Last year, to celebrate my first full year in the working world, I got myself a Hario Cold Water Dripper. It reminded me that it’s okay to take it slow once in a while and make time for inconsequential delight, such as cold drip coffee. This year, to mark my second year of employment, I typed emails past midnight, was behind schedule on all my posts for this website, and had to give up Pilates for three whole weeks. It was around then – approximately the first week of July – that I decided I needed an Aeropress, because while the Hario is a most excellent office companion, sometimes, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Aeropress is the company that made it. While coffee-making apparatus like my cold water dripper hail from super-dedicated companies such as Hario and Chemex – companies with a dizzying array of products and a perfectionist’s dedication to brewing – the Aeropress is made by…a sports toy manufacturer. In fact, it’s the only product in the company – Aerobie – that has anything to do with coffee. And yet, since it was launched in 2005, the unassuming little thing has become a staple in many a barista’s arsenal; it’s received rave reviews from professionals and amateurs alike; heck, there’s even a world Aeropress championship.
At a little less than US$30 if you order it online, the Aeropress is also a lot cheaper than most of the hardcore makers out there. Which makes sense, when you consider that it’s basically a humongous two-part syringe with a filter instead of a needle. To make coffee with the Aeropress, you place your grinds into the filter tube, steep it with hot water, and then press the plunger through the tube. Air pressure shepherds the coffee through the filter and into the cup below, resulting in coffee that is noticeably less acidic than regular drip coffee – and in a shorter time too. The entire process takes about a minute, perfect if you’re squeezing in a quick caffeine fix between meetings.
The real fun in the Aeropress is its immense versatility. Although Aerobie’s official instructions recommend a specific amount of coffee and water, there is tons of room for experimentation. Like with many coffee makers, modifying the ratio of grounds to water, the temperature of the water, the coarseness of the grind, and other variables, yields markedly different cups – anything from an espresso to a long black. Users have also discovered the “inverted” method, where the coffee is steeped in an upside-down Aeropress to prevent pre-pressure seepage. Flipping the entire set-up over when the coffee is ready to be pressed, I found, also attracts a lot of attention in the office pantry.
Over the past week or so, I’ve made as many cups of coffee with the Aeropress as I possibly could, using both regular and inverted methods (in the interest of experimenting, of course…). Personal customisation aside, I’ve found that I get a very clean cup of coffee, with a crystalline viscosity that feels almost too diluted on first taste before giving way to a very potent, very yummy (technical term) hit of coffee.
For my coffee beans, I used the Oriole single-origin from Aceh, and it did not disappoint. There was a subtle, strangely pleasant sour note in all my cups, coupled with a wonderful, mild sweetness that characterises many Indonesian blends. Thanks to the low acidity, it was honeyed and flavourful, even more so than a cup brewed with the same grounds from a Hario V60 (though that may be a personal choice). I loved it so much I drank three cups in a row.
One year ago, I noted that the Hario Cold Water Dripper isn’t for everyone. This may not be true of the Aeropress. At a relatively affordable price (though it almost doubles if you buy it in-store in Singapore, for some reason), and with such a simple mechanism yielding wildly delicious coffee, it would be a shame not to try it if you’re a caffeinehead. In many ways, it’s the polar opposite of the Hario – hot versus cold, fast versus slow, big beautiful glass versus rather economical plastic and rubber. But, like its Japanese contemporary, the Aeropress is a straightforward, simple coffee-maker that does wonders for the mood and the mind. I highly recommend it.
The Aeropress can be purchased online through Amazon.