The AeroPress has long been a popular travel brewer with coffee fanatics. It’s small, lightweight, and indestructible. People have used it to brew everywhere from the isolated backcountry to international flights. Mine has traveled tens of thousands of miles with me.
But last year, a new travel-specific AeroPress was released: the AeroPress Go, which packs down into its own special travel mug. Both brewers cost roughly the same amount of money and make similar coffee, so, which one should you get?
Update, 8/6/21: Checked for accuracy.
An AeroPress is the easiest way to up your coffee game (and either one will do). Unlike pour-over or even a French press, it’s simple to use to make consistently incredible coffee. Add a filter paper to the filter basket, screw it onto the end of the brewer, add coffee, add water, and plunge—boom, a great cup of coffee.
Of course, there’s a small bit more to it than that: you can play around with how long the coffee steeps, how much ground coffee you use compared to how much water, the temperature of the water, and more. But these variables are fun to mess around with, not a chore—it’s why there’s an annual competition dedicated to the AeroPress—and, with a tiny bit of practice, you won’t be going too far wrong.
Whichever AeroPress you get, you’ll be able to make good coffee. The differences between them are more about size, shape, and convenience than outright brewing ability.
The original AeroPress is 5.4 x 4.2 x 3.8 inches when packed down, and the AeroPress Go is 4.6 x 3.6 x 3.6 inches when it’s stored in its accompanying travel mug. And really, that rather unimpressive difference is what raises some interesting questions about the AeroPress Go—not many people were demanding a smaller more portable AeroPress. The original has been a popular travel brewer for years without any issues.
While the Go is a little shorter (which means less brewing capacity), the barrel dimensions remain the same. All the width savings come from reducing the size of the plastic collar at the bottom that lets the AeroPress brew into a wide range of mugs and pitchers. The Go brews perfectly into its own (plastic) mug, but it can be more hit and miss with the cups you likely have lying around your home. Saving a few tenths of an inch isn’t exactly a clear plus here.
And for portability, those small savings aren’t a huge decider; what’s more relevant is the accessories that come with the two brewers.
The AeroPress is infamous for coming with a few extra plastic parts that, while not useless, aren’t quite as important to the whole coffee brewing process as the inventor, Alan Adler, would generally claim. The large stirrer is easily replaced by a spoon, the scoop is an inaccurate way to measure coffee so most serious coffee people use a scale, and the gigantic funnel is, essentially, unnecessary. Even the plastic filter stand is only mildly convenient. Really, the AeroPress is incredible—but the extras aren’t.
The AeroPress Go, on the other hand, actually comes with significantly more useful accessories: the travel mug is one fewer thing to carry and the filter holder is a nice touch. Even the foldable stirrer is arguably useful—though the dosing spoon is still no replacement for a weighing scale.
If your only plan is to use the AeroPress while you travel, the bits that come with the Go are inarguably more convenient. There’s no need to bring your own mug or put filters in a ziplock bag.
The one area where the size difference between the two brewers genuinely makes a difference is in their brew capacities.
The original AeroPress can brew about 10 oz of coffee, while the Go can only brew about 8 oz. While that might seem like a small difference, it’s very much a real difference. One of the biggest criticisms of the AeroPress overall is that while it just about makes enough coffee for one person, making coffee for two (or more) requires brewing extra strong coffee and diluting it down. (Most AeroPress fans have actually been hoping for a bigger less portable AeroPress rather than a smaller one).
My preferred way of making coffee with the AeroPress (either for one or two people) maxes out the regular model’s brew capacity. While certain allowances have to be made for brewing on the road (and I do tend to brew shorter drinks if I’m traveling), it makes the Go less convenient at home.
For most people, I’d recommend the original AeroPress. As you can see in the discussion above, the differences between the two models are small, and the Go has some downsides when you’re brewing at home. The regular AeroPress is plenty small enough to travel with occasionally, so unless you’re looking for a dedicated travel brewer that never leaves your bag, it’s the better option on balance.
If you are looking for that travel brewer, then the Go is a great option. It packs down smaller and has its own mug—though it does really feel like it’s an attempt to solve a problem that most people didn’t have.