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6 April 2012

The Caffeine Chronicles Part II: AeroPress Love

I used to be able to function on a single espresso per day but now, I usually need a second caffeine hit. I've been very pleased with my Bodum French Press, but there are a few minor problems with it: 1) it's messy and takes time to clean and 2) it's rather fragile and my overzealous attempts to clean the grounds into the bin have resulted in two broken French presses in as many years. When looking into other options, the one that stood out was the AeroPress, which falls halfway between a cafetière and a filter coffee maker. I'd seen one for sale in the super-hip Everyman Espresso in the East Village last year but never got round to finding out more.

After a bit of online research and a test drink at Sensory Lab, I decided to go ahead and buy one. I ordered from Cream Supplies, which was about the same price as Amazon (actually cheaper for me, as a cock-up meant I got free delivery), and was able to test it out this morning using Square Mile's Sertão coffee. I'm not sure about the promised "intense sweetness of rich toffee and creamy milk chocolate" but I was pretty impressed. A lot of reviews talk about the "cleanness" of the taste of AeroPress coffee compared to coffee prepared in a French Press, and this is true--there was no sludge left in the bottom of my mug but the coffee still had a rich, smooth, flavoursome taste. Oh, and it was very strong, which I don't mind, although I may need to play with the quantities because Square Mile coffee isn't cheap.

AeroPress starter kit
In the kit, you get the AeroPress (two plastic cylinders--the plunger which slides inside the chamber--and a cap, which holds a flat, circular filter and which twists onto the bottom of the chamber), 350 paper filters, a stirrer, a funnel and the scoop. Before you start, you put a filter into the cap and screw it onto the bottom of the chamber and rest on top of a mug. Some of the reviews I read suggested running hot water through first to warm up the mug and lessen the effect the paper filter will have on your coffee. You then put two scoops of ground coffee into the base of the chamber, fill up to the number two mark with hot but not boiling water, stir for ten seconds and then insert the plunger, applying slow, steady pressure for about 30 seconds until the plunger reaches the bottom of the chamber. This is supposed to be the equivalent of a double espresso but it's not the kind of espresso I like so instead, I make an Americano by topping up my mug with hot water. You then twist off the cap over your dustbin and a neat "puck" of coffee falls straight out; you need to give the bottom of the plunger a quick rinse but everything else is self-cleaning. Easy.

L: Put a filter in the cap, screw the cap onto the chamber.
R: The AeroPress set-up and some Square Mile coffee
The system works by using air pressure to push the coffee through the microfilter, which means the coffee doesn't come into contact with anything apart from the filter paper (unlike the French press, where the metal plunger does touch the coffee). More specifically, as they say on the AeroPress website:

Using the ideal water temperature and gentle air pressure brewing yields rich flavor with lower acidity and without bitterness. Total immersion brewing results in uniform extraction of the ultimate in full coffee flavor. Other coffee makers drip hot water on bed of grounds, over extracting at the center and under extracting at the edge.


Finito!

I couldn't take any photos while I was making my coffee but if you want to know more about how the AeroPress works and to see it in action, check out this YouTube video of Gwilym Davies, World Barista Champion of 2009, doing a demo.

The Caffeine Chronicles Part I: The Department of Coffee & Social Affairs review
The Caffeine Chronicles Part III: Prufrock Coffee review

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