I love my AeroPress. It’s such a clever little coffee brewer as it’s so compact yet it brews such delicious coffee. On first inspection, the AeroPress appears to be quite fixed in the way it brews coffee but appearances aren’t everything.
AeroPress lovers will be quick to tell you that there are two, widely known methods for brewing coffee using this device. The Normal and the Inverted method. These two methods both produce a rich and bold cup of java but they can be quite tricky to get your head around.
The normal method is essentially the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to brew with an AeroPress. It involves adding the coffee onto the filter whilst the device is balanced over your mug. The inverted method flips this on its head and you add the coffee and hot water to the upside-down device before screwing on the cap, balancing your mug on top, and flipping the whole thing around.
Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses but before we put these techniques head to head let’s get back to basics.
What Is An AeroPress
An AeroPress is a device used for brewing coffee that resembles a large cylinder. It is made from BPA-free plastic and uses a syringe-like motion to force coffee through a filter. It has two main components. The first is the brewing chamber where you add coffee and hot water and the second is the plunger that drives the coffee through the filter and into your cup or mug. This has an air-tight, silicone seal to allow for tidy brewing.
Why Choose An Aeropress
The Aeropress is a portable, efficient, and extremely cost-effective way to brew coffee. It utilizes a short brew time as it relies on air pressure to help extract the flavor. This results in a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee that is similar to an espresso.
The paper filters reduce bitter notes as they remove coffee oils so you’re left with a delicious and intense cup of coffee without having to invest in an espresso machine.
The AeroPress typically produces a less acidic cup of coffee, especially if a lower temperature of water is used.
The normal method for brewing java using an Aeropress is so-called as it follows the manufacturer’s instructions.
To start with you place a filter paper (or metal filter) into the cap of the Aeropress and fix this in place to the larger chamber. Next, you want to balance this over a sturdy mug, glass, or jug. This will be the brewing vessel where the coffee ends up.
Add a heaped scoop of coffee (that’s about 15-18g of fresh ground coffee) to the chamber and give it a little tap to level this out. You want this coffee to be ground to a fine, drip setting on your grinder.
Using water that’s around 80C (175F) add around 30g to the coffee or until it reaches the first marker. Stir for 10 seconds to allow blooming and position the plunger on the top of the chamber.
Press gently on the plunger until you feel some resistance and pause here. Using even pressure carry on depressing the top portion until all the coffee has made it into your mug.
This gives you an espresso-style brew that you can top up with hot water to make an americano or add steamed milk to give a flat white, cappuccino, latte, or macchiato.
Remove the cap and the coffee and paper filter can go in the compost. Rinse the plunger and cap (plus metal filter if using) with warm water and you’re ready to go again!
The inverted method is pretty similar to the normal method in a few ways. It’s best to think of it as up-side-down brewing.
You want to start by assembling the Aeropress so that the plunger is in place and ready to depress. Fix it so that the plunger is in line with the top (number 4) level of the brewing chamber.
Next, add your heaped scoop of coffee to the brewing chamber with the device held upside-down (the numbers will help you to see this!).
Add the warm (80C) water until it reaches the number 3 level. You can use coffee scales here to get a more accurate measure. You want to add twice the volume of water to the weight of coffee used. For example, if you use 15g of coffee, add 30g of water.
Let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds and then stir using the stirrer wand. Around 3 gentle sites should be enough.
Next, take some water fresh off the boil (93C/200F) and fill the Aeropress to the top. Let this sit for 1 minute – 1.5 minutes to allow full extraction.
I should mention here that you can brew espresso type volumes with this method, just don’t top up the hot water here!
Add your filter paper to the cap and screw this in place. A good tip here is to wet the filter slightly with warm water to help it stick in place.
Place your mug over the cap, still up-side-down, and carefully flip the whole lot over. Gently and with even pressure, press the plunger so that the coffee is expelled into your mug and that’s it!
The inverted method allows a richer, drip-style coffee with more control over the extraction and bloom time.
Does It Affect The Coffee
The differences between the normal and inverted methods are not huge but they are present. With the normal method, the coffee starts dripping through the filter as soon as the water is added so you’ll have a weaker portion making up the coffee. The inverted method allows fulls extraction throughout the total volume of water added.
The plus side to the normal method is that the coffee grounds help to add a layer to the filter paper and work towards helping it achieve the correct pressure. This is what allows the shorter brew time.
This may result in a brew that’s more typical of an espresso type drink.
The biggest difference in practice between the two brew methods is that the inverted method gives you a bit more room to play with. You can adjust the bloom and brew time because the coffee remains fully submerged until you flip the device over.
This is why most people prefer the inverted method. You can easily adjust it to suit your own taste preferences and gain more control over the brew of your cup of java.
Does The Aeropress Make Espresso
This is the big question on everyone’s tongue. Does the AeroPress actually make espresso?
Well, the short answer is no. The Aeropress makes a brew that’s similar to an espresso but the pressure achieved by the device cannot rival an espresso machine. The differences are easily notable in the fact that the AeroPress coffee doesn’t end up with the thick, crema layer on top that is usually a sign of a well extracted espresso.
The flavor doesn’t vary too far between an AeroPress espresso and an “official” one. You can still enjoy the drink the same or use it to make specialty coffees like a latte.
What Other Modifications Can You Achieve With An AeroPress
Despite appearing as quite a fixed device, the AeroPress has a few other components that you can play with or adjust to make a cup of joe that meets all your expectations.
The AeroPress is marketed with paper filters that are circular in shape to perfectly fit the cap. These papers help filter out bitter notes and oils leaving a lighter, sweeter coffee. They give a more drip-coffee flavor. A modification here is that you are not limited to the AeroPress branded papers as you can cut your own ones using any filter paper you like. Whether is bleached/unbleached, thicker or thinner the choice is yours.
If you prefer a richer, french press type coffee then you’ll be pleased to hear that you can buy metal filters for your AeroPress. These allow in more coffee oils and subtle flavors that a paper will remove. They are also re-usable so save you money in the long run.
The time taken to brew coffee in an AeroPress can vary between 25 seconds to 2 minutes. This gives you a chance to play around until you find one that suits you best. You can adjust the bloom time as well, alongside the stir-time and how long you take to press the coffee through the filter.
Ideally, you want the water to be around 80C when it first contacts the coffee and as high as 93C when you’re topping it up. This is a factor that can be highly adjustable to suit you. Using a kitchen thermometer or a kettle with a built-in temperature gauge can help you to find the magic number that produces your perfect cup of joe.
The AeroPress is best suited to a finer grind setting that’s not quite as fine as espresso. Again, this is something you can play around with to achieve a coffee that tastes sublime. A burr grinder is the best option to allow you to get an even particle size throughout your coffee.
A good method to help you choose the right grind size is the resistance you feel when you’re pressing the plunger. If the resistance feels like too much then your grind setting may be too fine. If it feels too easy to press then you may have too coarse a setting.
Last but not least and probably the more versatile factor is the coffee beans you choose. There are thousands of coffee types out there from all over the world. You can choose a bean that appeals to you and then a roast as well.
Darker roasts give a richer more oily coffee and a lighter roast will give a more gentle, delicate cup of coffee.
Other Coffee Makers To Consider
After all this, if you’re not sold on the AeroPress but love that dark rich coffee then consider another coffee maker to allow you to homebrew some delicious hot java.
If you love rich dark coffee with a full mouthfeel then the french press is ideal for you. They can take a bit of practice to get the brew just right but once you get the hang of it you’ll quickly be converted.
The Chemex is pretty iconic in the coffee making world. It’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing pour-over devices and adds a touch of class to any home brewing station. The coffee it makes is delicate, full of flavor, and clean tasting.
If you love the compact nature of the AeroPress but prefer the smooth taste of pour-over then a V60 is perfect for you. They boast all the benefits of delicious pour-over coffee and are perfect to use at work or on the go.
The king of all drip machines, the Moccamaster has a lot to answer for. Nothing quite comes close to its advanced copper heating system and pump free brewing action. It gets the water to the perfect temperature so it brews a superior cup every time. It’s the perfect set up if you love drip coffee.
If you love the rich, dark espresso-like brew of the AeroPress then you may want to also consider a Moka pot. This is a traditional Italian coffee pot that makes stovetop coffee. It uses water pressure to extract the full coffee flavor and will leave you buzzed for more the first time you try it.
The AeroPress is a really versatile and highly customizable coffee maker despite its simple design. The normal method makes a great cuppa but inverted gives you more control of the fine details.
It’s a really compact and convenient way to brew coffee and it won’t set you back by much at all.
I hope this article has helped inspire you to give the AeroPress a try for yourself as well as inspired you to get creative with your coffee brewing.
In the end, the perfect cup can only be judged by you so you need to get out there and drink more coffee to find out your own best fit.