While many despise the low functionality of the standard coffee maker, not many have the expertise to do anything about it. Alan Adler, a mechanical engineer and founder of the Palo Alto, California based toy company, Aerobie, was able to use his training, and the industrial lathe he stores in his garage, to create a better coffee maker. Adler knew that the longer the coffee brews the more bitter the taste. He thought if air pressure could rapidly force hot water through the grounds quickly, he could brew a better tasting cup of coffee. After approximately 30 prototypes, Adler had created the AeroPress. “I had no idea I was inventing a product,” says Adler. “I was just trying to learn how to make a single cup of coffee in my own kitchen that tasted good.”
[i]Not really a French press, the AeroPress is more similar to an expresso machine that utilizes air instead of steam. The ability to brew a very strong cup of coffee while being made of plastic and retailing for only $26, seems impossible, but Adler achieved his goal while utilizing his mechanical engineering background. Currently, the AeroPress is Aerobie’s fastest-growing product, accounting for half of the company’s sales and climbing.
Alan Adler’s Process
The first model Adler shaped on his lathe provided him with a wonderful proof of concept, as he was blown away by how good it tested. Also, the device was very easy to clean. The second version included a wider chamber, and would end up being very close to the final product. Adler didn’t know that at the time and continued testing various designs. Somewhere between design two and thirty, Adler made some radical departures, even creating an awkward bike-pump design. During the design process one beta tester complained that the device rolled off her counter. Adler countered this complaint by creating a hexagonal base. The final prototype was simple and functional. Adler purchased $130,000 of factory molds and began producing a product that his currently his top seller.