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Alan Adler began a craft coffee revolution when he invented the AeroPress in
2005. Today, it is fast-approaching the most popular brew methods among
handcrafters everywhere.

 

The AeroPress is a great single cup brewing option. It was first introduced by Aerobie, the makers of flying discs and pool toys. Partly because of this connection, the AeroPress coffeemaker took a few years to catch on. But don’t let its humble origins deter you. This is a connoisseur’s coffeemaker, and its easy to get started with one for novices. Its easily one of the best of the best.

As with a French Press, another full immersion brew method, you can directly control the time that the water and coffee are in contact with each other. Pressing the coffee through the paper filter adds a bit of compressed air which speeds up the extraction. This really boosts the brew’s flavor.


What You’ll Use

2 AeroPress scoops of freshly ground coffee

8 oz. of filtered water at 176º (80º Celsius)

An AeroPress with its filters, funnel, and stirring utensil


How It’s Made

Something we like about AeroPress is its versatility. This system allows for a wide variety of brew methods that all make a good cup of coffee. Here’s just one brew method: the original, by Alan Adler. I have slightly modified the steps, but the important details are the same.

1. Have the filter cap, plunger, and chamber taken apart.

For storage, you should have the AeroPress assembled. To start making a cup, all the parts are always separated.

(By the way, let’s define the name of one of the AeroPress’s parts that might otherwise lead to a little confusion. Some call it a “chamber” and others call it a “tube.” This is the part of the AeroPress that stands directly on top of your coffee mug. The plunger goes down inside of the chamber.)

2. Put an AeroPress paper filter into the cap and rinse it with warm water.

You want to rinse the paper for two reasons. First, when the paper is rinsed there is less of the undesirable paper-like aftertaste from the coffee beverage. Trust us on this one. The other reason it’s helpful to rinse the paper is it will get the paper to cling to the cap, preventing the slightest amount of coffee to work its way around the paper and into your drink.

3. Twist the filter cap onto the base of the chamber.

This is necessary before you add the coffee grounds. Don’t overlook the order, as I have by mistake more than once!

4. Stand the chamber on top of the mouth of a coffee mug.

If the mouth of the mug is too wide, the AeroPress will fall into the mug and it won’t brew properly. On the other hand, if the mouth of the mug is too small… so use a coffee mug of an average size.

5. Grind two AeroPress scoops of coffee beans so they are about as coarse as table salt.

The AeroPress has its own measuring scoop. You will find that it gives you good results, versus substituting it with a tablespoon or some other measuring utensil.

6. Pour the coffee grounds through the AeroPress funnel into the chamber.

The funnel isn’t necessary, but it makes pouring the grounds into the chamber much easier!

7. Slowly pour hot water into the chamber up to the 2 on the side.

Use water at 185º (85º Celsius) for light roast coffee and 175º (80º Celsius) for dark roast coffee. If you don’t have a simple means to regulate the temperature of your water, then bring it to a boil and then let it cool for 3 minutes. Whatever you do, never use boiling water.

8. Mix the grounds and water with the stirrer utensil for 10 seconds.

Stir gently. Don’t get carried away. Flavors change dramatically the harder its stirred.

9. Gently insert the plunger and press it down over 20 seconds.

Pressing the plunger pressurizes the air, grounds, and the water in the chamber together. It forces the coffee through the filter and into your mug. This is one characteristic of the AeroPress that gives the coffee its rich flavors.

When you are finished pressing the plunger, all of the brew is now in your mug. All that’s left in the press are the grounds.

10. For American coffee, top it off with half a cup of hot water.

Before you add the water, your mug is filled with a double espresso—coffee concentrate. Adding water dilutes the drink to suit your own taste. Start by diluting the coffee with half a cup of hot water, then add even more water if you want milder coffee.

Cleanup

Unscrew the filter cap and set is aside. Push the plunger to eject the used puck-like coffee grounds into the trash (or save them for compost and plant food).


Why AeroPress

The AeroPress is fussy coffee at its best. This low-cost brew system comes with all the parts necessary for $30 to make fantastic craft coffee doable in anyone’s kitchen.

Here’s reasons I like the AeroPress:

  • Its rather easy to make great coffee drinks with it, even with your first attempt.
  • The press practically cleans itself.
  • It doesn’t need much coffee grounds to make a full-bodied drink.
  • AeroPress gives you most of the coffee oils without any of the gritty sediment.
  • While the press looks strange, its fun to use and show off. (If you use your imagination, it looks like a translucent lightsaber hilt.)
  • There are many brew methods with this press that deliver a wide range of good results, so you can experiment with it to find the brew method that offers you the flavors you like most.
  • It’s light-weight and has a small form factor, so its good for the traveling coffee fiend.
  • The paper filters are re-usable up to 25 times.

The one reason I have found to dislike the AeroPress is that it makes only one cup of coffee at a time. You can make a large cup or a small cup, but that’s all. If you have company coming and want coffee with desert, you should use a more suitable press that will make enough coffee for everyone, like a French Press.

That said, making one cup of coffee is often all you want. It’s efficient. You aren’t wasting coffee left in the press/pot that will grow cold while you drink your first cup. You’ll never need to use a microwave for your coffee with an AeroPress. So there is a silver lining in this one downside.


How’s it Different from a French Press?

There are many coffee enthusiasts that swear allegiance to one brewing device over the others. We have found a more democratic approach for ourselves: make the best drink with what you have that suits the occasion. The AeroPress is better in some instances than a French Press, and vice versa.

The French Press comes in various sizes, so you can make one cup or many cups of coffee at a time with one. They come in an assortment of designs and colors, so they will work well in the look-and-feel of your kitchen, if you choose the right press. The French Press almost always delivers rich, full-bodied coffee. It delivers practically 100% of the oils from your coffee grounds, which some say makes the tastiest coffee beverage.

French Presses come with various features, like some that are easier to clean than others. This press is well-known around the world, with a large base of support from coffee drinkers online and at coffee houses, so you can easily get tips and advice to use your French Press better, like a pro, with a simple Google search.

And, obviously, the French Press and AeroPress look nothing alike.

As for where the AeroPress excels, it is a great self-serve coffeemaker. This device won’t hold extra coffee, as it never makes more than two cups of coffee at a time. The AeroPress needs less coffee grounds per cup of coffee, so it’s significantly more efficient. The AeroPress takes about two seconds to clean, since the plunger will eject all the used grounds.

While the AeroPress delivers coffee oils, there’s noticeably less oils in AeroPress coffee than in French Press coffee. Its paper filter stops all grounds and sediment from getting into your brew. The AeroPress only comes in one design—Aerobie’s model—which means it may or may not look good (to you) left on the kitchen counter as a decorative tool.

The AeroPress uses air pressure to improve the extraction of flavors, and takes coffee with a finer grind. It takes no more than two minutes from start-to-finish to brew, whereas the French Press takes no less than 3 minutes.

Is the one press better than the other? That’s really up to your personal preferences, but we think there isn’t a clear winner here. They both have desirable traits.


Notes

  • Like a French Press, there are many methods used to brew coffee with an AeroPress. Some methods use the AeroPress to make a cup of coffee in just 30 seconds of brewing time! That’s incredibly fast compared to most other brewing systems.
  • When you have brewed a cup of AeroPress coffee, before you dilute it to your taste, the coffee “concentrate” in the mug is essentially like an espresso. It’s not a standard espresso, but most drinkers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference! If espresso is your thing, then the AeroPress makes a good double shot of it.
  • The acidity of coffee drinks matters a great deal to most people. AeroPress coffee has an average of one-fifth the amount of higher pH than drip coffee—that’s considerably less acidic. It’s amply smooth for most drinkers.
  • The AeroPress’s plunger and tube are crafted out of Copolyester. Its resins have proven to be effective in packaging applications due to their toughness, versatility, and chemical resistance. Copolyester is frequently used in the manufacture and packaging of consumer goods. Markets that rely on Copolyester include medical packaging, home appliances, cosmetics, and other consumables like pens, toys, and sporting goods.
  • A thorough visual set of brewing instructions is available here in PDF form (via Aerobie).