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I tried this popular, portable coffee press — and got smooth brew in under a minute

The innovative AeroPress serves up a single cup of hot — or cold! — joe with minimal effort.

As a Home and Garden Editor, I’m always looking for clever kitchen gadgets that make life easier and more enjoyable. I also happen to be a serious coffee drinker (relying on it regularly) and sometimes adventure seeker, known to go hiking and camping (albeit occasionally), so when my editor asked if I’d be interested in testing the popular, near-instant AeroPress Original Coffee Press, I happily obliged.

Thousands of 5-star reviewers agree: the AeroPress is a coffee- and outdoor-lover’s dream.

$40 at Amazon

The steam

The AeroPress has garnered a cult-following — with over 16,000 positive ratings — for its reputation of packing a lot of flavor and versatility into one compact frame.

Hot water is pushed through grinds using a compact chamber and plunger, “quickly aerating and extracting only the purest, freshest flavors.” AeroPress also claims to be the only press that combines agitation and pressure with micro-filtration, compatible with paper and metal micro-filters that allow you to use finer ground coffee and help filter out sediment.

According to the brand — and many of its devotees — the result is coffee that delivers smooth, rich, full-bodied flavor without the acidity produced by French press or drip coffee and no bitterness, grit or grime (in a fraction of the time).

“Expresso coffee shop in my home!” raved one reviewer. “The AeroPress is AWESOME. I make a better espresso shot than many coffee shops for way less money and I can stay in my PJs!” Another went as far as to call this the best coffee maker they’ve ever owned: “The sturdiness of the AeroPress is out of this world … [The way] the AeroPress makes coffee is similar in quality to a pour-over brewer, which I also have but rarely use now.”

Aeropress Coffee Maker
Just add water. The AeroPress Original Coffee Press comes with everything you need. (Photo: Amazon)

The press

Intrigued, I decided to test the AeroPress Original Coffee Press and opted for the clear version because I like how it blends in with my glasses and mugs, making it ideal for everyday breakfast and more formal affairs. It arrived in a compact, hexagon column-style box displaying a picture of the device, key details and a quick how-to (the top of the box has tabs for easy opening and closing so you can use it for storage).

I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet so I got straight to work on removing the contents — the AeroPress, a coffee plunger, paper filters, a filter cap, more detailed instructions, a stirrer and scoop. Setup consisted of me pushing the plunger out of the chamber, placing the filter in the filter cap and twisting the filter cap into the end of the chamber (it aligns with little grooves) before use.

With my coffee plunger and filter ready, I switched into barista mode: I positioned the chamber filter-first and upright atop my favorite mug and filled it with one scoop of ground coffee, shaking the chamber slightly to ensure the coffee was leveled. Next, I added hot water up to the second bubble (the brand recommends 175 degrees Fahrenheit for best results) and stirred the water and grounds for the suggested 10 seconds.

Because I wanted a full cup of coffee (more on that later), I then added more hot water to the chamber and, per the instructions, slowly inserted the plunger, pressing gently until it reached the grounds and voila — I was left with a steaming-hot cup of joe.

Aeropress Coffee Maker
Stellar lineup: AeroPress' coffee makers are available in, left to right, Original, Clear, Travel and XL for different preferences and occasions. (Photos: Amazon)

My hot take

The AeroPress was quick to deliver (water heating aside, my coffee was ready in under a minute) and incredibly easy to use. It’s also a cinch to maintain (just separate the parts and rinse to clean), and I can attest that it yields high-quality brew (the coffee was smooth without any bitterness, grit or sediment left at the bottom of my mug).

I like how you can customize them, too. You can drink as is using the lowest recommended amount of water (espresso-style), add more hot water to make an eight-ounce cup of coffee or add milk to make an eight-ounce latte. Since my initial test, I’ve also relied on the AeroPress to create countless iced coffees (you just use room-temperature water, stirring vigorously for about a minute, and pour over ice cubes once the brew is through). You can experiment with the grind size, water temperature or amount of water to achieve your desired strength.

AeroPress offers four different coffee makers (Original, Clear, Go and XL), along with paper and metal micro-filters, for different preferences and needs. Each version is not only incredibly lightweight and portable (the slightly smaller AeroPress Travel version also comes complete with a sipping cup) but durable (made in the U.S. of hard BPA-free plastic or, in the case of the Clear AeroPress, shatterproof titan).

I’m happy to report that the AeroPress delivered on its promise and has been a welcome addition to my work-from-home routine. The gizmo is also great to have handy for outdoor excursions (cold brew on demand), inclement weather (looking at you, power outages and snowstorms) or last-minute gifts for the coffee lovers on your list.

Scoop up the AeroPress Original Coffee Press risk-free (it comes with a 1-year warranty). 

$40 at Amazon

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The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

Top-rated coffee blends to help you perfect your brew:

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  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters Dark Roast Organic Whole Bean Coffee, 12 oz