It started with a simple quest for a good cup of coffee. It became so popular that it launched a worldwide coffee making competition.
In 2004, Alan Adler found himself searching for the perfect cup of coffee. So Adler, a lifelong engineer who holds more than 40 patents, decided to make the jump from creating sports equipment to coffee makers.
The resulting product, the AeroPress, would not only help Adler find that perfect cup, but go on to spark a global phenomenon for coffee lovers around the globe.
Before 2004, you would have been hard-pressed to find any Adler-original inventions related to the coffee industry. Among Adler’s 40 patents are “instrumentation systems for military aircraft, nuclear reactors, and submarines, a paraboloid lens for telescopes, and dozens of flutes in addition to his boats, [and] Aerobie sport toys,” according to AeroPress’ website.
“A lot of people ask that question,” said Alex Tennant, general manager for AeroPress, Inc., when asked about why Adler made the jump to the coffee world. “It was purely his own personal interest. It had no business relationship to the [sports] toy business.”
Adler debuted the AeroPress at a coffee industry trade show in November 2005. Adler’s invention boasted a whole host of features that set it apart from any other coffee maker in the business. AeroPress’s website boasts that the coffee maker has the ability to produce rich, smooth coffee without bitterness with remarkably low acidity, no grit, a quick brew time, and an even quicker clean up.
But to Tennant, the reason for the AeroPress’ popularity is much simpler than that.
“The product basically sells because it makes delicious coffee,” he said. “It’s all about taste.”
The process is easy enough. To make a cup of coffee, simply take a filter and place it into the AeroPress’ cap. Twist the chamber into place and set it on top of a mug. Place one rounded scoop of coffee grounds into the chamber, level off, and top with hot water. Stir for 10 seconds before inserting the plunger into the chamber. Press down until you feel resistance and then let the AeroPress Coffee Maker do the rest.
Coffee lovers love the AeroPress because it “is very, very good for people who want to modify the brewing process to tailor it to their taste. In other words, when you’re using it, you control all of the variables of the brewing process like time and grind and temperature and so on,” Tennant said.
So, while you can make a simple espresso or Americano in the span of a minute, the AeroPress Coffee Maker gives you the ability to customize the brewing process and make it all your own.
With the original AeroPress Coffee Maker retailing for $29.95, while the newer AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press sells for $31.95, AeroPress presents coffee lovers the opportunity to try their hand at brewing the perfect cup of coffee while also supporting a Made in America business.
Something that has always held true for AeroPress Inc. is the company’s dedication to being Made in America. In fact, all of the “materials used in the AeroPress are…made in the USA.”
When asked about why that is the case, Tennant had a simple answer: “We like to do that. I mean it’s probably not the best economic choice, but it’s our choice.”
“Logistically, you know, our supply chain is a lot shorter. So, if we need some more product, we can make it and get it here quickly as opposed to having it on a boat and taking a long time,” he added.
Despite AeroPress, Inc. operating in almost 65 countries, the company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., only employs nine full-time workers. “We contract for the warehouse and shipping” and “for the manufacturing. We use sales representatives that are independent. So, we have very few actual employees.”
That said, all of AeroPress, Inc.’s contracts are still based in America. “The factories are in Livermore, Calif., and Woodstock, Ill., and the warehouse is in San Carlos, Calif.”
With such a massive American-based operation, AeroPress’ global impact cannot be understated. Some of the biggest foreign markets for the AeroPress include Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, other countries across Europe, Japan, and Australia. “I mean. We’re all over the place,” Tennant said.
Perhaps one of the greatest signs of the AeroPress’ popularity is an annual competition hosted out of Australia, known as the World AeroPress Championships.
The competition began in 2008 in Norway with only three competitors. Since then, it has blossomed into a “series of regional and national competitions, run by independent hosts across 60 countries, which culminates with the World AeroPress Championship final,” as described by the World AeroPress Championship’s website. It offers coffee lovers from around the world a chance to show off just how customizable the AeroPress brewing experience can be.
“It’s just a really, really fun [event] where people who love coffee get together and compete and have fun and meet each other,” Tennant said. “It’s a wonderful event.”
Though the competition was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s competition promises AeroPress fans the chance to get back into the brewing competition through a virtual forum.
You would think with such a ringing endorsement from coffee lovers around the world that AeroPress, Inc. would have all of their employees hooked on the drink. “Well, actually, not everyone drinks coffee at the business,” Tennant said.
But not to worry, he explained. If you’re a coffee drinker, the AeroPress will surely win you over.
“Certainly, it’s my choice,” Tennant said. “It’s my choice like four times a day.”