Like a French press, the AeroPress has only a few basic parts. There’s the larger, outer cylinder, and a smaller inner cylinder equipped with a rubber plunger. You also have a funnel, as well as a few accessories to help make using the press simpler (a leveler, a scoop for grounds, and paper filters). Filters are attached to the bottom of the large, outer cylinder with a screw cap to hold them in place.
You’ll find that the AeroPress works a lot like a French press. In fact, it’s the same concept to an extent, except that you’re passing water through the coffee grounds, rather than letting them steep. One of the most significant advantages to the AeroPress is that it requires only about 30 seconds of brewing time, in comparison to the four to six minutes required for a French press. That means it requires a good deal less time to get your cup of coffee. It’s also very small, light and compact, which means it’s a great option for travel.
To use the press, you’ll need to screw the end cap with a fresh filter onto the end of the larger cylinder. Next, add your coffee to the cylinder. You want at least 14 grams, but a stronger cup will require 20 grams of grounds. Next, add your water. It must be between 170 and 190 degrees. Stir the water and grounds for 10 to 30 seconds depending on your desired strength, and then insert the inner cylinder with the rubber plunger facing down. Hold the press over your cup (it’s best to actually rest the press on the rim of the cup), and press the plunger down. Hot coffee fills the cup.
Unlike a French press, which needs a coarser grind than drip coffee makers, an AeroPress can use very fine grinds thanks to the paper filter. Because the filter is made of paper and not wire mesh, it can stop very fine coffee grounds from spilling out into your cup of coffee. The finer the grind, the stronger your coffee will be (modified by steeping time, of course).
There’s a lot to love about the AeroPress, particularly in comparison to its bulkier cousin the French press.
- It’s lightweight and easy to clean
- It’s ideal for traveling, particularly if you’ll be staying somewhere that lacks decent coffee-making facilities
- It’s faster than the French press while still giving you complete control over the entire process
- You can create a cup of coffee with roughly the same strength as espresso
- Coffee brewed in this way is less acidic than what comes from drip coffee makers
- You can use a finer grind of coffee than what’s possible with a French press
- There’s very little sediment thanks to the paper filter
- Less time spent in brewing means less bitterness in your coffee (that might not be a good thing, depending on your preferences)
- There are alternatives to paper filters – but they’re not available from the AeroPress manufacturer, and do not come with the press out of the box
While there are a lot of perks to this little press, there are some drawbacks that might make you think twice before buying one. These include:
- It’s made of plastic, and can be damaged pretty easily if you’re not
careful (a drop from counter height can crack or break either cylinder)
- It’s more labor intensive than using a pod or cup-based system
- It requires that you heat (and monitor) your own water
- Some people find they need to dilute the brewed coffee to bring down
its strength (for non-espresso lovers)
- Like pod and cup-based systems, you can only brew a single cup at a time. However,
unlike those systems, you have to clean the press between cups (particularly if you’re using two different types of coffee)
- Paper filters can be messy, and do require disposal. They can also shift out of place if not wetted before use, which allows grounds to pass through into your finished cup