There is my life before the Aeropress, and my life after the Aeropress. Before: bitter, cumbersome, inconsistent, resigned to mediocrity. After Aeropress came into my life? Well, I’m still all those things, but at least my coffee is now consistently convenient, fast, ultra-smooth, and delicious!
I used to make my coffee with a French press, or I might occasionally pay (gasp!) for a cup of Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts coffee. I thought I was pretty high-brow with my French press and my ultra-charred Starbucks Komodo Dragon blend (the chopped up bits of Komodo dragon really add a lovely taste). Just about the only redeemable thing I can say is at least I didn’t drink Folgers coffee-like substance.
One day, perhaps six or seven years ago now, my dad sent me an Aeropress. He had been on his own journey from lifelong coffee consumer to his current status of home-pro barista and coffee roaster. Before I received it, he tried to explain the Aeropress to me over the phone, but I didn’t really retain much other than “invented by the guy who made Aerobies” and “highest ratings I’ve ever seen on Amazon”.
The smoky, dark plastic tubular plunger device arrived in the mail. I read the very simple instructions. I did some further research online, because I’m a bit OCD and the instructions that come with the Aeropress are so simple that they don’t actually provide any measurements. It’s more or less “grind some coffee beans, put a paper filter in the cap, attach to the aeropress, pour in your ground coffee, add hot water, stir, plunge, add more hot water to dilute to coffee strength.” Not precise enough for me.
In many ways, this is the beauty of the Aeropress – it really is that simple. You can make it as complicated and precise as you want, or you can just wing it. Once you’ve gone through the process a few times, it’s very easy and memorable. As you use the Aeropress more and more, you can start to eyeball the quantity of ground coffee needed and the amount of hot water required. You can spend an awful lot of time googling Aeropress recipes and techniques (FYI I tried the inverted method for awhile – wasn’t sold).
But the best part by far is the consistent quality and taste. Obviously, your coffee is only going to taste as good as the beans you put in. But once you’ve got yourself some good, freshly ground beans, the difference between brewing with a French press vs. Aeropress is like night and day. With a French press, you get a few cups of strong, bitter, oily coffee with progressively more sediment and coffee grounds in your cup as you get closer to the bottom (the last cup goes to the person you like the least of course). With an Aeropress, you get a remarkably smooth, balanced, virtually sediment-free cup of coffee (if you get sediment, you done gone did it wrong). It requires a couple extra steps versus simply combining ground coffee and hot water in a French press, but the final product is vastly superior for the same or less time (a French press needs to steep for four or five minutes; an Aeropress takes about 90 seconds per cup, tops).
I have a hunch that I’m one of Aeropress’ best customers, ever. Since my dad sent me my first one, I’ve bought Aeropresses as gifts for at least half a dozen other people. I also bought an extra one to have at work. When we moved to the UK, I think I gave one of these away and left the other one in our boxes in storage (dumb), so promptly had to order a new one when we got settled in London. We then ordered another one to have for travelling since it’s so small and light, and travel coffee can be so inconsistent (see our Italy post!). When Casey left her job managing the coffee shop, I had her buy another Aeropress as a just-in-case backup (can never be too prepared). I’ve since brought that one to the office. Throughout the years, I’ve sung the praises of the Aeropress and convinced many other people to buy one for themselves or as gift ideas. It’s like I should be on Aeropress’ payroll (hint hint!). If only I had a platform which Aeropress could sponsor or advertise on (HINT FREAKING HINT!).
There are definitely other coffee brewing techniques that truly bring out the best of different types of beans and roasts, particularly for premium / specialty / artisan coffee. But for most quality coffees, I don’t think the consistency, taste, and ease of use of the Aeropress can be surpassed. For most (normal) people, coffee is an essential and transformative part of the day. So stop drinking carafes of bitter, over-extracted or burned coffee, and upgrade your coffee experience with an Aeropress!
- 18g freshly ground coffee (also equates to about 1.5 aeropress scoops of coffee if you don’t have a scale)
- 285 g or ml (10 oz.) filtered water
I picked up these ratios from a recipe by one of the World Aeropress Championship finalists. Yes, it’s a thing (#lifegoals). Yes, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.
- Aeropress paper filter
- Aeropress stirrer
- Measuring cup
- Scale (optional – if you don’t have a scale, an Aeropress scoop works. When you’re done making this cup, go order yourself a scale.)
- Coffee mug
- Weigh 18 grams of beans out and grind fresh. If you don’t have a scale, and/or if you’re using ground coffee, you can also measure out about 1.5 scoops of coffee with the scoop that is included with the Aeropress kit. For example, we use the scoop to measure coffee when we’re camping and don’t have the scale.
- Heat filtered water to approximately 90-95C (just under boiling). Usually, we bring to a boil using our kettle and then just let the water cool for a minute or two while we grind the coffee.
- Quickly rinse the Aeropress filter in the hot water and place inside the cap. Screw into the base of the Aeropress.
- Place the base of the Aeropress, with the cap and filter screwed in tightly, on top of your coffee mug. Pour your ground coffee into the Aeropress. Then pour the heated water onto the ground coffee, until the water reaches the “3” or “4” mark on the Aeropress base.
- Stir the coffee for about ten seconds.
- Now comes the best part – place the Aeropress plunger into the Aeropress base. Steady the mug and base with one hand, while you SLOWLY plunge the coffee with the other. It’s important to maintain steady pressure throughout – if you hesitate or let up on the pressure, the plunger will rise slightly, which can cause the filter to move and allow grounds to get through to your cup. Your best bet is to have the coffee on a low enough surface that you can lock your elbow at a 90 degree angle and use a little bit of body weight, rather than trying to use just your arm strength.
- Once you’ve plunged all the way (you’ll hear a hissing noise towards the end), you can remove the Aeropress from the coffee mug. Unscrew the cap over the sink, dispose of your coffee grounds (they can be composted!), and rinse all of the Aeropress parts with cold water.
- Soap is not necessary for cleaning, just give it a good rinse with some water and rub all the coffee/oils off! The plunger can remain inside the Aeropress base for storage. Be sure to press it all the way through (you’ll hear it click) so that the rubber seal doesn’t stay squeezed by the Aeropress base, causing it to shrink and lose its shape.
- Enjoy your amazing cup of coffee! You can taste test the coffee, and top up with a bit of extra hot water based on personal preference.