Fun to fool around with for no $ investment. You can drink the result, too. Just do not expect true espresso.
Positive Product Points
Good quality moka-style coffee for incredibly low price. Easy clean up.
Negative Product Points
Brew comes out much too cool for my taste, even with heated cup.
This review will affirm or challenge what has been said in most of the other myriad reviews for this product. The Aeorpress does not make espresso - there is no crema despite the comments of one prior reviewer. However, I have not strayed too far from the product instructions and perhaps a hotter infusion and/or a more forceful plunge may produce crema. The manufacturer emphasizes a slow, gentle press on the plunger. The Aeropress does make a quality-tasting, concentrated, moka-like demitasse, which I like. Turning it into an Americano by topping it up with hot water is not as good as a pourover using the same beans (see below). (An aside: I have not been able to like espresso because most of the cafe espressos that I have purchased tasted terrible to me, notably except one made by a barista at Tuscany Coffee at Greenway in Houston, and I can not see my way clear to spend hundreds of dollars for a home unit to see if it is me or unreliable baristas. I mention this because this product makes a demitasse better than most of the espressos that I have ever had, except the one mentioned.) The demitasse is good but does lack some depth of flavor, as mentioned several times. The cup is smooth and not acidic, also as mentioned. I started out by rinsing the paper filter before use, but it has such small mass that it does not seem to contribute any paper flavor to the brew. Yes, the filters can be reused. In the near future, I may construct a reusable cloth filter to see if this passes more of the brightness of the flavors. Has anyone else done this with the Aeropress? The manufacturer is clear that the best water temperature to use is 175F. I always brew with a digital thermometer in hand and so I can state that I prefer 180F over the lower temp. The manufacturer wants the grounds to be stirred for 10 seconds. This is something that can be varied. I have only owned this for two weeks but there is much experimentation that needs to be tried. Anyone who brews or produces shots at home knows how many variables can affect the final product - this is no different. Another aside: I found Joel Schultz's review very informative and I may try his technique. I agree with his observation that the fineness of the Aeropress filter produces an Americano with thin, insufficient body. As mentioned in the negative product points, the coffee is cooled down by the small amount of water used in the heavyweight plastic unit. Some reviewers do not like the use of plastic for its own sake. However, I must accept product design as product design. Having said that, it would be better if the barrel could be made of metal, glass or ceramic, something with a specific heat that could be preheated in order not to cool down the brew. In the future, perhaps shortening the preinfusion stirring and infusion times and starting with hotter water may solve this disappointment for me. On the followup review, I hope to discuss the effects of shortening preinfusion, increasing infusion pressure, increasing water temperature, using a more acidic roast, as well as the cloth filter.
Amazon.com is the good ol' standby. The price of this product seems to be going down.
Three Month Followup
This 'coffee toy' sat on the shelf and would have stayed there except I was on a retreat where all I could get for 4 months was donated coffee and it was usually ground inappropriately to use in the donated single-cup drip cone filters. Therefore, I had the aeropress (and my digital thermometer!) shipped from home. The monastery's Bunn hot water dispenser provided 205 degree water. I used donated drip-ground Catahoula Butkus. This also gave me the chance to compare a cloth filter (handkerchief linen) with the supplied paper filters, as I has promised to do in the original review. The Butkus at 205 deg. with the paper was bright (slightly acidic), not 'fruity' but more 'winey'. The same with the cloth had much more body and became more chocolatey with a slight bitterness. Then I repeated the experiment with 185 deg. water, which was my previous favorite. With paper the brew was less bright, mid-range flavors unchanged and no increase of low notes. With cloth there was less flavor overall compared to higher temp (less bitterness but less chocolatey), much more bland with the same body but now with a noticeable dirty, muddy taste. Bottom line: use the recommended paper filters and stay close to the recommended temperature of 175 degrees. If you do want to experiment with a cloth filter, it seems to do better at higher temperatures. As always, the Aeropress requires larger volumes of ground coffee than other methods (I followed mfg. recommendations regarding ratio of grounds to water).