The Well-Kept Secret Behind the Perfect Cup of Coffee

When it comes to coffee, we like to think we know our stuff. That is, until recently when we learned about the AeroPress, an inexpensive device that attaches to a coffee mug and promises to deliver the smoothest single-serving cup of coffee you've ever had. Alan Adler invented the device—he also created the Aerobie, a cousin of the frisbee that flies major distances—as a reaction to the watery results of attempting to make a single cup of coffee with a traditional drip machine. Adler thought that by creating a simple cone filled with grounds to place on top of a cup and add boiling water, you could create a better-tasting result. Due to lengthy brew times and bitter results, this proved ineffective so Adler got to work on other ways of creating the perfect cup and after 40 trial-and-error versions of a hand-pump-like press, the final product was born.

Adler says the secret is in the water temperature and the brew and time. "I began just by tasting the coffee, and I found that 175 degree water made the best-tasting coffee with a pour over, which is well below boiling," the inventor told Backchannel. "But I was troubled by the fact that the drip-through took about four or five minutes. I believe that if lower temperature makes the coffee sweeter, a shorter time will as well." So Adler set off to figure out how to speed up the brewing process. Realizing that pressing the grounds in the cone didn't help at all, Adler developed an airtight chamber that would apply pressure on the slurry of water and grounds in a fixed space and result in a smooth, non-bitter cup in a smaller time frame.

The final product took off and has become a favorite amongst coffee snobs and experts alike. The under-the-radar invention has even spurred competitions—"A huge serendipitous thing that I wouldn’t have imagined in a million years," Adler says—and despite doing zero advertising, the inventor has sold more than a million units. 

Want to read more about developing the perfect cup of coffee? Head to Backchannel to read about Adler's invention in more detail and purchase your own self-cleaning, low maintenance device here.

Have you ever used an AeroPress? Tell us about it in the comments!