Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

Exploring the evolution of the AeroPress

For some years now, the AeroPress has been one of the most beloved manual brewers in the specialty coffee sector. Industry professionals and coffee enthusiasts around the world have developed a wide range of recipes for the AeroPress.

However, since its invention in 2005, the design of the AeroPress has largely remained the same. That is until 2019 when the AeroPress Go was launched – a more compact and travel-ready brewer.

Following a big push from consumers, AeroPress has launched even more designs over the past few years – including the highly-anticipated AeroPress Clear.

So what do you need to know about AeroPress’ new brewer and how to use it? To find out more, I spoke to three coffee professionals – read on to learn what they had to say.

You may also like our article on how you can brew coffee with the AeroPress using different grind sizes.

Various AeroPress brewers on a table.

The history of the AeroPress

The AeroPress is one of the most recognisable brewers in the global coffee industry. Invented by former engineering lecturer Alan Adler in 2004, the first AeroPress – which was clear-coloured with a blue-ish hue – was officially launched in November 2005 at Seattle’s CoffeeFest. Shortly after, the brewer had already gained a cult following.

Justin Piercy is a coffee content creator from Ontario, Canada. He explains that in the years following its release, the design of the AeroPress largely remained the same.

“Every couple of years, the colour of the logo or the design of the numbers on the side would change,” he says. “The AeroPress has a very loyal fan base, simply because it works so well.”

However, in 2009, AeroPress changed the materials used to manufacture the brewer.

Caitlin Campbell is a coffee content creator and the founder of Street Brew Coffee.

“Earlier models were made with polycarbonate, but in 2009, AeroPress started to use BPA-free copolyester,” she tells me.

This was mainly because of growing health concerns about BPA (or bisphenol A) – a chemical used to make certain plastics and resins. Research found that BPA can leach into food and beverages, especially at higher temperatures – like when brewing coffee.

Moreover, when ingested (even in very small quantities), BPA behaves similarly to hormones in the body. This has a negative effect on the production and activity of natural hormones, and can be harmful to human health.

In light of these concerns, AeroPress tested the polycarbonate used to manufacture its brewers, and found that there was no BPA leach when brewing coffee. Despite this, the company launched the BPA-free copolyester brewer, which was also completely clear in colour.

New AeroPress designs & colours

AeroPress created its first-ever smoky grey-coloured brewer in September 2010. Nearly four years later, the company changed the colour of the numbers from blue to gold. The brand name “AeroPress” was also printed on the side of the brewer – creating the now iconic AeroPress design.

Between 2014 and 2019, AeroPress experimented with several different materials and designs. These included:

  • Changing the colour of the lettering from beige to gold foil
  • Using polypropylene to manufacture brewers
  • Changing the colour of the brewer from dark to light grey

However, in mid-2019, the company saw its biggest design change with the launch of the AeroPress Go – a compact version of the original AeroPress. Designed for travel, the smaller-sized brewer came with its own carry case, which also doubled as a reusable mug.

The new brewer included red lettering, too – which AeroPress also changed on the original model as well.
In the years since, AeroPress has launched several new products. These include a stainless steel reusable filter and the Flow Control filter cap, which uses a pressure-actuated valve to control extraction. The company has also recently rebranded – changing its logo and packaging, as well as the font colour on its brewers to white.

Brewing coffee using a clear AeroPress brewer.

Recent changes to AeroPress designs

The AeroPress has taken several forms over the last few years, but more recently there has been significant innovation in design. In a move that saw the AeroPress return to its first-ever design concept, the new Clear brewer was released in May 2023.

“The very first AeroPress was clear, so it’s basically become a collector’s item,” Justin says. “Functionally, the new Clear is identical to the original AeroPress, but it’s made from Tritan plastic.”

Tritan, which is a relatively new type of plastic, is both BPA-free and impact-resistant.

“The AeroPress has been one of the most durable, portable, and flexible brewers for a long time,” Justin adds. “The Clear version doesn’t just look great, it’s also resilient.”

Both Justin and Caitlin believe there are a number of reasons why AeroPress launched the Clear brewer.

“A clear-coloured brewer grabs peoples’ attention, turns heads, and is very aesthetically appealing – which is really important in a social media-driven world,” Caitlin explains.

On the other hand, considering the cult status of the first-ever AeroPress, Justin says the launch of the new brewer is a direct response to continuous consumer demand for another clear-coloured AeroPress.

How does the new design affect brewing techniques?

The AeroPress has long been one of the most accessible brewing methods in specialty coffee. Looking at the new Clear brewer specifically, its transparent material means users can exert even more control over brewing variables.

Baristas and home brewers can more easily observe how ground coffee interacts with the brewing water. This means they can identify uneven extraction – and make any necessary adjustments accordingly – more efficiently.

“With the AeroPress Clear, you can see if any grounds aren’t fully saturated,” Cailtin explains. “You can then stir the coffee a few more times, or stir more aggressively, and see how agitation affects extraction.”

Moreover, Caitlin says users can also see how the height and speed of pouring water into the brewing chamber impacts extraction.

Justin agrees, saying: “The AeroPress is a very forgiving brewer in general, but the Clear ensures you’re fully saturating all the grounds and not leaving any dry clumps during extraction.”

This is especially useful for baristas and home brewers who are new to specialty coffee. However, it also allows more experienced users to achieve the best possible results.

A barista pours hot water into a clear AeroPress.

What does a clear brewer mean for extraction?

The AeroPress Clear is similar in shape and size to the original model, so users don’t necessarily need to change any extraction variables to brew with it.

Andrew Pautler is the founder of Pull & Pour Coffee.

“Regardless of your skill level or ability to make coffee, the AeroPress Clear can meet you where you’re at,” he says.

When it comes to agitation, however, Andrew offers some advice. He says while many people stir the centre of the slurry in a circular motion to fully saturate the grounds, this can result in a dome-shaped puck – which sometimes indicates uneven extraction.

“Stirring in a back-and-forth motion means you can saturate all grounds more quickly, but it doesn’t create a dome-shaped bed of coffee,” he explains.

Andrew also recommends pushing down on the AeroPress Clear plunger for around one minute to ensure more even extraction.

“Although the pressure level is not as high as when using an espresso machine, there is about 0.5 to 1 bar of pressure created when brewing with the AeroPress,” he adds. “Pushing down slowly ensures the water flows evenly through the ground coffee, and minimises the risk of channelling.”

Caitlin suggests using the Flow Control Cap to better understand how different accessories and techniques impact the brewing process.

“You can see what’s happening inside the brewer,” she tells me. “You can also notice how the grounds move around and see the crust form on top, as well as understanding how different variations of agitation affect extraction.”

Experimenting with brew recipes

Above all else, adjusting brewing variables and trying out new techniques is key to achieving the best results for different kinds of coffee.

“There are so many ways to use the AeroPress Clear,” Justin tells me. “There are also plenty of resources and people online who can help you find the best recipe for your needs.

“Whether you want a no-fuss, fast, and easy method, or whether you’re looking for more precise competition recipes, there are many people online who will share their tips and advice,” he adds.

Caitlin agrees, and ultimately believes that the most important thing is to have fun when brewing with the AeroPress Clear.

“People love to play around with variations of AeroPress recipes,” she says. “The new Clear offers a whole new way of doing this because you get to watch and learn from the entire brewing process.”

Coffee pours out of an AeroPress.

What’s next for the AeroPress?

This year, we have seen one of the brand’s most significant design changes since the launch of the AeroPress Go in 2019. But what could we expect to see in the future?

In June 2023, the company also developed the AeroPress XL, which is double the size of the original AeroPress. The model was launched as a way for baristas and home brewers to prepare larger batches of coffee. In line with this, the brewer includes a 20oz (591ml) carafe which is compatible with the shape of the AeroPress XL.

“With these new products, AeroPress is demonstrating its willingness to grow as a brand and adapt to a growing and ever-changing coffee community,” Caitlin concludes.

A barista stirs coffee in a clear AeroPress brewer.

The AeroPress has become an indispensable piece of brewing equipment for many people in the specialty coffee community. Its versatility and accessibility means it will always remain one of the industry’s favourite manual brewers.

Furthermore, with new designs and aesthetics, it’s clear the brewer is evolving even more – and we can expect more innovation in the future.

Enjoyed this? Then read our article on how AeroPress recipes have changed in recent years.

Photo credits: AeroPress, Cailtin Campbell

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The post Exploring the evolution of the AeroPress appeared first on Perfect Daily Grind.

By: Zoe Stanley-Foreman
Title: Exploring the evolution of the AeroPress
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Published Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2023 05:22:00 +0000