I don’t know about you, but I need some caffeine in the morning. Despite the fact that for the last couple of years I’ve really been a tea person, in the last 8 months or so I’ve started to appreciate coffee and now it’s my preferred choice. It started with a cappuccino (or latte – I forget) at Starbucks and from there I diversified; realising that I like my coffee black but that a straight espresso shot was a bit too strong to enjoy, an americano seemed like the ideal combination. Interestingly it also happens to be one of the simpler forms of coffee (without foamed milk, cream, hot chocolate etc), one that is easy to make without lots of paraphernalia. I digress. Upon my coffee epiphany I decided I needed 2 things: quality coffee beans and some way to brew them. I quickly discovered a shop in Camden Town (which has a wide selection of coffees) and sampled a couple of types, having decided my favourite was a coffee bean from Costa Rica I now collect a 500g bag almost every 2 weeks to fulfil my cravings. Now that I had coffee beans I needed some way to brew the coffee other than the rather clunky french press located downstairs…

It occurred to me that really I want coffee every morning – this means that I want to be able to make the same coffee no matter where I am and that the equipment I use must be transportable, durable, simple and quick to use. After doing some research into travel coffee, the one device that really stood out as being popular (with thousands of coffee brewing recipes to go with it), very affordable (£25), durable (tough plastic construction) and intuitive to use was the “Aeropress.” If you do a quick Google (or dare I say Bing) then you will see that the Aeropress stands out from the crowd amongst all other coffee-brewing devices (not just for travel) and was quite clearly the correct option for someone like myself looking to be able to make a good barista-quality cup of coffee (in my dreams) while out kayaking or hiking as well as at home. I’ll now describe what an Aeropress is, what comes in the box, how I use it to make my coffee and it’s pros and cons now that I’ve brewed with one for a while.

An Aeropress is really a very simple device. It works a bit like a french press except that instead of the plunger also being the filter, the plunger pushes the coffee through a filter at the bottom straight into your mug. This has the benefit of filtering your coffee a bit better so that it has less grounds still in it and allows you to create something very similar to espresso. Technically espresso (which is the basis of cafe coffees) requires a special machine and very high pressure, something most home coffee-brewing devices cannot replicate, however the Aeropress manages to simulate this method remarkably well when you push the plunger down hard and fast; this creates a lot of pressure as the water is forced through the coffee and results in an espresso-like drink, or at worst a very strong cup of coffee. With this you can then add whatever you want (or nothing at all) and create anything, Google it and someone will have a ‘recipe’ whether its for a latte or an Irish coffee.

What do you get as part of the package? Of course you get the Aeropress itself which consists of the plunger, the tube it goes into and a cap on the bottom where the filter goes. You also receive a stirrer (kind of unnecessary when you could just use a spoon), a measuring scoop (actually quite useful), a funnel for pouring coffee grounds in (don’t bother with this) and 250 paper filters in a filter-holder. Out of the included accessories I only use the measuring scoop because I find that 2 full scoops of coffee are perfect for how I like a single cup of coffee in the morning, when I want more I can calculate how many additional scoops to use. You may be wondering why I don’t use the paper filters… this is because while camping, kayaking etc I want to have as little to carry as possible (and reduce litter). You can buy a metal filter for the Aeropress off Ebay for a fiver and it’s probably the best accessory you could buy. It means you don’t have to keep getting new filters (or run the risk of having none left) and you don’t need to throw out a filter every time you use it; combined with this the flavour of the coffee is marginally improved because the wider metal mesh allows oils from the coffee through which the thicker Aeropress specific filter does not, resulting in a more tasty, flavoursome cup of coffee.

Okay. How do I make my coffee? This is a bit of a controversial topic and many people argue about the best way to do this, i’ll show you the way that i’ve perfected and you can modify it for yourself…

  • Step 1: get a medium-sized strong mug and put it on a sturdy surface.
  • Step 2: if you haven’t already, then grind your coffee.
  • Step 3: set your water boiling in a kettle.
  • Step 4: using the Aeropress scoop dump 2 1/2 scoops of coffee into the Aeropress (which should be placed on your mug by now).
  • Step 5: after Step 4 the water should be just below boiling by now, pour it slowly into the Aeropress up to mark 3.
  • Step 6: wait maybe 10 secs then put in the plunger, pull up slightly to make a vacuum then plunge down hard keeping a steady pace.
  • Step 7: when you hear air begin to hiss then wait for the drips to stop and remove the Aeropress from your mug.
  • Step 8: add water from the kettle to the top of the mug (this is the strength I like, vary the amount of water you add to achieve different results).

You may be wondering at this point if there’s anything that I don’t like about it and I would have to say that there isn’t really anything worth complaining about, it might come with a couple of unnecessary extras, it might not be the coolest colour you could think of and it certainly doesn’t foam milk for you, sprinkle chocolate flakes on top or make a whistling sound when it’s done (only a faintly pathetic wheeze). It does however make a good cup of coffee (and with a little bit of experimentation it can be better than good), it’s easily affordable coming in at £30 if you also get the metal filter I recommended, it’s light, portable and durable because it’s simple and made of tough plastic so there’s nothing complicated to break or add weight and everything (including your coffee beans) can be fitted into the hollow plunger while in transit – quite neat actually. This makes it ideal for travellers wanting a quick brew and it can easily be shoved into a dry-bag or the back of a boat while paddling on multi-day trips or even if you’re at Hurley with your mates for the day. I cannot stress just how much difference a cup of hot liquid makes on a cold winters day, you warm up (even from just holding the mug) and the caffeine from coffee gives you that little kick needed to get you back on the water after your break instead of giving up and driving off, so a coffee-maker is a worthwhile investment and once you’ve done your own research I’m sure you’ll come up with the Aeropress as being best option too…