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Great filtered coffee
on January 6, 2011
Coffee is one of those things that are highly subjective, coffee snobs and everyday coffee drinkers cannot even agree on what is "good" coffee. It comes down to preference and the Aeropress is great at making a clean cup but still retain some flavor. It cannot make Espresso and it cannot make french pressed coffee. It is regular filtered coffee, whether you hand pour it, machine brew it or push it through a tube, it is plain old filtered coffee. Because of the filter, it cannot make the other kinds of coffee, it can only adjust the strength of the brew.
That being said, the Aeropress is a great filter coffee maker because it gives the user more control than most other systems. You control the temperature, the brew time, the grind and the proportions. Just like a french press, you have full control of all of these things. This allows you to brew coffee in different strengths, although I still recommend using the standard rules of coffee brewing. The point is to extract the exact amount of flavor out of the grinds and everyone has their own opinion of what that means. The standard method is to use 1 table spoon of grinds per 2oz of water, water should be 190F, I prefer a medium grind to avoid extracting bitter/acidic flavors. Timing is the strange part about the Aeropress, with a hand pour method, a slow steady flow works best which takes about 3 to 4 minutes to complete. But with the Aeropress, the water is pushed through instead, so it seems to take about 15 - 30 seconds. I am not sure if this is a good thing or not, it's such a small window for error that I cannot tell whether I am doing it right or not. With other brewing methods, it is much slower so you can watch the grinds and the coffee come out and adjust as you brew. But with the Aeropress, it all happens at once and you get what you get. Still, it is consistent and probably good enough for most.
I must emphasize that the Aeropress does not make espresso or french press. Espresso is a mythical drink and to claim that an aeropress can make it is an insult. You probably cannot make decent espresso for less than $600.00. I know that's snob talk, but seriously, true espresso is amazingly hard to attain, which means you probably wouldn't even know what it tastes like. So to claim that this thing can make it, probably means you don't know what you're talking about. Oh it can make a strong shot of something that tastes like the espresso at starbucks... I'll leave it at that. As for french press, the filter used in the Aeropress is way too fine to let the oils and flavors through. It will filter out all the floral flavors, the honey flavors and all the really really good stuff in your coffee. This is why the aeropress is so consistent, if you filter out some of the oils and flavors, then many different coffees will taste alike. This is not a bad thing, it is what you want in a clean cup, no earthy, nutty, dirty flavors in every cup (not everyone likes these flavors).
What I don't like about the Aeropress is the mess. Everything is plastic which the coffee oils easily cling to. If it is not cleaned thoroughly after every use, grinds will start sticking to it and the parts get oily (which adds stale yucky flavors to your next cup), yuck. And for you bulk coffee buyers out there, the beans are especially oily on the outside. This means the inside of the bean is all dried out and you have no flavor in it. It also means that when you grind it, it will get really staticky and fly all over the place. Do yourselves a favor and shop for beans the way you would an orange, look for a bag that feels heavier than it looks, this means the beans are juicier on the inside. Good beans will grind much better, the oils won't stick to your gear and clean up will be much much much easier. Except for the Aeropress though, because the oils get extracted inside it. Now if they made a pyrex version of the Aeropress, that'd be mighty impressive.
Anyway, Aeropress is good. It's a quick/dirty way to a good, consistent cup of coffee. Requires more maintenance than preferable. The tube is not very big, so it will only make one mug of coffee at a time, heavy drinkers will not like this. Complaints about it requiring more grinds than other makers are not true, follow the standard brewing rules and all makers use the same amount of coffee (just because more stuff comes out does not mean it is making "more" coffee, just diluted/over brewed coffee). Now I'd be amazed if anyone read this review all the way through.