The Aeropress may look like a toy (and at less than $25, it is priced like one), but it is an excellent single-cup coffee maker. It is easy to use and simple to clean, which makes it ideal for making coffee at the office — or anywhere else.

I even took it camping with me last month, and it worked like a charm in sub-freezing temperatures.

Why Aeropress is best

In general, I agree with Andy that a French press makes the best coffee. However a French press also makes a mess, and you need a full sink with a garbage disposal to clean one, and probably a dishwashing machine. There is also some evidence that unfiltered coffee (like you get from a French press) can raise your cholesterol.

You could get one of those pod coffee makers, like a Keurig. They do make great coffee, but both the machine and the pods (or K-cups) are quite expensive compared to just buying coffee. Plus, I just feel like a jerk throwing away all those plastic pods.

The Aeropress works a lot like a French press, but with a filter, and it is simple to clean. In fact, you basically don’t have to clean it because it cleans itself. You just have to wipe off the plunger with a cloth. Or your finger. It does use a filter, which you have to throw away, but it will compost just fine. And you can just get a reusable stainless steel filter.

It is the perfect coffee maker for the office, whether you work in a cubicle or you have access to a full kitchen.

Making coffee with an Aeropress

Like a French press, the Aeropress is an immersion brewer, meaning you let the grounds get all wet like tea leaves, then filter out the brewed coffee. There are two ways to use it, the regular method and the inverted method.

Once you get the hang of it, you might want to try some of these recipes from the World Aeropress Championships.

Regular method:

Instructions for the regular method come in the box with the Aeropress. It is not really espresso, although the instructions claims it is. It is really just strong coffee, and you should dilute it to taste.

Here is a video showing you how to make coffee using the regular method, as well as how simple it is to clean an Aeropress:

Inverted method:

The inverted method is sort of an Aeropress “hack,” because it wasn’t intended to be used this way. But it works really well. This is how I usually make my coffee. In the video below, you can see the inverted method in action. I find that I still need to dilute my coffee a bit. I use close to a full scoop for brewing, and top off my coffee mug with hot water after brewing the coffee.

What you need

To make coffee using an Aeropress at the office

  • A source of water.
  • An Aeropress, obviously.
  • An electric kettle. I highly recommend one with variable temperature settings (200ºF is ideal), but you can certainly get by with a cheaper one.
  • A cloth to wipe the plunger. Or you can use your finger, if you don’t have a reusable cloth nearby and don’t want to waste a paper towel.

If you want to get fancy, you can also get a fancy grinder and a coffee scale to up your game.

(image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/61237180@N00/4062228028/)