American Press: First Impressions

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
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Balthazar_B

Postby Balthazar_B » Feb 18, 2017, 4:59 pm

Some Background

I saw some mentions of the American Press (AP) here and elsewhere, and its straightforward design and simplicity appealed to me. It struck me as a less fiddly riff off the Aeropress concept, so I ordered one to check it out. Primarily I wanted to use it at work. We can't plug in electrics, but have coffee-optimal hot water readily available, so I've been using a Lido 3 grinder with an Espro medium press pot (which replaced an earlier pourover setup that wasn't ideal for workflow). I really like the Espro, which is an excellent coffee tool. I was also interested in evaluating the AP as a travel companion. While it's not good for backpacking, it's small and compact enough to take car camping or to throw into your carry-on luggage.

Workflow

So far I've used the AP just twice, so these are just first impressions. The gizmo itself is well-made with what appear to be good materials, and is very easy to operate. The basic workflow for brewing with an AP is illustrated here, so I won't repeat much of that. Suffice it to say the whole operation is pretty easy.

  1. Tare a gram scale using the AP grounds chamber.
  2. Weigh out 22 g of beans.
  3. Grind the beans in the Lido.
  4. Transfer the grounds back to the chamber.
  5. Fill the water chamber with 12 oz hot water (I preheat it first just because).
  6. Tell my Android Watch to set a timer for 3 minutes.
  7. Fit the press apparatus to the water chamber and preinfuse for about 45-60 secs (will vary this a lot during subsequent preps).
  8. Finish the press slowly to coincide with the end of the 3 minute countdown.
  9. Enjoy my handiwork. This prep yields about 10 oz of coffee.
I've been using an Ethiopian/Guatemalan blend from Corvus Coffee that I picked up in Denver last week. The finished product is delicious, and compared to prepping in a conventional press pot, it has a lot more clarity and nuances. I'll be varying the grind a little bit, and experimenting with coffee weights and water volumes some. And will also vary the preinfusion vs. press time. This is just for experimentation; the AP seems to be very forgiving and kind of idiot proof.

Hits

My workflow is a little bit easier than using the Espro, and clean-up is much easier (with one caveat). The design proves out to be very clever and effective. It feels good in the hand, the no-drop spout really works well, and it's cool watching the coffee develop from preinfusion through press.

Nits

The water chamber is a bit narrower than my Espro, and my hand doesn't fit inside for cleaning. Need to use a brush or sponge-on-a-stick. Also, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before it shows up on the AP site, but someday far in the future it will probably be necessary or wise to replace the screen(s) on the gizmo. Since they're attached to other parts, and not separable (at least in any way I can see), AP should sell a replacement piece. I'm guessing it should cost no more than ten bucks, and you'll need one every 2-3 years.

That's it. If I discover anything interesting about the gizmo or through further experimentation, I'll post it in this section of HB. Feel free to ask any questions or let me know if I need to clarify anything above. Thanks!
- John

LMWDP # 577

gr2020

Postby gr2020 » Feb 18, 2017, 7:07 pm

Thanks for posting - I hadn't seen this before!

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Balthazar_B

Postby Balthazar_B » Feb 18, 2017, 9:13 pm

My pleasure, Greg. Literally! :mrgreen:
- John

LMWDP # 577

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Balthazar_B

Postby Balthazar_B » Feb 19, 2017, 8:34 pm

Couple of other thoughts...
  • One difference between the AP and my Espro Medium is that with the former, you get one regular-sized serving of coffee, and that's it, whereas the latter is capable of turning out two. My colleagues enjoy those second cups from the Espro. I think AP is considering a larger version of their gizmo, but there are no current plans.
  • The Tritan material that comprises most of the AP seems very durable and shatter-resistant, but I think it's going to be softer than glass. I thought of this because my wife has never seen an abrasive dish sponge she didn't like, so this is one of those items she will never have to -- or rather get to -- wash. :P
- John

LMWDP # 577

wsfarrell

Postby wsfarrell » Feb 19, 2017, 9:44 pm

Genius. Just ordered one.

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TomC
Team HB

Postby TomC » Feb 19, 2017, 10:28 pm

Balthazar_B wrote:One difference between the AP and my Espro Medium is that with the former, you get one regular-sized serving of coffee, and that's it, whereas the latter is capable of turning out two. My colleagues enjoy those second cups from the Espro. I think AP is considering a larger version of their gizmo, but there are no current plans.

I'd be more inclined to get one if they made a slightly larger version.

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Balthazar_B

Postby Balthazar_B » replying to TomC » Feb 19, 2017, 11:52 pm

I hear ya, Tom. IIRC, they have a contact form on their site...always good to give them some feedback. I don't know why they chose the capacity they did, but if I had to guess, it may have struck what they perceived as the right balance between portability and widest market appeal. They do say you can go up to 14 oz of water and up the coffee dose (there's certainly enough room in the grounds chamber). I'll try going to the max during the week and report back on how it turns out.

What capacity would you be looking for in terms of finished brew?
- John

LMWDP # 577

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TomC
Team HB

Postby TomC » Feb 20, 2017, 1:01 am

Balthazar_B wrote:What capacity would you be looking for in terms of finished brew?


I probably wouldn't buy one that didn't produce at the very least 16 oz of brew. I realize that the larger they go, the more force required to push the "plunger" down, but come on, I don't want to go thru the whole process just to make one medium sized cup of coffee. I frequently share different coffees at work and although this device would certainly create some fancy coffee theater watching it work, I don't want to do it twice each session.

leon

Postby leon » Feb 20, 2017, 3:20 am

I'm a sucker for a new brew method so I'm trying to replicate this with my Bobble Presse using a piece of filter paper to close off the bottom of the basket to create the "pod".

My first attempt produced a cup that is surprisingly sweet, clean, and syrupy, but lacking some depth (using a washed Yirgacheffe). My total time was around 2:30, including 1 min of preinfusion, so I'm thinking I need to tighten up the grind and press a bit slower.

John can you provide a description of your grind? Closer to FP grind or the V60 side of the brew spectrum?

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Balthazar_B

Postby Balthazar_B » Feb 20, 2017, 9:11 am

TomC wrote:I probably wouldn't buy one that didn't produce at the very least 16 oz of brew. I realize that the larger they go, the more force required to push the "plunger" down, but come on, I don't want to go thru the whole process just to make one medium sized cup of coffee. I frequently share different coffees at work and although this device would certainly create some fancy coffee theater watching it work, I don't want to do it twice each session.


I hope the folks at AP read H-B now that their product has been discussed in a couple of threads. Although it would make it a little more cumbersome for travel, I tend to agree on the virtues of a larger gizmo (so long as it would work as well for larger or smaller pulls -- guess they should be called pushes). Right now, using the AP at work makes me feel guiltily selfish. :)
- John

LMWDP # 577