November 29, 2007

Dangerous Ideas for the Caffiend, Part 2

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have a love/hate relationship with coffee. The largest love/hate axis is that I love the flavor and the jolt but hate being sick when I over-indulge. And for me, it doesn’t really take that much to over-indulge because I’m sensitive to caffeine.

For the first time in a while, I’ve found something that no only makes it easy to over-indulge, but makes it relatively cheap, easy and convenient as well. Yikes! That’s a dangerous combination.

The Aeropress Espresso Maker is a unique coffee brewing system produced by the company that makes the Aerobie flying disk. It is designed to deliver one to four “shots” of concentrated, rich coffee of a character similar to espresso. It does this at a lower temperature than drip coffee and by forcing the brew through a fine filter with air pressure powered by your hand and a plunger.

In the short time I’ve owned the thing, which retails for about $25, I’ve been extremely happy with it.

The Procedure

There is no recipe here, because you just follow the instructions that came with the thing. But I’ll summarize for you. The included scoop is used to measure your ground coffee. You put a filter in the base and screw the thing together. Place on a mug. Dump the coffee in the cylinder. Dump 175 degree water into the cylinder slowly, moistening the coffee. Fill to the indicated levels according to the amount of coffee you’re making. Stir with the included paddle for 10 seconds. Put the plunger on and press down the plunger slowly for 20 seconds. Your mug is now filled with rich, strong coffee. There is often even a bit of foam that is evocative of espresso crema.

You then up-end the press to prevent dripping and rinse the thing off in the sink. Unscrew the bottom, remove the filter and eject the puck. Rinse again and the thing is now practically clean. If you like, you can even rinse the filter and re-use it (but the unit comes with a year’s supply of clean filters).

This is so ridiculously simple that I would take a 3 minute break to prepare coffee every 30 minutes if my body could handle that much caffeine. The coffee that comes out of our office water heater is just the right temperature for brewing, by my estimation.

The Disclaimer

I am no coffee expert. I am expert at making espresso. I’m not even a novice at making espresso, nor even at tasting espresso.

However, I can’t make an espresso. I don’t have a machine for it and even if I did, I wouldn’t really enjoy learning how to use it, cleaning it and maintaining it. I just want delicious coffee.

I know that espresso refers to something very specific, and this press doesn’t produce espresso. It makes something different, which may be similar. May be worse. May be better. The important question for this tradition-flouting American coffee consumer is “do I like it?” And the answer there is “yes.”

Why I Like It

In case you’re considering getting one of these, or giving one as a gift, here’s a rundown of the points I like about this AeroPress:

  • Easy to clean
  • Makes a small amount of coffee well, which is all I want
  • Portable
  • Gives you a lot of control over the finished product, yet the basic use is simple
  • You can reuse the filters
  • The coffee it produces is rich, flavorful, smooth, and sippable


None of these bother me much, but they may bother you more.

  • The box is covered with ridiculous superlative claims
  • Eventually, you’ll have to buy filters, although there are probably people other there who have found a way to make replacement filters if you can’t get ones from the company.
  • You need a source of hot water for this to work
  • You need a sink, for rinsing it off.
  • Only makes 4 shots max, which could be annoying if you’ve got, say 4 people each looking for a doppio (double serving or espresso).
  • Inasmuch as it differs from espresso, it may disappoint sticklers.
  • Technically, not espresso
  • Since it brews at a lower temperature, the coffee may come out cooler than you expect.

In all, I’m delighted with my Aeropress. My problem now is trying to keep from over-caffeinating myself. I have to go to the market right now to get some decaf beans.

Additional Notes

  • Make sure you warm your mug or demitass. You’re brewing at a low temperature and the coffee is goign to cool off if it hits a cold mug.
  • If you prefer the brew hotter, zap it for a few seconds in the microwave. I have not notice this doing any harm to the flavor.


Posted by James at November 29, 2007 2:22 PM
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Before Dave comes by and posts it, I should add to the negatives: "eliminates someone's job."


Posted by: James at November 29, 2007 3:26 PM

Sounds cool. I'd try it but I'm happy with my half a pot of drip decaf before work (I used to do caff but I have a 45-50 minute drive to work and my bladder was about ready to explode by the time I got there) followed by my wonderful company subsidized cafeteria's Starbucks refills (75 cents if I used my own (gargantuan) mug). Sometimes another later in the day although usually I go for the free coffee machine crap at that point.

If it's the caffiene that bothers you I'd highly recommend a quality decaf. There is no difference in taste and you clearly don't need the caffiene. Just watch out for the withdrawl headaches. When i switched to decaf in the morning my head was usually screaming for caffiene by the time I got to work.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at November 29, 2007 3:47 PM

You forgot to mention the blatantly false "drippy drops" in the artwork. I think K was ultimately even more offended by them than I was.

Posted by: Julie at November 29, 2007 3:58 PM

Oh - right! The fake drippy drops. You can see them if you click any of the AeroPress links in the post.

Yes, they're drawn like drips, but real droplets are spherical, or enlongated. Until they near terminal velocity when they become somewhat bubble-doughnut shaped.

Unfortunately for me, I'm not a huge fan of American-style coffee. I would rather sup a cappuccino or espresso than gulp a big coffee. When I do feel like drinking instead of sipping, I prefer tea or iced coffee.

Long story short - I like my shot of faux-espresso.

Posted by: James at November 29, 2007 4:07 PM

You know I spelled caffeine right then went back and changed it without double checking the spelling. Upon re reading I realized that I was right the 1st time.

Damn you i before e except after c "rule".

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at November 29, 2007 4:22 PM

Yes, it's spelled different from "caffiend" which is not a proper word anyhow. Not according to my spell checker, anyway, and it oughtta know!

Posted by: James at November 29, 2007 4:25 PM

Um... uh... Italians have done it for years.

I'm just saying. ;)

Posted by: pippa at December 1, 2007 7:19 PM

That looks cool! I'll have to read up on it. It looks like a percolator; I wonder how it makes espresso.

Posted by: James at December 1, 2007 8:52 PM

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