Jul 19, 2010

AeroPress - Smooth coffee in 30 seconds


This review actually starts with a sad story. Well, sort of.

A couple of years ago, I bought a used Isomac Mondiale. I was told it had mostly been standing in a company’s cantina, seldom being used. Long story short; I’ve had lots of problems with it and it turns out it has actually been used a lot, and also been carried almost daily between the cantina and other places.

After having fixed it (costly) twice, I have given up. So, for a fairly long time now I have been without an espresso machine. Yes, that is the sad part.

Assessing my options

So, for my coffee needs, I have used a drip filter brewer, a Bialetti Moka Express mocca brewer, a Bodum French Press and the Eva Solo CafeSolo Coffee Maker.

While I do like drip filter coffee, I usually feel the coffee has a little too much acid. The mocca brewer is nice. My stove isn’t, so it takes quite a long time to heat it. And I am not too fond of the cleaning process, as the whole brewer is steaming hot, forcing me to clean it later when it has cooled.

The French press and CafeSolo are similar in that both use coffee totally immersed in water, but instead of pressing down a filter, the CafeSolo has a filter attached to the top. Both of these let too much ground coffee pass through their filters, in my opinion. And the CafeSolo has issues when pouring, since the ground coffee often clogs the filter, making it difficult to pour.

But hey, wasn’t this article about the AeroPress brewer??

Sorry, coming to that now. I haven’t been too satisfied with my coffee options for a long time now. But, then I got my hands on the AeroPress thingy. And this is where the story turns brighter!

Discovering the AeroPress

AeroPress is invented by Alan Adler, the inventor of the Aerobie flying disk.

I have known of the AeroPress for a while, but I have to say that I don’t really think it looks the part. Being all plastic, it looks a little, well, cheap maybe. But I can tell you this: You wouldn’t want an aluminum AeroPress. You’d burn you fingers :-)

Alright, one of the best things about AeroPress is that I can bring it anywhere. Even if I'm out hiking. So, for this post, I did just that. Just bring some ground coffee in a small container, a thermos with hot water and the AeroPress. And maybe some dark chocolate to be enjoyed with your coffee :-)


What’s so special about the AeroPress?

First and foremost; the taste. It makes the smoothest coffee I have experienced, almost without any bitterness and acidity. I dare say that many people who need a little sugar in their coffee can safely reduce (or remove) that need with this brewing method. Oftentimes, it’s the bitterness they try to fight.

And how many coffee brewers you know have their own World Championship?

Why AeroPress is not a French Press

The difference between French Press and AeroPress lies in both the filtering and in the time the water is in contact with the water. Using a French Press, the coffee soaks in water for three minutes. This will extract more acidity from the coffee. Also, the French Press doesn’t use pressure as a brewing method. The AeroPress uses pressure to force the water through a filter after only a short time in contact with the coffee. This extracts more of the oils in the coffee, ensuring lots of taste and aroma, but lower acidity and less bitterness.

When you’re done pressing the water through the AeroPress, the ground coffee is no longer in contact with the finished product. Using a French Press, the filter is merely used to divide the coffee grounds and the coffee. However, they are still in the same container.

So, an AeroPress is more effective than a French Press in extracting only the good taste and not the bitterness and acidity from the coffee.

Turned upside-down, after removing the cap and pressing the coffee and filter out.

The How and Why

Now, to make smooth, aromatic coffee with the AeroPress, here are the main rules:

1. Make sure the coffee has the proper grind
This is actually the only caveat with AeroPress (and another reason why it differs from every other brewing methods, except espresso machines): It is grind sensitive. Why? Because you need to vary the grind depending on how many cups you are making.

For 1-2 cups, you should use coffee ground for espresso. But if you’re making 3 or 4 cups, you need a coarser grind. The larger amount of coffee needed for 3-4 cups often results in coffee clogging the filter, making it hard, if not impossible, to push water through it. If you are quick to start pressing after stirring, and press gently, it helps. But usually not enough.

However, if you love coffee, you really should grind your own coffee. Problem solved :-)

2. Use the correct water temperature
For best taste, the water temperature should be around 80 degrees celcius (176 fahrenheit), or maybe even a little lower. This has proven to be the optimal temperature for extracting the aromas. Too much heat will make your coffee bitter. Too little… well, who wants lukewarm coffee anyway.

3. Be on time
It is imperative that you don’t slack with the timing. One of the main reasons the AeroPress makes such smooth, round coffee is the short time water is in contact with the coffee. Long extraction times draws out more bitterness. Total brewing time should not exceed 30 seconds. Stir for about 10 seconds after pouring, and then quickly start pressing. Aim for maximum 20 seconds for all coffee to be extracted.


Stir gently
Press slowly

Easily dispose of the coffee

If you're outside in the woods, you can dispose of the coffee grounds right there. Just take the paper filter back home with you. It can actually be used several times.

The coffee can be disposed anywhere (it even makes a good fertilizer). Bring the filter home for recycling.

What if I prefer really strong Americano coffee?

Then you’re like me. You could, of course, dilute the coffee with less water after brewing, but this makes your americano a bit small. You could also use more ground coffee, but this is a waste of coffee in my opinion. I prefer to just use a little more water in the AeroPress. For 1 cup, I pour water up to one and a half cups on the AeroPress markers. This means you add less water afterwards, ensuring a stronger coffee.

Enjoying coffee and nature. Great combination :-)


The AeroPress is a really neat piece of equipment for the coffee lover. I bring it with me all over the place, and find myself enjoying it more and more. Just make sure you use good quality water - as always, the water quality can have a huge impact on the end-result. I will do some tests around this - as I've experienced some odd results when brewing with the AeroPress at work. I suspect it's the water quality (or lack thereof?) which is to blame. Stay tuned!

I highly recommend the AeroPress - go get one!

Marius Waldal

Marius enjoys all types of coffee, be it from a fresh press, a stovetop coffee maker or drip filter, but prefers espresso-based. On this blog, he will embrace them all.