Hot beverages can carry magical powers of encouragement, especially for tired parents. At Christmas one year I gave my wife an electric mug warmer, since she was suffering from perpetually cold tea syndrome, a common parental affliction. Around the edge of the warming pad I wrote in Sharpie something like “Ha-ha, you never get to drink your tea hot, but my love for you never grows cold.” Making matters worse, the tyrannical infant/toddler schedule means there is little point in leaving the house for “fancy coffee” only to have to rush home before the nap clock strikes again. And espresso machines cost a fortune, so lattes are simply out of the question, right? Enter the new cult favorite sweeping the nation, the AeroPress machine (dramatically) DUHN, DUHN, DUHN…
Invented by Alan Adler, the same game-changing mechanical genius who brought us the iconic 80’s Aerobie flying disc, the AeroPress is a hand-pump espresso maker, capable of making amazing coffee.
The AeroPress isn’t brand new by any means; but despite its huge cult following among coffee geeks, I find that most people are still just discovering it. It is impressively simple: the chamber sits atop your coffee mug, with a filter on the bottom, grounds and hot water stirred inside, and a plunger which presses the brewed espresso down into the cup. Remove the filter, and the puck of pressed grounds pops out into the trash; just rinse the end of the plunger and it’s clean.
How to make lattes at home
To make your own 65-cent latte, you will need: An AeroPress, ground coffee beans, hot water, and hot frothy milk. Once you have the AeroPress, the frothy milk is the hardest part. You can skip the foam entirely, but it serves two purposes: keeping the coffee warm, and preventing a thin “skin” from forming on top. You can buy an Aerolatte device (electric mini-whisk), but I recommend simply giving it a few quick shakes in a canning jar, then microwaving it without the lid until hot.
Check my math. The cost of coffee has shot up in recent years, but the home latte is still very affordable I think.
|Item||Total Cost||Number of uses||Cost per latte|
|AeroPress espresso maker with 700 filters (with the 350 filter bonus pack)||29.35||700 (buying more filters, or a reusable steel mesh filter, reduces per drink cost further)||$0.04|
|Espresso roast coffee, ground for fine-drip machines (not espresso grind, which will clog the filter)||14.99||3 scoops per ounce, 16 ounces, equals 48 shots, or 24 double-shot drinks||$0.31|
|1 Gallon Milk||2.98||13 x 10 ounce servings (each makes a 12-ounce latte)||$ 0.30|
|Conclusion:||$0.65 for 1-shot, $0.96 for 2-shots||$0.65|
Tips on using the AeroPress:
- Watch the temperature of the water when brewing, but consider going higher than the directions. The coffee should brew at 170-180 Fahrenheit, so the boiling point is way too high. But a barista at Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco pointed out to me that the chamber itself will cool the water, so consider adding the water at 190, or even 200 if your grounds are from the freezer.
- Keep your coffee fresh. Aromas escape at room temperature, especially after grinding. If you’re after convenience, get pre-ground coffee and keep it in the freezer. Grinding your own will improve the taste, but the beans should still stay in the freezer even if kept whole.
- Consider brewing upside-down (see photo) which allows you to steep the coffee for longer than the directions state; my barista friend recommended a full 90 seconds, while you continue to stir.
- Experiment with diferent beans and roasts. Some medium-roast coffees can make an exceptional latte, more fresh and flavorful, depending on what you like.
- Know your ideal coffee ratio. One shot may not be enough coffee to go with 10 ounces of milk. If you have young children at home, you may want to start by brewing yourself one shot for every child who is not yet in full-day school, or the number of times you were awakened last night, whichever is higher.
Do you, or does someone you love, suffer from always-cold-hot-beverage-syndrome? Have you tried an AeroPress or some other means of making high-quality coffee at home? Do you know someone who needs one of these for Mother’s Day?