Unless you want to make something a little more amazing.
Cafes occasionally knock my socks off with brews so aromatic, so crisp and yet so full-bodied that I think I must have done everything wrong and that I need to go back to basics and answer questions like 'what is coffee?' and 'what should this taste like?'. The reality is there are many ways to make Aeropress, and they're all right, but some are more right than others. I'm going to look at how my favorite roasters in the world say it should be done.
Note: There are other 'award-winning' methods out there. Look closely and you'll see that they're out of reach: Norwegian water, $3,000 grinders and never-to-be-seen-again coffee crops regularly feature. Let's reach slightly lower than the stratosphere into the realm of the achievable.
What you'll need
For all of these methods, you need:
- An Aeropress (obvs)
- Filter made of bleached or unbleached paper; or metal if you are comfortable with the difference
- A stirrer - either the Aeropress standard one, or a bamboo stirrer
- Scales measuring to 0.1g
- Kettle and thermometer or temperature-controlled kettle
Types of Aeropress brew techniques
There are two distinct methods of making Aeropress: 'regular' and 'inverted'. They both work, but it's easier to break them into categories so you know what to expect.
Method 1: The 'regular' way up
The way the instruction manual says. The normal way up. Filter and cap on the bottom, sitting on a serving receptacle, waiting for grounds and water to be poured in. This is easier physically and less messy, but allows for some under-extracted water to slip through. This is often counteracted by inserting the plunger (without pressing) to make a seal and stop the flow. Below, Heart and Square Mile both use the regular method.
Method 2: The 'inverted' method
Upside-down. This method involves placing the plunger into the cylinder just a little way (up to the '4' mark), and then turning it upside down so you're pouring on to the plunger, without the filter and cap in place. This allows you to stir and agitate for even saturation without worrying about coffee pouring through. It is a little messier because in the end, you have to turn the Aeropress upside-down to press and pour. Below, Small Batch, Seven Seeds, Stumptown and Dukes all use the inverted method.
For all of these methods, make sure you:
- Rinse the filter (even if it's bleached). Place some freshly boiled water into the Aeropress and push it through gently into the glass that you're going to use (then discard the water). This also serves to warm up the Aeropress and the glass.
- Use fresh, light to medium-roasted coffee. Don't use espresso roasts or blends. Make sure coffee was roasted no more than a month ago (at the absolute most) - ideally 1-2 weeks. It doesn't have to be single origin (some blends are amazing and can provide a more balanced experience), though right SOs are in vogue.
- Grind a bit finer than for filter, and adjust. Generally adjust so you only need moderate resistance (about 15lbs, or 7kg of pressure) to press down evenly and slowly (different times depending on recipe).
Below are the guides from the different roasters. Enjoy.
Heart roasters (USA) - regular method
Heart uses a 'regular' method. Their water:coffee ratio is 15:1.
- 18g coffee 'a bit finer than filter drip', Aeropress regular way up
- 270g water at 93-96 C (200-205 F) - about '45 seconds off boil'
- Pour all water in quickly and insert plunger seal at top to stop water dripping
- At 50 seconds, remove plunger, stir for 5 seconds and then replace plunger to seal again
- At 1:45, remove plunger, stir for 5 seconds, then place plunger back in
- Immediately press down for about 20 seconds until the bottom until you hear a 'hiss'.
Small Batch (Australia) - inverted method
Small batch recently won an award from Sprudge for best 'up and coming' roaster. Their recipe (watch the video) uses the inverted method with a 16:1 water:coffee ratio. They don't specify everything and leave some area for flexibility.
- Use 12g coffee, in Aeropress upside down (with no filter/screen attached
- Prepare 200g water between 93 and 97 degrees C (200-207 F)
- Pour all water in, saturating the grinds evenly
- Break crust with stirrer, then stir to create a whirlpool
- While still inverted, add the filter/screen, and 'prime' like a syringe
- At 1:15, place serving receptacle on top, invert the Aeropress, press down gently.
Seven Seeds (Australia) - inverted method
Seven Seeds is another fan of the inverted method, with a 15:1 water:coffee ratio. They brew hot, and for longer than most recipes I've seen. They have a beautifully laid out and simple recipe card that you can print out if you like the recipe.
- 13g coffee, ground 'slightly coarser than sand'
- 200ml water at 97 degrees C (207 F)
- Invert Aeropress and insert grinds.
- Add water, filling to the top, and stir three times to ensure even saturation.
- At 2:30 mark, place serving receptacle and invert Aeropress.
- Press down over 30 seconds (total brew time 3 minutes)
Stumptown (USA) - inverted method
Stumptown uses the inverted method, and an approximately 15:1 water:coffee ratio (approx because they just say which markers to get to). Their method has some weird kinks. They make concentrate, then dilute. They also have a nifty horizontal stir phase.
- 17g coffee ground 'as fine as table salt'
- Water boiled to 96 C (205 F)
- Invert Aeropress and insert plunger. Add coffee.
- At the start of the brew, add water to the grounds, saturating evenly, up until the 3 level (one number notch). Stir thoroughly.
- Add water until the 2 level (another notch).
- Place filter and cap.
- At 1 minute mark, tip to 45 degrees and spin it about for 10 seconds.
- Place onto serving receptacle and plunge with 'gentle and steady pressure'
- Dilute with hot water to taste preference, starting with a 50/50 ratio
Square Mile (UK) - regular method
Square Mile uses the regular method and incorporates a bloom. They suggest a water:coffee ratio of 14:1. (They don't specify the amount, so I'll say 15g as a median)
- 15g coffee, ground 'medium' (like caster sugar)
- Water boiled ~20-30 seconds off boil (approx 95-97 degrees C, or 203-207 F)
- Bloom for 30 seconds with just enough water to wet grinds
- Add rest of water, then insert plunger to make a seal. Brew for 1:30
- Press down for 30 seconds to the bottom.
Dukes (Australia) - inverted method
Dukes' recipe is another inverted method, using a 15:1 water:coffee ratio. I like how they use such hot water. They recommend using an Able disk steel filter.
- 13g grinds, at 'medium coarseness' , similar to 'coarse sea salt'
- Insert plunger, invert Aeropress and pour in grinds
- At the start of the brew, add 200g water at 98 degrees (!) vigorously. Stir the slurry 8 times (within 20 seconds)
- Place Able filter (hint: text side goes up) and cap. Plunge (still inverted) to expel 10g of slurry, and wipe.
- At 1:15, invert onto serving vessel and press down. Press should be just under 30 seconds.