Let’s cut to the chase here. If you are a coffee lover, you really need to check out the AeroPress Coffee Maker. If you’re NOT a coffee lover, then you really really really need to check out the AeroPress Coffee Maker. Yes, I realize that’s going to take some explaining. (If you’d prefer, the audio version is included in the TD118 podcast.)
I first heard about the AeroPress from Constance over at Aerobie (the makers of the AeroPress) when she emailed me about reviewing the product. Here’s a snippet from her email.
One minute with the USA-made AeroPress makes a delicious cup of coffee and a quick, light rinse cleans it up. It’s a great option for truckers because it’s small, sturdy and lightweight so it’s easy to travel with. As long as you’ve got a source of hot water you’ve got a smooth, rich cup of coffee. Also, the quick brewing process helps keep the acid level in the coffee low, meaning it’s gentler on your stomach than drip or French press brew. In fact AeroPress brewed coffee is so smooth and flavorful that many people find they love the taste even without cream or sugar.
Okay, there are three ridiculous claims here that jammed my skepticism meter into the red zone:
1. The AeroPress makes coffee in one minute.
2. The AeroPress is easy to clean.
3. The AeroPress brewing process yields lower acid levels and less bitterness.
So does the AeroPress Coffee Maker live up to these claims?
Ridiculous Claim #1:The AeroPress makes coffee in one minute.
Alan Adler, creator of the AeroPress says that “extended brewing time results in over extraction and the result is a bitter, acidic taste.” He says brewing coffee with 175 degree water (80 degrees C) for 30 seconds is all that is needed. Say whaaaa…?
We’ll get to the bitterness claim in a bit, but let’s focus on the “coffee in one minute absurdity first.”
Okay. First, watch this short video (1:26) showing the AeroPress in action and then come back. Seriously. I’m not going to tell you again. Don’t make me start counting. I’m reaching for my belt…
I tried it myself and technically this claim is true; the AeroPress takes approximately one minute to make the coffee. Let’s break it down. It takes about 30 seconds to unscrew the filter cap, add a filter, pop it back on, add the coffee and water, and stir. Another 20-30 seconds to press the plunger and you’ve got coffee!
Not to be nit picky, but technically this does not account for preparing the hot water. The Evil Overlord and I used to have a little hot water heater dispenser installed under our sink at home. It was AWWWWESOOOOOME! Instant hot water for oatmeal, tea, or whatever. But I don’t have that luxury in the truck.
A normal microwave could heat up water in a minute or two, but due to my low wattage inverter, my wimpy 700-watt microwave takes about four minutes to reach the desired 175 degree temperature (which I measure with a cheap deep fry/candy thermometer from Walmart).
Still, this isn’t a deal breaker. It’s only five minutes total, folks! Or is it?
Ridiculous Claim #2: The AeroPress is easy to clean.
The only thing I cook in my truck is instant oatmeal and canned soup; and the only silverware and dishes I use are disposable. The reason? Clean up. No way I’m going to keep a messy coffee maker in my truck.
The Evil Overlord used to cook in the truck a lot and she’d always mumble curses as she cleaned up afterward. I don’t mind washing the dishes at home, but trying to do it in a truck without running water and a sink is only slightly less annoying than listening to Gilbert Gottfried’s voice while he’s scraping his fingernails across a chalkboard. Sure, I could do the cleanup inside the truck stop, but that’s a pain too.
Surprisingly, the AeroPress lives up to the call. I was shocked at how easy it cleaned up. If you watched the video like a good little boy or girl, you might have noticed there were a few coffee grounds left over that easily wipe away. It’s true.
I use an old peanut butter jar for cleanup (Lord knows I go through plenty of those). I place the AeroPress on top of the jar (just like you do on a mug) and push the plunger out the bottom of the unit. The coffee grounds and the filter go directly into the jar and there is virtually nothing to clean. I usually don’t even use any water. A quick wipe with a paper towel and I’m done.
Ridiculous Claim #3: The AeroPress brewing process yields lower acid levels and less bitterness.
Alrighty then, back to the bitterness issue. My gut can usually handle a normal amount of coffee, but add in an extra shot of espresso or order a large coffee and it’ll eventually give me at least a hint of rot gut. The Evil Overlord’s tummy is even more sensitive to coffee. That’s why I can’t wait to make her a cup of Joe with the AeroPress!
I’ve used the AeroPress a handful of times already and I haven’t had even the faintest hint of a belly ache. But there’s another part of this claim that was mentioned in the promo email; that AeroPress coffee is “so smooth and flavorful that many people find they love the taste even without cream or sugar.”
This statement is what really threw my skepticism meter into overload. I’ve heard coffee nerds talking about how you shouldn’t need cream and sugar if you’re using good quality coffee. I guess I’ve never had good coffee then, because to me all coffee is horribly bitter unless you put a crap-ton of cream and sugar in it.
And if I’m truthful, the way I normally drink coffee is what my friends call “froo froo” drinks. Give me a Raspberry White Chocolate Mocha or a Pumpkin Spice Latte and I’m a happy, albeit slightly girly, kinda guy. I’d be even happier if I wasn’t getting it from Starbucks, which to any coffee aficionado is known to be some of the most bitter coffee on the planet. I agree. It always gives me a horrible aftertaste and my tongue always feels like it’s been scoured with sandpaper. Don’t know what that’s all about. Perhaps that’s the high acid levels talking?
So I went for broke and tried the coffee brewed in the AeroPress without cream and sugar. While I will say I didn’t taste the bitterness that I have with every other black coffee I’ve tried in the past, I’m not going to be giving up my “froo froo” drinks anytime soon.
Still, in the past I didn’t really even like coffee with just cream and sugar, but with the AeroPress Coffee Maker, I can do it easily. Heck, in a pinch I could even go sans cream and sugar! So if you’ve always avoided coffee because of its bitterness or that it makes rumblies in your tumblies, that is why I say you should really really really try the AeroPress. You might actually start liking coffee again.
So what’s the final verdict?
Here’s the thing. I’m not a huge coffee drinker. For some reason, God decided to bless me with the ability to live a perfectly normal life without caffeine. And I never want to kill anyone! Most days, I can drive a full 11 hours without any caffeine. But every trucker knows there are those days when you need a little extra pick me up.
Those are the days I reach for the AeroPress. It takes four minutes to heat the water. While it’s heating, I’m changing the filter and adding the coffee. Thirty seconds later and I’m on my way to Caffeineville. It probably takes another minute or two to pop the grounds out, wipe it down, and store it away in the handy travel bag. And since I’m a “froo froo” man, it takes another minute to add milk and sugar to satisfy my girly tongue.
I should also mention that you can make up to three shots of espresso at once if you’re one of those drivers who drinks multiple cups at a time. I’ll leave that to you. If I drank that much coffee in one sitting, my eyeballs would likely pop out of my head!
Maybe you’re thinking, “Dude, I could run into a truck stop and grab a cup of coffee quicker than that.” That’s probably true. But I guarantee you I’m going to enjoy my cup of coffee more than you do. I will have spent less dough (leaving more money for healthy stuff like doughnuts) and I got to choose the kind of coffee I wanted instead of being at the mercy of whatever truck stop is nearby. I won’t have a bitter aftertaste either. And perhaps best of all, I’m not going to be screeching into a rest area with a nasty case of the runs later on.
For those of you who are thinking, “I don’t think coffee is all that bitter,” you still might want to give the AeroPress a go. I’m sure even your refined tongue will be able to taste the difference. Unless of course, your tastebuds are dead from all the acid you submit it to. Coffee acid, that is. Please don’t be on acid when you’re driving a semi. 😉
If you couldn’t tell by now, I highly recommend the AeroPress Coffee Maker. You can pick one up online for less than $30 or you can find them at many retailers, including Target, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and even Starbucks, or you can visit the store locator on their website. If you want to keep all the parts together in one handy place, you can pick up the travel bag for a few bucks more as well.
Buyer beware: There are a few knock-offs running around out there, so if you’re in doubt, check this list of authorized sellers.
Feature photo by Todd McCann