The Aeropress coffee maker has become an invaluable companion to coffee drinkers the world over, ever since the rise of the third wave coffee movement. But what is it, and why is Aeropress coffee so good?
While it might look intimidating - not least for its almost medical appearance - there is charm to be found in its functional design, and we’re here to show you the delights of this little powerhouse. Interested? If so, read on as we explain exactly how to use an Aeropress, and why Aeropress coffee tastes so good.
What is an Aeropress?
Essentially a portable manual coffee maker, this peculiar looking device has become a global phenomenon since its release in 2005. Invented by the man who also invented the modern day frisbee, it grew out of a frustration that he was unable to brew coffee that tasted good, but was only a single serving. Most brewing apparatus was made for multiple servings, or required training (or large wallets) to use.
The Aeropress’ appeal lies in its simplicity. Sure, there is a knack to getting a consistent push when plunging. But unlike an espresso machine, you don’t need any special skills, and there's no fancy kettle or pour style needed. All told, the whole process takes around two minutes, in contrast to the much longer brewing times of other methods.
That being said, its ability to let you isolate and play around with the variables means it can be a wonderful tool for experimentation; you can even make cold brew in it. It is this consistent quality and flexibility that has gained it millions of fans all around the world, and even spawned a World Aeropress Championship competition.
The benefits of an Aeropress
The set up is extremely portable: the whole thing comes in at around the same size as a can of beer, and weighs even less, making it perfect for travelling, holidays or taking into the office. Leak-proof by design and made entirely with BPA-free plastic, the Aeropress is way less breakable than, say, a glass cafetiere.
The only downside to the size is that it isn’t ideal for brewing multiple cups in one go - although there are plenty of hacks online for getting around this.
The Aeropress is ridiculously easy to clean. Because of the puck that the used coffee creates (similar to that produced by espresso machines), you simply pop it out along with the filter, if you won't be reusing it (the creator says he re-uses his all the time, especially if making more than one cup in a go), and rinse over the entire thing. It can even be cleaned in a dishwasher, if you decide it needs a deeper clean.
The Aeropress is also environmentally friendly, as any waste that it creates (the coffee puck and the paper filters) can be thrown into a compost bin. We sell the refills in a pack of 350, or you can look into getting a metal reusable filter. Be prepared for some backlash from Aeropress fans, though: some argue that this produces an inferior taste, as the holes in it are larger, allowing a small amount of sediment to seep into your drink.
Then there’s the price. For a little under £30 you get everything that you need to use the Aeropress, including the barrel and plunger, a stirring paddle and a scoop, as well as a pack of filters to get you started. Just add your favourite mug (the Aeropress fits most standard coffee cups) and you're good to go.
Why is Aeropress coffee so good?
There are many answers to why Aeropress coffee tastes so good, many of which stem from how the user chooses to make their coffee.
Chiefly it comes down to two things: the shortness of the time the coffee is wet - the shorter the wet time, the sweeter the cup - and the paper filter, which helps create a cleaner taste with more defined flavour notes.
Another line of thinking is that Aeropress coffee tastes good because it is as close to espresso as you can get without a machine. While not technically an espresso shot, which is defined by needing 9 bars of pressure to produce, the taste is extremely similar, meaning you can make espresso based drinks with Aeropress coffee relatively easily.
It also happens to be one of the best ways to taste the variations of different roasts and beans, as the flavour is fuller-bodied than that of drip or filter options, which can be watery. There’s also no sludge at the bottom of your cup such as there would be with a French Press, thanks to the extremely effective paper filters.
Because the Aeropress produces a shorter, stronger amount of coffee, it can be used to create a single, intense drink, or shared out among a few cups and topped up with hot water, in the style of an americano.
How to use an Aeropress:
Standard or inverted?
The Aeropress is famously easy to use, and the instructions that come with it are enough to make a truly great cup of coffee. This is called the standard method, and most Aeropress owners find that it produces good results.
In case you've lost them or simply want to know more, here’s a handy guide on how to do the Inverted method. This involves turning the Aeropress the other way round while preparing the water and coffee to allow for slightly longer brewing times, before flipping it over for the plunging process. There are countless debates online about which is superior, so we recommend that you try both yourself, and see which one works best for you.
- First off, get your water hot. If you have any control over the temperature then set it to 80˚C. If not, simply boil some water then let it rest for a minute.
- While the water is doing its thing, get the Aeropress set up. Start by inserting the plunger into the chamber, up until the number 4, with that end of the barrel at the bottom.
- Place your fine drip or espresso grind coffee (or one of our own Aeropress grinds) into the barrel. This should be roughly 11.5g for a level scoop or 14g for a rounded one if you are using the scoop that comes with the Aeropress. Pour over enough water to coat the grounds (just over the number four). This lets the coffee begin the blooming process.
- Now fill the water all the way up to the number one on the side of the chamber.
- Stir the coffee and water with your paddle and wait one whole minute.
- Place a filter into the cap and rinse lightly to get rid of any paper taste. Now screw it onto your Aeropress.
- After a minute has passed, hold your favourite mug to the filter end of the Aeropress and flip the whole thing over, so that the cup is at the bottom.
- Now to plunge. Try to maintain a steady but gentle pressure, this may seem difficult at first but after your first few tries you’ll practically be a pro.
- Voila, beautiful coffee in around two minutes!
What type of coffee do I use in an Aeropress?
Virtually any coffee can be used in an Aeropress - the key factor here is to make sure the grind is right. Here at Coffee Bean Shop you can purchase all of our coffees pre-ground to the correct coarseness, which can be useful if you are just starting out, or do not have a grinder. Just select our Aeropress grind when ordering your beans.
We would always recommend grinding the beans yourself, as coffee loses its flavour and potency the longer it sits on a shelf after grinding, but we understand that this isn’t always practical. Our Costa Rican Tarrazu Valley works particularly well with Aeropress because of its clean and sweet flavour.
So should I buy an Aeropress?
In short, yes. The Aeropress is a nifty tool to have if you are looking for ways to replicate the full mouth feel of an espresso without a huge price tag, or having to learn special skills. The ability to alter pretty much any aspect of the process means that while anyone can make a good coffee with the Aeropress, there is also huge scope to edit your recipe exactly to the way you like it. With the right choice of blend, and two minutes of your time, an Aeropress is the ideal tool to make truly awesome tasting coffees.
We have a giftset on offer that provides you with an Aeropress and a few coffees to start you off. The only thing we don’t supply is the hot water: it doesn't travel well in the post.