As good as they say?
The Aerobie Aeropress has a cult following among many caffeine addicts, who have elevated this handheld espresso maker to rock-star status.
Online, you'll find coffee obsessives discussing how they achieved the perfect brew with this innovative gadget (there's even an unofficial timer app), and some rigorous debate about whether the Aeropress is really any better than a plunger – or, heaven forbid, a cup of decent instant stuff.
It's simple to use: place a micro paper filter in the cap, twist it on the chamber and stand it over a mug. Next, put two (or up to four) scoops of coffee into it then fill it with hot water up to the corresponding number of scoops – the instructions recommend 80°C for dark roasts, 85°C for light. Mix the coffee and water for ten seconds then press the plunger down using a gentle, steady motion for 20 to 30 seconds. Cleaning the device only involves a quick rinse.
To test it, we used pre-ground supermarket coffee (the portable nature of the Aeropress suggests that most people who have one won't be grinding their own beans for it). A panel of five CHOICE staff sampled the resulting espresso, rating it poor overall. For comparison purposes, we prepared the same coffee in a plunger, which the panel rated OK overall.
Four of the five said the Aeropress espresso was watery, while our lab expert Peter Horvath even had to make a "proper" coffee later to get rid of the acidic and unpleasant aftertaste.
Most of the panel also observed a lack of crema and aroma to the espresso, with a couple declaring it bitter.
The Aeropress won't fail you if you want a cup of forgettable espresso (technically, as it forces hot water through ground beans, it fits the dictionary definition).
From what the die-hard fans say, some experimentation with the amount of water, brew time and grind of coffee may yield improved results. You'll find plenty of trendy cafes serving Aeropress coffee if you'd like to give it a go before parting with your $45. But our out-of-the-box, first-look verdict is that while it's quick and easy to use, even a plunger could do better and, once the novelty wears off, it's not worth the poor result.
Aerobie Aeropress - $45