Full Comparison of the Aeropress vs Espresso Machine

AeroPress is a popular alternative espresso-making technique, similar to making coffee using a Moka Pot or a Minipresso. AeroPress is especially loved for being low-cost and convenient. 

However, can it stand up against an actual espresso maker machine? How good is an AeroPress?

AeroPress and espresso makers differ in many aspects, such as operating complexity, cost, coffee grind size, or pressure generated. This means they may produce slightly different coffee tastes. Your lifestyle may be the main determiner of which coffee maker suits you better.

This article compares AeroPress and espresso makers and tries to decide which suits you better.

How Are AeroPress And Espresso Makers Different From Each Other?

Factors that differentiate AeroPress and espresso include pressure, water temperature, tamping, and clearing. They also differ in cost, maintenance, popularity, and taste. 

AspectsAeropressEspresso Maker
SpeedSlowerFaster
PressureSmall, around 0.5 barsLarge, around 9-15 bars
Grind SizeMedium-fineFine
TampingNot requiredRequired
Water Temperature175 – 205 °F (around 80 – 96 °C)195 – 205 °F (around 88 – 96 °C)
TasteLess intenseMuch more flavorful
CostAround $30 It may start around $70, and can go up to thousands
CleaningEasierMore complicated
ConvenienceVery convenientLess convenient
PopularityGaining popularitySeen as the ‘Gold Standard’

Speed

Espresso makers are lightning-fast when it comes to making coffee. You can pull out an espresso for around 25-30 seconds, ensuring they have been turned on. 

This is something AeroPress cannot match. You may be talking about a minimum of 2.5 minutes to extract an espresso shot using an AeroPress from brewing to extracting.

Pressure

There is a reason why coffee made from AeroPress does not produce the intense crema that espresso machines can. The difference lies in the operating pressure. 

Aeropress is a hand-operated tool, which means you generate the pressure using a simple pressing action. As a result, you get around 0.5 Bar in pressure with AeroPress. 

This is minuscule when you compare it to an espresso machine. A decent espresso maker makes around 9 to 15 Bar of pressure, with machines from cafes making even more. 

High pressure allows better extraction of flavor and oils from the coffee grounds, which shows itself in the thickness and volume of crema. High pressure allows less time to brew the coffee, which explains why espresso makers need a very short time to make coffee.

Grind Size

For AeroPress, you only need medium-fine grind. For espresso machines, you need a fine, almost powdery coffee grind. 

The reason is that the AeroPress brewing method takes longer to execute, which means the hot water will have more time to extract the goodies from the grind. 

With an espresso maker, the water will be pushed through the coffee very quickly at very high pressure, meaning there is less time for the water to interact with the coffee. 

Using fine ground allows more exposed surfaces on the coffee, meaning the water can extract more goodies quickly.

Tamping

Tamping is a process of ‘compressing’ your coffee grounds tighter into each other. 

With espresso makers, tamping is a must. This is because hot water is pushed through the ground very quickly, under high pressure. Loose coffee grounds will allow water to pass through, resulting in bad extraction, bad-tasting coffee, and a waste of your beans. 

With AeroPress, however, you do not need to tamp. This is because the extraction is slower, meaning the water has more time to interact with the beans.

Water Temperature

Generally, you may assume AeroPress and espresso makers use water of a similar temperature. This is because the temperature to brew coffee remains the same despite both machines using different techniques. 

However, with AeroPress, sometimes you can get away with cooler water. This is because water spends more time with the coffee when you brew with AeroPress, meaning the less hot water can still extract good flavors from the coffee grounds.

Taste

Due to how they operate, you can probably guess where this will go. Nothing beats the taste and flavor of an espresso maker, not even an AeroPress. The reason is simple – espresso makers extract the most flavor and taste out of coffee.

Appearance-wise, you may notice more crema on espresso shots, meaning more oils and flavors were pulled out from the beans. These are the things that give your coffee aroma, taste, and flavors. 

With AeroPress, you may see some crema, but not in espresso shots’ concentration. This means AeroPress coffee may not taste as nice as espresso coffee.

Cost

If espresso makers create such good coffee, why would people still use AeroPress? The first reason would be the cost. Aeropress costs so much less than an espresso maker.

You could pick up an AeroPress for around $30+ from Amazon. The taste of the coffee you can get out of it is close enough to what you can get from your local barista. 

An espresso maker may start around $50, but these generic machines may not inspire much confidence. A better machine from a more reliable brand, such as the De’Longhi EC155, may start around $120 and can go up to thousands. 

Cleaning

Aside from the cost, AeroPress also remained popular with many for one reason. It is much easier to clean and maintain compared to an espresso maker.

An AeroPress has no electrical parts, and all tool parts are washable with water. You can, in fact, throw some of these AeroPress tools into a dishwasher and be done with it. 

The same cannot be said about espresso makers. They run on electricity, meaning you cannot clean parts of them with water. It also has many intricate parts, so you need more time to wipe them down clean. 

You need to perform regular cleaning and descaling for the inner pipes and channels. This process helps remove minerals or coffee residue inside the pipes, which may affect your coffee taste.

Descaling could be done using a specific descaling solution, or you can rely on good old vinegar to do the job. Just make sure to rinse thoroughly, as vinegar residue can really ruin your coffee taste.

Convenience

If you are a person that prefers convenience, you will love AeroPress. You may not get the best-tasting coffee, but you trade a little bit of that for many conveniences.

First, you can save a lot of clearing time. AeroPress is mostly plastic with no electrical parts. This means you can clean them as if they are plates and cups. Aeropress also does not require you to tamp, meaning making coffee would be a little easier. 

The best thing about AeroPress is that it is small and manually operated. This means you do not need electricity to use it. You can bring your AeroPress in a backpack, travel somewhere off the grid, and still be able to make good coffee using it. 

Popularity

Aeropress is a rather recent invention, only appearing in the market around 2005. As such, you may say that AeroPress is not as popular as espresso makers, but they are becoming more popular these days. 

The espresso maker was around 1901, invented by Luigi Bezzera in 1901 in Milan, Italy. It has, of course, gone through many improvements along the way and is by far the best tool you can use to pull out the best cup of coffee. 

It is commonly seen as the ‘Gold Standard’ for what makes a great-tasting cup of coffee. This makes them incredibly popular, and cafes and serious coffee makers swear by them.

Should You Purchase An Aeropress Or An Espresso Maker?

Get an AeroPress if you can accept a little loss in coffee quality but want easy maintenance, mobility, and cheap cost. Get an espresso maker if you want the best coffee, and do not mind more maintenance and higher cost.

There are reasons why both AeroPress and espresso makers are popular with coffee drinkers. Both offer ways for you to get your coffee made very well. However, since they are different in so many ways, they may appeal to different sets of drinkers. 

Suppose you are the type that values convenience and cost over everything else. You also enjoy coffee, but not to the point of being very pedantic. In this case, get yourself an AeroPress. 

They are easy to maintain, convenient to bring around, and cheap. You may lose some flavor in the coffee, but not to the point that you will hate it. 

However, suppose you want the best coffee with the thickest crema. In that case, your option is going to be the espresso maker. Espresso makers do not skimp on quality and get you the best coffee.

You, however, will need to accept that these machines will be expensive, and you will need to spend more time cleaning and maintaining them.

Final Thoughts

Both Aeropress and espresso machines are great ways to make coffee, but they have different strengths. An espresso machine is more expensive, but it is ideal for people who want consistent, high-quality espresso.

An Aeropress is more affordable, and it is better for those who want to experiment with different flavors and brews. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide which brewing method is the best for their lifestyle.

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