As Five Senses is hosting the World Aeropress Championship finals this month (check out the Facebook page for more info), Aeropress fever has infected the office. We all love a good Aeropress and, in a similar spirit to our attitude to other brewing devices, all of us have slightly different recipes and approaches for achieving deliciousness.
The Ã¼ber-portable, multi-functioning Aeropress can produce myriad different results with only slight changes to your brewing parameters. So whether you are using it on a boat, jet, café or at home (or even to make strawberry juice), here are a few handy hints noting how to get the best out of your Aeropress.
I’ve seen an Aeropress come in handy for a variety of functions (speaking purely in terms of coffee brewing here), and there are several instructional videos out there suggesting a variety of recipes and methods. Inverted or standard methods are your two main options, with countless variations in between.
The male and female parts (yes, an Aeropress has both) are arranged so the whole device can be inverted to hold dosed coffee which is then topped up with water. Once brewing is underway, the cap and filter can be placed on top. Now here’s where things get real; the whole device is flipped 180 degrees at some point during the brew, after which filtration can take place.
Ye olde Aeropress (classic method)
This method is almost like a pourover to start with ? the female part of the Aeropress is capped and the coffee is dosed, followed by water. The male part can be inserted to stop the brew from draining prematurely and once the brew is complete, filtration begins.
A note: last year’s World Aeropress Championships saw first place win using a classic method, and while second place used the inverted method. Have a play with both and decide which suits you best.
Once you’ve decided upon a method, you’ll need to look at your other brewing parameters. Here’s some info to whet your whistle.
Don’t forget that the parameters below all work together to provide you with a pleasant, even extraction. Changing just one at a time will make it easier to track down where positive and negative aspects of your brew are coming from.
Start by keeping your grind reasonably coarse (the same sort of grind you’d use for a pourover) and play with some of your other parameters to see what sort of extractions you can achieve with your current setting before making any changes. The grind size influences how much surface area of coffee the water has access to, and so will generally change how long it takes to achieve a pleasant extraction. Ultimately, the size of grind you’ll end up with will be determined by the roast, age and origin of the coffee you are using, as well as other parameters in your recipe.
Get yourself a thermometer because temperature control is a big one, and definitely an area to experiment with. To make a standard brew, make sure you are using fairly hot water (94 – 96 degrees). Brew temps of 92 – 96 will ensure you are accessing a peak amount of complex sugars and acids. After trying this, throw caution to the wind and brew with some radically cooler water (70 – 88 degrees). Using a low temp is not a textbook thing to do, but you may be surprised by just how much low temperature can produce remarkable and distinct results in the cup, especially with high acid and fruity coffees.
This determines how long the coffee and water stay in contact with each other, and therefore the amount of diffusion takes that takes place. Start by aiming for a total brew time of two minutes and work your way down (or up!). Remember, the time starts when water hits the coffee, and 30 seconds or so of this time will be when you need to push the brew through the filter.
Some recipes utilise turbulence to encourage extraction, either by stirring or aggressively pouring water onto the grounds. This is the hardest parameter to control, so whether you choose to use this or not, keep it consistent so you can repeat it.
Aeropress uses pressure to force the separation of brewed liquid and coffee grounds through a fine filter. How hard and fast you push down will affect how much grind can potentially bypass the filter. Some amongst us (not counting myself, being fairly sceptical of potential voodoo) believe that we can also extract different flavour elements using different pushdown rates. In any case, start with a total pushdown time of 30 seconds and change it up and down to see how much you can vary the results.
Choose a brew ratio that works
I generally brew single serves for myself, and end up with about 200ml of finished brew. To achieve a pleasant strength, I use a brew ratio of 16:1, which is 16 parts water to 1 part coffee. Measure it out in grams, using 13 grams coffee for 208 grams water, which is also a good amount of water to avoid spillage using the inverted method outlined above.
– Preheat – Thoroughly preheating your device with boiling water will remove most of the temperature loss we get when dosing water. Be thorough and you will instantly step up your consistency.
– Rinse your filter ? either a little or a lot. When using a paper, you will add a slight amount of paper particulate to the cup. Rinse to avoid this noticeable flavour (which is kind of gross anyway.)
– Keep it fresh. As usual, freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee is the best way to go to achieve tasty results. Source something delicious, and buy enough of it to experiment with across brews.
For a mind-boggling array of recipes, visit Aeropress Championship site. Therein live recipes from the World Aeropress finals from 2010 to 2012.
To get your hands on an aeropress for home, check them out in Our Shop