I believe that it takes a bunch of time and a ton of brews to dial in and feel comfortable with the recipe that you prefer to use when encountering a new brew method. Combine that with all the different types of coffee that you can brew and the different recipes that advance the flavours in coffees from different regions of the world. Oh sweet baby Moses, how do you even decide where to start?
Well often when I'm trying out a new brewing method, I scour YouTube for every video that can be found that is related to that brewing method. When it came to V60 (one of the most finicky brewers out there) I found all the videos that I could and I tried it and came up with a method fairly quickly. I did the same thing for Chemex and the learning curve was even easier because I already had the pour-over base knowledge from experimenting with the V60. When it came to Aeropress I watched hours of videos on different brew methods; everyone seemed to do it differently. How was I supposed to figure out which one works best?
With V60 and Chemex there are only so many ways that you can brew it. They are both pour-overs, meaning that it's a gravity brewed process, pulling the water through the grounds as it drips into your cup.
Aeropress is a different kind of animal. With Aeropress it's more of an immersion brewer meaning that you add water and coffee and give them some time to get to know each other. There are so many different variables that can be used in any combination when brewing Aeropress that will alter the taste of your coffee.
- How hot is your water?
- Do you brew with it right side up or upside down? (Uh...what?)
- How much coffee do you add?
- How much water should you add?
- How long should you bloom?
- Should you bloom at all?
- Should you stir your bloom?
- How many times or how long should you stir your bloom for?
- Do you add all your water into the Aeropress?
- Do you add more water into your cup after you press all the coffee out?
- How fast/slow should you press?
- How much agitation should you use when brewing?
- Do you use a paper filter or a metal filter?
- How many paper filters do you use at a time?
- Do you keep pressing after the 'hiss' or do you stop at the 'hiss'?
There is a reason that there are Aeropress brewing competitions around the world. These competitions are held to pit unique Aeropress brewing recipes against each other.
On the other hand, Aeropress can be the easiest brewing method out there. It's the best method to travel with, to camp with, and to take to the office. As long as you have access to boiling water and a coffee grinder (unless your coffee is pre-ground) you're all set! You can use a scale with this depending how precise you want to be, but you do not have to. The numbers on the side can be used as general measurements for how much water to add.
The Aeropress comes with everything you need to get started (except your water and coffee). It comes with the brewer itself, a stirring paddle, a measuring spoon, a funnel, a filter holder, and enough filters to last you for a very long time. I swear, it's as if the filters are breeding in my cupboard overnight; there is no end to them. The scoop it comes with roughly measures 17-19 grams of ground coffee.
Let's talk about the filters a bit more. You can choose to either use the paper filters that it comes with or you can choose to use a metal filter that other companies make. When brewing with the paper filters its common to brew with a single filter in the filter basket, this is how I started. I then tried using two or even three filters at a time to see if I could refine how clean of a cup I was getting. It was amazing the flavour difference between one and three filters. I found that three filters produces a brighter, more lively cup of coffee. Whereas a single filter tended to let a little more particle pass through the filter meaning you'd have a bit of a higher TDS (total dissolved solids) in your brew. The single filter was giving me a bit more of a bitter dull cup of coffee.
Then there are metal filters. These filters are great because you can use them over and over and over until they break or get lost. Typically you can purchase different size microns of metal filters. The thinnest I believe is a "screen" type filter which is pretty close to brewing with paper. I've never tried a metal filter on my Aeropress but I have tried metal filters on other brewers and I found that it lets a lot more particle and oil through than the paper filters do. If that's something you enjoy in a cup of coffee, then this is the thing for you! The downside about metal filters is that it can be expensive to purchase a good one and you run the risk of bending it or losing it all together and having to replace it.
There are so many items that people have invented to mod how you use your Aeropress, such as the Fellow Prismo which allows you to build up enough pressure in your Aeropress to imitate a shot of espresso with crema and everything.
PUCKPUCK makes a device that allows you to turn your Aeropress into a cold brewer. As mentioned before, you can get metal filters for your Aeropress to replace the paper ones, Able makes an assortment of these.
Let's talk a bit about some basic brew methods.
Here is a video of Alan Adler, the man himself, talking a bit about the Aeropress and showing you his preferred brew method. After watching that video you can see just how easy it can be, he's not using a fancy kettle or a scale. In this video Alan is demonstrating the regular method of brewing as apposed to the inverted method of brewing. The regular method is when you brew your coffee with the device right side up and filter attached to the bottom. The potential down side to this is that when you bloom your coffee, you have it dripping into your cup before you want it to. When brewing such a small quantity of coffee, this can make a big difference to the taste of your final cup. Another method that you can use is the inverted method in which you brew with the device upside down and the plunger inserted about half an inch. You can then put your coffee in and bloom it without there being any pre-drip, then add all the water you want and this is now acting as a full immersion brewer so you can precisely track your brewing time. When you're ready to press, you put the filter cap on and flip it onto your cup and press away! I typically use the inverted method. I have left a recipe below that I like to use demonstrating this method.
Here is the recipe that I have found preferable when brewing with the Aeropress.
- Inverted method
- 19g coffee fine grind (finer than V60 but not as fine as Espresso) 16 on Baratza Encore
- Pre-wet 1 or 2 filters in the filter basket
- Water has been off boil for about 30 seconds
- Bloom about 35g water for 35 seconds
- Swirl for about 6 or 7 seconds while coffee is blooming