The best coffee-centric Christmas gift ever.

My husband and I are coffee snobs. Oh, I said it. I’m not ashamed to admit it, either. Most other things in the realm of food and drink I am very open minded about. Though I prefer to eat organic and/or local, and eschew fast and processed foods and sugary drinks as much as possible, I won’t lie: I have consumed my fair share of Hot Pockets. I have a peculiar fondness for Denny’s. I love orange soda. But I draw the line at bad coffee. I just can’t do it. I would rather be a zombie in the morning than force myself to choke down a cup of something in between dishwater and battery acid. I do like Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee, but I don’t really think of it as coffee so much as a kind of strange coffee soft drink.

My parents make really good coffee, so I’ve never been particularly fond of Maxwell House or Folger’s, and had a more “refined” palate from a pretty early age. And as I’ve gotten older, it’s only gotten worse. Having coffee abroad didn’t help matters; there’s a reason all the fancy drinks you get have Italian names. Having a Kiwi friend introduce me to the silken Antipodean pleasures of the “flat white” – the requisite coffee drink served in Australia and New Zealand, which is vastly superior to most American coffee – also ruined me. At this point, there are really only three places in Bangor worth getting coffee to go from, and one of them is Starbucks. I know. Woe is me.

So we make a lot of coffee at home. And we have received an awful lot of coffee-related birthday and Christmas gifts over the years. In 2008, we got TWO French presses; one of them we accidentally smashed on the kitchen floor, the other was still in regular use until very recently. In 2009, we got a little espresso maker, and while the espresso it makes is a lot muddier than it was when we first got it, it still works (and it makes a mean hot chocolate). I also bought in 2009 for my husband a few pounds of green, unroasted coffee beans, which he roasted in the oven, experimenting with light and dark roasts until he found a good one. Not to mention the yearly Starbucks gift cards, and the pounds of Rock City Coffee’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Mmmm. Heaven.

But this year, we received the coffee gift to beat all coffee gifts. I sent a link to my Mom and Dad a while back, showing them the Aerobie Aeropress. I’d read about it on Boing Boing, which said it made the best damned coffee you’ve ever had. At under $30, it seemed like a steal, and even if it didn’t like up to the hype – hey, more coffee gadgets! Fun! I thought about it intermittently throughout the holidays, as our old French press got increasingly leaky, and I begrudgingly made a regular pot of percolator coffee (one of my least favorite methods of brewing). But lo and behold, on Christmas morning, wrapped in tissue paper on the coffee table (natch) was the Aeropress. Yesterday morning, we took it for a test drive. The process is about as simple as it gets to make one 10-ish ounce cup: two scoops coffee using the scoop that comes with the press, one of the small micro-filters that are also included (we got 700, so we’re set for about a year), and enough hot – NOT QUITE boiling – water to fill it up to the ‘4’ line at the top. It works by immersing the grounds in the water and then using air pressure to evenly force the water out through the micro filter directly into your mug, meaning every bit of coffee is used, and there’s no grit or sediment, like you usually get with a French press.

It is some of the silkiest, most velvety, elegant and smooth coffee I’ve ever had. We don’t even have amazing coffee on hand right now – last Thursday I grabbed a bag of whole bean Five O’Clock to get us through the week – but it tastes as good as anything you’d get in any coffee shop in the area. I was blown away by how good it was. Each single serve batch is about a double espresso, so it’s strong, though with none of the bitterness regular espresso often can have. I recommend mixing it with a solid slug of milk. You can add sugar, but you don’t really need it. Best of all, from turning the stove on to pressing the coffee, it takes about five minutes. Less if you just microwave it or have easy access to hot water. And it’s made in the U.S.A. And it’s $25 bucks on Amazon, though apparently you can also get it at the Kittery Trading Post, Carpe Diem Coffee in South Berwick, and at  Matt’s Wood Roasted Coffee in Pownal. I’m kind of in love with it. And that’s saying a lot for a self-proclaimed coffee snob.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer and editor for Bangor Metro Magazine, the Weekly and the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine. Albums for review are accepted digitally only; please no CDs.