The Art of the Brew: No Pressure!

Here at Garage Coffee, we love the AeroPress. It’s just properly brilliant at making coffee. A quote on the iconic hexagonal box states “If I were a robot, the AeroPress would be my arm”. While we’re not sure if we’d go that far, there’s no doubting that it’s an essential bit of kit for any budding filter fan.

The AeroPress was invented by Alan Adler in 2005 (interestingly, he also is the man behind the Aerobie Ring Frisbee – who’d have thought?!). Alan wasn’t particularly impressed by one-cup drip filter offerings at the time, and wanted something a little closer to having a home espresso for one, without all the hassle of owning a home espresso machine. Essentially how it works is immersing ground coffee in a plastic chamber, then using a plunger to pass it through a paper filter.

While Alan loves an espresso-style coffee from his AeroPress, the vast majority of us use it for a long filter-style brew. Despite this, there’s still no set recipe for making filter with an AeroPress. Brewing is defined by two key methods: standard, where the filter cap is applied first and the brewer creates a vacuum to keep the coffee in the chamber; and inverted, where the AeroPress is set on the end of its plunger then turned over for filtering. Some brewers create a concentrate first, and add water to taste, whereas others brew for a longer period with a full serving’s worth of water.

It’s all a bit baffling, to be honest. Every year, AeroPress organise a championship to taste recipes from all over the world. Hundreds of recipes are tested in over 60 countries. It’s mad.

Sometimes, it’s nice to use our uncomfortably-high caffeine tolerance for the greater good of coffee drinkers everywhere. This is one of those times.

We picked out 6 AeroPress recipes and tested them, so you don’t have to.

The Coffee

Like in our last test, we used Loma Verde, our flagship Colombian single origin. It’s got a seriously distinct dark chocolate base with a lovely red berry tartness that makes for a bold and identifiable coffee. We also did some secondary tastings with our single origin from Guatemala, Finca Santa Sofia. With delightfully sticky plum and strawberry notes, it makes a markedly different profile, and was very helpful for corroborating our findings.

The Recipes

As a control, our first two recipes will follow what we serve customers in our Canterbury and Whitstable shops. The same recipe will be used, but one will be brewed using the standard method, and the other inverted.

The third will be inventor Alan Adler’s recipe for ‘espresso-style’ AeroPress coffee. We tasted this both as a short drink, and diluted with hot water.

Our final three recipes are all from AeroPress world champions, brewed in a variety of styles. One even involves chopsticks.

Key Points

To test all these recipes yourself, you’ll probably need a home electric grinder. If you haven’t got one, we love the Wilfa Svart Grinder – if you’re in the market, we really can’t recommend anything better for home filter coffee.

Also, where possible, it’s crucial that you use filtered water. While unfiltered water isn’t going to scale up your AeroPress like it would an espresso machine, your coffee just isn’t going to taste its best.

For every recipe, we used AeroPress brand bleached filters (they don’t offer an unbleached option, which would be our first choice). You can cut your own, but AeroPress sell them in handy packs of 350. Metal filters are available, but AeroPress doesn’t “officially” endorse them, and none of our recipes called for a metal filter. Their paper filter, which is disposed of with the waste coffee grounds, is compostable.

RECIPES 1 & 2: The ol’ Garage special.

Filter prep: rinsed with hot water
Coffee Weight: 15g
Grind Size: Stovetop (medium)
Water Weight: 225g

Method 1 – standard brewer position.

  1. Prepare filter paper and grind coffee.
  2. Fit filter cap to AeroPress and place over drinking vessel of choice (pre-heated).
  3. Pour 40g of water, stir vigorously for 10s with AeroPress paddle.
  4. Immediately pour remaining 185g of water and fit AeroPress plunger.
  5. Pull up on the plunger to create a vacuum seal. Minimal coffee should be filtering through if done correctly.
  6. At the 2m mark, start pressing for 30s.
  7. Enjoy!

Method 2 – Inverted brewer position.

  1. Grind coffee.
  2. Set up AeroPress in the inverted position with coffee in the chamber.
  3. Pour 40g of water and stir with Aeropress paddle for 10s.
  4. At the 30s mark, pour remaining 185g of water.
  5. Wet filter paper and prepare filter cap.
  6. At the 2m mark, apply filter cap and turn onto drinking vessel (pre-heated).
  7. Press for 30s.
  8. Enjoy!

The Verdict: We were really impressed with both recipes. We think that the inverted method gave us a fuller-bodied and more juicy coffee, with a focus on the tangy red berry notes of Loma Verde, whereas the standard method was a little thinner and drier.

 

RECIPE 3: The OG Alan Adler “double espresso”.

Filter prep: rinsed with hot water
Coffee Weight: 15g
Grind Size: Espresso (fine)
Water Weight: 85g

  1. Set up your AeroPress in the standard position over your server. Pre-rinse your filter paper and ensure the cap is attached.
  2. Add 15g of ground coffee.
  3. Pour in 85g of hot water.
  4. Stir well for 10s.
  5. Attach plunger and plunge for 30 seconds.
  6. Enjoy as a concentrate, or top up with water for an americano-esque drink!

The Verdict: To be fair on our mate Al, this was pretty close to an espresso in taste, with a good dark chocolate intensity. It was strong and heavy-bodied, but lack the real consistency and crema of a well-poured espresso. After adding more hot water to the concentrate for a longer drink, we found it quickly lost these notes.

 

RECIPE 4: 2018 World AeroPress Champ Carolina Garay from the US of A.

Brewer position: Inverted
Filter prep: Rinsed with hot water
Coffee weight: 34.9g
Grind size: coarse filter grind (not quite cafetière!)
Water weight: 200g

  1. Set your water temperature at 85℃.
  2. Prepare your filter paper and grind your coffee.
  3. Pour 100g of water for 30 sec.
  4. Stir vigorously but carefully with wooden pair of chopsticks for 30 sec.
  5. Put the filter cap on, flip the AeroPress and press into a glass server for 30 sec.
  6. Do not preheat your serving vessel.
  7. Top up your brew with 60g of 85℃ water and 40g of room temperature water.

The Verdict: Carolina literally has, according to judges, THE recipe of last year. It’s a little convoluted, but it makes for a mighty cup. The tart berry notes were a little smoother than our inverted recipe, and the mouthfeel was full-bodied and creamy. There was significantly more particulate in the brew than our inverted recipe, and this gave it a wonderful cordial-like juiciness akin to that of a well-made cafetière.

 

RECIPE 5: 2018 2nd place Xiaobo Zhang from China.

Brewer Position: Inverted
Filter prep: Rinsed with cold water
Coffee weight: 31g
Grind size: cafetière grind
Water weight: 220g

  1. Add 30g of coffee into chamber.
  2. Add 100g of water in 15 sec.
  3. Stir for 15 sec.
  4. Add 70g of water.
  5. Add 1g of very finely ground coffee (like espresso).
  6. Attach filter cap, flip the AeroPress and press for 45 sec.
  7. Top up brew with 50g of water.
  8. Enjoy.

The Verdict: We were a little disappointed by this one, unfortunately. After Carolina’s recipe, this had a higher acidity to it and a much darker body. If you want something a bit sharper, it may be your jam.

 

RECIPE 6: 2017 AeroPress Champ Paulina Miczka from England.

Brewer Position: Inverted
Filter Prep: Rinsed with hot water
Coffee Weight:
 35g
Grind size: Same as Recipe 4 – between filter and cafetière  
Water Weight: 370g

  1. Put 35g of coffee into your AeroPress
  2. From 0:00 to 0:15, add 150g of water
  3. From 0:15 to 0:35, stir and keep stirring
  4. At 0:35, put filter cap (with pre-wet filter) in place
  5. At 1:05, flip the AeroPress and start pressing
  6. At 1:35, stop pressing. You should have now 90ml of the concentrated brew (4.5%TDS)
  7. Add 160g - 200g of hot water and enjoy!

The Verdict: This was pretty damn great. High, sweet, and tea-like notes that reminded us of drinking a Chemex, it really made the best of the fruity notes of Loma Verde.

 

SO: WHO CAME OUT ON TOP?!

Get your chopsticks out, coffee fiends. While Paulina did a great job (one tester said her recipe was “exactly what an Aeropress should be… tastes like squash!”), Carolina just edged in the win. As was earlier said, the recipe was a little involved, but it made for a cup brimming with flavour and a genuinely enjoyable beverage that left us all smiling like the cat that’s got the cream!

Of course, the best recipe for us may not be the best recipe for you – it’s best to try it out for yourself! You can buy an Aeropress in our Canterbury and Whitstable stores, or here on our online store!


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