Coffee machine flies 1/4 mile!
January 17, 2006 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Toss your espresso machine? An "entirely new way to brew coffee" for $30?! Yessssssss. From the same guy that invented the Aerobie flying disk (which holds the world throwing record of more than a quarter mile). Articles/reviews at SingleServeCoffee and the official product page. Download the instructions (pdf). A Coffeegeek discussion and also some customer reviews at LocalsOnlyCoffee. </CoffeeFilter>
posted by spock (101 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
So, it's a French press?
posted by Plutor at 8:49 AM on January 17, 2006

Sort of.
posted by Plutor at 8:50 AM on January 17, 2006

Every time somebody at work says I have a coffee problem, I just refer them to the truly obsessed over at Coffeegeek.
posted by keswick at 8:52 AM on January 17, 2006

Does your french press produce a hockey puck?
posted by spock at 8:55 AM on January 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I would say it is certainly closest to the french press, but read the "official product page" link (above) to see a comparison of the AeroPress with the french press (and other methods).
posted by spock at 9:00 AM on January 17, 2006

it does explain the differences between itself and the french press on page 2. main difference is that grounds wind up in your coffee with a french press.
posted by poppo at 9:02 AM on January 17, 2006

looks like it is made out of plastic. I'll pass.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 9:03 AM on January 17, 2006

Good find, I'd love to see one in action
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:03 AM on January 17, 2006

nice. Just saw this over at digg and read the reviews at localsonly. Sounds legit. I too would love to see some video of it in action.
posted by shoepal at 9:04 AM on January 17, 2006

The main reason I don't use my french press is the cleanup - it's a bit of a pain to wash the grounds out of the carafe. Apparently, this thing is designed such that the grounds pop out of the bottom.

And the pressure involved is a lot higher than that of a french press. That this would provide some significant improvement seems logical enough to me.

That it's made out of plastic bothers me a bit as well. But if this can finally free me of my $2/day cafe habit, I might look into it.
posted by aladfar at 9:06 AM on January 17, 2006

Interesting but it requires filters, which I'm not a big fan of. Only making one cup at a time is only cool if your alone. Also, their complaint about french presses are a bit overstated. I can make very strong coffee in a press, and pushing plunger down simply requires a slow steady pressure. Also if you stir the water and the grounds you can reduce steep time to less than a minute, which avoids bitterness.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:07 AM on January 17, 2006

looks like it is made out of plastic. I'll pass.

It was made of glass it might shatter as you apply pressure. Plastic can crack, too, but engineering a similar glass-made enclosure would probably cost more than people would be willing to pay. I imagine the glass issue would introduce significant liability or lower profits for the company either way.
posted by Rothko at 9:12 AM on January 17, 2006

Only making one cup at a time is only cool if your alone.

Pretty sure you can make a double shot in this thing.
posted by deadfather at 9:12 AM on January 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

posted by Rothko at 9:12 AM on January 17, 2006

poppo: main difference is that grounds wind up in your coffee with a french press.
Not if you do it right. Or if your Frnch press is good.

Main thing I see that this has over a French Press is simplicity of cleanup. Which is a good thing; cleanign up a French Press is a nuisance because you can never get all the liquid out before you dump the grounds.

I still like the idea of the French press as a pot for two to share, or a small pot for one.
posted by lodurr at 9:13 AM on January 17, 2006

Re. "cafe habits": Are those really about the coffee, anyway, as much as they'er about the cafe? You can always go buy a coffee maker; why don't more people just do that? Because they want to go to a cafe.

Nothing wrong with that.
posted by lodurr at 9:15 AM on January 17, 2006

It's an interesting device, to be sure... and I think that one of the CoffeeGeek posters (maybe it was Mark Prince) labeled it "a big syringe you fill with coffee" or some such.

In use, the cup that results when you follow the directions is pretty good, if a little on the cool side. Most aromatics come through just fine, flavor is quite good, body is only slightly diminished by the filter and finish is uncolored. I'd have thought there might be more of a "plastic" taint to the finished brew than there actually is. The end result tastes rather like coffee brewed by a coffee press (minus the fines) or a vac-pot (minus some of the clarity).

If, like me, you choose to *not* follow the directions, you can use this device to cold-brew coffee to pretty good effect... simply grind more coarsely, overload it, and leave the device on your kitchen counter for a few hours, then press and refrigerate the resulting concentrate. Nice for iced coffee drinks, or mixed with 200 F. water, a lovely low-acid cup in a hurry.

For daily use, however, I think it too much of a bother for the results... I'd prefer to make a single-cup with a Melitta filter cone.
posted by deCadmus at 9:16 AM on January 17, 2006

Seriously, I don't understand the buzz here. This seems to be a french press crossed with a toddy, oriented towards single servings. I'd rather put a pound of coffee in my fridge for 8 hours and use that concentrate over time (2 weeks+ and dozens upon dozens of drinks later...) rather than crank a cupful of grounds through this thing every morning. The digg thread is just a bunch of mooks spooging over their new-found purchase. Ridiculous.
posted by prostyle at 9:20 AM on January 17, 2006

The Toddy method is faster, surely. If you already have a package of regular coffee filters and a funnel, you can make Toddy coffee. The disadvantage there is a lower caffeine extraction:flavor ratio, and the fact that it takes 8 hours to prepare. This thing is faster, and as deCadmus mentioned, you can use it to make small amounts of Toddy coffee.

The "high pressure" involved shouldn't affect the taste of the coffee, because the grounds are soaking in the liquid for at least 10 seconds before they're strained out. This machine is really just a press with a disposable, ultra-fine filter.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:25 AM on January 17, 2006

prostyle, well, its' a serious improvement on a single-cup mellita cone; if you're not into single cups, ... [shrug /].

Personally, I like having different ways to make coffee. Usually I (shudder!) use a drip machine, but sometimes I dig out the press or the espresso percolator. And while I was travelign recently, I found a really nice little cafe that served individual half-liter French presses. That was very very nice.
posted by lodurr at 9:25 AM on January 17, 2006

I'm disappointed. I was hoping this press would then turn your coffee grounds into a fun flying ring that you could then toss around the house and annoy pets and loved ones.
posted by Spatch at 9:26 AM on January 17, 2006

Not if you do it right. Or if your French press is good.

i was only vomiting up what the article claimed. personally i make maxwell house in a mr. coffee
posted by poppo at 9:27 AM on January 17, 2006

I picked up one of these 6 months ago. It's US$100 and I love it but for $30 I will also pick up the Aerobie coffee maker. I also just went to Costa Rica and got a coffee sock US$10 and it works pretty well too. sometimes complicating things leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
posted by lsd4all at 9:29 AM on January 17, 2006

One of the Coffeegeek comments says that the filters are reusable and that the number that come with it constitute "a lifetime supply". Also one could make the filters out of regular coffee filter material (which would allow one to choose nonbleached, etc.)
posted by spock at 9:33 AM on January 17, 2006

...and here I was expecting some kind of disc, with a ring of coffee grounds inside a ring shaped filter...a series of capilleries run out to the edge chamber, fill the middle with hot water, cap it all off and flick this contraption to your friend where they get a fresh hot cup of disc coffee or a serious burn that'd be cool or hot.
posted by gren at 9:37 AM on January 17, 2006

MindHacks (PDF) claims that people's obsession with the coffee ritual (everything has to be done with the same things in the same order every day) is due to caffine's addictive properties and the addiction messing with your brain to make things seem more important than they really are.

I though that this obsession could just be explained because coffee drinking is an every day habit, not because it is addictive. Many actions that are performed repeatedly become scripted and ritualized - say the order in which you put on your cloths or if you regularly eat at McDonalds, your order and and the sequence of actions in consuming it.

But given the fetishism of some coffee buffs maybe there is something to that brain chemistry claim.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 9:40 AM on January 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

And the pressure involved is a lot higher than that of a french press. That this would provide some significant improvement seems logical enough to me.

yeah, I still have not found a good way to make a good cup of coffee at home - for me, the french press cup always comes out a little stale tasting - whatever that taste is that is at the bottom of the pot, when grounds have been soaking too long. I want to call it 'wet', somehow. Anyway, I really dislike that taste, so although french press is stronger, it still is not a clean enough cup. espresso is my favorite, as americano or cappucino, but I can't afford an espresso machine at home. So I wonder if this gadget would get me the cleaner taste I want... if it's high pressure through the grounds, like espresso, it seems likely, yeah?
posted by mdn at 9:42 AM on January 17, 2006

Anyone ever try sandwiching a circle of plain old coffee filter inside the mesh bits of a french press to reduce the amount of grounds that come through?

I'm interested in this, or in anything I can do with a french press to make a decent cup of joe. The gadget here seems like a good alternative. Plastic means it won't break when I take it places.

My specific issue here is that I like coffee, and when I visit my in-laws I am in hell. The stuff my mother-in-law brews is utter crap. My father-in-law drinks it only because he has no functioning taste buds, I guess. To me it seems like old grounds filtered through a used sweat sock, and that's if I'm lucky enough to be around when she uses a freshly opened can of Maxwell House. My only remedy so far has been to visit my dad down the street, and drink his coffee, or drive to the next town over - seriously, that's the CLOSEST coffee shop, and it's a Starbucks, and to add insult to injury it's not even an actual coffee shop - it's a kiosk inside a supermarket.

So you can sniff politely and say "Plastic? Ugh." if you wish. Me, I need help and this looks like the ticket.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:46 AM on January 17, 2006

poppo, if you're drinking Maxwell House...that isn't coffee./ Maybe stained sand or something..... don't tell us you make espresso's using it?

As a coffee freak, I only buy espresso beans from Timothy's [in Canada][no, not Tim Horton's], they're much tastier than Starbucks' espresso.

The grinder? A Burr grinder, so your beans don't get cooked grinding....

I'm also not crazy about it being plastic. I'd prefer glass, the oven proof or a ceramic? Hell, I wouldn't use an aluminum espresso maker either. Yeck. Stainless steel. Hey, why not stainless steel??

For now I'll use my stove top espresso maker. Now where are all those stove top steamers? I'm worried my old one may give up the ghost...the plastic handle is pretty much zorched. All that heat over time has crumbled it.

Ah, coffee.

Thanks for the post spock.
posted by alicesshoe at 9:48 AM on January 17, 2006

Slightly off-topic: what's the deal with the health benefits or risks of caffeine? I've generally been told that caffeine is an awful for you, but there was a TIME article this week that said that caffeine improved concentration (!), short term memory, etc. Does anyone know what the research actually says on this?
posted by kensanway at 9:48 AM on January 17, 2006

I think it was in Snow Crash where one of the characters was designing a new illegal drug, and one of the requirements was that it have a ritual attached (i.e. soak pill in vinegar, then crush and smoke) because the ritual, athough technically unecessary, enhanced the addiction.
I can see the same thing working with coffee, even if the ritual is just hopping over to starbucks at 3pm every day.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:49 AM on January 17, 2006

(working on my 5th cup right now)
posted by grafholic at 9:53 AM on January 17, 2006

buy a text ad.
posted by crunchland at 9:54 AM on January 17, 2006

caution live frogs: I do something like that with my french press. I just lay a regular Mr Coffee filter over the screen-end of the plunger, wrap th edges around the top, and press. I found it helps to prevent blow-by on the sides, and without a fancy Bodum (with a silk screen), it will help to prevent getting a lot of grounds in your brew.
posted by lodurr at 9:57 AM on January 17, 2006

cleaning a french press sucks. this looks good.
posted by destro at 9:57 AM on January 17, 2006

from Greg Egan's Distress

I'd tried caffeine a few times; it made me believe I was focused and energetic, but it turned my judgement to shit. Widespread use of caffeine explained a lot about the 20th century.
posted by Hubajube at 10:04 AM on January 17, 2006

If you aren't going to roast your own (green beans) (which is simple & fun with an air popcorn popper), I recommend Zoka. I'm a huge fan of their Baltoro blend. And screw Charbucks where all they know how to do is push the button on a machine. At least go somewhere where they know how to pull a shot.
posted by spock at 10:07 AM on January 17, 2006

bashos: wasn't Snow Crash. Maybe a Gibson novel?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:08 AM on January 17, 2006

I'm definitely buying one, as soon as I can find out where to buy in europe. For 30 bucks it's worth trying. Maybe this will inspire me to replace my coffee roaster that died a few months ago.
posted by lastobelus at 10:12 AM on January 17, 2006

mdn, have you ever tried a stovetop "espresso" maker? They don't quite make espresso and a bit of a pain to clean, but the coffee is quite decent (sort of a long pull espresso, decent crema), and you don't need more than beans and the pot (about $20).

While the Bialetti Moka Express is the most famous design (and is in the MOMA), there are other designs too. Take a little care when you buy, there are a lot of cheap knock-offs of the Moka Express which don't have as nice seals.
posted by bonehead at 10:25 AM on January 17, 2006

Is cleaning a press really that big a deal for people? A quick rinse under the tap and I'm done. Grounds go down the drain just fine.
posted by bonehead at 10:27 AM on January 17, 2006

Grounds "go down the drain just fine" if you live in the city and drain straight into a city sewer.
posted by lodurr at 10:30 AM on January 17, 2006

This is great for people who don't drink much coffee. If I have to make my coffee a cup at a time, I'm spending all day making coffee.

And I have yet to have any drip coffee superior to my french press.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:32 AM on January 17, 2006

The Moka Express is "espresso," meaning it's really just a "moka pot" and doesn't really give any crema to speak of.

The Bialetti Brikka is the stovetop pot with a pressure-regulating valve that shoots hot water through your grinds in a manner similar to conventional espresso machines.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:35 AM on January 17, 2006

mdn: "...for me, the french press cup always comes out a little stale tasting - whatever that taste is that is at the bottom of the pot, when grounds have been soaking too long."

That would be overextracted coffee, and it's what you get when bitter flavor compounds are leeched into your brew. Those compounds are lurking in your ground coffee just waiting to be invited to the party through too hot a brew temperature, too fine a grind, or too long a brew cycle.

When you brew with a press it's a good idea to immediately decant any coffee that isn't going straight into your cup into a pre-heated carafe... or simply press a smaller amount.
posted by deCadmus at 10:44 AM on January 17, 2006

Anyone ever try sandwiching a circle of plain old coffee filter inside the mesh bits of a french press to reduce the amount of grounds that come through?

Doing this would defeat the point of a french press since the oils in the coffee can't pass through the paper filter.

I worked at Starbucks for a while, and as part of their (really comprehensive) training we tasted about half a dozen varieties of coffee both as drip brewed and french press and the differences were readily apparent. Drip was good, but french press was a lot more complex.

You can even see the difference--the french press brewed coffee will have a lot of little tiny gobules of oil floating on top that you won't find on the drip coffee.
posted by Jesse H Christ at 11:03 AM on January 17, 2006

Regarding health risks, according to my doctor it's not so much the caffeine that is the problem but the acid in coffee so I try to stick to low acid coffees, ie: Sumatra
posted by cedar key at 11:12 AM on January 17, 2006

What wil they think of next.....I'll never leave the BUNN!
posted by customrockworks at 11:17 AM on January 17, 2006

Coffee without acid is like soda without carbonation. That's why they blend: to get the best characteristics from various beans. Sumatran is big-bodied and has good mouth feel, but isn't very "bright". Blending in something with higher acid can give it a kick in the pants.

In the old days, everyone used to roast their own coffee over the flatiron stove and grind it, as needed. Every step of the commercial process gets you farther away from a really good cup of coffee.
posted by spock at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2006

"It so pure and particle-free that it can be stored for days as a concentrate."

I'm not so sure that's a good thing. I use a press and I think a certain amount (very small) of particulate adds body to the brew. I just don't take that last sip.
posted by 2sheets at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2006

Off topic: I'm thinking of getting a Technivorm KBTS. Does anybody here own one?
posted by josh at 12:03 PM on January 17, 2006

coffee is the world’s second largest traded commodity, behind only oil

posted by delmoi at 12:04 PM on January 17, 2006

I don't know much about coffee (but as usual, I learned a thing or two here). However, I did appreciate the gizmag site. Thanks, spock!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:07 PM on January 17, 2006

I like turkish coffee.
posted by kenko at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2006

Josh: Coffeegeek opinions
posted by spock at 12:24 PM on January 17, 2006

coffee is the world’s second largest traded commodity, behind only oil

On a good day, I consume more coffee than oil.
posted by spock at 12:25 PM on January 17, 2006

Just to put to bed a common misconception (one that I've had to explain more than once to a family physician) "acidity" in coffee has nothing to do with its PH level. It's a characteristic of brewed coffee that's best described as "brightness" or "liveliness" on the tongue. Sometimes it's quite sharp and distinctive, other times its best characterized as a shimmering presence.

While dry-processed coffees from Sumatra and Java have traditionally exhibited less of this quality, that's changed in recent years... I've had any number of Indonesian coffees just in the last two weeks that have been as bright as most any Central American bean.
posted by deCadmus at 12:34 PM on January 17, 2006

Josh: The Technivorm KBTS is an exceptional brewer. Do be sure yours comes with the newer 9-hole brew-head rather than the original one-hole version... water dispersion is *greatly* improved.

Also, check out the tip sheet for this brewer at Sweet Maria's. [PDF] And, a word of warning... if you've never thought about roasting your own coffee, you probably will if you visit the Sweet Maria's web site. ;)
posted by deCadmus at 12:45 PM on January 17, 2006

But given the fetishism of some coffee buffs maybe there is something to that brain chemistry claim.

I wouldn't just lump it all into "fetishism". Some people just really enjoy the taste of coffee. Similar to enjoying a good ale, cigar, chocolate or what have you.
posted by melt away at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2006

mdn: For a "clean" cup you could try a vac pot as shown here. Although I personally find them too much of a hassle to use regularly.
posted by markr at 1:00 PM on January 17, 2006

five fresh fish : bashos: wasn't Snow Crash. Maybe a Gibson novel?

Wiz, in Mona Lisa Overdrive?

This thing reminds me of the thingers used for brewing Vietnamese style French coffee. My local caffeine dispenseria offers siphon brewed (blue mountain) coffee.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:01 PM on January 17, 2006

...too hot a brew temperature, too fine a grind, or too long a brew cycle.

I always tried to be good about the temp & the grind, though perhaps I never hit the exact right numbers there... but I think the length of brew was an issue - but isn't french press necessarily a longer brew than espresso or drip?

I dunno, I'm very finicky about coffee...

I worked at Starbucks for a while...Drip was good, but french press was a lot more complex.

See, Starbucks tastes thin & bitter to me - not a good cup of coffee at all. And their espresso is just weak - their cappucinos taste like milk to me.

I have found places whose coffee I like but it is also kind of a constant search... Even places like whole foods, whose americano I really like, serve some blends I'm not satisfied by (getting drip coffee there is kind of a crapshoot for me, since I sometimes don't remember the names of brews I like vs those I don't). Anyway - perhaps I'll do some more scientific experiments in the future, and work out which qualities conspire to create my ideal cup of coffee. Somehow the strength and richness have to balance out properly, so that it is full and round, but also sharp and strong...

on preview, hm, lots of options to consider. I'll have to investigate further - thanks for suggestions.
posted by mdn at 1:13 PM on January 17, 2006

French Press: coarse grind (think really coarse sand or kosher salt), water 200 degrees F. and brew time of about 4 minutes... plunge sloooowly.

Too strong? Too much sediment? Grind more coarsely.

Bitter? Probably overextracted... maybe you're brewing too long, or with too little coffee. (Standard: 2 tbls. coffee per 6 oz. of water.)

A press is great for dark-roasts (Peets really blooms in a press) and will add body to most any coffee. For a lighter cup, or a brighter cup, look to a vac-pot. I like the Bodum eSantos line...
posted by deCadmus at 1:28 PM on January 17, 2006

What I do is mildly low-tech, but gives me a good cup of coffee.

1. Boil water; take immediately off the burner to cool.
2. Grind beans... I use about three short pulses in my little grinder. The third pulse sounds a little different... that's the sign that it has been ground enough.
3. Put grounds into French press. (I use a Bodum with a metal screen.)
4. The water has cooled a bit by now. I shoot for about 2 minutes of cooling time. Pour it into the press. Stir.
5. Wait 4-5 minutes. Stir again. (if you have nothing better to do, you can stir at 2 minutes also, but I don't find it makes that much difference.)
6. Press slowly; if it gets stuck, just wait a second for the coffee to settle a bit. It should take almost no effort. If you're working, you're pressing too hard.
7. Pour whole batch into a Thermos... I like the stainless steel models. Practically indestructible. The coffee will keep for many hours, and will barely degrade. The last cup, eight hours later, will be still warm or hot, and 95% as good as the first cup was.
8. Dump grounds into garbage; rinse carafe and screen.

Total time is about 8 minutes/pot. Total cost: about $40 for equipment. No running cost other than the coffee itself. (ie, no filters/consumables) Everything's in glass or metal, so you're not exposing plastic to heat.

This is cheap, and makes a great cup... I always get compliments on my coffee. There is a little residue at the bottom of every cup, but I, at least, don't taste or notice it while drinking.

I've never had coffee out of a drip machine that I thought tasted as good.
posted by Malor at 2:15 PM on January 17, 2006

Somehow the strength and richness have to balance out properly, so that it is full and round, but also sharp and strong...

mdn, you might be interested in checking out the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting site. They are one of the very few coffee companies that list the particular beans and roasts used in all their blends, and that may give you some starting places for making your own blends from Whole Food's (or whoever's) single beans. You can also order their stuff online. I used to work at one of the sister stores and lived with one of their coffee roasters. They've been around for over 20 years and really know their stuff.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:31 PM on January 17, 2006

Love the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting logo. Thanks, oneirodynia, for the info on their blend "recipes". That is useful!
posted by spock at 2:42 PM on January 17, 2006

spock- you can get a mug!

bonehead- as the proud owner of an aluminum stovetop vesuviana, this article about aluminum home espresso makers and their connection to Italian Fascism was pretty interesting. Thanks for the link.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:08 PM on January 17, 2006

Can some of the coffee experts in this thread let me know if using this aeropress will produce crema? I am very particular about drinking high quality esspresso in the morning, and this seems like an amazing cheap alternative. But I need real espresso with crema.
posted by cell divide at 4:37 PM on January 17, 2006

I make french press coffee with all purpose grind. I love how strong, bitter and gritty it is. The last sip is great.

I also really like Turkish coffee, though not for every day.

I thought crema was from the coffee oils - I don't see how a filtered coffee would have the requisite oil, though my french press coffee often has a bit of a froth on the first cup.
posted by jb at 5:03 PM on January 17, 2006

Hello Everyone,

I was impressed to read 70 comments about the AeroPress. I invented it and will try to answer some of your questions.

Plastic: It’s made from a very expensive food/medical grade of polycarbonate that is absolutely free of taste and impervious to water degradation. It’s also literally bulletproof.

Filters: It uses paper filters made from the same material used in high-quality cone filters. It comes with 350 filters. Replacement packs of 350 filters are $3.50. I rinse and re-use each filter about twenty times, which works out to a penny every twenty uses.

Comparison to a French press:

Although the AeroPress is also a press-type coffee maker, it is VERY different:

1. It makes pure, grit-free brew. Thus it tastes much better and is healthier. See the discussion about health issues on the coffee geek forum:

2. It can make espresso and thus can also make a latte or cappuccino, which a French press cannot make.

3. It is MUCH easier to clean than a French press. Cleanup takes about ten seconds.

4. It’s brew is much smoother and sweeter than that from a French press because of the very short brew time.

I urge you to read some of the user reviews in the links mentioned in the MetaFilter article.

If you have any further questions, you can post them here, or send them to the email address in my profile.

Sincerely yours,

Alan Adler
posted by AlanAdler at 6:15 PM on January 17, 2006 [4 favorites]

Now there's a "best of the web". Welcome AlanAdler!

Could you answer the question about crema? You say it makes "espresso" but by what definition? The filter has to remove the crema, doesn't it?

PS...I ordered mine this morning and can't wait for it to arrive.
posted by spock at 7:04 PM on January 17, 2006

AlanAdler: Plastic: It’s made from a very expensive food/medical grade of polycarbonate that is absolutely free of taste and impervious to water degradation.

So what about bisphenol-A, the building block of polycarbonate plastic which acts like estrogen. Some people think that the amount of unlinked bisphenol-A that can leach out of a polycarbonate nursing bottle is unhealthy for infants.
Based on testing with an intact bottle, we calculate that a typical baby who drank formula sterilized by heating in the bottle would be exposed to a bisphenol-A dose of about 4 percent of an amount that has adversely affected test animals in studies
Such exposure may sound very low. However, safety limits for infant exposure can be set as low as 0.1 percent of the level that has adversely affected animals. Babies who used the bottles we tested could be exposed to a bisphenol-A dose 40 times higher than that conservative definition of safety.
If you want to respond that bisphenol-a is safe, please do not quote the large volume of reports sponsored by the plastic industry that currently clog up any google search.

I, as a man, do not want to develop large tits in my addiction driven pursuit of whatever my addiction tells me is good coffee.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:24 PM on January 17, 2006

You prefer to develop them the old-fashioned way?
: )
posted by spock at 7:27 PM on January 17, 2006

spock: You prefer to develop them the old-fashioned way?
If by "old fasioned way" are you are referring to the reputed fact that chronic marijuana usage makes men develop brests?

Maybe this factoid is mainly based on polycarbonate bong users.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:54 PM on January 17, 2006

The correct way to develop large breasts as a man is by drinking beer.

I burr-grind my coffee every morning and use a press, but this sounds better.
posted by unSane at 8:41 PM on January 17, 2006

Hello Again,

Spock asked, “You say it makes "espresso" but by what definition? The filter has to remove the crema, doesn't it?”

The filter does not remove the crema, but the low pressure process of AeroPressing doesn’t produce as much crema as an espresso machine. It varies. Sometimes I get a half inch of foam, other times very little. But I also agree with Kenneth Davids who wrote in his book “Espresso – Ultimate Coffee” on page 146,

“.. a cup of espresso can taste just as good without crema as with.”

I personally have never tasted a difference between straight espresso shots with, or without crema. I should also add, that Mr. Davids, the world’s leading author on coffee, conducted extensive taste-tastes with the AeroPress and wrote the following about it,

"When used properly, AeroPress produces a remarkably good straight espresso and an excellent Americano-style taller cup. In fact, it produces a better espresso shot than many home machines that cost twenty or thirty times as much."

Mr. Davids has kindly allowed us to print the above words on each AeroPress package. And I assure you he was not paid for that.

Another point on crema is that most espresso is not consumed straight, but used to make lattes. And of course any crema vanishes in the milk.

MonkeySaltedNuts asked about bisphenol-A in polycarbonate.

Conventional polycarbonate is widely used in food contact and cooking appliance applications. Many expensive cooking devices and coffee makers are made from it. Chances are your drip machine, top of cup cone-filter holder, and French press all are made from it. But it wasn’t good enough for me. The reason is that polycarbonate degrades from long term exposure to hot water. Bisphenol-A leaches out and the polycarbonate develops a spiderweb-like network of cracks.

We conducted long term hot water exposure tests on scores of plastics including conventional polycarbonate and rejected them all. However, the expensive polycarbonate alloy we use in the AeroPress is a new and entirely different formula. We subjected it to hot water exposure equivalent about 20,000 coffee-pressings. At the end of that test there was absolutely no evidence of degradation. The material looked as fresh as the day it was born.

Sincerely yours,

Alan Adler
posted by AlanAdler at 9:07 PM on January 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

Bisphenol-A leaches out and the polycarbonate develops a spiderweb-like network of cracks.


I think I'll stick to glass. And my espresso machine, 'cause, frankly, the routine starts my day off nicely. Gives me time to get into the groove of things.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:54 PM on January 17, 2006

A good page on crema (at least from a traditional method).

Thanks for the answers, AlanAdler. Care to share what led you to your interest and (ultimately) invention?
posted by spock at 10:55 PM on January 17, 2006

It's not as pretty as my Atomic.But I'll have one @ that price.
posted by johnny7 at 1:15 AM on January 18, 2006

I don't understand why people are talking about the difficulty in cleaning a french press. My press takes 10 seconds (or less) to clean - I just run it under hot water. You don't want to clean it thoroughly every time - the oils protect the metal, and rinsing gets all of the grinds out.

But press is an acquired taste. I find most other coffees, even if they are good, to be a bit thin, watery tasting. ("Pure" to one person is "watery" to another).
posted by jb at 3:02 AM on January 18, 2006

Again, people who say cleaning a french press is easy appear to be near-universally just washing the grounds down their kitchen drain. Some of us don't think that's cool. Especially those of us who don't flush into a city sewer (i.e., pass the problem on to some other entity).
posted by lodurr at 5:09 AM on January 18, 2006

MonkeySaltedNuts, the text you quote contains two interesting points:
  1. The tests were performed with bottles that were "...sterilized by heating in the bottle." Heating a bottle for sterilization purposes requires keeping the bottle at a high temperature for an extended period of time -- longer, and probably hotter, than the gizmo we're talking about.
  2. The report notes that the amount leached out was 4% of the amount found to be harmful. That's followed by a comment about one special circumstance -- being an infant -- can exacerbate the effects, making 4% of the dangerous dose potentially dangerous to infants. Most people won't be using this to feed espresso to their babies.
Disclaimer: I don't work for Aerobie, and most likely will never drop $30 on one of these things.
posted by lodurr at 5:15 AM on January 18, 2006

lodurr, more recent research shows xenoestrogenic effects from exposures in the low parts per trillion (see survey from Journal of the American Medical Association).
posted by alms at 7:05 AM on January 18, 2006

While I think that the subject of bisphenol-a is one that is probably worthy of its own FPP, I also think that in this thread it is mostly potential discussion derailment. I think it is good to know that creator(s?) were aware of the issue and made design decisions accordingly. Clearly, all polycarbonates are not created equal(ly).
posted by spock at 7:37 AM on January 18, 2006

...washing the grounds down their kitchen drain. Some of us don't think that's cool.

Why ever not? I can see problems if you're on a septic system, but any modern municipal sewage system handles coffee grounds just fine. In fact, waste solids generally end up in large bioreactors that are short on carbon and fibre to which the operators have to add straw or woodchips or whatever. Coffee grounds are a good source of celluose and thus make the sewer system work better.
posted by bonehead at 7:39 AM on January 18, 2006

But press is an acquired taste. I find most other coffees, even if they are good, to be a bit thin, watery tasting. ("Pure" to one person is "watery" to another

I don't think so - watery is the worst downfall of coffee, in my opinion. What i mean by 'clean' is that the bitterness doesn't linger, and to me thin & bitter sort of go together, so although french press is stronger than some methods, I don't find it richer. Coffee has to please the whole mouth - I'm enjoying a cappucino right now, and it's good because it's satisfying at the front of the mouth, sharp & strong at the back, and sort of round and smooth at the sides of the mouth, and it all goes together, without a heavy aftertaste, but more of a kind of 'stimulated mouth' feeling. For me, sometimes, anyway, french press hits the mark at the back of the mouth, but seems thin everywhere else, and leaves a bitter aftertaste. I may just need more practice to get the art of french press down, but I think the 'overextracted' thing mentioned above is the culprit. The coffee should be strong because of the quality of the blend, not because you try to get it to work harder... but - I have not really done comparison taste testing, so much as failed to be satisfied with my own previous attempts. But then, I'm not satisfied with about 50% of coffee that I get from new places, and I never buy from anyone who doesn't at least give the appearance of knowing what they're doing.

I'm a little obsessed, I guess. I only have one or two coffees a day, but they have to be good.


I think I'll stick to glass.

he was describing the average blend of plastic, in contrast to the special kind of plastic they used, which according to his tests did not leach. Glass can leach substances too, though it is usually considered safer than most plastics. The safest material for cookware is usually considered cast iron, since what it leaches is beneficial...
posted by mdn at 7:54 AM on January 18, 2006

french press hits the mark at the back of the mouth, but seems thin everywhere else, and leaves a bitter aftertaste.

Like over-steeped tea.

My solution to this was to use enough coffee in the press (2 oz/cup) and to not let it sit for more than 4-5 minutes. Measuring time and amount really makes a huge difference here. Also, fresh beans (no more than a couple of weeks old) and grinding just before use really improve taste. That gets you a bright, sharp flavour without the oxidized, bitter taste of over-extracted and old coffee.

While it's true that glass can leach metals, that's really only a concern for leaded crystal. Borosilicates like the Pyrex Bodum uses are among the most neutral and safest containers for food there are.
posted by bonehead at 8:31 AM on January 18, 2006

As I understand it, coffee oils left on a French press or other coffee paraphernalia will eventually turn rancid and adversely affect flavor. I try to avoid using soap on my coffee stuff as much as possible, but every week or so I thoroughly wash off the oils, sometimes using a commercial solvent.

Those of you asking about adding a filter to their French press should look at the replacement meshes offered by Sweet Maria's and other dealers. There are finer screens available which will reduce the sediment in the pressed coffee without also filtering out the desirable oils.

Presspot coffee is greatly improved through the proper use of a good burr grinder. Blade grinders produce plenty of fine powder even when the average particle size is coarse, and this powder, to the degree it is present, adds the flavor of overextracted coffee in any brewing method. Burr grinders produce much more consistently-sized grounds. You don't have to spend a ton on a burr grinder (though you certainly can). Cheaper grinders have their drawbacks but nearly all of them are much better than the $20 whirlybird grinder we all have kicking around (I do still use mine if ever I want to grind--<gasp>--flavored coffee).

Regarding the press pot instructions offered by Malor I think you want to avoid cooling down your water that much. You absolutely want to avoid boiling your coffee, but pouring the water in right off the boil is a better bet. You want to brew in the 195-200°(F) range. When you take your kettle off the boil it starts to cool quickly from 212°, and by the time that water has passed through open air into your press pot it's getting down into the ideal range. And remember that it will cool a good bit more as it steeps over the next four minutes or so. Pouring water right off the boil will ensure that the press pot spends as much of its steeping time as possible at optimal temperature. Waiting a couple of minutes before pouring will ensure that your water is cooler than it should be. I'm sure you'll need to adjust your steeping time a bit if you eliminate this pause but it should buy you better extraction and as a bonus it cuts your prep time. At any rate, don't wait to pour simply because you're afraid the water is too hot. I defy anyone to transfer boiling water fast enough that it's still boiling once it's in the press.

All that having been said, I have never had trouble plunging the pot. Maybe I'm just pushing gently enough to begin with, or maybe I need a finer grind, or more of it, or something, in order to experience that phenomenon. I haven't experimented to see whether I can make this happen. Am I missing out, or am I just expecting more resistance from the grounds than I should?
posted by Songdog at 9:22 AM on January 18, 2006

If you want a great (and adjustable) burr grind without spending an arm and a leg, take a gander at a Zassenhaus hand grinder. Still manufactured and also available used (as in eBay). Froogle is your friend. I got a beech model 151 on eBay for under $40.
posted by spock at 10:14 AM on January 18, 2006

I think if I were an astronaut, I'd make sure to take an aerobie with me for the spacewalk. Not sure what I'd aim it at, but what the hell, eh?

Maybe a guy could get a game going with the ISS fellows halfway around the world...
posted by five fresh fish at 4:57 PM on January 18, 2006

Alan Adler, welcome. One question. I thought that caffeine, being highly water soluble, is released first when hot water comes in contact with coffee gruonds, followed later by the flavor compounds. But your press uses a very short brew time. Can you comment on the release of caffeine vs flavor as a function of brew time?
posted by mono blanco at 5:05 PM on January 18, 2006

It's a good question, mono blanco, and I hope AlanAdler is still around to answer - but you realize that you pull an espresso shot (from a machine) in approximately 30 seconds, right?
posted by spock at 5:14 PM on January 18, 2006

Yup, but I always figured the high pressure reduces the time needed for extraction. Or maybe I've just got it bass ackwards...given (if I recall correctly) that expresso has less caffeine than regular coffee. Let's see what the man says.
posted by mono blanco at 5:25 PM on January 18, 2006

Hello mono blanco,

We sent some AeroPresses to a lab to measure the caffeine level. So we should have an answer in a few weeks. My best guess is that it will be comparable to espresso.

posted by AlanAdler at 6:32 PM on January 18, 2006

Point #1: I swear by my Bodum french press. I pretty much agree with all the other pro-press stuff above, except that I have never been nearly as finicky as most people apparently are, and still get great coffee out of it. My usual brew time is on the order of half an hour, while I read email and whatnot. So, who knows.

Point #2: If you find you just don't have the budget for a daily pot of expensive organic fair-trade Green Mountain Columbian Supremo Popayan (which I think is what I'd drink every day if I could afford it) I've found that 8 O'Clock brand Columbian (not any of their other varieties! just Columbian -- it's the brown bag) makes a very decent daily cup for the price. It's not quite up to specialty standards, but it's well above the mass-market crap, and costs about the same as your standard Maxwell House dust & bug droppings. You can probably find it in your supermarket, and it also comes in fairly big bags. Just passing that along, because I tried out a lot of other crappy cheap brands before I discovered the 8 O'Clock, and you shouldn't have to. :-)

(Also, point #2b: Chock Full O'Nuts makes me want to vomit. I threw out a whole bag of that mistake rather than even attempt to drink any more of it. What the hell is that stuff even made out of?)
posted by rusty at 7:53 PM on January 18, 2006

Damn, I forgot about point #3: Grind disposal. I squeeze any leftover liquid out of the press with the plunger still down, and then dump out the grinds in the compost bowl (= big bowl on the counter where vegetable trimmings, peels, eggshells, and other compostables go every day, to be dumped at dishwashing time out in the backyard heap). The few remaining grinds go down the drain (and into the septic system presumably, where what harm are they going to do?) with no trouble. So, with no filter to throw out and grinds composted, my coffee habit produces exactly one foil bag per month of total waste. Take that, you would-be environmentalists, throwing away filters and buying starbucks paper cups! ;-)
posted by rusty at 7:59 PM on January 18, 2006

We compost our coffee filters along with the grounds. They break down just fine.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:11 AM on January 19, 2006

This thing reminds me of the thingers used for brewing Vietnamese style French coffee.

Speaking of which, anyone know where to get one of these (either online or in Vancouver)? I've been hankering after Vietnamese white coffee ever since I visited Hanoi last year, and would love to be able to brew some at home.
posted by alsorises at 6:10 PM on January 19, 2006

Coffeegeek Mark Prince has talked about doing a podcast on Vietnamese style coffee. He happens to be based in Vancouver, so you might see what he has to say. And I'm sure he or someone else in the Coffegeek forums can help you out sooner if you're in a hurry.
posted by Songdog at 9:06 AM on January 20, 2006

alsorises: There's a little Vietnamese shop -- the name of which escapes me -- on Kingsway near Nanaimo that sells them for dirt cheap. A friend of mine that works at the central library downtown loves the stuff and mentioned the place upon giving me one as a gift a few years ago. I'll see if I can track down the name and / or a specific address and e-mail you. In the event that I draw blanks, well ... a quick jaunt around the neighbourhood would probably turn it up.
posted by antifreez_ at 3:37 PM on January 30, 2006

An addendum - this thread caused me to order the AeroPress, and I love it.
posted by blahblahblah at 9:30 PM on February 9, 2006

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