Saturday, May 20, 2006


final score: french press: 1, aeropress: nil. this will serve as an adendum review to my earlier post about the aeropress, a sort of "now that some time has passed and i've had more time to tinker" post. while i like the idea of the aeropress over a traditional press in several respects--relative cleanliness, easier cleanup, the fact that it vaguely reminds me of a breast milk pump, etc.--i think for my money i would still rather have a good ol' french over the aero. even though the french provides not nearly the wiggle room for experimentation as does the aero (ever try to press a french down when the grind's too fine?). even though the french can take more than four times the amount of time than the aero. maybe the aero just seems to have too many parts to keep track of: the filters, the stir stick, coordinating the numbers on the coffee part and the water part. maybe the french just seems far and away to carry so much more panache than the utilitarian aero. even though we americans are not really talking to the french as much these days (can we rename it a "freedom press?") i think they had it figured out.

style points go to the french. you just look flat out cooler pressing and drinking from a french press versus an aero, which i wouldn't bring to table to impress anyone. and they ain't no fancypants restaurants gon' be usin' no aero no time soon neither.

ease of use goes to the french--is it just me or do others find themselves nigh unto standing on the aero to try to squish out every last millileter of liquid from the aero? i get nervous the mug is going to violently slip off the kitchen counter and hit my son or daughter on the head or something.

cleanup on the aero noses out the french, although bloom in the aero is a real factor and you are essentially relegated to using only enough coffee to fill the "1" or "2" spots without massively overflowing the contraption.

and then there's the result in the cup. yes, i give major points to the aero for bringing out stuff i might have never noticed if i stuck with the french. but if one has access to a decent prosumer espresso machine those crazy notes will show up in the demitasse just as they would from the my contention, anyways; i haven't run the aero side by side with a prosumer espresso machine.

i kind of feel like the product put out by the aero presents a phenomenon i've experienced before when cupping coffees i don't particularly care for. i remember cupping my first papua new guinea some years ago working for starbucks. it was a limited time offering and, as was usually the case in my store, we broke open the case within minutes of it arriving off the delivery truck and fired up the presses (french, not aero). (those were the days--what a crew of coffee hounds i used to's no wonder we sold nearly 200 lbs of retail coffee a week at my old store.)

anyways, i remember smelling/tasting the herbally, grassy tartness that png's can sometimes present and not really being a fan. everyone else standing there was fake gagging, expressing blind reactionary discontent. and then it hit me. i appreciate this coffee. i don't necessarily like it. i won't crave it. but i can appreciate it as an experience-building coffee and for what it is--a different take on coffee than i'm generally used to. i had come to terms with it.

and that's my final analysis of the aeropress. what it presents, what it represents, is a departure from the usual because of the notes it tends to accentuate in the cup. but it begins to feel more like smoke and mirrors after a while, as it tends to pull up more of the bass and lower baritone feelings in a coffee--perhaps--at the expense of the higher trebles. after a while it starts to feel more like a sideshow departure than the arrival of the main event.

my (cyber) acquaintence mark seems to feel the aero can rival the clover, all parameters being set as nearly identical as they can. i a certain, infield extent. but maybe his view on that comes as a result of some stuff i've heard him say on some of his podcasts: that he feels the clover tends to precisely leave out the lower end notes of body and syrup and instead push the higher signatures to the fore. (to be fair, mark also podcasted that he did have some clover cups done well that seemed to bring that more into balance. but given the total number of solidly balanced cups he's had relative to its price tag it wouldn't seem to be--at this point--worth the investment. i still wouldn't know. those guys at clover still won't return my voicemails requesting my free demo machine.)

i digress. i don't believe the aero signals a sea change in how coffee will be made and consumed at the top of the pyramid of this industry. surely, it will always have its supporters; but for my money, i believe i'd still rather press a frenchie than an aerobie. does that mean i'm going to ebay off my aero? certainly not. in fact, i'm drinking a cup of aero coffee right now (a 60/40 city+ roasted harar and full city roasted sumatra...quite interesting, actually). i'm merely saying the search will go on for me for the perfect cup.

...which is how it should be, isn't it?


At Monday, 22 May, 2006, Anonymous Stephen Leighton said...

I love the aerobie, but marks claim on it being like the clover for me are not true. I've spent the weekend trying to talk myself out of buying a clover, its just way way better than the aerobie (as it should be as its lots more expensive).

I have done tests side by side on a home machine and an aerobie and I really did prefer the Aerobie. Now on my commercial machine of course its not as good. But its a completly new brewing method that I wish the inverntor would market it as such. I'm sure we would all welcome it with open arms if he said its new its different make up your own mind.

Keep up the good work Blanco


At Tuesday, 23 May, 2006, Anonymous Mark said...

One other thing Aaron - I have one of the elusive metal filters for it. IMO, it makes a world of difference.

At Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, Blogger blanco said...

yeah, mark...i'd heard of the fabled metal filters. got any extras? if not, any idea where i might be able to score one?



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