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Date: 08 Apr 2007 21:38:29
From: Randall Nortman
Subject: AeroPress: Thoughts and suggestions after 3 months
Having now owned an AeroPress for almost 3 months, I figured I'd share
my thoughts and offer a couple of suggestions. Overall, I'd have to
say the thing is wonderful. This thing lets you make really good
coffee for very little investment, and what more can you ask? It's
not espresso, but it doesn't need to be. Calling it espresso invites
controversy and distracts attention from what it actually is, which is
a creative invention and a great way to brew coffee, and a wonderful
alternative to espresso -- arguably better, but that's a matter of
taste.

I've tried water temperatures from 165F to 205F, and there are merits
to different temperatures with different coffees. There is no one
correct brewing temperature. That said, I find myself brewing at 180F
most of the time. I haven't found any reason to brew as cold as 165F
or as hot as 205F, but having the power to control this variable in
order to acheive different effects is great.

I've played a lot with grind. I had posted here just a couple of
weeks after buying it that I was having trouble with fines in the cup,
and that leads me to my first suggestion: Please, in the next product
revision, include a wrench of some sort to help screw on the cap
tightly, and then get it off again. All of my problems were
eventually solved when I realized I wasn't screwing the cap on tightly
enough -- you really have to torque that thing. I have to use a heavy
kitchen towel to grip it. A sturdy plastic wrench-like device that
fits over the cap would make this much easier.

Once I figured that out, I was able to get very good results with a
not-quite-espresso grind, and no fines in the cup. Which leads me to
my next important tip, which is to stir the heck out of the grounds,
especially if using a fine grind. I was not stirring vigorously at
first, and I think not all the grounds were getting wet, and were
staying in clumps at the bottom. The better I stir, the easier it
seeems to be to push the plunger through. I have not had any problems
with wash-through even with vigorous stirring. (Might be different if
I were pulling singles, but I always do doubles.)

Next suggestion -- How about a glass/ceramic/stainless steel version,
for anti-plastic paranoid health nuts like me? I know polycarbonate
is one of the better plastics in terms of potential health risks, but
I'd pay 3x the price for a version where the hot water never touched
plastic. The plunger, obviously, needs to remain rubber or some sort
of rubbery plastic, but that's fine, as it never touches the part that
I drink.

And my last suggestion is a somewhat frivolous one -- I love the
compactness and portability of the AeroPress, but sometimes it
requires more muscle power and coordination than I'm really up to
providing in the morning. So how about a stand that the press slips
into, with the mug below, and a long lever arm to depress the plunger?
It would end up looking something like a manual espresso machine.
Call it the AeroBuddy. Come to think of it, this would be a great DIY
project... maybe I'll have a go at it myself.


--
Randall




 
Date: 24 Apr 2007 12:51:32
From: Randall Nortman
Subject: Re: AeroPress: Thoughts and suggestions after 3 months
Sorry to be replying to one of my own posts, and one from a couple of
weeks ago at that, but I've had a revelation and I just have to set
the record straight...

On 2007-04-08, Randall Nortman <usenet8189@wonderclown.com > wrote:
> Having now owned an AeroPress for almost 3 months, I figured I'd share
> my thoughts and offer a couple of suggestions.
[...]
> I've played a lot with grind. I had posted here just a couple of
> weeks after buying it that I was having trouble with fines in the cup,
> and that leads me to my first suggestion: Please, in the next product
> revision, include a wrench of some sort to help screw on the cap
> tightly, and then get it off again. All of my problems were
> eventually solved when I realized I wasn't screwing the cap on tightly
> enough -- you really have to torque that thing. I have to use a heavy
> kitchen towel to grip it. A sturdy plastic wrench-like device that
> fits over the cap would make this much easier.
>
> Once I figured that out, I was able to get very good results with a
> not-quite-espresso grind, and no fines in the cup. Which leads me to
> my next important tip, which is to stir the heck out of the grounds,
> especially if using a fine grind. I was not stirring vigorously at
> first, and I think not all the grounds were getting wet, and were
> staying in clumps at the bottom. The better I stir, the easier it
> seeems to be to push the plunger through. I have not had any problems
> with wash-through even with vigorous stirring. (Might be different if
> I were pulling singles, but I always do doubles.)
[...]

Please ignore all of the above. I have recently discovered that all
of these problems were caused by my grinder, a KitchenAid Pro Line
burr grinder, which is an absolutely gorgeous piece of kitchen jewelry
that apparently produces copious quantities of fine dust even on
coarser settings. I didn't notice the dust just on visually
inspecting and feeling the grounds, but I now have no doubt they were
there. I switched to an old Zassenhaus box grinder I'd relegated to
the back of a shelf and the difference was night and day. I was
having to press hard on the Aeropress with the KitchenAid grinder even
at a drip setting, but with the Zassenhaus I could grind almost
Turkish and still not have to press nearly as hard. As a bonus, I get
a much richer extraction using the finer grind, so I use less coffee.
(I am using a cordless drill to crank the Zass, but I timed it
manually once -- takes about 8-9 minutes to grind 24g very finely.
Coarser grinds are much quicker. The cordless drill makes it quick
and easy, if a bit awkward.)

Bottom line: Don't use the KA grinder for Aeropress. It might work
for other methods. Or maybe I got a bad unit, but I'm not the only
one out there with this complaint.

2nd Bottom line: [Who says you can only have one bottom?] The
Aeropress rocks, big time, at least for "brewed" coffee (aka
americano), which is how I use it. Even when my grinder was working
against me, it made great coffee, just with more effort. With the
right grinder, it makes superb coffee, though I do now need to find an
alternative upper body workout, since it has gotten so easy.

--
Randall


 
Date: 12 Apr 2007 09:11:15
From: DavidMLewis
Subject: Re: AeroPress: Thoughts and suggestions after 3 months
On Apr 11, 7:27 pm, Randall Nortman <usenet8...@wonderclown.com >
wrote:
> > I pre-wet the filter by pouring hot water through it into the cup. I
> > shake to level the coffee, pre-wet it as the instructions say for
> > about ten seconds
>
> What is the purpose of all that rigamarole? Is it related to
> preventing fines from clogging up the filter, or is this intended to
> prevent wash-through (i.e., excessive dripping of water through the
> filter prior to pressing)? Pre-wetting the filter is an idea I don't
> think I've encountered before.
>
The main one is to pre-swell the paper fibers which seems to help both
wash-through and avoiding the slow push you found. Since I want to get
hot water into the cup to dilute the brew and pre-heat anyway, doing
it through the filter tube doesn't take any extra time.

Best,
David



 
Date: 11 Apr 2007 10:29:29
From: DavidMLewis
Subject: Re: AeroPress: Thoughts and suggestions after 3 months
On Apr 8, 2:38 pm, Randall Nortman <usenet8...@wonderclown.com > wrote:
> I've played a lot with grind. I had posted here just a couple of
> weeks after buying it that I was having trouble with fines in the cup,
> and that leads me to my first suggestion: Please, in the next product
> revision, include a wrench of some sort to help screw on the cap
> tightly, and then get it off again. All of my problems were
> eventually solved when I realized I wasn't screwing the cap on tightly
> enough -- you really have to torque that thing. I have to use a heavy
> kitchen towel to grip it. A sturdy plastic wrench-like device that
> fits over the cap would make this much easier.

You may want to contact Alan. I've owned two of them and neither has
to be twisted as hard as you describe. You may have one in which the
edge isn't as clean as it should be.
>
> Once I figured that out, I was able to get very good results with a
> not-quite-espresso grind, and no fines in the cup. Which leads me to
> my next important tip, which is to stir the heck out of the grounds,
> especially if using a fine grind. I was not stirring vigorously at
> first, and I think not all the grounds were getting wet, and were
> staying in clumps at the bottom. The better I stir, the easier it
> seeems to be to push the plunger through. I have not had any problems
> with wash-through even with vigorous stirring. (Might be different if
> I were pulling singles, but I always do doubles.)
>

> And my last suggestion is a somewhat frivolous one -- I love the
> compactness and portability of the AeroPress, but sometimes it
> requires more muscle power and coordination than I'm really up to
> providing in the morning.

I know I've mentioned this before, but there's something quite counter-
intuitive about pressing with the AeroPress. Very much pressure at all
will cause the fines to come out of suspension and block the filter,
at which point it becomes very difficult to press. The technique on
which I've settled allows me to use as fine a grind as I can produce
with a Zass Turkish grinder, which is very fine indeed. I pre-wet the
filter by pouring hot water through it into the cup. I shake to level
the coffee, pre-wet it as the instructions say for about ten seconds,
then stir very vigorously for twenty-five seconds. At that point, I
put the plunger in only about 1 cm, just enough so that the top of the
slurry starts to move. Then I plunge, keeping the distance from the
plunger to the top of the slurry, and therefore the pressure,
constant, i.e. I lower the plunger only as fast as the coffee goes
down. If it seems to be slowing, I stop for a few seconds. Only when
the cake is drying out do I go faster, to get a bit of foam. Odd as it
sounds, this allows me to use that fine a grind and get a much fuller
flavor profile, including the high notes, and still plunge in about
thirty seconds for a double. No muss, and very little muscle. Enjoy.

Best,
David



  
Date: 12 Apr 2007 02:27:41
From: Randall Nortman
Subject: Re: AeroPress: Thoughts and suggestions after 3 months
On 2007-04-11, DavidMLewis <DavidMLewis@mac.com > wrote:
> I know I've mentioned this before, but there's something quite counter-
> intuitive about pressing with the AeroPress. Very much pressure at all
> will cause the fines to come out of suspension and block the filter,
> at which point it becomes very difficult to press.

I heard this before, and had a go at giving it a gentle hand, but
found that it just took far too long to press (~90 seconds), and the
coffee was over-extracted. But I'm certainly willing to give it
another shot (as it were).

> I pre-wet the filter by pouring hot water through it into the cup. I
> shake to level the coffee, pre-wet it as the instructions say for
> about ten seconds

What is the purpose of all that rigamarole? Is it related to
preventing fines from clogging up the filter, or is this intended to
prevent wash-through (i.e., excessive dripping of water through the
filter prior to pressing)? Pre-wetting the filter is an idea I don't
think I've encountered before.

--
Randall


 
Date: 11 Apr 2007 11:33:56
From: Jack Denver
Subject: Re: AeroPress: Thoughts and suggestions after 3 months
For a DIY version you could start out with something like a manual orange
juice squeezer:
http://www1.istockphoto.com/file_thumbview_approve/657051/2/istockphoto_657051_orange_squeezer.jpg

"Randall Nortman" <usenet8189@wonderclown.com > wrote in message
news:phdSh.988$3P3.138@newsread3.news.pas.earthlink.net...
>
> And my last suggestion is a somewhat frivolous one -- I love the
> compactness and portability of the AeroPress, but sometimes it
> requires more muscle power and coordination than I'm really up to
> providing in the morning. So how about a stand that the press slips
> into, with the mug below, and a long lever arm to depress the plunger?
> It would end up looking something like a manual espresso machine.
> Call it the AeroBuddy. Come to think of it, this would be a great DIY
> project... maybe I'll have a go at it myself.
>
>
> --
> Randall