The Aeropress is essentially the same thing as a stovetop espresso maker, both use low pressure to force water through the coffee grounds, making coffee that resembles espresso for a fraction of the cost of an espresso machine.
While the Aeropress and the stovetops have the same basic principles, there are some fairly significant differences which have an effect on the taste and texture you’ll get from the coffee they produce.
The Water Heating Method
The stovetop coffee makers require a stove to heat the water, whereas the Aeropress requires a kettle. The difference there isn’t a quality matter but one of convenience people often want to have coffee where they don’t have a stove to hand, such as at the office or a hotel room. The Aeropress requires hot water to be poured in from a kettle, you can probably get one for work or use one at your hotel.
The Pressure Brew
While both the Aeropress and the stovetops use pressure to extract the flavor from the grind, the Aeropress needs you to do that manually whereas the stovetops use steam from the heated water to do the job. The Aeropress is a bit more work than the stovetops here and it’s something you’ll need to learn to do with good timings to get the best results.
The Aeropress filters the coffee, unlike the stovetop espresso makers, which has an impact on the coffee it produces in two ways, affecting the taste and the texture.
Filtering the coffee means that the Aeropress makes a milder cup than the stovetop espresso makers, and the coffee produced is less similar to espresso in taste. The filtration process prevents the oils from the beans getting to the cup also. It is these oils which give the drink the body and flavor which is so much more similar to the dark roasted and oily espresso we all know and love.
The consistency is affected too, the Aeropress makes a much cleaner cup for the lack of residue in the bottom of the cup. The stovetop coffee makers have a sediment which means that the bottom half inch of the cup is wasted, the Aeropress makes coffee that is clean all the way down.
There are differences between the stovetops and the Aeropress, and whether you appreciate these is a matter of taste, the Aeropress gives a smoother, cleaner cup than the more traditional stovetop methods, but it loses some of the kick in the process.
You’ll find some stovetop espresso makers selling for a very low price while others can be quite steep in price. On the high end you are paying for quality and designer style and labels. In the mid-range you are buying manufacturing quality alone, and on the low end you are buying an inexpensive unit that will do the job just fine but may not hold up as well over time. You can see many of these stovetop pots on our site here.
For a more substantial review of the Aeropress please head over to this page.