I’m personally not sure how anyone can function without coffee. Which is odd, considering how I got by without it until my mid-30s. I reckon something happens to sap you of all that energy of youth, after the 10 year mark of cubicle hell?
All I can say is I sure as heck wouldn’t be wide awake at 5AM writing as Cubert, without my cup of Joe within reach.
Coffee is one of those things you don’t mess with
Rarely do we wake up and ponder what kind of coffee we’re going to have this morning. Nope. It’s programmed in. And if anyone or anything comes between us and the coffee maker, a fight may just break out. “What!?! ALL the mugs are dirty in the dishwasher??” Grumble…
With that in mind, and with an early retirement mind-set, we have to weigh trade-offs and opportunity costs when it comes to our coffee habit. Yes, it would be lovely to retire in your forties (or sooner), but if you’ve got a habit of stopping at a Starbucks every morning before work, you’re clearly pissing away tens of thousands of dollars you could instead be using to bridge the gap from early retirement (your forties) to 401K collection time (59.5.)
Here’s a little analysis with the numbers, in case you think I’m making this sh*t up:
As you can see, a couple of the more common options used in our U.S. households can drain some serious coin from our treasure chest. But wait, there is one option that doesn’t seem quite so bad. AeroPress? What the heck is that? It’s your new coffee maker!
I had no idea what this thing was until I came across an article comparing coffee makers for people whom are extremely snobby with their coffee tastes. The coffee makers used in the test ranged from super duper espresso makers that run up to $10,000… all the way down to the mighty AeroPress, at a mere $30.
I thought, “How is that possible? You have to have a nice machine to make a decent cup of coffee!” At least, that’s what product marketing folks want you to believe.
Making a cup of the good stuff with the Aeropress? Simple.
In fact, I timed it to take about the same time as making a cup of Keurig, roughly three minutes.
1.) The first thing to do is measure 10 ounces of cold water, straight from the tap. We found out that Minneapolis municipal water makes for better coffee than the filtered stuff. Must be the minerals.
2.) Get your press ready. I opt not to stir with the stir paddle that comes with the AeroPress. After a few years of experimenting, we’ve found that the water being poured-in does enough to agitate the grounds.
3.) While your water is being nuked in the microwave, pour in two heaps of finely ground coffee. I highly recommend keeping fresh grounded coffee on hand, or grinding right before you make a cup.
4.) We have a small microwave, so two minutes is needed to heat up the 10 ounces of water. Using a handy meat thermometer, check to make sure the water is somewhere between 175F and 190F. I had to wait about 30 seconds to get this reading. I think my calibrated nuking time was off? That or the tap water comes out warmer in July. That stands to reason, right? Just know that this step is required only the first few times – after calibration, you’ll know exactly how long to microwave the water for.
5.) Wet the grounds. This is called the “blooming” process. Let the grounds settle for about 30 seconds.
6.) After the 30 seconds or so, I pour in all but a quarter cup of the water. I’ll turn the AeroPress around while adding the water to agitate the grounds a bit more.
7.) Start a pressin’! After wetting the gasket of the plunger, give your shoulders a little workout and gently press down for about 30 seconds, until you hit the number “1” on the press (next step.)
8.) Almost there – you can smell it! Just make sure you stop right around “1”. If you press all the way through the Aeropress, you could get a slightly bitter cup.
9.) Top off the mug with the quarter cup of water you’d set aside earlier. Voila! You’ve got Joe.
10.) Clean-up is simple. Just plunge the grounds and paper filter into your organics waste bin or (Gasp!) trash can.
So there you have it. Some of the finest tasting coffee to be had, and all you have to do is plunk down $30 for the “machine” and maybe $18 at Costco for a two or three pound bag of coffee beans every once in a while.
1.) We’ve used a Keurig in the past and for a while found it to be very convenient. We later came across articles about how hard they are to keep clean and how terrible the K-cups are for the environment. Finally, the coffee itself just didn’t taste that great anymore, especially after we tried our first cups of the AeroPress.
2.) We still indulge in the occasional Starbucks or Caribou coffee. With our weekly dining-out allowance, sometimes you just gotta see what the Jones’s are up to down at the corner coffee shop. Feel free to berate me in the comments below.
3.) We keep changing how we use the AeroPress! There are so many variations on the steps laid out above you’d need five years to test them all. Lately, we’ve landed on the inverted method, where you add the grinds to the assembled plunger tower, add water, stir, wait 3 minutes, stir again, attach the filter cap, and press. This method was like a revelation.
4.) Invest in a burr grinder! The better the grind, the better the coffee. We went with a Baratza Virtuoso for a little north of $200. Check out why, from this very informative New York Times review.
If you’re interested, check out this article on the cost of K-Cups. I used some of the figures for the cost analysis.