Why I think the Aeropress is king among brewers…
I’ve always said that the strength of any brewing device is in its’ ability to efficiently manage the variables that effect the final brew of your coffee. Although you eventually decide on which brewing device you’d like to use based on the cup characteristics that it delivers; i.e. Chemex if you like a lighter tea-like brew that accentuates clarity, or French press if you prefer a fuller cup with a potential balance of heavier notes along with fruity acids.
..But what if there was a device that could essentially deliver both of the above results plus everything in between!
Enter, the Aeropress – a nifty, BPA-free plastic cylindrical gadget that is only slightly larger than dunny
roll tube and limited to brewing just the one cup at a time. But with so much versatility in terms of
brewing options; durability and it’s travel-friendly size – it’s very easy to fall in love with it.
First off, a brief history lesson..
The Aeropress was invented in 2005, by Alan Adler; and American inventor and brainchild behind the Aerobie brand, famous for many aerodynamic toys including the Aerobie Flying Ring which won several world records for the farthest thrown object.
Adler, now 85 years old, holds over 40 invention patents to his name. But he truely made a name for himself amongst specialty coffee aficionados worldwide shortly after he launched the Aeropress.
Initially, the purpose of the Aeropress was to substitute an espresso-based Americano but over time it became clear that the device had so much more potential and one could prepare coffees in completely different ways to obtain a wide range of impactful and repeatable results.
So much so that it led to 2004 World Barista Champion and 2005 World Cup Taster Champion, Tim Wendelboe of Norway (along with compadres Tim Varney and Tim Williams), initiating the first Aeropress championship in 2008 for 3 people at his coffee house in Oslo. The concept was super simple – who could brew the same coffee better and tastier than other participants.
What followed since was a gradual worldwide revolution and as of 2021, over 65 countries participate in the championship.
#Funfact this championship is also famous for its creative and funky posters. 👉🏼👉🏼
The Device, explained.
There are 3 main components to the Aeropress; the perforated filter cap that holds the filtering medium, the tube-shaped plunger and the slurry-holding chamber. With manually-applied pressure to the plunger, we push the slurry (coffee & water mix) through the chamber, out through the bottom cap holding the filtering medium and into the cup.
The device was designed to replicate a pressure-based extraction method similar to that of an espresso machine minus the electricity.
The beauty of the apparatus is that it can handle almost anything you through at it (literally, as well)
You can brew balanced tasting cups in as little as 45 seconds all the way up to 4 minutes, depending on grind size, water temperature, filtering medium and brewing technique.
The Variables, within reason
- Single sheet paper filter
- Multiple sheet paper filters
- Third-party metal & mesh filter disk (some with adjustable hole sizes)
- OR a strategic combination of the above!
Water temperature range:
86 degrees up to 96 degrees
Slightly coarser than espresso (400 microns) ..And all the way up to French press range (1500 microns)
Lastly, the ‘way’ of Brewing:
The Traditional Method; coffee machine device is placed over a cup assembled with cap filter and chamber. Ground coffee is then placed into the chamber on top of the filter, water is added and a combination of gravity assists the extraction at the start, followed by pressure when the plunger is inserted and pushed down, squeezing the brew into the cup.
The Inverted Method; the device acts as an immersion brewer for the first few minutes, coffee and water sit together in the upside down chamber with a plunger inserted about a centimetre (enough to create a tight seal), the cap is then screwed on and the device is flipped over a cup and pressure is applied to the plunger to push out the brew.
The Gravity-only method; Replicate the cup profile of a V60 or Chemex by adding 2 or 3 papers to the cap and starting off with the traditional method. But you can leave your plunger in the cupboard for this one. Make sure your have a slightly coarser grind similar to that of a V60 or Chemex.
#Protip while brewing this way: water temperature, slurry height and rate of pour is uber important.
The Aeropress can be both simple or as complicated as you want it to be. But don’t be afraid to
experiment and you are almost guaranteed to achieve a brewed coffee exactly to your liking. Just
remember, if you ended up with a great cup be sure to have made notes along the way so that you can
#protip Note down things like dose, grind size reference, water temperature, total water volume used and technique over time; for example, if you stirred twice 30 seconds after the water was added, etc
For some true inspiration check out some of the reigning champions brewing recipes here: https://www.worldaeropresschampionship.com/hall-of-fame
One of our killer recipes:
✅ Dose 16 grams of coffee and 220 grams (or ml) of water;
✅ Medium grind size slightly finer than V60 (we use a 400 on the Bentwood)
✅ Water with a mineralization within a range of 80-100 ppm (bottled or filtered water);
✅ Water @ 90 degrees Celsius ;
✅ Total brewing time – 3 minutes
☑️ Place the plunger with a rubber stopper secured within the chamber;
☑️ Warm up the chamber and the vessel into which we will push the drink;
☑️ Place a single paper filter into the perforated cap and rinse with hot water ;
☑️ Dose in 16 grams of coffee
☑️ Add 50 grams of water within a 5-second window, stir 4 times in one direction with the Aerobie-included stirrer and wait for 20 seconds;
☑️ Immediately fill in the entire remaining volume of water (120g) within a 10-second window and wait until the 2-minute mark
☑️ Give the slurry 2 decent stirs in one direction place on and tighten the perforated cap with the wet paper filter, flip back and over a cup/carafe and gradually push down on the plunger. allocate close to 90 seconds to the ‘push down’ process
☑️ Remove the Aeropress, unscrew the cap and squeeze out the used puck from the aeropress straight into a bin using the plunger;
Processes and times indicated in the recipe are recommendations and are great starting points that may need to be adjusted to taste; based primarily on your coffee, your coffee’s age and overall water mineral quality
If the coffee turned out too bitter and heavy, then you have essentially extracted more than you should. In this case, you can make the grind slightly coarser, exercise greater control over the amount of water and coffee agitation, or lower the water temperature to have more control on the overall rate of extraction.. If the coffee is watery and sour, then you need to grind finer and increase the water temperature.
In both of the above situations you will not be changing your coffee to water ratio
As we know two key components of a finished brew are strength/clarity (relating to body/ tactile/mouthfeel) and extraction (balance of flavours)
Changing variables and techniques using the AeroPress will deliver different combinations of strength and extraction. Note that it is virtually impossible to manipulate only one aspect without affecting the other. Your technique and method will always be related to the time you allocate to Brewing. With Shorter brew times (when you use a finer grind) you have a smaller window to control the overall strength and rate extraction. With a longer brew time (using a coarser grind) you have a slightly bigger window to control the rates of extraction and overall strength.
How do you decide what recipe to use?
— ask yourself three questions:
How do you like your coffee?
What coffee beans are you working with?
And what is the most consistent grind particle size that you have readily available to you?