I don't remember how I first came across the Aeropress, but as soon as I saw it, I wanted it. I had been looking for a way to make coffee -- espresso in particular -- in my office without creating a lot of mess. For the past few weeks, I have discovered that something like this is possible. No longer am I the slave to the stale, vaguely machine-flavored Illy served upstairs in the cafeteria or the over-roasted swill found in the Starbucks shops of Midtown Manhattan. Using air pressure, the press extracts delicious "espresso" (not really) from two scoops of finely ground coffee. Top it off with hot water, and you have an Americano. So far I've had the best results with the Kenyan Gatomboya from Stumptown and the Novo Decaf Espresso carried by Cafe Grumpy. I heat the water to 175 degrees Farenheit using this Breville electric kettle, served up in these supposedly unbreakable glass mugs.
Coffee Fazenda Chapadão de Ferro (Patrocínio, Cerrado Region, Brazil)
Roasted March 14 by Café Grumpy in Brooklyn.
Purchased March 16 at Grumpy's Chelsea location, 224 W. 20th St., between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
Description "Juicy and sweet cup with notes of vanilla, almonds and milk chocolate. Tropical fruit brightness & a floral finish. Award-winning farm rich with volcanic soil owned by Ruvaldo Delarisse."
In the Cup This is a fine coffee, though it has those floral and fruit finishes that sometimes annoy me (it's a personal thing). It was tolerable as an espresso at home in the Jura automatic machine, but I was less impressed with this bean in the Aeropress. (Update: I should also note that fans of the Aeropress have found some better ways to prepare coffee with it than in the official instructions, and that this is really a high-quality filtered coffee, not an espresso. A hat tip to Christian, down in the comments.)
As an Americano, this Grumpy Brazilian is less overpowering, so I can only conclude that this has to do with temperature or the method of extraction.
Of course, many coffee snobs think that some coffees are never meant to be prepared as espresso.
Certainly, not all beans are recommended for preparation at the lower temperature that Aeropress recommends in its directions.
My next experiment with the Aeropress will be with a bean more suitable for this, perhaps something from Intelligentsia.
The promotional copy for the Aeropress bills it as "the best coffee maker X ever owned" and a source of coffee nirvana that makes better "espresso" than many a machine. It is certainly better than a lot of mediocre coffee I've had in restaurants. (Read more about the promotional language in these Aeropress tips from Sweet Maria's.)
The coolest part: When you're done, you can eject the grounds cleanly in puck form into the trash. A quick rinse cleans it. Far better than the mess I usually make cleaning a French press.
The first shots I made with this device -- not using this Brazilian bean -- were indeed exquisite. But the results do vary, perhaps because of the beans, how well I manage to press the coffee, the temperature of the water (which I have to estimate based on two-thirds the time it takes for a full boil) and so forth. Some of the alternative methods suggest an upside-down brewing method that keeps the water from seeping through the grounds too quickly.
But in a coffee wasteland like Midtown, the device is a life saver on a drowsy afternoon -- and a source of amusement for the coworkers who are not yet bored with watching me demonstrate it.
Now if only I were not surrounded by so many tea drinkers.