The AeroPress was invented in 2005 by Alan Adler, engineer and innovator. He was frustrated by the lack of options for brewing a single cup of high-quality, fresh coffee and came up with his own solution.
Fans of the device say that it’s simple to use and makes a superb cup of coffee.
The AeroPress forces hot water through coffee grounds and brews a strong coffee, similar to what you’d get from a filter coffee maker. It’s not an espresso maker, although you can buy an accessory that acts as a pressure valve and helps to brew a stronger, more espresso-like coffee.
What is an AeroPress?
It's an incredibly simple gadget. It's essentially just a filter and a clear plastic tube and plunger. Fit the filter to the tube, add ground coffee and water and plunge straight into your coffee cup.
Advantages of an AeroPress
- It’s inexpensive (under £30/ $30).
- It’s small, lightweight and portable, so you can take it to work and away with you when you travel. It doesn’t need dedicated counter space and can be tucked away in a cupboard when not in use.
- It’s plastic, so there are no glass parts that will crack in transport or during use.
- It’s quick to use: once the water is heated and the beans are ground, it takes just a minute or two to get your coffee.
- It’s easy to clean.
- Functional it may be, but this is not a handsome bit of kit. It has all the allure of a piece of medical equipment. It’s the sort of thing you could take camping or bring out to show fellow coffee-loving friends but otherwise, it’s not a display piece.
- It’ll only make one to two cups of coffee per brew, so it’ll be slow and labour-intensive if you're making coffee for a group of people.
How to make coffee with an AeroPress
Before the instructions, I should say that the AeroPress has inspired a fearsome coffee aficionado fanbase. There are as many variations on how to use an AeroPress as there are hairs in a hipster’s well-oiled beard.
There are varying opinions on the temperature of the water, whether or not the ‘slurry’ (the mixture of coffee ground and water) should be stirred or left alone, and the precise amount of time that should pass before the coffee is plunged.
But here are some basic instructions. First off, grind your beans: an AeroPress is forgiving when it comes to grind quality. It has a really good filter so can sift out most of the dust that a cheaper grinder can create. A cafetière, for example, requires a much more even grind or the dust ('the fines') will sneak in and add a touch of bitterness to your coffee.
What this means is if you’re using an AeroPress, you can get away with using a cheaper grinder and you’ll still get a decent cup. However, you should still look to buy a burr grinder and not a blade.
You'll want to grind about 15g of coffee on a medium to fine setting.
Then boil your water, and let it cool for approximately one minute. It should be at about 80°C.
There are two ways to use the AeroPress from this point: the traditional or inverted method.
The traditional method
- Attach the filter to the bottom of the brew chamber and place it on top of your coffee cup.
- Empty a heaped scoop of ground coffee into the brew chamber.
- Fill the brew chamber up to the number 4 marker.
- Use the paddle to stir the coffee (if you’re of the stirring persuasion).
- Place the plunger into the top of the brew chamber. Put it in at an angle and then pull it up slightly. Wait a few seconds, remove the plunger and give it a stir (again, opinions vary here).
- After about another minute (experiment with timings to get the perfect cup) insert the plunger and begin to plunge, slowly and steadily.
The inverted method
- Set up the AeroPress by inserting the plunger tube into the larger one so it lines up with the four setting.
- Stand it on the end of the plunger.
- Add a heaped scoop of ground coffee.
- Pour in hot water to reach the three level. Let it sit for 30 seconds, then give it a stir and fill the AeroPress to the top.
- Attach the filter cap tightly and leave it for another 1 minute (adjust to taste).
- Put your cup on top of the AeroPress and carefully, holding both parts of the device and the cup, turn it over.
- Plunge it slowly and firmly, until the brew chamber is empty.
Where to buy an Aeropress
The AeroPress is widely available. You can buy one for £27.99 from Amazon in the UK or $29.95 in the US.
The AeroPress comes with a stirring paddle, a funnel, filters and a coffee scoop.
You can also buy accessories to modify your AeroPress. A useful add-on is a mesh coffee filter which can replace paper filters. There’s one currently available on Amazon UK for £5.98. It’ll cut down on paper waste and mean there’s less to pack if you take your AeroPress away with you.
You can also buy the Fellow Prismo, a pressure valve (which also comes with a reusable mesh filter). It’ll help your AeroPress to produce a stronger, espresso-like brew. But at £39.54, it’s going to increase the price of your AeroPress kit considerably.
Finally, you’ll need a grinder. If you’re going to use it with the AeroPress, you don’t need to go mad on quality. Hand grinders are much cheaper than their automatic counterparts and are also portable. The Hario medium hand coffee grinder with ceramic burrs is £32 but bear in mind that it’s glass – a stainless steel grinder may be a better choice if you intend to use it for travel.
To find out more about coffee grinders, read our article on what to consider when buying one. If you're interested in other ways of making coffee at home, you could also check out our round-up of the best coffee machines of 2020 and the best buying deals on coffee machines available now.