Several years ago, I stopped by the AeroPress booth at a trade show and asked if there was anything new in the pipeline. The reply, which I may now be overinterpreting, was a bemused but understanding “wait a few years.”
The original AeroPress is like a giant snub-nosed syringe that makes delicious coffee. It is compact, travels well, and is fairly easy to clean. To brew a batch, put grounds in the chamber, pour hot water over the top, stir, and then use the plunger to press the coffee out through a flat, circular filter into your mug. It was invented by the same guy who came up with the Aerobie, and since it was first introduced, the company has only put out one additional product of note: the AeroPress Go, a near-perfect model for making coffee on the road. The original and the Go have a cult-like following among baristas and other coffee lovers.
Fans have always wanted more though. Now that the company has changed hands, they’re getting all kinds of more. Out now, or coming out soon, are a couple of accessories; a clear model made of Tritan plastic; a fancier glass, aluminum, and stainless steel version; and the just-out XL. I just got my hands on the supersized AeroPress XL a little over a month ago and have used it almost every day since. It’s twice the volume of the original, with size increases for all the main parts—the plunger, chamber, cap, filter, and stirrer. It also comes with a carafe to press the coffee into. Altogether, the whole thing feels a lot larger than the original.
There wasn’t much to learn. It works just like its predecessor, so I simply added larger amounts of coffee and water to each brew. The coffee tasted like it should, but the whole thing felt almost disproportionately big. Then I took it over to the lab at Olympia Coffee Roasting Company in Seattle; I wanted to see what their retail trainer, Reyna Callejo—one of the country’s top baristas and an avid AeroPress fan—thought of it.
We chatted about an 18-day trip she took to Japan some years ago, and how she used her AeroPress every day. Then she pulled the new version out of the box. She seemed surprised by how much larger it was than the original. She nestled the plunger into the end of the chamber like you would when brewing and held it up to her arm, where the whole assembly extended from her wrist to the middle of her bicep.
Reyna heated water and fired up the grinder for what she calls her “good for most people” method. Scaled up to match the larger volume of the XL, this used 30 grams of beans with 500 grams of water. (That’s a 1:16.67 ratio, for all you coffee nerds out there.) Then, in a sign of the unwieldiness to come, she climbed on a stool to work with the XL. She had good reason to get up there: When you stick the plunger on the chamber and put that on top of the carafe, it’s about 19 inches tall. I’m 6 feet tall, and on a 36-inch countertop that setup comes halfway up my sternum. At 5′ 3″, Reyna felt it was too high for her to safely operate without the stool.