When it comes to brewing coffee with the AeroPress Coffee Maker, there are two main methods. The first method is described both in the directions that ship with the Aerobie AeroPress as well as our AeroPress Coffee Maker Tutorial. It is the regular top down straight-forward brewing method.
The second method is known as the inverted or upside down brewing method, which I will highlight in this brewing tutorial.
The experts are split on which method is best. According to the article The Invention of the AeroPress by Zachary Crockett, “about half” the winners of the AeroPress World Championships use the inverted method. Supporters of the inverted method claim it is a “total immersion”, whereas critics say the flip just looks cool and provides no additional benefit.
Upside Down Can Mean an End To Leaking
I like both methods of AeroPress brewing but often use the inverted method. Not because it looks cool, but because the standard brewing method can sometimes leak before the brewing cycle is complete.
You can minimize the chance that your standard AeroPress brew will leak using the following tips.
- Wet the paper filter.
- Make sure the paper filter isn’t folded and is placed evenly in the filter cap.
- Confirm the seal is tight.
- The grind might be too coarse.
- Use the funnel provided with the AeroPress so loose grounds don’t find their way into where the filter is sealed.
- Some have found using a larger cup reduces the chance of leakage.
Or you could just use the Upside Down method.
At 6 AM, I want my brewing method to be as fool-proof as possible. Really the only way to mess up the inverted method is to lose control during the flip. There is still a possibility of leaking with the inverted method, but it matters far less since it happens at the end of the brewing period when the coffee is ready to exit the brewing chamber.
Many Variations (Recipes) Work
The AeroPress was invented in 2005, which makes it super young when it comes to coffee brewing methods. Since then there has been a tremendous interest by coffee professionals to improve upon the instructions Aerobie ships with each unit.
Today there are numerous AeroPress competitions around the world. When you search for winning recipes, you will find a wide variance in approaches. Brewing temperature, grind size, brewing time and even plunge time vary quite a bit.
At first glance, the complexity of the recipes might seem intimidating, but they shouldn’t. The fact that people are making amazing coffee using wildly different parameters, tells us that the AeroPress is harder to mess up than other coffee brewing methods.
For this tutorial, we are going to keep it simple. Once you’ve got the basics down, venture out and try some award winning recipes.
Before we get started, confirm you have everything.
- The brewing chamber of the AeroPress Coffee Maker.
- The plunger.
- Stir Paddle. If you lose the one that comes with the AeroPress, use a spoon.
- Black filter cap
- Paper filters (or you can use a reusable metal filter replacement such as the Able Brewing DISK).
- Kitchen scale or the scoop that comes in the box.
- Timer or stop watch.
- Filtered or Drinking Water.
- (optional and not in photo) AeroPress Funnel.
#1 Grind Coffee and Heat Water
A single AeroPress scoop is equal to 2 tablespoons or about 17 grams. Measuring coffee by volume will be less precise than by weight. The article Why You Should Use a Scale to Brew Coffee makes a good case for tossing your scoop and grabbing the scale.
Although I agree with the article, when it comes to the AeroPress I found it is very forgiving to a few gram variation in brewing. Don’t think that not having a scale will keep you from brewing excellent coffee.
Aerobie advises a grind between drip and espresso. I use a drip grind. Others use a more coarse grind. When it comes to grind size, the AeroPress is super forgiving. As a general rule the finer you grind, the shorter your brew time will be.
#2 Setup the AeroPress in an Inverted Position and Add Coffee
Place the plunger facing up on the counter. Now turn the brewing chamber upside down and place in securely onto the plunger. You will want the stopper to rest in the middle of the #4 position.
If you are concerned about messing up the flip, you can push it down further so the entire #4 is below the stopper. Other recipes say the entire #4 should be above the stopper, but in my opinion, this is too unstable. One bump and you have a hot mess to clean up.
Add the ground coffee. Use the AeroPress Funnel if you still have it. I threw mine away. I kind of wish I hadn’t, because the funnel makes it easier for all the coffee grounds to get inside the brewing chamber and not get stuck on the rim of the brewer.
#3 Insert and Rinse the Filter
Place a filter inside the filter cap and rinse with water. Set it aside for now.
#4 Start the Timer, Add Hot Water and Stir
How hot should the water be for AeroPress brewing? The opinions here vary quite a bit. Most of the recipes say to use 200-205 F. Aerobie recommends using 175 F. From the Aeropress FAQ:
Books often recommend a brewing temperature of 195° F to 200° F (91° C to 93° C). This is good for conventional brewing methods that pass hot water through a bed of coffee. In this method, the water rapidly cools so the lower part of the bed is operating at a lower temperature. However in the AeroPress all of the coffee particles contact the same water temperature during the stirring phase.
The top 3 finishers at the 2014 World AeroPress Championships used brewing temperatures of 174 F (78 C), 197 F (92 C) and 180 F (82 C). In previous years, you had winning recipes that were just off boiling. The lesson here is that the AeroPress can be brewed at a wide range of temperatures.
To keep things simple I bring water to a boil and then let it cool for 20-30 seconds. If you have a programmable kettle, experiment.
Start the timer.
There are two schools of thought on adding hot water and stirring.
- Add half the water, stir and then add the remaining water.
- Add all the water and stir.
Although I’ve heard compelling arguments that #1 is better, I have done it both ways and can not tell a difference. The important thing about this step is to make sure all the ground coffee makes contact with water. Try it both ways for yourself.
Because I use a more snug fit, I fill the water up to halfway between the #1 and #2 circle.
#5 Secure the Filter Cap on the AeroPress
Hold onto the AeroPress where the two chambers meet and with your other hand, screw the filter onto the brewer.
#6 At 60-90 Seconds, Flip and Press
There are many different brew times you can use. A good starting range is 60-90 seconds total. When this time has passed, grab the AeroPress holding both chambers together and flip it so it is over your mug.
Once the AeroPress is back right-side up and over the mug, proceed with pressing down the plunger. Use a slow steady press. It should take about 20 seconds to fully press.
#7 Add Water to Taste
What you have now is a coffee concentrate. Add some hot water to bring it to the consistency of brewed coffee. Typically this will mean adding 50% water. If you want an iced coffee, just pour over a cup of ice cubes.
I should also add that you don’t need to add anything if you want to have an “espresso like” beverage. Because the AeroPress can not generate near the pressure of a true espresso machine, I do not consider it espresso. Nor does home coffee roasting retailer Sweet Maria’s. From their AeroPress page:
Illy’s research shows that espresso is a beverage brewed at 7-11 bars of pressure, with water temperature between 194 and 203 F (without temperature loss from a cold coffee handle, etc). Even if the AeroPress had the organoleptic features of espresso, and the appearance of espresso, I don’t think it is within these parameters.
If you do go the “espresso like” route, you can experiment with using less water, a finer grind and a shorter brewing time.
The Most Forgiving Brewing Method Ever
I’ve tried many different methods for brewing coffee and none of them are as forgiving as the AeroPress. You can brew using a wide range of grinds, temperatures, and dosages and still make excellent coffee. You can even flip it upside down and it excels.
eBay page for AeroPress – eBay also sells the AeroPress.
The Invention of the AeroPress – Excellent article by Zachary Crockett.
AeroPress Coffee Maker Tutorial – Original INeedCoffee tutorial.
World AeroPress Championships – Site lists winners of the annual competition going back to 2008. Also on the site are award winning recipes.
AeroPress FAQ – Page by Aerobie.
Aero Press Brew Instructions – Article by Sweet Maria’s with comments about why he doesn’t feel the brewer qualifies as an espresso maker at the end.
Photographs by Joseph Robertson of Coffee Lovers Magazine.
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