Computer geeks like me love coffee, the stronger the better. We computer folks are also known for experimentation and a “do it yourself” ethic. Some of us even love to get outdoors and toss around a flying disc or football. What happens when you mash up all of this? You get the Aerobie AeroPress, the hacker coffeemaker.
What Makes Good Coffee?
Everyone has had a terrible coffee experience, but how many of us have had the opportunity to brew smooth, rich, and delicious coffee at home? The truth is, there is a very fine line between bitter and smooth, muddy and rich, and sour and succulent when it comes to coffee. It takes the right grind, water temperature, and timing to make a delicious cup of coffee, and most coffee makers get all three things wrong. It’s easy to make a bad cup of coffee from good beans using poor equipment or technique!
I started out not liking coffee all. I was used to church basement percolators and convenience store drip, probably the worst coffee there is. Then I got a Cuisinart automatic grind and brew machine, and my eyes were opened to the possibilities of fresh tasting coffee. I also experienced the joy of French press coffee at independent coffee shops and my own kitchen. But none of these brewed coffee solutions really match the tastes of a perfectly pulled espresso.
The issue, it seems, is the amount of time that hot water stays in contact with the ground coffee beans. The French press comes close, but Bodum’s recommendation of a 3 minute brew time leaves an unpalatable edge on an otherwise delicious cup.
Can Espresso Be Brewed?
Espresso is an entirely different concoction from brewed coffee, although both use the same basic ingredients. An espresso machine forces hot water through a compacted coffee puck at high pressure, extracting caffeine and flavor in an instant and leaving behind the sour, bitter taste of the roasted bean. Pulling an espresso takes skill and expensive equipment, putting it out of reach for most home kitchens.
Enter the AeroPress, perhaps the greatest invention in coffee since the French press. Like the exotic Clover machine now owned by Starbucks, the AeroPress is a hybrid that brews coffee and extracts it quickly enough to produce a delicious espresso-like cup. The clover uses suction and costs thousands, but the little AeroPress uses hand pressure and is available for under $30!
Introducing the AeroPress
I spent years hearing about the AeroPress, always wondering if it was all it was cracked up to be. But one day, a friend received one as a gift, and the coffee he made right before my eyes was every bit as good as the best barista.
Looking like a giant plastic syringe, the AeroPress takes fine ground coffee and a few ounces of hot water, brews for under 20 seconds, and extracts the good stuff. It’s way quicker than any coffee maker, even a French press, and cleanup is super simple. The whole contraption is even small enough to fit in a suitcase!
The AeroPress uses paper filters, reducing sludge in the bottom of the cup, but also impacting the production of creama on the surface of the espresso. But the end product really is indistinguishable from a machine pulled espresso when it hits the tongue.
The Hacker Coffee Maker
Apart from the delicious coffee it produces, my favorite aspect of the AeroPress is the experimentation it allows. This truly is a coffee maker for hackers!
The simple operation of the AeroPress allows one to experiment with the main variables of coffee production:
- Grind size
- Water temperature
- Brewing time
- Water to grind ratio
A good basic cup uses one scoop of fine ground coffee, 175° water to the second marker, and 20 seconds of stirring. But each of these variables can be changed, and the outcome is surprising. Brew too long in the coffee becomes bitter; boiling water makes the coffee turn sour; and a course grind weakens the cup. The possibilities are endless!
The Aerobie AeroPress really is all it’s cracked up to be. Any self respecting coffee lover should have an AeroPress in their arsenal, and most will find it becoming an everyday companion. The ability to manually control all of the variables ought to appeal to the hackers reading this, and I guarantee that experimentation will yield astonishing results.
I received a Cuisinart automatic burr grinder for Christmas (I have great kids) and it’s an awesome pairing, allowing me to ensure a perfect grind for the AeroPress! Yes, this is the same “Aerobie” that makes flying discs and other fun stuff.