The AeroPress coffee maker is a plunger-style device for brewing ground coffee that works in a similar way to a French press by allowing the coffee to steep then forcing it through a filter.
The product comes in a basic cardboard box which is recyclable.
I’ve always tried to avoid those coffee pod machines that have gathered a lot of popularity over the past few years (even when the machine prices always miraculously tumble in the run-up to Christmas!). It’s not because they don’t produce good coffee, it’s more to do with the cost of the actual pods and the excessive packaging they come in. They tend to be made from mostly non-recyclable materials that would end up dumped in landfill. *While researching this review though, I learned some new information about pods, which I’ve included at the end of the article.
How it Works
The AeroPress uses small circular paper filters and apparently you can reuse these by carefully peeling them off and drying them out, however I decided to purchase a reusable metal filter which I find works well. When finished, the used coffee grounds can be deposited into a food waste caddy. A quick rinse of the AeroPress and it’s ready to be reused.
I have several important life rules that I try my very best to live by (unless Mrs Secret Cleaner is with me, or it’s a non-optional social convention as per Sheldon Cooper). They are as follows: I refuse to buy bottled water. I refuse to pay to use a toilet. I refuse to pay to park my car. I refuse to overpay for a coffee. The last one is especially dear to me. I really don’t like standing in a queue waiting for anything, but it seems every time I’m in a Starbucks/Costa-type establishment I am required to join a half-dozen other people waiting an eternity and paying over-inflated prices while some sassy hipster-type presses a few buttons and bangs some metal ‘bits’ together to eventually present me with a rather underwhelming, lukewarm cup of coffee. Nope, I’d rather make my own thank you very much.
After some online research I decided the AeroPress seemed to met most of my coffee making requirements – easy to use, portable, uses pre-ground coffee, reduces waste wherever possible and is relatively cheap to buy. It quickly replaced the Bodum French press I was using as the quality of the coffee it produced was awfully nice. You can find a number of different coffee brewing methods on the internet using this device, but mine is really rather straight-forward. I stick one generous scoop of ground coffee into the press, fill up with boiling water then give it a stir. The water capacity of the AeroPress isn’t much, only around 250ml so I like to make a strong coffee, let it steep for a minute then add a splash of boiling water to it (remembering to only boil the amount of water I need). I use a Lavazza Modo Mio frother to warm up my milk, then bung it altogether in a large mug. Absolute perfection every time.
From a cost point of view, some simple calculations using tesco.com on 2/9/19 show that [for example], Lavazza pods cost £4.25 for 16. I tend to buy whatever 250g ground coffee is on offer for around the £2.50 mark, so using a 15g scoop in the AeroPress gives me around 16 servings. That makes the cost of a mug of coffee 26p for the pods and 15p for the ground coffee using an Aeropress. I guess if you wanted, you could buy some instant coffee – a 95g tin of Lavazza Prontissimo costing £4.70 will give around 52 servings costing 9p each so the cheapest by far, but then why would you do that?
At time of writing the AeroPress is available from various outlets for around the £25 mark. The version I bought consisted of the press itself, a funnel, a stirrer, a scoop and some paper filters. The metallic filter was bought later and cost me around £10 from Amazon. I got my milk frother on sale in Tesco for around £20, however I’ve seen cheaper versions in Lidl that do the same job. Links to all on Amazon are below.
What About Pods?
While researching this article I came across a very interesting piece on wired.co.uk explaining common environmental misconceptions about pod-made coffee.
Studies have shown that when you consider the entire coffee process from production to consuming the drink, pod machines are not the worst offender for environmental impact – instant coffee comes out on top, then pod coffee ahead of drip machines and lastly traditional espresso style coffee.
There is of course the general environmental impact of farming coffee beans, the release of greenhouse gases, use of fertilisers, water consumption and the carbon footprint involved in moving vast quantities of the stuff around the globe.
However, pod coffee uses the exact amount of coffee required per drink, so there’s not as much product waste when compared to, say, drip machines.
How many of us throw away unused/cold drip coffee or just bung several scoops of ground coffee into the filter without much thought?
As for energy, drip coffee machines can use substantially more energy than pod machines, especially when left on to keep the coffee warm.
A French press or instant coffee requires a means to boil water, and how many people fill the kettle up when just a mug-full is needed? A pod machine ‘flash’ heats just the right amount of water for the coffee pod, so just the right amount of energy is used.
Most people tend to just focus on the environmental impact of used pod capsules and how they can’t be recycled. Many major coffee manufacturers rightly claim that their pods are in fact recyclable, the problem is that many pod users just don’t bother trying to recycle them, or local community recycling centres don’t have facilities or processes to deal with them properly. As always, people need to make an effort. Where we live, I regularly find cardboard boxes inside the communal general waste bin because residents are, I suspect, just too lazy to put them in the dedicated cardboard waste bin (which is right next to it). Unbelievable, and another reason why this planet is fucked.
Aeropress is available from Amazon here
Lavazza Milk Frother available from Amazon here
Mr Secret Cleaner
P.S. Hot off the Press – out later this year is a new version of the AeroPress that fits neatly into a rather nice little mug. Further details here.
#aff – some products include affiliate links which means if you purchase them, I receive a small commission paid by Amazon.