The Aeropress has become one of the most popular brew methods, favored by coffee enthusiasts throughout the work for a variety of reasons. It’s small and affordable, and — most importantly — it makes great coffee. Here’s a complete review of this brew method, from what it is and where to find it to who it’s for and how to use it, from people who have used the Aeropress and know how to make good coffee.
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Who Are We at Driftaway Coffee?
At Driftaway Coffee, we’re passionate about coffee — all aspects of it. Our passion (and expertise) originates with co-founders Anu and Suyog, who is also our roaster, and it resonates throughout the entire team. We all take pride in the coffee Suyog masterfully roasts, and we’re all fanatics about brewing the perfect cup. Over the years, our team has cupped, roasted, brewed, tasted and enjoyed many, many coffees. We’ve used all kinds of brew methods, from time-tested traditions like New Orleans cold brew to the latest auto-drip machines. Here are our thoughts on where the Aeropress fits within all of today’s brewing options.
What is the Aeropress?
The Aeropress is compact coffee maker that uses an immersion brew style but, unlike a French press, usually only immerses grounds for a few seconds. To compensate for the shorter immersion time, the grounds used are typically fine, around an espresso grind. After the appropriate immersion time, the water is forced out of the brewer by manually pushing a plunger. The grounds are retained in the brew chamber with a filter.
The Aeropress is has become immensely popular since it was created in 2005. There is even an annual Aeropress competition, the World Aeropress Championship.
Much of the Aeropress’ popularity can be attributed to the coffee maker’s:
- compact size
- affordable price
- ability to make an espresso-style brew
Who Should Consider the Aeropress?
The Aeropress is a solid coffee maker that can serve as a good everyday brew method or a specialized piece of equipment in a large collection of coffee makers. While anyone who likes a good cup of coffee may want to consider getting the Aeropress, it’s price, brew method and size make it an especially good choice for certain coffee drinkers:
- anyone who enjoys a good cup of coffee but is on a budget
- anyone looking for a gift for a coffee connoisseur who doesn’t already have the Aeropress
- anyone who wants an espresso-like brew without purchasing an espresso machine
- anyone who wants a portable coffee maker that they can use when traveling
If you’re considering purchasing the Aeropress to use as a substitute for an espresso machine, read more on the Aeropress’ version of espresso in “Does the Aeropress Make Good Coffee (and Espresso)?” below.
Many coffee connoisseurs who travel frequently like to bring an Aeropress (and coffee) with them when they’re away from home, even if they used a different brew method at home. Because the Aeropress is compact, it’s easy to fit in a suitcase or backpack. Since it’s made of strong plastic and lightweight, and doesn’t require electricity, it’s can be used anywhere from a relative’s house or hotel room to a campsite or boat.
The Portability of Various Coffee Makers
|auto-drips||poor||large and require electricity|
|percolators||poor||large, some require electricity, and don’t brew great coffee|
|vacuum pots||poor||large and cumbersome, and glass ones can shatter|
|French press (glass)||poor||compact but can shatter|
|Chemex||poor||fairly large and can shatter|
|Melitta||good||compact (but has an odd shape), and durable|
|Kalita Wave (plastic or stainless steel)||good||compact (but has an odd shape), and durable|
|cold brew concentrate||good||can be mixed with hot water or ice, but can’t be brought on flights|
|French press (plastic)||excellent||compact and durable|
|Aeropress||excellent||compact and durable, and tote bags are available|
What is the Aeropress Made Of?
The Aeropress is made of three different plastics, none of which contain bisphenol A (BPA or phthalates). (Aeropresses made before 2009 did contain BPA.) The three plastics are:
- Copolyester, which is used in the brew chamber and clear part of the plunger
- Thermoplastic elastomer, which is used in the black part of the plunger
- Polypropylene, which is used in the filter cap, funnel, stirrer and measuring scoop
All three of these plastics have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use with foods and beverages.
These three plastics are all durable, creating a strong coffee maker that should last for a long time as long as it’s not improperly used. They also, by being BPA- and phthalate-free, minimize the Aeropress’ environmental impact.
What Does the Aeropress Come With?
The Aeropress comes with everything you need to use it. Included in the standard kit are the brew chamber, plunger, a funnel, stirrer, scoop, filter holder and paper filters. A tote bag, additional filters and metal filter are also available.
What’s Included with the Aeropress
|brew chamber||immersing grounds|
|plunger||forcing brewed coffee out of brew chamber|
|funnel||getting grounds into the brew chamber (without making a mess)|
|stirrer||stirring grounds while they’re immersed|
|scoop||measuring grounds; (we recommend using a scale instead)|
|filter holder||holding the paper filters|
|paper filters||keeping grounds in the brew chamber when plunging|
|metal filter (optional)||using instead of paper filters|
|tote bag||compactly packing up the Aeropress and all accessories|
What Other Accessories Should You Get?
If you want to make great coffee with the Aeropress, you’ll need to get a few accessories to go along with the coffee maker. Some accessories, such as fresh coffee, are must-haves, while others, like a gooseneck kettle, are more optional.
When selecting fresh coffee, we recommend using coffee that has been roasted in the past two or three weeks. To have fresh coffee consistently shipped to your door, you can check out our coffee offerings and subscription plans.
Accessories for the Aeropress
|freshly roasted coffee||a metal filter|
|a scale||a thermometer|
|a burr grinder||a gooseneck kettle|
|a brew station|
As mentioned earlier, we recommend using a scale rather than a scoop to measure your coffee.
Additionally, we don’t recommend using a manual grinder when brewing with the Aeropress or any espresso-like brew method. You should use an automatic burr grinder instead.
How Do You Make Coffee with the Aeropress?
The concept behind the Aeropress brew method is simple, but there are many, many different recipes you can use. Most recipes include the following:
- adding the grounds to the Aeropress
- adding some water and letting the coffee bloom for a specified amount of time
- adding the rest of the water
- letting the coffee brew for a specified amount of time
- possibly stirring the grounds or agitating them by jiggling the brew chamber
- plunging for a specified amount of time
One of the major differences in recipes is whether the Aeropress is used right-side-up (standard) or upside-down (inverted).
Sources for Aeropress Recipes
|included in box||standard recipes that are good to use when first learning how to brew with the Aeropress|
|AeropressTimer||an app that will guide you step-by-step through lots of good recipes|
|World Aeropress Championship||winning recipes of competitors|
|Tim Wendleboe||two excellent recipes, one for filter-like coffee and one for stronger coffee, and we love both|
Does the Aeropress Make Good Coffee (and Espresso)?
The Aeropress marks a truly unique, and very good, cup of coffee. It melds the brightness of espresso with the texture of brewed coffee. Not quite brewed coffee and not quite espresso, the Aeropress is both an unusual and a remarkable brew method.
The Aeropress’ Brew Characteristics
(Because there are so many recipes for the Aeropress, it’s impossible to speak to all possible brew styles that the coffee maker can create. For instance, the body of a cup can be enhanced by using a long immersion time. Moreover, a French press-style coffee can be brewed by using a coarse grind. The following comments are generalizations based on the most popular recipes, such as many of the ones found in the sources above.)
The most notable characteristics of an Aeropress-brewed cup are its cleanliness and brightness. The paper filters keep any fines out of the cup, which makes the brew much cleaner than that of a French press, another popular immersion brew method. Because the cup is so clean, the brightness of coffees shines through nicely.
The combination of generally short immersion times and paper filters don’t create a lot of body. Using a metal filter instead of a paper one will increase the body and enhance the flavors, because it will let a few fines and more oils through, but the cleanness of the cup will be sacrificed. Additionally, while this will alter the cup some, the Aeropress won’t produce the same amount of body as a French press, even when a metal filter is used.
In general, the Aeropress is difficult to over-extract coffee with if you follow a good recipe. Coffee will, of course, become over-extracted if it’s left in the Aeropress too long. Because the Aeropress only holds a relatively small amount of water, though, it cools off fairly quickly — much more quickly than multi-cup French presses. The cooling of the water helps reduce over-extraction, but it won’t completely prevent it.
As a brew method that emphasizes cleanliness and acidity while downplaying body, the Aeropress is particularly well suited for washed African coffees that are roasted to a light or medium profile. Almost any freshly roasted coffee will taste good when brewed with an Aeropress, but these coffees are particularly aromatic and acidic, and they’re cleaner than naturally processed ones. (Our Fruity Profile, which we use for many African coffees is a light to light-medium roast.)
The Aeropress as Espresso
To compare the Aeropress to a real espresso machine is a little unfair. It costs just a fraction of the cost of even a home espresso machine, not to mention a commercial one. Nevertheless, the Aeropress is marketed as an espresso maker and, therefore, invites others to judge it as such.
Although the Aeropress makes a coffee that mimics espresso and brings it to mind, the brew method ultimately falls short of making true espresso. It can produce a strong, concentrated coffee. Without an involved apparatus, though, it can’t produce espresso.
Specifically, the Aeropress can’t produce enough pressure to make espresso. A good shot of espresso requires about 9 bars of pressure, or around 130 psi. This isn’t realistically possible to produce with the Aeropress.
(Two guys did manage to produce enough pressure by using a large wooden apparatus that they built. The Aeropress stood up to the pressure, showing how durable the coffee maker is, and the shot pulled looks like real espresso. Watch the video of this endeavor, though, and you’ll see it’s not a realistic solution for most people.)
Without enough pressure, there’s no way to get crema, the foamy layer that sits atop a shot of espresso. This is a vital part of any espresso shot, and without it a brewed coffee isn’t espresso — even if it is strong, concentrated and delicious.
The Aeropress Compared to Other Brew Methods
|Brew Method||The Aeropress Has…|
|auto-drip||more brightness and flavor, comparable body sometimes|
|percolator||more brightness and flavor, less body, more even extraction (percolators over-extract and don’t extract evenly)|
|vacuum pot||more flavor, smoothness and slightly more cleanness, and less body|
|manual pour-overs||more or less brightness, flavor and cleanness depending on the recipe, less body|
|cold brew||much more brightness, flavor and cleanness, slightly less smoothness, and much less body|
|French press||more brightness and cleanness, and less body|
How Do You Clean the Aeropress?
One of the main draws of the Aeropress is how easy it is to use, and it’s extremely easy to clean. Cleaning can be done in less time than it takes to make the coffee, but it is important to clean the press promptly after using it.
Specifically, it’s important to immediately remove the plunger from the brew chamber after plunging. The brew method relies on pressure that’s created by the plunger’s tight fit against the cylinder. If the plunger is left in the cylinder for an extended period of time, it might be squished and no longer fit as tightly.
To clean the Aeropress off after each use, simply:
- remove the plunger from the brew chamber (promptly)
- remove the filter and dump the grounds out of the brew chamber
- wash the filter if using a metal filter, or discard it if using a paper one
- rinse off the plunger, brew chamber and any accessories with hot water
- let everything dry
If you boil more water than you need to brew your coffee, you can use that water to rinse everything off with.
After every few uses, you should clean off any oils or minerals that accumulate on the press and filter. Every few weeks:
- soak the plunger, brew chamber and metal filter (if using a metal filter) in white vinegar for a few hours
- soak these three parts in hot water for up to an hour
- rinse all three parts one last time to remove any residue from the vinegar
- let everything dry
White vinegar is effective at removing oils left from coffee beans and minerals left from hard water, and it doesn’t build up a residue like soap can.
An Aeropress Cleaning Regimen
|rinsing off all parts with hot water||every time you brew|
|soaking the brew chamber, plunger and metal filter (if you’re using one) in white vinegar||every 2 to 4 weeks, depending on frequency of use|
How Does the Aeropress Compare to Other Brew Methods?
The Aeropress is a good choice for anyone who is willing to invest a few minutes in making a good cup of coffee and only needs to make one or two cups at a time. (The Aeropress only has enough volume for one cup of coffee, but some recipes brew extra strong coffee and then dilute it so you can make a couple cups at once.) Here’s how it compares to other brew methods.
|Brew Method||Cups Brewed||Time Required||Flavor||Body|
|auto-drip||1 – many||a minute to setup and clean; can be pre-programmed||medium||medium|
|percolator||1 – many||5 – 10 min.; longer for larger models||poor||heavy|
|vacuum pot||1 – many||10 – 20 min, including setup and cleaning||excellent||medium|
|manual pour-over||1 – 12||5 – 10 min.||excellent||medium|
|cold brew||1 – many||12 – 16 hrs.||good; smooth||heavy|
|French press||1 – many||5 – 7 min.; including prep and cleanup||very good||medium-heavy|
|Aeropress||1-2||3 – 5 min.; including prep and cleanup||excellent||light|
How Much Does the Aeropress Cost?
The Aeropress sells for around $30, with some retailers charging slightly more and others slightly less. Additional kits, such as those that come with extra filters or a tote bag, typically cost a little more.
Many retailers, including local coffee shops, brick-and-mortar chains, specialty online stores and large online retailers carry the Aeropress. A full list of authorized retailers is available on Aeropress’ website.
What Else is There to Know About the Aeropress?
Who Invented the Aeropress?
Alan Adler, an American inventor and lecturer at Stanford University, created the Aeropress in 2005. He is the president of Aerobie, which is best-known for its flying disks and aerodynamic footballs. The Aerobie Pro, which Adler also invented, holds several world records as farthest thrown object. In total, Adler has about 40 patents.
What is the Science Behind the Aeropress?
The Aeropress is an immersion brew method. Unlike a French press or toddy system, it uses finely ground coffee and a short brew time. The pressure produced from plunging further improves extraction and flavor, and is what gives the brewed coffee a strong flavor that is reminiscent of espresso.