I’m convinced that no reasonable person can function without coffee.
Which is odd, considering how I got by without it until my mid-30s. I reckon something happens to sap corporate stooges of their youthful energy within 10 years of cubicle hell…?
All I can say is I sure as heck wouldn’t be wide awake at 5 AM writing this blog without my cup of Aeropress java within reach.
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 came 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 mindset, 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 pouring down the drain thousands of dollars that’d otherwise get you to the retirement finishing line.
Opportunity Cost: Aeropress vs. Keurig
As you can see, a couple of the more common options used in our U.S. households can drain some serious money 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, intended for people who are extremely snobby with their coffee tastes. The brewers used in the test ranged from super-duper espresso makers that run up to $10,000… down to the mighty Aeropress coffee maker, 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.
Using an Aeropress Is Super Easy
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 8 ounces of cold water, straight from the tap. We found out that Minneapolis municipal water makes for better coffee than filtered H2O. Must be the minerals.
2.) Get your Aeropress ready. Keep the stir paddle that comes with the kit nearby. It also comes in handy for delicately mixing cocktails too…
3.) While your water is being nuked in the microwave (1:40 to 2:00 minutes), pour in one heaping scoop of finely ground coffee. I highly recommend keeping freshly 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 the 8 or 9 ounces of water.
First time calibration: 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 with half of the water (about 4 oz.). This is called the “blooming” process. Stir with the stir paddle for about 10 seconds.
6.) After the 10-second stir, set a timer for 45-50 seconds.
Variation: Experiment with inverting the plunger during this blooming process. This prevents coffee from “escaping” into the cup before it’s fully brewed. After the 45-50 seconds noted just above, delicately flip the Aeropress onto the mug. This “inverted approach” is how we do it nowadays in our household.
7.) Start a pressing – GENTLY! The maker of the Aeropress suggests simply using the weight of your elbow to press. You don’t want to rush this step! This takes about 15-30 seconds. You’re done when the plunger reaches 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, you could get a slightly bitter cup.
9.) Top off the mug with the remaining 4 oz. 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. Simple and quick Aeropress instructions for making some of the finest tasting coffee at home. All you have to do is plunk down $30 for the Aeropress and maybe $18 at Costco for a two or three-pound bag of coffee beans every once in a while. Remember to keep those beans in a dark, dry place but NOT in the fridge or freezer!
Lights-out and without a doubt, this is the best coffee you can make at home. With a decent burr grinder to provide the grounds, you’ll find the flavor leagues better than any plug-in machine, short of a full-fledged espresso appliance.
Bonus: With Aeropress, when the power goes out you can still have coffee. You might have to manually light your stovetop to boil some water in a kettle, but no big deal. Just don’t wait too long to light that thing! Take this device with you on camping trips – it’ll enhance the outdoor experience.
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 got to 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 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.
Do you have an Aeropress or other minimalist maker, and want to sing its praises? Please share in the comments below!
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Mrs. Picky Pincher says
YES YES YES YES. When I read the title I was like, “Oh man, this poor soul must not know about Aeropresses and drinks from a Mr. Coffee Machine.” BUT YOU GOT ME lol. We’ve had an Aeropress for five years and it hands-down makes the best non-espresso coffee at home. I do have an espresso maker, but that’s like a different category of coffee altogether (although I highly recommend getting one). We don’t crave the fancy high-end coffees at hipster cafes because we can make something better in an Aeropress.
abandoned cubicle says
Ha! You know you can still berate me for the Starbucks footnote. Have you tried the reusable wire mesh filter on your aeropress? We have – but it seems the paper filter yields a better cup.
Dylan | Trail to FI says
I’ve used French press and pour over for my entire coffee drinking lifetime (5 years), but I only just heard about Aeropress a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t really that impressed by the quality, at least not enough for me to think that it is better than my current techniques. (It may have been due to the preferred strength of the person making it. I like it stronger than he made it.) Do you have any thoughts on how Aeropress compares to French press or pour over?
Otherwise, I’m totally with you on making your own coffee, and specifically using a manual technique. The machines are taking over, and we need to do everything we can to fight back!
abandoned cubicle says
You know, I haven’t tried pour over but I want to. We do have a French press we use on weekends when there’s more time to set it up and grind all the coffee for me and Mrs. Cubert to enjoy a double. I’d say the French press makes a better regular cup of coffee but aero press is a close competitor and more convenient too.
And yes, blast the machines! Except the microwave which I need to hear the water
I got into making my own coffee more a while back when my brother got into roasting his own beans. He buys his own green coffee in bulk, and then uses a heavy duty roaster that he bought to roast the beans for himself, and for family and friends. He ended up turning it into a side business (thepeoplesroast.com), although I think it only mainly pays for his own coffee habit and fun coffee toys.
My favorite way to enjoy a cup of joe is to grind up some of my brother’s whole bean coffee just before I brew it (it does taste different when you get freshly roasted coffee!), then use either an Aeropress like you, French Press or just a simple pour over. Nothing quite like the smell of a fresh cup of coffee!
abandoned cubicle says
You got it made with that supply channel! I’d love to try out my AP with fresh roasted beans. I bet it makes a big difference. Do you go for light or dark roast?
I tend to like a stronger cup of coffee, but my brother always recommends going with a lighter to medium roast as he says more of the coffees oils/flavors/taste come out in one of those roasts, as opposed to a darker roast. So when buying his coffee I usually go with a medium roast.
I just wrote a post about why I now have converted to buying coffee out! I’m actually not opposed to making coffee at home (I did basic pour over for years), I’ve heard tons of great things about the aeropress!
Now that I’m ramping up my productivity, I go to work at a coffee shop in the mornings and on the weekends because my apartment is tiny and always a mess. I generally just drink free work coffee if I’m really seeking out a good dose of caffeine 😛
abandoned cubicle says
Hi Jing! Thanks for stopping by. I’ll definitely check out your post. Always helpful to understand another viewpoint. I’m with you on the work coffee – it is terrible, but a serviceable source of caffeine. ????
Good call, I’m a bit of a recovering Starbucks junkie myself but I try to use my French press now instead. Recently got into the cold-brew game, which is saving me even more since in the summer months a cold-brew iced coffee costs like $4!
abandoned cubicle says
It’s crazy – the big thing now is nitro-infused cold brew. It sure tastes good, but it’s pricey! Thanks for stopping by Mr. SLM!
Oh crazy I had never heard of nitro-infused cold brew, now I gotta try it 😛
Thanks for sharing your Aero Press experience. I never like the K-cup coffee. I found it to lack taste and quite expensive for what you get. I’m simple. We have a stove top moka pot for our “espresso” fix and a regular French press for our regular coffee. Both can be bought for under $30, depending on size, make great coffee, simple to clean and had no waste except for the coffee grounds which every coffee maker on Earth has. Bottom line, the $s saved brewing your own coffee at home can really add up to a lot over the long haul. Like you, I also indulge every now and then in “outside” coffee. As long as the expense stays in check you’re good.
abandoned cubicle says
For sure, DivHut! I’ve also tried stop top (campfire) coffee and love the stuff. Seems we’re of like minds on this one. Thanks for stopping by!
I didn’t know that Keurigs are 4x more expensive than Aeropress. My coworkers have a ritual twice a day making their own aeropressed coffee when they can have as many Keurigs as they want in the office for free. In that sense, opportunity cost is actually greater with Aeropress.
Ha! Sometimes I guess those Aeropress folks get snobby about the quality of their coffee? That, or there’s some recognition of the environmental waste those used pods incur…
Mr Defined Sight says
Your pictures kind of remind me of when they scientifically made coffee on Breaking Bad. We use a Keurig. Sacrificing some taste for a little convenience I suppose. When that thing bites the dust, I may go a different route. Love coffee, it’s good for you. I think.
Ah yes, Breaking Bad. My all-time favorite TV show. Yes, Mr. White, we’re adding chili powder! 😉