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Your search has ended with the Aerobie Aeropress
on April 24, 2009
The disclaimer: I do not work for Aerobie. I have no commercial connection with Aerobie. I do confess, however, to owning two (2) Aerobie Aeropresses.
Okay, now for the part you've been waiting for, the review:
I'll make this really simple: throw away all your other coffee makers and use the Aeropress. Well, you can keep your $350 espresso maker and your electric drip coffee maker, your French press, and your ibrik. You won't USE them anymore, but you can sure keep 'em if you want to.
How serious am I about a good cup of coffee? I roast my own beans. In 1968 when America was brewing coffee in percolators, I saw Michael Caine grind coffee beans in the opening scene of "The Ipcress File" and went right out and searched for coffee beans and a grinder. People thought I was very strange because, after all, "I don't see the difference between vacuum packed and coffee beans." But I could tell the difference. I used a plastic cone and paper filters back then, a system which has basic flaws overcome by the Aeropress. Whatever kind of coffee you've been drinking, it'll be better if you make it with the Aeropress.
A word about the filters. I can taste the paper in coffee made in those drip makers of various kinds. I cannot taste the paper in coffee made in the Aeropress.
If you grind your own coffee, you don't have to get an expensive grinder because the Aeropress is not very particular about the fineness or coarseness of the grind. Fine is better. Coarse will work. You could probably pound the beans with a meat tenderizer and come up with a grind that would work okay in the Aeropress. Whatever grind you use, none of the grit will wind up on your teeth because the economical paper filters keep them out of your cup. There are people who do like the tactile sensation of coffee grounds on their teeth such as coffee brewed in a French press or made in an ibrik. I'm not all that fond of it myself.
The coffee that comes out of the south end of the Aeropress is, certainly from a tactile and visual point of view, free from grounds. So? Well, for one thing, there are no grounds still brewing in the coffee you've got waiting for you in your stylish thermal carafe or in the cup you're savoring right at the moment, and that means that the coffee doesn't get bitter. Think about that for a moment. You get distracted, the coffee in your cup cools off. You nuke it for a few seconds. It's now hot enough to drink, but it just doesn't taste right. Or after a few hours in the carafe, the coffee, while it may still be hot enough, has become bitter. This just does not happen with coffee brewed in an Aeropress. Nuke that neglected cold cup of coffee sitting in front of you, and it's all but indistinguishable from a freshly brewed cup. Pour a hot cup from the carafe a couple of hours after you brewed it, and it's just like a freshly brewed cup. And when you drain the last drop of coffee from your cup, there are no grounds forming a reverse alluvial fan left behind. This can be a disadvantage to people who tell fortunes by reading coffee grounds. Anybody do that? Even more remarkable is that coffee stored for a day or more in the refrigerator can be reheated without an objectionable loss in quality. It's perhaps enough to notice, but if that coffee was made in an Aeropress, don't bet a large amount of money on a taste test, unless you're a professional taster, that you could tell reheated refrigerated coffee a few days old from a brand-new cup.
The measure that comes with the Aeropress holds three tablespoons which the Aeropress website recommends for a five-ounce cup of coffee. Say what?! Okay, the coffee does not, as in a French press, brew for four minutes; it brews for less than a minute, counting stirring and plunging time. That short time makes for a cup of coffee that's low in caffeine but with a robust coffee flavor. You can even make coffee with half the amount of water into an espresso cup, and, trust me on this, it is delicious. All the intensity of espresso's fullness of flavor, but without the bitterness. Now, I have a very good espresso machine, and one day, after having used the Aeropress for several months, I wanted to experience another cup of espresso.
I'm tempted to heave a huge sigh right along in here. Espresso is finicky. My machine (did I mention it's a good one?) is a semiautomatic. That means that it makes coffee with the same amount of pressure and at the correct temperature every time, but I have to put in the right amount of grounds and those grounds better be ground exactly right. Too fine, and the pump can't force the water through in 23 seconds, and the coffee will be extremely strong and without crema, that thick foam that's the hallmark of a correctly brewed espresso. Too coarse, and the pump forces the water through too fast, and you get a weak cup of coffee. And you don't get crema that time either. So I had to experiment with the grind and the amount to the tune of three tossed shots of espresso before I got one right. Did I mention espresso is finicky? It was quite good, but I discovered that not only is espresso finicky, so am I. I had grown to prefer the simplicity of the forgiving Aeropress. Once you get past getting water to the right temperature, I can't think of a way you can make a bad cup of coffee with the Aeropress.
And, by the way, I discovered that the correct amount of coffee grounds to use for a cup of espresso in my machine turned out to be the same as one Aeropress coffee measuring scoop.
Making a pot of coffee? Since brewing coffee in the Aeropress takes less than a minute, once you've got your water at the right temperature, you can brew up a whole lot of coffee really fast. A note on making coffee with really fresh coffee grounds such as those from beans you've just roasted: It foams up like a freshly poured beer. So you'll not be able to fill the receptacle up to the "4" mark. The solution? Do I have to think of everything?! Fill it to the "3" mark. Do this twice and you've made a quart of coffee in perhaps three minutes.
One really endearing feature of the Aeropress is that it's a snap to clean. You remove the little black filter basket at the bottom of the press, push the grounds into the kitchen wastebasket, rinse off the rubber plunger (look at the photos to see what I mean by "plunger"), rinse the basket. You're done. Sometimes I swipe the remaining grounds off the plunger with the stirring paddle before I rinse it. The whole operation takes maybe 15 seconds. I have another Aeropress in my office where I work (as a highly paid professional, of course), and my little windowless cubicle -- I mean my spacious corner office with panoramic view has no running water. I found that I'm able to clean it almost as well using a damp paper towel. I save the rinse for later.
Now, the word "plastic" has the connotation of "cheap" or "flimsy" for some people. Bear in mind that telephones and bowling balls are plastic, and nobody thinks of those two items as flimsy. The Aeropress is made of what appears to me to be very high quality plastic. There are no rough edges. It's thick and strong. And it's made in the United States, something that's apparently a value for the company. So for all of you who want to buy American, here's your chance: invented in America by an American and made in America.
The Aeropress requires that the user have the ability and the patience to bring water to the right temperature, 175 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have a thermometer, you'll have to buy one. I have the kind you can stick into a slab of meat or dunk into an Aeropress. It works just fine, and it's not very expensive. Under five dollars as I recall at my local hardware store.
How bothersome is it to bring water to the correct temperature? It's not. I experimented for a few minutes and discovered that in my microwave, water poured to the "3" level on the plunger thingy was brought to the right temperature in one minute on high. How hard is that? Or if you're not up to measuring the water, just stick your thermometer into the whistle on your teakettle and soon after you hear the water making that noise like it's about to boil (somewhere around 165 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit), it'll be at 180 degrees. I like this temperature because when you pour it into the Aeropress plunger, it cools off to just the right temperature of 175. Your mileage may vary.
There might be easier ways to make coffee, but I know of none better.
A note about Amazon. Buy it here. Free shipping? Arrives right at your doorstep? Under $[...]? Best coffee you ever made in your life? What are you waiting for?