The AeroPress® is a relatively new apparatus for making coffee, invented in 2005. You could say that it represents a whole new way of making coffee (as the manufacturers do) but since it has features in common with almost every other way I can think of, that might be pushing it (it's like a filter... espresso... press). The coffee it makes is something like espresso, but considerably less bitter than normal espresso relative to its strength. Perhaps that's why I don't like it quite as much, but serious coffee people also say that it loses more of the volatile oils than other methods. Once you dilute it with hot water, though, it makes a truly excellent cup of Americano-style coffee, and it makes it astonishingly fast.

The AeroPress itself consists of just three plastic parts, plus a filter which is either disposable and made of paper, or washable and made of metal. The main chamber, marked with numbers on the side indicating the amount of water corresponding to 1-4 espresso shots, is designed to sit on top of a cup. The filter cap screws into that, holding the filter in place. There is a special spoon to measure coffee into the chamber, and a special stirrer that is just short enough not to disturb the filter at the bottom, but neither one seems essential. There is also a funnel that I use for tipping in coffee fresh from the grinder. You pour in hot water - they recommend it should only be about 80° - and stir it for about ten seconds. Then you wet the rubber at the bottom of the plunger, insert it into the top of the main shaft, and press. It takes twenty or thirty seconds to push it all the way down.

I find that once the coffee is all squeezed out, the cap is cool enough to remove immediately, which is good because the manufacturers are quite stern about not leaving the coffee in there. Once the cap is off, you can push the plunger down the rest of the way to make the coffee fall out with a satisfying plop. Since the rubber seal of the plunger clears everything out of the main chamber on the way down, there is no cleaning to do except to wipe off any grounds sticking to the plunger, and rinse off the paper filter if you want to reuse it.

We've only had one for a couple of weeks, so I can't testify to its longevity, but the plastic seems remarkably sturdy, and online reviews I've read seem to bear this out. I would take it camping without a second thought. It hasn't completely replaced our main cafetière, just because it's handy being able to make four cups at once, but I'm not at all sure we're actually saving ourselves any time or effort by using the big press, and it certainly doesn't make such good coffee.