Making a better cup of coffee with an Aeropress

Making a better cup of coffee with an Aeropress

[lead dropcap=”yes”]A few years ago, I wrote about my conversion to using a French press to make my coffee as I found it made a superior cup of joe compared to the usual drip coffeemaker. I rejected any claim that it was fussy or snobby, but claimed it as just “good”.[/lead]

However, I’ve now switched to another method that seems very trendy, but I did so for very good reasons. The fact is that I began to discover that every time I drank coffee from the French press, I got a stomach ache afterward. Whether it’s the grounds that make it through the sieve or a higher amount of acid, something about the method left me unhappy.

That’s when I discovered the Aeropress.[1] From outward appearances, it clearly has connections to the French press, but with important differences. First, the coffee and water are mixed together and then the coffee is extracted by pushing a plunger down. It’s also relatively inexpensive, the basic package being available on Amazon for under $30.[2] But that’s where the similarities end.

The basic Aeropress comes with the press, a plunger, a funnel, a scoop, a stirrer, and paper filters. You can also buy a metal filter if you’re the type who can taste the paper chemicals in your coffee and/or want to save a few (very small) trees. The filter is the key to a cup of coffee that doesn’t induce stomach pain because it keeps the grounds and acid from getting into your cup.

Here’s how it works. While you boil some water in a kettle, place a filter in the bottom of the Aeropress. Place the chamber atop your coffee mug. Depending on how strong you want your coffee, grind two to four scoops of coffee and place them in the chamber (this is what the funnel is for). I always use four scoops ground at the espresso grind.

Pour water into the plunger (that’s what the hollow interior is for), watching the fill markings on the side. For four scoops of coffee, fill it to the number 4 on the side. Carefully pour the hot water over the grounds in the chamber then stir with the paddle for ten seconds. Dip the plunger bottom in some water (so that it makes a tight seal) and then place it in the top of the chamber.

Now carefully, slowly, and steadily push the plunger down. You will feel resistance, but you will also notice that the plunger won’t touch the coffee or grounds. You’re using compressed air to extract the coffee from the slurry you just made. Keep pressing until you start to hear air and when you look at the bottom of the Aeropress, there will probably be some bubbles. In most cases, the plunger won’t have touched the grounds, which is what you want. It should take about 30 seconds to push through. If it takes less, your grind was too coarse. If you can’t push it through completely, it was too fine.

By this time, you have a nice couple ounces of espresso[3] in your mug. Not exactly a mug of coffee yet, but great if you want a hot shot. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, pour in hot water from the kettle to your desired level. You are making essentially an Americano.

Just add milk or sugar and you have a very nice cup of coffee. In fact, I find it to be less bitter than French press coffee. (You can find more detailed instructions in this PDF from an online coffee vendor.)

As with anything related to coffee, people have taken the basic Aeropress method and modified it in a quest for the perfect cup. Some people like the inverted method. There’s even a World Aeropress Championship.

Because it’s so simple, it’s very easy to take with you on the go. You just need a way to boil water and have ground coffee. And it’s a whole lot faster than any other method of brewing coffee. Plus, no coffee-related upset stomach over the past year. Yay!

Update (March 16, 2018): You may be interested in learning more about the Aeropress. The Coffee Chronicler offers this Advanced Guide to the Aeropress.

  1. The Aeropress was invented by the same guy who invented the Aerobie flying ring that was the successor to the Frisbee.  ↩
  2. You can also get several bundles that either come with a tote bag, extra filters, or the metal filter  ↩
  3. Not “expresso”. My Italian ancestors die a little bit again everytime someone calls it that. Although Melanie says that their even more ancient Roman ancestors would find it perfectly okay.  ↩

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli