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Last year, the fine folks over at the American Press headquarters sent me an American Press brewer to check out and review (I was upfront with them and let them know it would take me some time to evaluate the brewer).
When my package arrived, I was quite impressed with the contents of my rectangular brown box—the American Press is fancy looking. I have spent many months field testing this unique brewer and here are my thoughts:
Introduction- What is an American Press
The American Press is a relatively new brewer to the market. Funded by an Indiegogo campaign in early 2016, it takes an innovative approach to manual brewing. It is sleek and somewhat resembles a French press in look and outward brewing mechanics.
The American Press is different from the the French press because of what happens on the inside of the carafe. With a French press, when the coffee is finished brewing the coffee grounds are (mostly) filtered away from the brewed coffee by a mesh filter that is plunged downward through the coffee sludge.
In contrast, the American Press has a filter basket that holds the ground coffee separate from the brewing water. As the filter basket is pressed downward through hot water, the water is forced up through the filter basket creating a slightly pressurized extraction environment. The 100 micron filter basket keeps most of the muck out of the brewed coffee and doesn’t absorb the oils like a paper filtered coffee.
The result is a delicious cup of coffee and, due to the design, a fairly repeatable brewing process.
Brewing With the American Press
Something I really appreciate about the American Press is the fact that, if you focus on the details, it is pretty easy to brew with consistency.
Once you have tweaked the variables to your liking, you will have a process that brews a cup of coffee you enjoy and that is pretty consistent. Besides brewing water, here are the major variables you can adjust and explore with the American Press:
- Grind size: You can brew with a finer drip grind all the way to a very coarse grind. The one thing you do need to be aware of is grinding so fine that the filter basket clogs creating a blockage. I have never had a problem with this and generally brew with a medium drip grind.
- Water Temperature: Because the American Press introduces a pressure element to aid with extraction, you can experiment with bringing the temperature down. I have brewed as low as 190 degrees with results I enjoyed.
- Infusion time and press time: As with all immersion style brewers, the main way you control the extraction is with the length of time your coffee is in contact with the water. The American Press has a pre-infusion time where you depress the filter basket slightly into the hot water (like blooming the coffee in a pour-over) as well as a press down time.
- Dosage: You can also vary your coffee to water ratio. The American Press is a little limited in this regard because of the basket size. If you are going to make a more concentrated cup of coffee, the overall brewed volume will be less (the basket maxes out at around 25 grams of coffee)
My American Press Recipe
After many brews on the American Press and lots of fiddling and experimenting, I landed on a pretty basic (certainly nothing glamorous) go-to recipe:
Grind: medium drip grind, the same as I use for V60
Dosage: 1:15 coffee to water ratio (23 grams of coffee to 345 grams of water)
Water Temperature: 205 degrees Fahrenheit (96 degrees Celsius)
Pre-Infusion: Depress the filter basket into the hot water until a small amount of coffee flows from the top of the filter basket. Wait 90 seconds.
Press Time: After the pre-infusion, slowly depress the plunger. It should take about 90 seconds for the plunger to reach the bottom. I find that resting my hand on the plunger top and applying gentle pressure is generally enough to plunge the coffee (no two-handed tricep work out).
Enjoy: Dispense coffee using the wonderful no drip spout and enjoy.
The American Press- The Perfect On-the-Go Brewer
Because of it’s limited batch size and the habitual nature in which I brew with my V60, I did not find the American Press replacing my daily morning brewer. However, the American Press brews a great single cup of coffee and it wasn’t long before I found the brewer’s niche: It’s an amazing on-the-go manual coffee brewer.
The carafe part of the American Press is made from double walled tritan resin, a feature I was (naively) disappointed in at first until I realized how durable the carafe really was (I was further won over by the fact that the American Press has been championed as a coffee outside brewer). After brewing with the American Press and taking it on-the-go a few times, I also came to appreciate the insane insulating power of the material they choose for the carafe— you can pour boiling water into the carafe and pick it up immediately (it is pretty impressive).
Because of it’s hardy exterior and the ease of which you can brew without extra equipment (It brews a pretty consistent cup sans the use of a gram scale or a gooseneck kettle), I found myself throwing the American Press into my camping tote and my work bag.
For camping or coffee outside adventures, the American Press is a strong candidate. You don’t need to remember filters or wrap the brewer in bubble wrap. It is quite easy to add ground coffee, fill with hot water and be enjoying a great cup of coffee a few minutes later. Clean up is pretty simple and straightforward—simply rinse the components with water.
The Office Coffee Brewer
My favorite thing to do with the American Press is to bring it to work— that is it’s sweet spot.
In the morning, I grind an extra 23 grams of coffee (we all know that fresh ground is best but sometimes you make sacrifices for convenience) and load it into the filter basket. I put the American Press together and put it in my work bag or lunch box.
When I am ready for a fresh (definitely unoffice-y) cup of coffee, I simple add hot water, depress the filter basket slightly for a pre-infusion and walk over to the break room where I will be consuming my coffee. By the time I get to the break room it is time to plunge the coffee and enjoy.
The coffee is amazing and it is pretty much mess free. I like it better than the Aeropress for coffee on-the-go. (Who hasn’t upended an Aeropress at the coffee station at work?…yikes).
The American Press also makes a great road trip coffee brewer. When you stop for gas, simply run in and ask if you can get some hot water from the dispenser. Fill up the carafe, insert the brew basket and take your precious cargo out to the car.
The American Press brewer is a great concept. The design is sleek, interesting and it is fun to brew with (and watch it brew). It brews a great cup of coffee and the recipes are easy to repeat.
If you are looking for a straightforward everyday brewer or one that you can pretty much brew with one hand (young parents I’m looking at you). The American Press fits the bill. The only limitation is the batch size which is around 350 mL (although multiple batches are always an option).
If you are in the market for a brewer to keep at work, the American Press is a great option. Compared to the conventional options, the American Press is a little more subtle, easier to brew in a hurry (with minimal equipment) and it has less of a chance of making a mess.
Have an American Press? Share your thoughts and favorite recipes below. Thanks!