The Aeropress came crashing on to the specialty coffee scene at Seattle's CoffeeFest in 2005; designed by retired Stanford engineer and coffee-lover Alan Adler, the aim was to achieve greater control over the many variables that affect brew quality. Marketed as a portable ‘espresso style’ coffee maker (though not technically espresso, as we learned here), the Aeropress is perhaps one of the most popular, and certainly one of the most affordable, quality brewing devices in cafes and kitchens across the globe. In this article, we will explore three different brewing methods for achieving exceptional coffee using the Aeropress.
Method #1 - The Original
The original Aeropress recipe is both simple and elegant: place the Aeropress on top of your cup with a fresh filter in place. Pour your coffee grounds into the press (either 14 g by weight or by simply using the included Aeropress scoop), followed by hot water (~95C / 203F) up to the #2 mark on the side of the chamber. Stir fast for 30 seconds then insert the plunger, expelling the rest of the remaining water as you press down. To clean the Aeropress, simply unscrew the cap and use the plunger to remove the cylindrically packed grinds into your organics bin. That’s it!
The main advantages from a brewing perspective are the narrow brew-time window, added pressure to increase extraction, and a fine paper filter for a smooth, clean cup of coffee every time. Practical advantages include portability, an efficient grind-to-flavor ratio, and a no-mess clean up.
Method #2 - The Inversion
A friend of mine recently complained that his Aeropress brews were too weak. After a brief discussion, it was clear that the water was running through the grinds too quickly, an issue that could probably be solved by dialing in the grind. However, another solution to Aeropress brews that taste too ‘thin’ is to use the Inversion Method, my personal favorite.
For this method, begin with the plunger inserted about ¼ inch and place the Aeropress upside down on the table, lid off. Pour your grinds in, followed by hot water, as before. However, this time let the coffee sit longer; set a timer for anywhere from one to two minutes (or longer - feel free to experiment!) to extract a greater depth of flavor. When your timer goes off, place a filter in the lid, wet it, and screw it in. Immediately flip the device onto your coffee mug and then press out the whole brew at once. Viola!
The advantage of the Inversion Method is two-fold. First, you get more of the late-stage brewing flavors which can lead to the brew feeling more ‘full’ or ‘developed’ on your palate. Second, all the water is exposed to the coffee grinds for a much narrower range of time (i.e. the time it takes to flip the Aeropress and depress the plunger) which helps to optimize the consistency of your brews.
Method #3 - The Cold Brew
Cold Brew coffee is most popular during the hot days of summer and can be achieved using your Aeropress. The basic idea is to use larger grinds in cold (or room temperature) water over a long period of time (i.e. hours, not minutes). If you are interested in experimenting with cold brew, or are a long-time Aeropress brewer who wants to try something new, give this cold brew recipe from European Coffee Trip a whirl.
Place your coarsely ground coffee beans into an inverted Aeropress with the plunger inserted about ¼ inch. Fill the chamber up to the 4 mark (~200 mL) with cold or room temperature water. Place a dry filter in the lid and screw on (to prevent spills) then store for 12 hours either on the counter or in the fridge. I recommend unscrewing the lid and wetting the filter with cold water, replacing it on the Aeropress before flipping it on to your mug and fully depressing the plunger. Add a patio with a view of the ocean on a hot summer day and you are all set!
Of course, these three methods are just the beginning of all the brewing bliss you can achieve with the Aeropress. Weighing out your coffee with a scale, using a professional burr grinder, and experimenting with brew time can all aid in consistently bringing out the best flavor in your coffee. However you make your coffee, buy it local, travel safe, and brew on!
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About the Curator
Joshua Gillingham is an author, board game designer, and coffee lover from Vancouver Island. He curates the Vancouver Island Coffee Tour. For questions or comments about VICT, map updates, or roaster openings and closures, send him a note via the community contact form.