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AeroPress

Product Placement / Spokane /

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But enough of that best of voting shenanigans for now, let's instead look at things that severely will improve your life. Like the AeroPress, also known as the best thing to have happened to coffee since somebody figured out that roasting coffee beans was better than chewing them.

So what is the AeroPress? Basically it's just a coffee maker, one that at first glance looks like a French press replacement (which it is). Give it another look and you'll probably just want to replace your espresso maker with it too. And at a third glance, you'll find that it's its own unique creation, one that will make the smoothest coffee you could possibly imagine at home without going through Keaton's bootcamp.

The basic process is simple: Grind your beans up finely -- we prefer DOMA -- and toss two measuring spoons into the AeroPress cylinder on top of a cup. Pour hot water -- between 165 to 175 degrees is recommended -- up to "2", let it steep for ten seconds, and give it another ten second stir. Press the plunger down all the way slowly, and voilà, you have two shots of espresso. And may we say it is a damn good espresso at that.

From here you can really play barista. Drinking the espresso straight up is enjoyable in itself, or top the cup off with water to make more of a regular cup of coffee. Warm up some good milk, and make a café au lait. Frankly, with the ease of making the coffee, you can make true lattes and macchiatos -- as opposed to the crap Starbucks and its ilk call lattes and macchiatos -- quickly at home.

Obviously you can adjust the numbers above for more or fewer shots. Plus, the steps are merely the basic AeroPress technique, and there is plenty of room for experimentation. Our favorite barista and AeroPress judge, Tim Wendelboe, has a video of the basics (slightly modified) and a guide of three other techniques.

You can find the AeroPress for under $30 in a bunch of stores; we got ours at the Kitchen Engine. In fact, that store will feature the AeroPress as a Thanksgiving day doorbuster for $19, so if those kind of sales are your thing, you can get one on the cheap. It's worth it, and it really will be your go-to coffee maker. Going back to anything else, including area coffee shops, is hard after using an AeroPress.