The Aeropress

The Aeropress

Some of my FB friends asked for a more detailed description of my experience making coffee using an Aeropress.

I found out about this thanks to a Google Buzz post by Leo LaPorte, the guy behind “This Week in Tech.” He said that the press made the best cup of coffee ever. As a coffee fanatic (I drink a good three-six cups a day), and a huge fan of the French press, I had to give it a try.

Happily, you can get one of these things for less than a single-cup French press at Amazon — only about $25. As soon as it arrived, I went to work. After trying it out about eight times, I have to say that I agree with Leo. The coffee actually does taste smoother than what I’d get from a French press. I don’t know what kind of coffee Leo used, but around the Garbin household, but we use the Eight O’Clock 100% Columbian for our everyday bean. For the money, I don’t think you’ll find a better coffee. And of course we grind the beans ourselves, not with one of those high-speed coffee mills or cheapo grinders, but a solidly built, heavy duty Kitchenaid Proline grinder. Yes, it makes a huge difference in the taste. About the only thing I have yet to try is roasting my own.

So, yes, the concept of the Aeropress works as advertised, but it has drawbacks. First, if you’re one of those types that thinks a French press is too much work, then you can stop reading right now. The Aeropress adds a bit more complexity to the process, although for good reason.

Also, the device has a total of eight pieces, four of which you must assemble and disassemble each time you use it. You have the chamber, the plunger, the cap that affixes to the bottom of the chamber, and the paper filter that goes in the cap. The package also includes a funnel, a paddle for stirring the grind, and a coffee scoop. Because of this, I decided against my original plan of bringing the thing to work.

One other thing: You have to use paper filters. The package comes with 300 filters, but I haven’t bought coffee filters in over a decade, not since I got my first gold filter for my Braun drip machine. The French press comes with its own screen, and I suspect that the paper has something to do with the smoothness of the overall flavor.

The Aeropress, however, makes the coffee in a fraction of the time a French press or even a drip maker might take. Once you heat up the water (to 175 degrees according to the directions), it takes less than 30 seconds to make the brew. And though the device essentially makes an espresso or four, you can add more hot water to produce what they call a typical “American coffee.” In practice, this actually works. Last weekend, we almost filled our 10-cup carafe using this thing, and the coffee was excellent. I think with more practice, getting the temperature and the water/coffee mixture right, the French press will start to look downright declassé.

Since I bought this thing, I haven’t had a chance to use it much. Louise hasn’t tried it out yet, and I have to admit that because she always gets up before me, she always makes the coffee. I’m still using my small French press at work, and about the only time I’ve used the Aeropress so far is the occasional evening cup and maybe on the weekends in the morning I’ll make a carafe.

All in all, true coffee geeks must get one, especially given the small investment. It’s well worth the effort.

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