January 17, 2018

∴ AeroPress

AeroPress coffee stationI’ve been using an AeroPress coffeemaker for more than six years. Although I’ve been served with methods and equipment costing thousands of dollars more, I have yet to find one that makes a better cup.

The AeroPress arrived on the scene in 2005, invented and manufactured by the same people who brought you the Frisbee. It quickly gained attention from coffee geeks, and within a few years had found a place alongside pour-over and siphon coffeemakers at “artisanal” coffee shops.

The AeroPress consists of a pair of nested plastic tubes, the inner one capped with a rubber plunger. A twist-on filter holder, paper filters, a stirrer, a funnel, and a coffee scoop complete the kit. The plastic parts can be rinsed clean after each use, and once a month I throw them all in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning.

In terms of effort, operating an AeroPress falls somewhere between a pour-over setup and a French press. Freshly fine-ground coffee is added to the outer tube after the inner tube is removed and a filter is attached to the bottom. Hot water is added using marks along the side as a gauge, and the resulting slurry is stirred for about ten seconds to fully break up and immerse the grounds. The outer tube is then placed atop a coffee cup, and the plunger tube re-inserted.

Steeping is not necessary. The plunger is immediately pressed down to extrude finished coffee. The key to doing this right is letting the pocket of compressed air trapped under the plunger do the work. After gripping the top of the inner tube with both palms, lay on it the full weight of your arms, guiding the plunger straight down. There’s no need to push any harder. The plunger slowly descends, taking thirty to forty-five seconds before completing a press. Take care not to let the cup tip over.

Stop pressing when air begins escaping the filter. The result is rich in coffee flavor without the usual bitter aftertaste, and somewhat sweet depending on the bean employed. It’s similar to a single or double shot of espresso without the crema, depending on how much grounds and water you began with.

This isn’t espresso, though. Espresso is made by forcing live steam through compacted, finely-ground coffee. AeroPress uses hot water and a slightly coarser grind, somewhere between espresso and electric drip.

Drink it black, or add hot milk for something approximating a Starbucks Flat White.

Clean-up is quick and easy. Remove the filter holder and rinse. Holding the tubes over a trash can, plunge the grounds and filter out the bottom of the outer tube. Toss the filter if you’re composting grounds. The rubber plunger (mostly) cleans the inside of the outer tube as it moves downward. Rinse the tube bottom and plunger, and leave to air dry. Done. Try that with a French press.

Coffee bean oil lubricates the inside of the tube between washes, making it easier to press. An occasional ride in the dishwasher eliminates any rancidity from old oils.

AeroPress’s secret to delicious coffee is using the “front edge” of the grounds, extracting flavor and immediately extruding it. Less time in contact with hot water means less bitter coffee oil in your cup.

 

This method tends to use more grounds than other coffeemakers, though, and the expense of doubling your coffee purchases quickly adds up. One alternative technique steeps less grounds for a minute or so before pressing. Doing so balances cost against mild bitterness.

 

Here-in lies one of the joys of using an AeroPress: the variations of technique, beans, grind, and temperature can make it an ongoing experiment. Or, you can settle on one set of parameters and make the same delicious cup every time.

 

The AeroPress is fully portable. Stuff a baggie of pre-ground coffee inside the inner tube for travel, measure portions in your palm or with the scoop, and use a hotel room coffeemaker or microwave oven for heating water. Good coffee can be had anywhere.

The cost of this plastic gem is $30 on Amazon. An extra $4 adds a pack of replacement filters. Between what comes in the box and the extra pack, you’re set for about two years of daily use. Additional packs of 350 filters are also available from Amazon.

#AeroPress #coffee #FrenchPress #pourOver