AeroPress makes a killer cup of coffee, even on the road


John Gruber’s three keys to Internet success are:

  1. A fussy way to make coffee
  2. A clicky keyboard
  3. A SodaStream

I’m no longer 12 years old, so I’ll skip No. 3, but I’m so deep into Nos. 1 and 2 that it more than makes up for my aversion to carbonated drinks. The keyboard is the majestic Filco Majestouch 2. And the fussy coffee method is the AeroPress.

The AeroPress is nothing more than a plastic tube with a perforated cap and a plunger that pushes coffee through a paper filter held in the lid. It’s like a giant syringe for injecting caffeine into your cup.

The AeroPress is a giant syringe for injecting caffeine.

It comes from Alan Adler, inventor of the Aerobie flying disk. (If you owned a company that was expert in making plastic and silicone widgets and you wanted a better coffee maker, you’d probably do the same as Adler and make your own.)

Ever since I bought my first AeroPress in January 2012, my other fussy coffee gadgets have stayed in the kitchen toy chest. It manages the magical feat of making the best coffee I’ve ever had, while being one of the quickest and easiest ways to make this brew of the gods. A novice can open the box and – in just a few minutes – enjoy a cup of coffee that shows up that K-Cup crap for the simplified sludge it is.

I bought my AeroPress in the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas. They weren’t available in Spain at the time, so when I arrived for CES I forced Buster and Erfon to drive me there on my very first day in town. I don’t think a day has passed since when I haven’t used the AeroPress at least once. The Lady is a convert too, which is why I bought a second unit so she wouldn’t have to go without when I’m traveling.

This might be the ultimate coffee-making setup.

The AeroPress is the perfect road companion, especially when paired with the Japanese Porlex Mini coffee grinder. Because nothing says “fussy coffee” to your host like the sound of a ceramic burr buzzing at 7:30 in the morning. I bought the Porlex to replace a Hario Mini mill, partly because the stainless-steel Porlex looks awesome, but mostly because the metal mini grinder fits inside the AeroPress.

The Porlex Mini grinder turns coffee beans into magic dust.

Ask anyone – your grinder is the most important part of your fussy coffee setup. Actually, don’t ask just anyone. Ask coffee nerd and The New Yorker contributor Matt Buchanan, who says this: “You’re going to spend more money on a grinder than the actual brewing gear. And that’s okay, because it’s the most important piece of coffee gear you’ll own.”

At home I use an electric grinder – I’m not an animal – but on the road it’s Porlex all the way. It’s quieter than the Hario (good when you get up as early as I do), it grinds more quickly and the construction keeps the center cone of the burr grinder more stable. The Hario’s burr floats and wobbles, resulting in an uneven grind. The Porlex is rock-solid.

But the best part is that it slips right inside the AeroPress’ plunger, making for a super-compact travel setup. You just need hot water and a cup (and take your coffee beans with you unless you want the most stressful trip like ever).

A recipe

That’s the gear. How do you use it? I use 18 grams of beans, bought from the best roaster in Leipzig, Peter at the Brühbar. I grind them pretty fine, just a little coarser than espresso. The texture between the fingers is like fine beach sand.

AeroPress and grinder, all in one tiny package.

I flip the AeroPress upside-down (the “inverted” method), dump in the coffee and add a splash (around 20 grams) of just-boiled-but-not-boiling water, enough to make a dry paste with the grounds. I let this “bloom” and then top the water up to 150 grams (5.3 ounces). Yes, I do it on a scale (except when I’m traveling – then I eyeball the water, but as I always use the same recipe I know exactly where 150 grams reaches on the scale on the side of the AeroPress).

I stir for 15 seconds, then let it steep. Total brewing time is two minutes, with another quick stir at one minute. Then I attach the lid and the metal filter. Flip it and press. Cleanup involves popping the puck into the recycling and rinsing the lid and silicone plunger. The plunger has already wiped the inside of the tube clean as it plunged.

Wait, what? A metal filter? Yes. I use the Able Brewing disk instead of paper filters. It’s not for environmental purposes – those disks are so tiny I’d have to use them for a year to equal the waste of a single piece of junk mail. It’s the taste. And the convenience. A perforated disk is smaller than a wad of filters, and you can’t run out. That makes it better for travel. But it also filters out fewer particles than a paper filter. This makes the coffee less clean, but it’s also tastier, to my mind anyway.

And that’s it. A cheap portable setup for making amazing coffee anywhere. But be careful: Once you’re spoiled on AeroPress coffee, almost nothing else will be good enough.

AeroPress by Aerobie ($30 list)
The good: The best coffee you’ve tasted, in the easiest-to-use device you’ve ever made it in.
The bad: Smoked plastic makes it look like a 1970s joke.
The verdict: If you like coffee, this will be the best $30 you can spend, short of buying a new grinder.
Buy from Aerobie
  • Why is this on Cult of Mac?

    • bmsanders

      Because coffee, that’s why. :)

  • Jim Rector

    Do you add hot water after brewing or are you drinking it more like espresso?

    • bmsanders

      Americano for me. Occasionally a latte instead.

  • Dave

    You don’t have to be 12 to love and enjoy fizzy water. I love my SodaStreams and use them every day along with my Aeropress, but the first thing I do when I get them is to throw away the syrups. They are garbage.

  • swagv

    Because Americans aren’t bad enough by carrying their water bottles everywhere like they’re crossing the Gobi desert, we have to pack in our coffee everywhere too.

    • walk0080

      Well duh – The author is not suggesting you carry your coffee maker and grinder while running errands all day… he is just suggesting you bring it while you travel. Makes sense to me – I’ve been on long trips where all you can find is Tim Horton’s coffee, some other local chain or the in-room coffee maker… all awful coffee.

      But I do agree… the North American habit of carrying water bottles around everywhere is odd.

  • Daniel Hertlein

    Good to see you’re not letting the “Why is this on Cult of Mac?” crowd slow you down. I’ve been using a Chemex for five years, but with everyone on the planet insisting the Aeropress is better, it’s probably time to break down and spend the $30 to see for myself. Love the way the grinder fits into the aeropress.

  • Dave Maxwell

    I love love love our Aeropress! What’s the advantage of the upside down method?

    • I find the upside down method less messy and I think it results in a nice clean cup of coffee.

      • Dave Maxwell

        Ok. I don’t get a mess with downside down but that’s me. Flavor is fine too so it’s not worth the extra manual dexterity required. I’m a pre-coffee klutz.

    • Glenn Gore

      When doing the “right side up” method, it’s difficult to get an accurate 2-shot amount of water because the filter doesn’t keep the water from passing on out before stirring/steeping occurs. Doing it upside down keeps that accurate amount of water in the chamber.

  • Drew Bernard

    Slow news day, huh?

    • walk0080

      Coffee/Caffeine + Tech go together well. Don’t like the article, don’t read it. Simple, huh? :-P

  • walk0080

    I need to get a new plunger seal for mine so I can get back into the habit of using it again. Mostly drinking espresso-based drinks lately. Thanks for posting details on the grinder – A great solution for when I am away from home a few days!

  • Corné Kloppers

    i love my aeropress, combined with a Porlex hand mill its a wicked brew system. here is my brew setup.

  • Justin

    Which electric grinder do you use at home?

  • I love my AeroPress and would love to try your fussy method! I don’t have a sensitive enough measuring instrument for 5.3 oz, but do you know where the water level is on the numbers on the side? Could you post a picture so I can match the volume?

  • Jaybergen

    Why not on Cult of Mac. iPad and great coffee every morning. Perfect together. Been real happy with French press, but looking forward to trying the AeroPress. For espresso, I was lucky enough to get an Olympia Cremina years ago at Zabar’s for $400 long before the cost shot up to $3K plus. Nothing in the world makes better espresso. As long as we’re all giving out testimonials – my coffee bean of choice for morning is Mid-Morning Blend at just $10/lb from 1st Line Equipment in NJ.