AeroPress Review – Why the AeroPress is one of the Best Coffee Makers

Pouring water from kettle into AeroPress
Brewing coffee with AeroPress at the World Championship Credit: Pål-Kristian Hamre via Flickr

The AeroPress is a very popular domestic coffee maker. Most people who use it claim it makes the best coffee they have ever tasted. This nifty device has its own world brewing championship! Let’s take a look closer, and see what makes the AeroPress so great, and why everybody is buying one.

The AeroPress was invented by Alan Adler, a Stanford University engineer, with more than 40 patents in aerodynamics, electronics, and optics. Alan Adler was obviously inspired by the French press and the espresso machine when he invented his famous now coffee maker. However, when he started the pursuit of perfect coffee maker, he wanted to create a single serve coffee maker. He improved the French press, by adding pressure in the brewing process, to speed up the brewing. He felt that drip cones, and French presses were extracting too much bitterness because of the longer brewing times.

Accessibility – AeroPress is Inexpensive

AeroPress parts and ground coffee

One of the things that make AeroPress so appealing is its accessibility. It retails at around $30 on Amazon.com. This isn’t going to break the bank. Most coffee addicts could afford to add this to their coffee brewing routine. This is a very inexpensive device, if you compare it to drip coffee machines, or espresso makers, which are lot more expensive. Even with the extra expense of buying the metallic filter disks, the maker is still very inexpensive.

Easy To Master the Technique

Barista brewing with Aeropress
Credit Niall Kennedy via Flickr

It is also extremely forgiving as a coffee maker. Due to its expert design, it allows for the user not to follow brewing guidelines to the letter, and still get an excellent cup of coffee. There are countless posts on online coffee forums from users who can’t believe that they can totally forget about the AeroPress for 5 minutes because the rest of their breakfast is burning, then come back to it and still make a great cup of coffee.

What is really nice about it is that even if you don’t know anything about brewing, you can still manage to get a decent coffee. Basically, you can’t screw up too badly, unless you want to prove a point. Sure a poor Aeropress shot will raise an eyebrow here and there, but is totally drinkable. A poorly brewed AeroPress shot wins every time, compared to a bad drip, or a bad French press.

Fast Preparation Time and Convenience

This AeroPress review wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about convenience. A reason for its tremendous popularity is its speedy preparation. Anyone can afford to add this device to their routine in the mornings, because the brew time around one minute. AeroPress is the perfect device for the business person who doesn’t have time in the morning. Not everybody can afford to wait for their coffee machine to heat up. The modern person doesn’t have time for a French press, or pour over to brew. When you also consider that it is extremely quick and easy to clean, it is difficult to compete with!AeroPress Review

I bought an AeroPress for a friend of mine who was complaining about the bad coffee at work. The Starbucks across the street from her workplace wasn’t too much better, and she was considering getting a Keurig. I bought her the AeroPress, and after a week she said that the coffee she gets from her AeroPress competes with the espresso shots I prepare for her. A bold statement, but I am happy if she’s happy. She works in a business environment, and operating this nifty device is so convenient. Cleaning is a breeze, brewing is fast and easy, and it doesn’t take a lot of space in the cupboard.

If there is one thing I personally don’t like about it is the aesthetics. That thing looks like a huge syringe, and I like my brewing devices nice and shiny. I guess this keeps the product inexpensive, so I tend to ignore the aesthetic aspect, and mind my brewing.

Aeropress Coffee Maker

Aeropress Coffee Maker

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Aeropress Makes Great Coffee, and Is Versatile

With a bit of practice, the AeroPress allows for everybody who is interested in coffee to brew excellent, barista quality coffee in their own kitchen at an affordable price. On the other hand this coffee maker can be used in a professional context. As I mentioned there is a world AeroPress brewing championship where some of the most talented baristas in the world compete. My point is; world class barista or morning coffee drinker, the AeroPress can be perfect for you. This also means that, because it is so versatile, it is possible to make very different types of coffee that can be either lighter bodied with a tea like texture or a brew that is more similar to espresso. This is done by adjusting the coarseness of the grind, the amount of water, the temperature of the water, and the total brewing time.

AeroPress Brew Review

AeroPress Coffee Grinds Puck
Aeropress puck

Photo courtesy of Mark Prince the coffee geek.

Now, I’ve talked about how the AeroPress is brilliant because it makes such great coffee, but I haven’t talked about why it makes such great coffee. What is it that makes this simple device so great?

This coffee maker takes all the best features from various coffee makers and combines them for the best possible drink. It is, in the end, a combined brewing method, which brings the extraction close to perfection. It combines steeping, with pressure brewing, a unique feature among brewers. We could think about it as a hybrid between espresso and French press.

  • As with all brewing methods, grinding is essential for a great cup. Your machine needs to produce an uniform grind, otherwise the coffee particles will be differently extracted, depending on the size.
  • Firstly, we let the coffee steep, exactly as we would when brewing French press. This ensures a complete saturation of the grounds.
  • Then we apply pressure to force soluble solids and oils from grinds into our cup. The Aerobie AeroPress is also one of the only filter coffee brewing kits that uses pressure to prepare coffee. This added pressure means that the coffee is extracted more successfully and has many of the qualities that you find in espresso coffee. It is even possible to get crema, (which gives espresso its distinctive taste).
  • The water temperature during brewing is another critical element, and the temperature recommended by Aerobie is between 165 and 175 °F. Many AeroPress lovers have experimented and found that 195 °F is better for them. The point is: lower brewing temperatures produce smoother coffee, less acidic, but loses on complex aromas and bite. A good variable temperature kettle will help you nail that perfect temperature, and experiment.
  • Finer grind improves the extraction, ensuring a faster and more complete extraction, and allows lower extraction temperatures.
  • The newly rediscovered manual drip, while offering great control over the brewing, it does not permit the total immersion of grounds. With Aeropress the coffee is completely submerged by water in the brewing chamber. This means that the coffee is extracted evenly and uniformly, compared to pour over filter coffees when the water tends to concentrate on one area of the coffee bed.
  • The next successful feature that the AeroPress has is its micro filtration system. This means that none of the grit gets in to your coffee cup so you can expect a smooth, clean cup of coffee every time.

AeroPress Is Less Acid – Better for Stomach

Coffee CupCoffee brewed in an AeroPress is less acidic than other preparation methods, and it is smoother. Consequently it will cause less upset to people with sensitive stomachs. People who normally get a stomach ache from drip, or French press, won’t get one from the Aeropress shot.

Make sure though, you dilute the shot with some water, as the little cup that come out of the AeroPress is much stronger than you regular cup of joe. It is almost like an espresso. The lower water temperature, and the shorter brewing time will create an extraction close to espresso, without the substance that make your stomach produce acid.

Further Improvements

The AeroPress comes with paper filters in its standard setup. You can also separately buy a non-disposable metallic filter that you can use instead of the paper filters. This is a great idea for several reasons. First of all, it works out cheaper in the long run as you don’t need to keep buying paper filters. Secondly, a lot of baristas feel that the paper filters filter out too much of the coffee and a lot of the great subtle taste notes from the bean get discarded this way. The metallic filter is slightly coarser and so solves this problem but still stops all the excess grind and grit from getting into your coffee. The metallic filter-disk is very similar in design to the espresso baskets that are used with espresso machines, and treats the coffee in a similar way, allowing those distinctive flavors into your coffee cup. If you are looking for a coffee from your AeroPress that tastes more like espresso, this filter is an essential buy.

Let’s finish the review of the brewing features by concluding that the design of the AeroPress helps the proper extraction of coffee without conscious effort from the user.

Metal Filter for AeroPress

AeroPress paper filters are great for coffee lovers who like their cup clean and smooth. But for espresso lovers the paper filters are not the right way to brew. They filter out too much of the aromatic oils, and give you a flatter cup. Drip coffee lovers are delighted with a cup like this, but French press lovers will feel a little cheated.

The answer to this is the metal disk-filter. There are many aftermarket metal filters, either metal disks similar to a filter basket from an espresso machine, or metallic meshes.

The S Filter is one of the most popular metal filters for AeroPress, and allows you to enjoy a beverage that is very close to espresso. The other advantage is that you will never have to buy paper filters, these things are virtually indestructible.

AeroPress Review – Materials and Reliability

AeroPress Brewer

Let’s review AeroPress is made from polypropylene plastic, very safe to use, good for the environment and virtually indestructible. I know some purists will say that glass is better, but plastic has its advantages. If you knock it over with an elbow when reaching for your cheerios you can just pick it up again; no breakage and no glass. If you dropped it off the top of a building, however, it would probably break, like anything else.

Thermal shocks do not affect polypropylene, like they affect glass. And if we mention that plastic is lighter than glass, we have a full picture.

The AeroPress is brilliant. Buy one, use it and let it change your world.

The video below demonstrates the “inverted brewing” method using an AeroPress. This method of brewing is one of those little “AHA” moments, that improve your cup beyond the manufacturer’s standards.

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