When Alan Adler invented the Aeropress coffee maker in 2005, he had never imagined it would breed a cult-like following.
After all, he had only ever wanted to make a single cup of coffee that not only tasted delicious, but was also easy to brew. But given just-how-delicious the resulting coffee from the Aeropress is, it’s not too hard to understand why there is such a growing fascination with this simple coffee maker.
My History with the Aeropress
I first discovered the Aeropress when browsing coffee making equipment on Amazon. Frankly, I was looking for a new brewer to review and this one had already garnered thousands of positive reviews. Yes, thousands.
Even more shocking than the fact that this coffee maker had come from Aerobie (you know, those weird rubber frisbees you may or may not have played with in the 90s) was the low price point.
At just $25 I knew I could afford to give this coffee maker a shot. I remember how excited I was when it finally came in the mail.
It lived up to the hype
I initially used it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I brewed the water at 175˚ F, put two scoops of coffee in, and stirred for 10 seconds after filling up the water to the appropriate line. I pressed it, and I drank it.
And then, I got snobby
Over the course of owning the Aeropress I heard from a lot of so-called experts that there were certain ways to use it.
For one, it was blasphemous to use 175˚F water. If the SCAA says 195˚-205˚ is the right way to brew, it must be right?
Secondly, using the Aeropress right-side up does not yield superior coffee. However, if you use it upside-down (inverted) you’ll get an other-worldly cup of Joe.
Third, “let it bloom!” Then, pour the rest of the coffee and let it bloom some more.
I think it was at this point I let some others try my Aeropress creations. Suffice to say, they were not impressed.
“It tastes like gasoline,” my girlfriend would say. “That one,” my sister would say in a blind taste test while pointing to the cup I poured with a Hario V60.
My Aeropress creations simply were not the best. In fact, they may have been the worst. And here I was still fooling myself into thinking I was making great coffee with it.
Listening to Alan Adler at Coffee Con SF changed everything
The first time I ever brewed with the Aeropress, I followed the out-of-the-box instructions. I remember liking the result too.
Well, this is effectively the exact same way Alan Adler brews his Aeropress coffee.
The steps Alan Adler takes to brew his Aeropress coffee
- Put 1 or 2 scoops of fine ground coffee into chamber – fine drip or espresso grind
If you were using a coarse grind like a French Press, cut it out! Just kidding of course. But I’d still start with finely ground coffee before experimenting with coarser grounds.
- Shake chamber to level coffee. Pretty standard advice here. Necessary for even saturation with the water
- For espresso strength concentrate, add water to the number on the chamber equal to the number of scoops you added. For American coffee, add water to the 2. I gotta say, this is pretty confusing. Wouldn’t that be the same thing assuming we put 2 scoops of coffee in the chamber? Oh well, I’d just pour to the number that equals what you added in scoops of coffee. You could also experiment with filling the water to the top of the chamber, or topping off your final cup with hot water. Do whatever you think yields the best result. Just know that Alan Adler pours to the number that corresponds with the number of scoops of coffee he added.
- Stir 10 seconds Many coffee “experts” will do things like pre-saturation and steeping the coffee for a minute. Mr. Adler however, believes this defeats the entire purpose of the Aeropress. The less time the coffee spends in contact with the hot water, the better.
- Press firmly, but gently Using a crossed arms method, you can achieve roughly the 15 lbs of pressure that he claims is needed for an effective press.
- Add some hot water if you need something that isn’t as strong as the resulting concentrate Totally optional. I personally never do this because I think it’s good as is.
- Finally, and perhaps most contentiously, brew at 175˚F for medium to dark roasts, 185˚F for lighter roasts Many coffee snobs (including me) cry that this is faux pas, but according to Mr. Adler, when conducting blind taste tests comparing 185˚ to 175˚, 19 of 20 tasters preferred the 175˚ version. While I have some issues with the methodology for coming up with these results, it is what it is. Test for yourself. If you prefer higher temperatures, go for it.
Oh, and if you were wondering about the inverted method
Mr. Adler was adamant that this was the way you shouldn’t be using the Aeropress. Going back to the longer saturation time, he is convinced that inverted Aeropress’ result in more bitter coffee.
The most interesting story he told to support this theory was when he referred to the World Aeropress Competitions held around the world (yes, they DO exist).
He said that any barista/competitor who had used the inverted method never won a tier of the competition. And in case you were wondering, all the judging was done blindly.
Here’s a video of one of these Aeropress competitions:
So re-think your Aeropress brew
If you like the way your Aeropress coffee tastes as it is, go ahead and stick to it. But keep in mind that this is how the inventor himself makes his coffee with the Aeropress, so you might want to give it a try to see if it improves things for you.
Please share your experiences by leaving a comment below.