I’ve written about the Aeropress before. I have mentioned that it is my favourite method of brewing coffee. I may or may not have praised it to high heaven as the ultimate coffee maker; I’m not sure. I have outlined the basic method to using the Aeropress but, like I pointed out, that was but the start. The Aeropress opens up an entire world of methods and results for the enterprising and discerning user. I have been exploring that world for a few years now. I return with wonderful tidings. This Christmas season I give you….the absolute best way (in my experience) of using the Aeropress to get a cup of warm coffee that highlights all the strengths (and weaknesses) of the bean involved. Nothing can hide any more; all is revealed. For that reason be careful what bean you use with this method – you may fall in love or you may grow oh so distant. From the bean I mean. I’m definitely talking about the bean.
But, before we approach the deep end we must leave the kiddy pool that is the standard Aeropress technique (discussed earlier) and dip our toes into the adults’ pool with the (standard) inverted Aeropress method.
Why invert the Aeropress if it works so well straight up? Well, mostly, leakage. In a straight up Aeropress the bottom layer is filter paper so there is always going to be some water dripping through. For most people this is just a nuisance and no more. But, for us discerning coffee drinkers, this dripping water is water that has not had the coffee steeping in it for the right amount of time. This, then, is dilute (and sub-optimal) coffee. We can do better.
Inverting the Aeropress means that the bottom layer now is the rubber seal of the plunger and there is no chance of any leakage or sub-optimal brewing. So that’s it, really. The Inverted Aeropress method comprises the following steps:
- Insert the plunger into the open piston of the Aeropress and invert the setup so that the top of the plunger rests on the counter
- Put the desired amount of coffee (usually 18 grams) into the piston
- Pour 30ml 82ºC water onto the grounds and stir to ensure the grounds are wet. Give it 30 seconds to bloom (release CO₂)
- Fill the piston to the 1 mark on the Aeropress (inverted so 1 is top and 4 is bottom) with 82ºC water
- Wet a paper filter (preferably with warm water) and insert it into the cap. Put the cap on the piston and seal into place by twisting
- After about a minute invert a cup onto the inverted Aeropress and invert everything the right side up. Press down on the plunger and extract the coffee over a 30-second period
Keep in mind the various weights and temperatures are, merely, guidelines and it is recommended that you play around with the variables to get what tastes best to you. Also, the inverted method is best suited to a slightly coarser ground than the regular Aeropress method. That said the Aeropress is very versatile; and forgiving.
Now, onward and upward. Let’s get to this Exciting New Method™ that I have been talking about. We are making 4 main changes to the method.
- We are increasing the amount of coffee
- We are reducing the temperature of the water and increasing the steeping time for the grounds
- We are adding a whole session for steeping for the soluble parts of the coffee
- We are doubling the paper filters to minimize the fines that come through into the cup
2. Put in 24 grams of coarse-ground coffee. This equates to about a full scoop plus a third of the standard Aeropress measure
3. Wet the grounds with 80ºC water and stir to ensure the grounds are wet
4. After 30 seconds fill the Aeropress to the 1 mark with 80ºC water but don’t close the cap just yet
5. Wait 4 minutes (gasp)
6. After 4 minutes the crushed grounds would have all accumulated at the top of the Aeropress. Using a spoon remove them. The technical description of this procedure would be “punch down top and skim”.
7. Wet 2 paper filters with warm water and insert into the cap. Put the cap on the piston and seal into place by twisting
8. Wait 10 minutes (wuh?)
9. Invert a cup onto the setup and bring the system the right way up. Press out over 30 seconds
If you started with great beans I can guarantee you’ll have in your hands the most flavourful and balanced cup of coffee you have ever had. With mediocre beans, though….
It has been just under a month since I discovered this method on a coffee forum on Reddit. This 14.5 minute brew is now my go-to method; time permitting, of course. I have been actively proselytizing to all who would give me their ear. At the end of a description of the method I am often met with incredulous or vacant stares. Understandably so. Let me try and do a cursory analysis of the method; specifically, how it differs from the standard Inverted Aeropress Method.
The extra coffee? Well, coupled with the slightly cooler water it gives us more flavour. We also need a longer extraction time to get at all that extra flavour. The longer extraction is also necessitated by the lower temp. But that explains the 4-minute extraction. What about the 10-minute extra stage?
Once we remove the grounds that have accumulated at the top we are left with smaller particles – some of which have dissolved in the water and others that are suspended. They are still imparting flavour to the brew. We want to get at this flavour – this is what the entire exercise has been about – but we must get rid of the larger pieces because the flavour they give is mostly bitter. Note that by skimming off the top we have also removed most of the oil (the crema) that gives the bitter kick to coffee. This is also the component that goes rancid first with extended exposure.
The double filter makes sure that the absolute minimum amount of fines make it into the cup and, more importantly, traps what little crema was left in the brew.
What we end up with is a cup that has pronounced top, middle and bottom notes. Coffee made this way has never been cold enough or strong for me to need hot water to dilute it; always just perfect.
Give it a go. Let me hear what you think.