In various previos posts I’ve mentioned Aeropress, and I’ve threatened to create an Aeropress review – well here goes :-).
It is pure genius! You need one, right now.
That’s it, review done, goodbye…
OK I’m joking, I can’t really leave it there, but if you’re just wanting to know whether I rate it highly or not then the answer is yes I certainly do, it’s a stunning thing for about twenty quid and the first coffee I made with it, with very little thought, was brilliant – as was the second, and third, and twenty seventh, and the eleven hundredth.
Aeropress is, in my humble opinion, one of the very best coffee makers ever invented – and it’s not just a coffee maker, it’s a unique brewing process.
For example, there is the pourover drip process with various makers such as V60, chemex, Kalita wave, Kalita Kantan – there is cafetiere / french press, there is espresso, there is cold brew, and there is Aeropress, it’s a unique brewing process.
In terms of what kind of coffee the Aeropress makes, I would say that it’s somewhere in between cafetiere and pourover, but you have a lot of control over the strength. In my opinion, it produces smoother and lighter coffee than cafetiere, but heavier and fuller than pourover. I am not saying it’s better than cafetiere in terms of the resulting cup of coffee, or better than filter or espresso, just different, and very quick and convenient.
You can have it as strong as you like, and I make it concentrated and then add water – if I want it stronger, I’ll just add less water. This is the regular method, you can also use the inverted method, in which you let it steep / brew before adding the filter, flipping over and plunging. Some say that it tastes different this way, and it certainly seems to appeal to Baristas, I can’t tell a great deal of difference either way to be honest.
If I’m in a rush, I use the regular process, and it probably takes me about a minute – if I have time, I’ll use the inverted method, mainly because I like the process, and that probably takes me one and half to two minutes all in, I’d say. I’ve seen Baristas that spend three or four minutes or longer brewing via Aeropress, each to their own of course, but it doesn’t have to take that long, it’s up to you.
In a previous post I mentioned that I wasn’t sure how Aerobie went from making the flying hoop to making a coffee maker, well now I know. The inventor of the flying rings, founder of Aerobie Alan Adler, was chatting to his colleague (Pam Abbott, in case you were wondering…) about how difficult it is to make a single cup of coffee with their office automatic drip machine. He’s an engineer, and he saw this as a challenge worth pursuing. I wonder if he had any idea just where pursuing this challenge would take him? I doubt he thought at the time that his little experiment would end up being his company’s biggest selling product ever, and even dwarfing sales of the Aerobie flying ring!!
On unboxing the Aeropress initially, I realised that there are nowhere near as many bits as I thought there were, there is the funnel (which I didn’t think I needed, but actually it comes in really handy, for when the aeropress doesn’t fit directly into a cup), the stirring paddle, the two parts of the aeropress, the scoop, the filter holder and the bottom which you put the filter into.
It feels like sold quality, not flimsy at all; for just over £20 if feels like a very well made product, and there doesn’t seem to be much that could go wrong with it.
The filters by the way, you get a load of them included (350 apparently although I didn’t count) and you can re-use them (up to ten times) by giving them a rinse.
Faster Than a Fast Thing on Steroids IF Using Regular Method
The regular process involves simply stirring for 10 seconds and then plunging (slowly), with no steeping or pre-infusing other than the 10 seconds of stirring.
I watched a number of videos over the weekend about making coffee with Aeropress, many of which show the inverted method, and for this reason I thought that you had to leave it to brew, the total brewing time in the videos I watched were anywhere from 50 seconds to three or four minutes, which made me question the sales blurb for the product which include it being such a fast process.
What seems to be the case though, is that many coffee enthusiasts AKA coffee geeks (and by the way that’s not a put-down, it’s cool to be a geek!) want to use the Aeropress in a similar way than they may do with a cafetiere or a drip over filter coffee maker such as a V60 or Kalita wave, and add more arty steps to the process.
In fact some of the methods I’ve seen, seem to be a combination of a pour over method and cafetiere in that they bloom / pre-infuse, and steep. This is why most people who’re using this kind of approach are using the inverted method, because you can only bloom and steep using the inverted method, if you do it the regular way it begins to drip right from the start, which you wouldn’t want if you were wanting it to pre infuse and steep, but if you’re using it as per the instructions you plunge as soon as you’re done stirring anyway so it doesn’t matter that it drips slightly.
Just because some folk decide to use a process which takes longer, doesn’t mean that brewing with the Aeropress isn’t in fact as quick as it’s advertised, it’s simply that some people have adopted a brewing technique which involves pre infusing and steeping, which requires the inverted method and takes longer.
So Which Method is Best, Regular or Inverted?
I’ve tried both processes, and for me both make fantastic tasting coffee, but there’s not enough difference in taste in my opinion (in fact I can’t detect any real difference) to warrant the extra time involved for the inverted process, steeping doesn’t seem to make any positive impact on the taste, to me anyway. I do like messing with the inverted method though, I like the aroma, and there’s just something about playing about when making coffee that I find enjoyable, so I do like it as a process, but I don’t think this process produces anything particularly different to the regular method. This is me talking, and I’m not a professional coffee taster, someone with a much more developed coffee pallet may think I’m talking complete rubbish, and I may be.
What The Aeropress Founder Says About Inverted Vs Regular
In the same video from which I learned of how the aeropress came about, which is a lecture by Alan Adler, at CoffeeCon SF last year, Alan spoke about the inverted method, and said that while many people were using this method, they’re doing so in order to facilitate a longer wet time or steep time, and this was leading away from what makes Aeropress coffee taste good, which is a short wet time. He also points out that in the American Aeropress championships and also the world Aeropress championships in Italy, both which are judged on taste alone, bronze silver and gold all went to people who were using the standard method even though 50% of those who entered were using the inverted method. Having said that, I’ve been noticing that in more recent competitions the inverted method seems to be gaining a lot of ground, so who knows.
The method that he promotes, and that is printed on the instructions, is about making very concentrated espresso type coffee and then diluting if you wish. He adds that he knows some people hate the idea of adding water to coffee but he insists that making a concentrated coffee this way and then adding water produces a better tasting cup of coffee than starting out with more water and pushing it all through the puck of coffee grounds.
In order to make espresso style concentrated coffee which you can dilute if you wish with water or milk (for making Americano, Cappuccino, Latte etc) the recommendation is that you use an equal measure of coffee and water, so if you put two scoops in, you fill to the no2 for a double espresso shot, or 1 scoop and fill to number 1 for a single espresso shot.
Can You Make True Espresso With Aeopress?
You can make a very strong espresso style coffee, but in my opinion it’s not quite espresso. There’s something missing, and I’m guessing that something is the effect of the high pressure extraction. The other thing missing is crema, you sometimes get some kind of a crema foam, but it’s not proper crema. That being said, you can produce a short shot of espresso style coffee which although isn’t quite espresso, it’s good – and it can be used to make espresso based drinks such as cappuccino and flat white, they don’t quite taste the same as when made with an espresso machine in my opinion, but they’re not far off – which is amazing for a £20 coffee maker.
Other Benefits of Aeropress
As well as making great tasting coffee in a time that even The Flash would be proud of, thanks to the use of the paper filters, the two substances in coffee that are thought to be particularly bad for us, cafestol and kahweol are hugely filtered out when drinking coffee that has been filtered with a pourover drip filter, and with an aeropress paper filter. Studies have shown that folk who drink a lot of unfiltered coffee (i.e cafetieres, espresso machines) can have raised bad cholesterol, as opposed to those who drink filtered coffee. Just beware though when it comes to the use of the metal filters that you can buy for the Aeropress, as I’ve read that these don’t have the same effect on filtering out cafestol and kahweol.
They’re super portable and don’t require electricity, which is great when it comes to taking them on holiday, or camping for instance. As long as you can heat water some way, and you have a source of water, and you have ground coffee or coffee beans and a grinder, then you can make great coffee wherever you are thanks to Aeropress.
Update – Several Months Later…
I’ve been using the Aeropress for close to a year now, and it’s one of my favourite brew processes. I enjoy espresso, and cafetiere & V60, but more often than not if I’m not using the espresso machine, I’m using the Aeropress.
I don’t use the cafetiere anywhere near as often as I used to now, only really if I’m making coffee for a few people and they don’t want a latte or cappuccino etc., so I don’t need to use the espresso machine – for single cups I usually go for the Aeropress, unless I’m in the mood for cafetiere or V60, which I am sometimes.
For quite a while I didn’t have an espresso machine, I had the Sage Oracle for a week, and then I had no way for a while of making true espresso at home, and in that time I used the Aeropress for making espresso style coffee as the base of Cappuccino, Latte and flat white, and it did a really good job. Now I have an espresso machine in the kitchen again, I do notice the difference, and I wouldn’t choose to make flat white for example with Aeropress now I can do it with my Gaggia classic, but still, it’s really impressive that the Aeropress is so versitile that it’s capabale of coming close to making espresso on a par with expensive espresso machines, given that the Aeropress only costs about twenty quid.
Some Aeropress Tips
These are just what I’ve picked up with all the videos I have been swatting up on, and what I’ve found so far from experimenting.
1: Temperature of the water is very important. Aeropress did a lot of taste testing and are adamant that the very best taste comes from 175F / 80C. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean leaving the kettle for a minute as some suggest on YouTube, it really depends on the kettle and how much water is in it etc. You’re best with a kettle thermometer, they’re not expensive.
2: Use the paper filters. I’ve seen people recommending the metal ones, but they’re not cheap, and apparently a Barista using a metal filter has never got past the first heat in the aeropress championships, which is all judged on taste alone, so that does suggest that paper filters produce the best taste. You can re-use them anyway, up to 10 times apparently, and they’re not expensive. Also as I mentioned earlier, it’s believed that the paper filters do a better job of filtering out the bad stuff, cafestol and kahweol.
3: The Funnel has more than one use, The funnel can be used when it comes to putting your ground coffee into the chamber without pouring it all over the place. It can also fit onto the bottom, in case the bottom of your Aeropress doesn’t fit properly onto your cup – I use it this way when making a coffee into a cappuccino cup.
4: Plunge slowly. Alan Adler (the inventor) recommends just the weight of your forearms on the plunger. Many of the videos I’ve seen show people using all their might to plunge, where as Alan at Coffeecon just rests his arms on the plunger. If you find you can’t plunge without using force, you may need to adjust your grind to make it a bit more coarse.
5: Concentrate. No I don’t mean you, I mean that’s what you’re making ;-). If you do this the regular way then the idea is that you’re making a concentrated espresso style coffee which you can then either drink neat or dilute with water to make an Americano style drink, or drop into hot water to make a long black, or dilute with milk to make a Latte or Cappuccino. In this way the Aeropress is in the same class as espresso machines and moka pots, as opposed to being a similar maker to a pour over dripper or cafetiere.
6: Rinse the filter and put it back into the filter holder for next use. You can use a new one each time if you like, but why not save trees, and help the environment, by reusing?
7: Put the filter holder on last, after you’ve pulled the plunger out (if you store the aeropress assembled as I do) otherwise the back pressure when you’re pulling out the plunger will lift the filter up and you have to re-set it.
8: Pringles… the box is the perfect size and shape for firing the puck of coffee grounds into, and then just empty the pringles box into the compost, or into the garden, or into the bin.
So that’s my Aeropress review as promised. In conclusion, I think Aeopress is a brilliant coffee maker, and I think for the low price, and the great coffee it makes, all coffee lovers should have one in their home, and / or in their office!
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