Birthday Review: AeroPress

Explaining the AeroPress without mentioning that I once threw an Aerobee onto a freeway (yes, Nancy, that was me, sorry) feels disingenuous. But anyway.

The AeroPress is a coffee maker. Unlike a drip coffee maker or a Keurig or the much vaunted Chemex, the AeroPress is an extractor of sorts. Take the grounds, toss them in a tube, add boiling water, wait 60 seconds, push the coffee through the filter, enjoy. And you know what? It’s awesome.


Chris Lema got this for me (thank you Chris) from my Amazon Wish List, which I put on there because Mike Schroeder kept telling me I should. I like coffee, but I’m not a coffee snob. I’ll drink mediocre coffee now and then, but I won’t drink gas station coffee unless I’m desperate (and I’d actually rather drink a Starbucks doubleshot at that point and don’t judge me, when it’s 2am and you’re driving from Chicago to Cleveland, you do what you can to stay awake).

I will note that Chris has a knack for picking the ‘right’ things off that wish list. He knows man.

Anyway. I get the package from Amazon and open the box to see what it is. I get the card “This is a gift from Chris Lema!” but it’s not wrapped so I see the plain box that says “AeroPress.”

Clearly Amazon’s gift thing needs some work.

But I know what it is and even though it’s a few days before my birthday, what the hell, I’ll make coffee tomorrow morning! I tweet about it, amused as hell, and Chris apologizes for it not being wrapped. I told him to shut up because I was trying to say THANK YOU and he needs to say “You’re welcome.” I am a little serious there, Chris. Thank you. You can say “You’re welcome.” and nothing more about it. It doesn’t matter if it was or wasn’t a big deal, it matters that you cared and you actually remembered my birthday.

Side Note: Some people complain about sharing a birthday with Christmas and how that’s a hassle. I share mine with WordPress and at least half my friends are WordPress People… Overshadowed. Good thing I don’t actually ‘do’ my birthday much anymore. Dinner, cake (I made super dense cheesecake!), and I’m happy. I’m also serious when I say if you want to make May 27th a day to be really cool to each other and do right things, I’m delighted.

Back to the cool story, Friday morning I used my Keurig to boil the water (shut up, Otto) and it was okay. Now, Mike had told me “Inverted!” about 30 times by then, extolling the virtues of an upside down extraction. So cup number two was upside down and yes, it was better. But It’s not great. So I tweet about how I think I need better beans for my AeroPress.

After explaining I didn’t want a new coffee maker to the well meaning people who missed the memo there, I get some tips which boil down to (heh):

  1. Grind dem beans real fine
  2. Heat dat water to 200
  3. Use Blue Bottle Coffee

Friday morning I told my boss Jason “I CAN TASTE COLORS!!!!” in our weekly check-in.

When he stopped laughing, he agreed that the AeroPress was awesome.

Lessons Learned

  1. The water must be hot. My hot water thing was maxing at 142. The Keurig was 160. The AeroPress wants boiling water. So I grabbed an electric kettle and it has a ‘boil’ feature. And it’s great.
  2. Mix it upside down. Stumptowncoffee explains it properly.
  3. When they say ‘Let it steep for a minute’ they are not kidding. Seriously. 60 seconds. If you do two or three minutes, it’s more acrid.
  4. Hold the cup while you push down. You’re welcome.
  5. Use a fine grind. They say ‘table salt’ fine. I go to nearly dust.
  6. Add water to taste. I was told to do 50/50 (which is making an Americano) but I like 25% water.
  7. Use good beans. Thank you Blue Bottle Coffee.
  8. Once you use it, you won’t want to go back to regular coffee.


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It would be 5 but the rigamarole of setting it all up right is a bit tetchy and their directions still say do it right side up and not inverted. Actually the directions are most of what annoyed me. Everyone else had great ones. If they tweaked that (just ask StumpTown to use their directions!) I’d be giving it five.