The Aerobie AeroPress is an affordable, simple-to-use device that provides complete control over all variables necessary to produce a perfect cup of coffee. True aficionados love the AeroPress for this reason; however, it it does require manual operation, including boiling your own water on the stove, and it uses more coffee grounds than a French press or automatic drip coffee maker. If you want an inexpensive electric one-cup coffee maker, the Black & Decker Brew 'N Go DCM18S (*Est. $25) comes with a reusable filter and works with any coffee grounds.
Precise flavor control. One foodie magazine says the AeroPress nicely combines the "slightly heavier body of French press coffee and the cleanness of drip coffee," noting that this gadget mimics the technology of both types of coffee makers. Reviewers at Amazon.com say the coffee is exceptionally smooth. It requires fresh coffee grounds and disposable filters, although some users report rinsing the filters for two to three uses before disposing of them. Filters aren't that expensive, typically costing between $5 and $10 for a pack of 350. You can also purchase a reusable, stainless-steel filter for about $30.
The AeroPress' claim to fame is its ability to make precise adjustments to the way coffee tastes, because it offers more control over the essential variables, such as the amount of time the coffee grounds are exposed to water and the temperature of the water. Coffee connoisseurs posting detailed reviews to sites like Amazon.com and Viewpoints.com praise the AeroPress for this reason. These same reviewers point out that this level of control is impossible with pod coffee makers and standard drip machines.
Several owners also point out that the AeroPress is not good for making espresso because the oils in the coffee grounds stay in the AeroPress instead of seeping into the coffee. For this reason, the coffee produced by the AeroPress is very smooth and low in acidity. Because it's capable of producing a much stronger brew, this gadget is ideal for making iced coffees and mochas. "The concentration of the AeroPress coffee offsets the dilution from the ice, and allows you to have a fresh-brewed iced mocha, instead of making one with stale, cold coffee. Beware, once you make fresh coffee mochas, you will never be able to go back," says one user posting to Amazon.com.
Perfecting the technique only takes a few tries. Although it's not automated like pod coffee makers, reviewers agree the Aerobie AeroPress is inexpensive, compact and simple to operate. A paper filter and coffee grounds are placed in a plastic tube, which is held over a cup while hot water is poured over the grounds, and then the plunger is pushed down, dispensing the coffee. Marks on the side of the unit indicate how much water is needed for the preferred number of espresso shots.
Some users posting reviews to Amazon.com point out that the AeroPress requires quite a bit of coffee and a fair amount of force to yield a decent cup. If you prefer to grind your own coffee, a simple blade grinder will do, as an Amazon.com owner points out, because this gadget doesn't require the consistent grind required by a French press.
It does take a little practice to perfect the process, but users say once you've developed the skill, it's very easy to make minute adjustments to strength and acidity by adjusting the brew temperature and steep time. One Amazon.com user says, "I can't say enough about the results, but note that the Aerobie is more time-consuming to use than either French press or drip coffee makers, more comparable to espresso makers. Well worth it, mind you, but NOT as quick and painless as the manufacturer would have you believe."
The simple plastic design stores easily. The Aerobie AeroPress does not have the appearance of a traditional coffee maker. Its compact build means it stores easily in a cabinet or drawer when not in use, so appearance isn't an issue for users. More importantly, the device is made of durable plastic, so it won't break if it's dropped.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent This review compares the Aerobie AeroPress with two other manual coffee makers, the Handpresso Wild Portable Espresso Maker and Presso Espresso Machine. Only two of the three tested models are recommended.
Review: Manual Espresso Makers, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, Updated March 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent More than 1,400 owners give the Aerobie AeroPress an overall 4.6 stars out of 5. Owners agree that it's an inexpensive alternative to an espresso machine and doesn't hog counter space.
Review: Aerobie 80R08 AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Fair About 25 owners contribute to an average score of 93 out of 100. Owners say the AeroPress is easy to use, inexpensive and produces smooth-tasting coffee without bitterness. A few note that it takes more coffee grounds to produce a cup than it does for drip coffee makers.
Review: Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker 80R08 Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of November 2012