Ok I received my Aeropress today and put it through it's paces, and have some feedback to share. My first impression was that it seemed to be pretty well-built. The plastic plunging mechanism and holding cylinder are really quite solid, and made of fairly thick plastic. Nice!
I have done two cycles on it already. The first was a batch of some older roast coffee that I merely ground up for the test. The second was a batch of coffee that had only come out of my roaster 30 mintutes before I brewed it with the Aeropress. I used the standard paper filters that come with the machine - they ship with about 300 of these little paper discs. I didn't opt at this time to get one of the optional reusuable metal filters.
It is very easy to use - just slip a filter disc into the holder, screw it into the bottom, dump your ground coffee in, pour hot water in the top, stir for about 10 sec then press through. Toward the end of the plunge, you'll hear that the last of the water is going through the compressed coffee grinds as it starts to hiss with air pushing through. Very nice.
Clean-up is surprisingly easy and, in fact, better than a french press. Just uncap the filter bottom, hold the press over the garbage and give the plunger a quick push - the "puck" and filter shoot out, leaving only a little residue to be easily rinsed off.
Ok, Jeff that's all well and good but HOW WAS THE DAMN COFFEE? Alright, fine, if you insist.
I have to say that I am really quite impressed. Some people have stated that they felt that the Aeropress can produce something akin to a proper Americano (one or more shots of espresso with hot water added - this is a true coffee). I am not sure that I would quite go that far in my praise, but I do understand why people might comment it as such. But - I WOULD fairly compare the results as among the most flavorful and intense regular coffee that I have enjoyed. Two thumbs up - for sure.
They recommend using water at 175 F. For my first batch I used 175 F and my second batch was at 184. They claim that hotter water may yield a more bitter result. This was not my experience. I expect that they really just want to help keep people from potentially scalding themselves with water at well-established temperatures and that the whole "bitter thing at high temps" is just a smoke screen.
However, I don't as of yet have any evidence to back up this theory. And I won't be able to do so until tomorrow at the earliest - otherwise I'll have to explain to the FAA why Im flying around at 10,000 feet without a plane and hope that they are understanding about "the coffee ... OMG" ...
True espresso uses very hot water, between 195-204 for a full extraction, and also under tremendous pressure. I regularly use water in this range with my vac pot and french press, and it's always smooth and flavorful. So, I can't imagine that the Aeropress would be any different in that regard. That and the fact that I was raised in NY ... makes me quite suspect of the 175 recommendation. But ... I can't validate it right now.
In any case - while I have "only used my Aeropress twice", I am a coffee fanatic. I roast my own coffee (Behmer 1600) and own pretty much every type of coffee maker around including vac pots, espresso machines, vietnamese drips, bialetti, and french presses. And I am truly quite comfortable giving the Aeropress my whole-hearted recommendation.