One of my friends got an AeroPress Coffee Maker for the holidays. Dubious about this multi-part plastic doohicky, I set forth to have a few cups of coffee through it so see what my friend was on about. At first glance it seems a bit “As Seen on TV,” what with all the different brown plastic bits and complicated setup, but the marketing copy promises a better, faster cup of coffee than with any other method, as well as the ability to make espresso.
My friend says he goes through one AeroPress every year. He uses it twice or three-times daily, and eventually the press breaks. He says he gets his for $10 each, but I couldn’t find that price online. Amazon has it for $25.
It also uses much more coffee than other methods. Depending on the strength, it uses about a tablespoon and a half of grounds for a single cup. The same amount in a French-press usually nets me twice that. And if you want more than one cup you’ll have to run the AeroPress several times. It also takes a lot of time to prepare and clean. There’s also no crema on the espresso.
It uses the same granularity of grounds as a drip coffee maker. This can be invaluable if you don’t have a burr grinder. The coffee tastes rich and slightly sweeter than out of a drip brew (which was the only comparison available to me at the time of writing this). The espresso comes surprisingly close to the dark, bitter taste of a real machine-pulled espresso.
On the whole, I would say the AeroPress is pretty good. It makes richer coffee than a dripolator and is pretty close to the taste of a Café Americano or a long-pull espresso (which is what you get when you order coffee in Europe). The espresso it makes is okay, but lacks a crema.
However, all the little parts are a pain to keep clean, and to keep from disappearing in a forgotten kitchen drawer. It’s also not as sexy as a Bodum French press or an antique percolator. Unlike a vacuum pot, you definitely couldn’t put it on display. I’d recommend it if the best coffee solution (whole beans and a burr grinder with an espresso machine, French press, or vacuum pot) is not available and you want something a little better than a drip brew machine.
Speaking for myself, I’ll stick to my French press. And I’ll use my vacuum pot for times when I feel like building a Lego set in order to make coffee.