Coming from Melbourne, you have to know that coffee is a serious business for me.
I wouldn’t call myself a coffee snob, but if it isn’t espresso from one of the arcade cafes in Melbourne’s centre, it’s hardly worth drinking.
I’m on the road a lot, and if there’s one thing I detest, it’s the sort of percolated or filtered or – shudder – instant coffee one gets in hotel rooms. So I take a portable coffee maker. As long as I have a source of near-boiling water and a bit of milk – I like a Bolt: tall black with a dash – I can make something worth getting up for in the morning.
For many years I have been a devoted fan of the Aerobie Aeropress. A few bits of plastic perched on your mug, a filter paper below, ground coffee in the middle and hot water above, you just push down on the plunger and you get enough pressure forcing the water through the grounds to get a reasonable approximation to espresso.
The kit is compact and light, perfect for travel, makes a good cup of coffee, and is inexpensive. With repeated use – and I often use it at home as well, in preference to my relatively expensive Nespresso machine – the tubes and the seals lose their grip and the pressure forcing the water isn’t what it could be. Might as well be making pour-over or drip filter.
But, hey, another one is only a few dollars, and I’ve got quite the collection now, especially of the spare parts and about a million of the round paper filters.
I was intrigued to find that another name was rising up on my coffee horizon. Delter. A new crowd-sourced startup promoting a coffee maker similar to Aeropress, but fixing some of the shortcomings.
For size, shape, and price, virtually identical. So I can pack it for travel and not have to worry about taking up precious space or weight in my bags. One bonus is that I don’t have to carry the Aeropress stirring paddle, but a drawback for some is that the Delter tube isn’t wide enough to stow a portable coffee grinder. Not a problem for me, as I always take a bag of ground coffee, or more usually buy some at my destination.
The operation is slightly different. The major change is that the coffee brewing chamber is self-contained, and instead of stirring the coffee and water, water is injected into the grounds. This gives more effective control, and due to the one-way “jet” valves, means that coffee grounds never enter the pressure tube.
The recommended instructions, and here I have to say that the included directions are pretty bloody sparse, and you really need to look at a video to get the full picture, direct an initial shot of water into the brew chamber, giving the coffee a chance to moisten and bloom before full extraction begins.
You push 200ml of water (recommended at about 95°) through the grounds for a shot. It’s quite possible to load the chamber with a double shot and then add more water. This is my preferred method, as I like a big mug first thing in the morning, and with Aeropress, getting it just right is problematical; I have to top the mug up with water from the kettle, never as good as sending it through the grounds.
With Aeropress, it’s not really possible to load more water in, but the Delter’s design makes it a breeze. The second shot isn’t going to be as strong as the first, but it’s going through the grounds under pressure, and any residual flavour and caffeine will be extracted for your drinking pleasure. The Delter will take up to 25g of coffee, which makes for a reasonable dose.
My first taste convinced me. The coffee was richer and tasted better.
One minor drawback is that the filters are not a perfect match. Aeropress filters are slightly larger, and will ruck up a little in the Delter. Some of the after-market metal filters are said to be compatible, and if I can dig mine out of the back of whatever drawer it got stowed in, I’ll test that out.* Or I can buy more filters. They aren’t exactly expensive.
It’s not quite as easy to clean as the Aeropress, which pops out a “puck” of coffee and is essentially self-cleaning. With the Delter, you can push air through the coffee chamber to dry out the used grounds and eject most of them, but there’s always ten percent or so which need to be rinsed out. Not a difficult task, but there it is.
So there you have it. I’m sold on the Delter. It gives more control, a superior cup, and is as compact, light, and cheap as the Aeropress.
*I found my metal filter. It fits perfectly.