too big and just aching to be made obsolete. A few weeks in his garage and Adler had created a device that used a vacuum seal to brew and pressurize coffee. A device that turned into the Aeropress.

the many parts of an aeropress

Method

Here’s my 10-second how-to on making coffee with an Aeropress, lifted straight from this killer brewing guide for making top tier Aeropress coffee. You should totally check it out if and when you buy one.

1. Boil your water.
2. Set up your Aeropress. Put the filter in and screw it together.
3. Measure coffee using Aeropess measuring spoon or a scale.
4. Grind the coffee. Fine grind, a little more coarse than for espresso.
5. Prewet the filter.
6. Put the coffee in the Aeropress.
7. Add hot water and stir for 10 seconds.
8. Push the vacuum down slowly. It should take 20-30 seconds.
9. Pour your coffee! Add water or milk to taste.

You can follow each step on this video showing an Aeropress brew.

The Basics

The Aeropress has a brewing style that doesn’t compare well to any other currently available.

Overview
Price $30
Brewing Time 30 seconds
Tasting Profile Bright, Light, Smooth
Size 5″ x 5″ x 11″
Ease of Use four stars
Build five stars
Body two stars
Flavor Clarity four stars

It uses an immersion method like the French Press at first – for a very short time of 10 seconds – where the all the ground coffee is mixed into the water. Next, the coffee and water mix is pressurized using a vacuum – similar to espresso – through a paper filter and into the cup or container.

The result is a small amount of strong coffee ‘concentrate’. You can think of it like espresso in that you can drink it by itself, or add milk or water to create other drinks such as Cappuccinos, Lattes and so on.

It should be noted that this is not espresso and doesn’t taste that much like espresso. Real espresso requires 9 bars of pressure. Aerobie states on their website that the Aeropress produces about 0.7 bars.

It’s a surprisingly solid piece of kit. The plastic is thicker than you’d think from looking at photos and feels good quality, not cheap at all. Even the black plastic accessories feel solid and sturdy to the touch. The plastic is a type of polypropylene and has been BPA-free since 2009 and you may be happy to know that every part is made in California.

From small beginnings, the Aeropress has a significant share of the market. Such is the enthusiasm of its fans that a completely new method has been invented for using the Aeropress and there is even a yearly Aeropress World Championship!

Taste

The Aeropress has a unique brewing style, as I mentioned. French Press-style immersion brewing for 10 seconds then Espresso-style pressurizing the coffee through a filter. This produces a unique taste.

Aeropress coffee produces a taste that is bright and light tasting. You get a high flavor clarity with a touch of body which results in a very smooth tasting drink.

It’s closest relative would be the Pour Over method – in part because both usually use a paper filter. It is slightly less rich but highlights the softer, fruitier notes in the coffee.

For this reason, I find it’s an excellent method when using lighter roasts and African beans which are noted for these flavors. Of course I recommend you experiment, I know people who would crucify me for using African beans in an Aeropress!

The coffee has little body. The paper filter catches the thicker coffee oils that make the cup feel rich, but also means you have a cup free of sediment. That means that the coffee feels less thick than the heavy body taste of a French Press coffee.

Aeropress is a great option for those who dislike acidic coffee. From the manufacturer’s website: “AeroPress brewed coffee contains about one-fifth the acidity of drip brewed coffee and one-ninth the acidity of French press brewed coffee.” Note that this is under optimal brewing conditions.

Pros Cons
Green TickSUPER fast. A brewing time of 30 seconds will beat anything short of a commercial grade espresso machine. Red CrossSpillable. I’ve embarrassed myself once or twice as I watch my hard earned coffee fly across the floor.
Green TickSediment free. The coffee passes through a paper filter leaving you with a clean cup, free of coffee grounds. Red CrossHave to buy filters. Minor point but I know people who just don’t like the hassle of keeping track of and ordering filters.
Green TickSort of espresso. The coffee is thick and strong. While not exactly like espresso it can be used to make sort of espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. Red CrossSmall number of servings. Using the highest capacity only gets you roughly two medium sized coffees.
Green TickFoolproof. There’s a lot of room for error when making Aeropress coffee. Only two steps leaves little room to mess up and over/underextract, burn etc.
Green TickTravelling. Its small size, light weight and easy clean up make it an excellent thing to take on the road with your hand grinder.
Green TickClean up. Easy to throw the filter and puck of coffee grinds away then a quick rinse and you’re done.
Green TickBuild quality. This thing will last you for years.

My opinion

I really like the Aeropress and I do use mine regularly. I keep one in my office along with a French Press and I alternate between the two depending on my mood. The speed of making a coffee with it is unreal. If you’ve got a decent automatic grinder you can make a coffee in less than a minute. I spend more time cleaning the device than brewing with it!

I usually top up the coffee concentrate it produces with hot water to make an Americano. This is more out of necessity than anything as I don’t have easy access to a fridge. If I did I’d probably aim to be making some killer Flat Whites with it.

I have also used it while travelling. If you don’t know whether your hotel will serve good coffee, the small and light Aeropress comes in very handy.

cute drawing of an aeropress

Should I get one?

YES absolutely! It’s only $30 for a super fast method of high quality coffee. You can check it out here on Amazon where it has an outrageously high 4.8 star average across all its reviews!

I particularly recommend buying an Aeropress if you want to make espresso style drinks for cheap. Espresso machines costs hundreds of dollars and buckets of knowhow. You get a pretty decent approximation to a Cappuccino or Latte with one of these. Just the price of a few beers and 30 seconds reading the instructions!

Another reason I’d recommend it is if you are used to using a French Press or Pour Over or Autodrip Coffee Maker. Trying new methods of making coffee, particularly in the same day or with the same coffee beans, is a great idea to start understanding and appreciating good coffee. Read my website more and you’ll probably get bored of me saying it!

And don’t forget to learn how to make great Aeropress coffee in my rock solid guide!

nice outside shot of a man making an aeropress

Photo by La Marzocco

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