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Brewing Magic at Home Part V. The Aeropress- Coffee for the Jet Age

It’s not often a new brewing technology shows up. Not often at all. Espresso showed up around the year 1900. Drip coffee debuted around the same time. Percolator coffee dates to the late 18th century. The French Press appeared in 1929. Wikipedia says all your brew gear is hundred-year-old technology. Whaddya gonna do about it?

The Aerobie Aeropress is pretty new. Born in 2005, from the mind of the inventor of the Aerobie Flying Ring, Johann Flying Ring. I mean Alan Adler. Little known fact: when thrown with proper technique your Aeropress can fly up to thirty-five feet, and may roll for an additional ten to fifteen feet. Crazy, huh? For other outrageous claims, just read the quotes from the nifty hexagonal packaging.

The Aeropress shares attributes with many popular brew methods: it’s got the total fluid immersion of the French Press, the paper filter of drip coffee and the quick preparation time of espresso. Flavor extraction is excellent and the finished product bears comparison to a stiff Americano or some sort of red-eye-type concoction. That is to say, it brews a very strong cup of coffee. It’s not uncommon to knock the finished brew down with some hot water to put it back in regular-coffee territory.

Use of the Aeropress is very simple. This recipe is courtesy of Maddox, Aeropress Wizard-in-residence at Zeke’s Retail Store at 4607 Harford Rd in lovely Northeast Baltimore. Common practice among the Aeropress faithful is using the thing upside-down during the brewing process. If looking at upside-down numbers freaks you out, ignore these instructions and use the ones in the package.

Add about .05lb (.8oz or 22g) of ground coffee (grind should be similar to if not a tad finer than a paper cone setting.)

Add hot water, saturating the grounds as you go.

Stir the grounds with the supplied magic wand:

Now is when you attach the filter assembly. Wet the paper filter for maximum awesomeness.

Then activate the plunger and coffee will end up in your cup.

When you hear a little HISSSSS you’re done.

Taste the coffee. It’s strong, isn’t it? If the coffee knocks you over, don’t be afraid to top up your cup with hot water. Now drink it. Very good! I’ve found Aeropressed coffee to be smooth and very flavorful. After about two cups the entire world starts vibrating, so please be careful.

Cleanup is very simple. Pop the filter assembly off the press and push the piston through the outer tube until the filter and coffee drop right out of the press and on to the floor. For even easier cleanup, do it over a trash can.

The Aeropress has garnered a lot of attention since it’s arrival in 05. A whole subculture of coffee enthusiasts has rallied around the device. There are aftermarket mods, alternative brewing methods and even  national and world championship competitions featuring the most dedicated Aeropress Acolytes.

So should you get an Aeropress? I’d say have at it if:

  • you’ve got a nice coffee grinder and grind fresh for each brew
  • you like your coffee strong
  • you are into thorough flavor extraction ala French Pressed coffee
  • you are some kind of Evil Scientist.
The Aeropress is not suited to drinking cup after cup after cup of coffee as that may become quite labor intensive. Also all of your veins may explode, which could be unpleasant. They should have mentioned that on the packaging. That said, those of you who consider yourselves kinda geeky about coffee should become acquainted with the Aeropress.
Thank for reading folks. Anybody use an Aeropress regularly? Post up your favorite recipe in the comments, I’d love to give it a whirl.