How Alan Adler invented the AeroPress, despite repeated failures and numerous rejections

Coffee is important to me. I’ll admit I even tend to be somewhat obsessive about it. (For proof, just look at the search results for “coffee” on this blog.) My current rig at home is the Breville BDC600XL YouBrew Drip Coffee Maker and it works pretty darn good, grinding the beans immediately before brewing. On the road, though, my AeroPress is the first thing that gets packed in my suitcase. This is the story behind the man that invented the AeroPress.

Alan Adler says, “inventing is a disease and there is no known cure.” Zachary Crockett wrote an outstanding piece for Priceonomics profiling the tenacious inventor of not only the AeroPress, but also the Aerobie flying disc (which I proudly owned as a youth), and a number of much less successful inventions.

After being frustrated at options for brewing a single cup of coffee, Adler came up with the idea of using air pressure to accelerate the brewing process. His device is essentially a plunger with a filter on the end.

A year of “perfecting the design” ensued: Adler tried out different sizes and configurations, and at first “didn’t understand the right way to use [his] own invention.” The final product, which he called the AeroPress, was simple to operate: you place a filter and coffee grounds (2-4 scoops) into a plastic tube, pour hot water into the tube (at an optimal of 165-175 degrees), and stir for ten seconds.

Now comes the fun part: you insert the “plunger” into the tube and slowly press down; the air pressure forces the water through the grounds and into your coffee mug that’s (hopefully) positioned below. This produces “pure coffee” that is close to espresso in strength, and can be diluted with additional water. The process of plunging the tube also self-cleans the device, but Adler says this was simply “serendipitous.” After all, great inventions, he says, “always require a little luck.”

The whole article is worth a read as it clearly shows what goes into becoming an overnight success, decades in the making.

Link: Priceonomics


Image courtesy Coffee Circle