AeroPress Brewing Tutorial - (Learn the Standard AND ‘Inverted’ Methods!)
If you’re looking to shake up the way you brew coffee, the Aeropress coffee maker might be exactly what you’re looking for.
French press is so yesterday and drip coffee is so… mundane, right? There’s something about brewing with an AeroPress that feels modern even though it looks like a rather simple device.
That may have something to do with the fact that an AeroPress is, at its most general, two plastic cylinders that function in a syringe-type way. But that’s beside the point.
We've put together this AeroPress Coffee Brewing Tutorial so you can learn how to use an AeroPress and broaden your knowledge of yet another way to make your morning caffeine!
What Is An Aeropress?
An AeroPress doesn’t particularly look like it belongs as part of morning routine. Something like a turkey baster, but more like some sort of medicinal container, an AeroPress is made to help you reconstitute your coffee.
Yes, reconstitute. I said what I meant and I meant what I said! Not to say that we’re using instant coffee or anything like that. You’ll understand as we go through the step-by-step process, trust me.
An AeroPress is a coffee maker comprised of two cylinders that nest into each other. It does require cylinder filters, traditionally paper, but metal ones can be purchased as well.
The Unsurprising History
The AeroPress device is much more modern than those which we usually write about it. It’s just made it through its first decade on the market, having been invented by Alan Adler, the President of Aerobie, in 2005.
If you just Googled 'Aerobie' or thought to yourself, "Isn't that a type of frisbee?", you'd be correct! In addition to the Aeropress, Aerobie makes flying discs, boomerangs, the 'Aerospin' yo-yo, and a host of other contraptions invented by Alan Adler. In fact, Adler has over 40 patents in electronics, optics, and aerodynamics. Frankly, I think it's pretty cool when a great mind makes a contribution to the world of coffee.
So what inspired Alder to come up with the Aeropress?
Adler, like many of us, grew impatient with the four or five minutes it took for a drip coffee maker to produce some morning brew. And on top of that, he noticed that when you try to make a single cup of coffee in a drip coffee maker, it often turns out watery.
Adler had spent his life inventing better, more efficient products, and when chatting with his Sales Manager’s wife about his unhappiness with drip coffee makers, he decided to take matters into his own hands. use experience in engineering and technology to come up with a solution.
Adler tapped into his vast knowledge of engineering and technology, and within a year of conception, he had a working prototype. The prototype was quickly made into a fancier version, which hit the market shortly after that.
The AeroPress’s benefits are varied and many, including that it’s ideal for traveling. Since it’s made of polycarbonate (following the market’s preference towards BPA-free things) and small, it’s the sort of gadget that you can confidently stick in a backpack without any worrying about shattering. Not to mention that you can snag a special bag to keep it in. It’s almost like it’s designed to go literally wherever your coffee needs may be.
It’s as if Alder knows how important getting our caffeine fix is and knows exactly what we want. (That's what I call a Revolutionary!)
This durable device clocks in as one of the cheapest options for making a reputable cup of coffee, too. You can get an entire kit (which comes with a stirrer and coffee scoop, as well as usually a year’s supply of filters) for around $30.
Personally, I'd recommend grabbing a reusable filter and nixing the paper filters all together (like this one) but the 'paper filter vs. metal filter' debate is one that will continue on.
I'm an advocate for metal filters, as they allow more sediment and oils from the coffee to get through. Paper filters, on the other hand, captures most of these oils, but advocates of paper filters say they produce a sweeter and fruity-tasting cup of coffee. Regardless, give both a try and decide which you like best.
Finally, the last huge perk of the AeroPress ( and the number one reason Adler created it, as a matter of fact) is for its speed. Brew time is about one-fourth the length of most other brewing methods— seriously.
Total brewing time varies depending of the specific recipe you follow, but we've found that most Aeropress brewing recipes max out at around 90 seconds. This is much faster than both the French press and drip methods, like the Chemex.
How to Use an AeroPress Coffee Maker
Let’s get this caffeinated party started and learn how to make AeroPress coffee, yeah? You only need a few things to make this simple product work, so let’s gather the items and get a-brewin’!
We’ve discussed the AeroPress and the filters, including that you can choose to use the reusable filters, but there are a few parts to the AeroPress you’ll want to make sure are all present and accounted for.
You’ll see the numbers 1-4 on the side of the AeroPress and they are positioned to correspond with the scoops of coffee (or servings) you’re aiming to make.
Note: While that is technically what the numbers on the side of the device are for, you'll most likely find yourself ignoring the numbers altogether.
The Aeropress is a device that allows for a lot of creativity and experimentation, so you shouldn't feel restricted by the numbers.
For example, filling water to the top of the #4 oval is typical for a standard, concentrated cup of coffee. But when using your Aeropress to make espresso, we fill the water just to the top of #2.
You can vary strength by choosing between the numbered ovals, as well. This is another one of those try-and-see-what-you-like things, so go with your gut and be patient.
Grinding Coffee Beans for an Aeropress (How Fine and How Many Grams?)
How much coffee you use in an Aeropress is entirely dependent on the recipe you're following.
We're not going to get into the debate about which Aeropress recipe is the best one to follow, so for the purpose of this guide, we're going to follow a fairly standard recipe we enjoy that calls for 18g of coffee.
Your AeroPress will come with a scoop, and one scoop full measures out to approximately 17g of whole bean coffee. But if you're able to, we recommend using a small digital scale to weigh out your beans.
Digital kitchen scales are cheaper that they've ever been before, and spending approximately $10 on a small digital scale is well worth a more precisely-measured cup of coffee.
In terms of the fineness of the grind, this is another area where it depends on the recipe you follow.
However, we recommend sticking with a fineness somewhere between what you'd use for espresso and drip. Let's say a medium-fine grind (but on the finer side of medium-fine), just to put a name on it. We don't recommend deviating from this unless you're testing out an Aeropress recipe that specifically calls for something more fine or more coarse.
The 'Traditional' Aeropress Method - One Step At a Time
Step #1: Gather your supplies and start heating the water (we like in at 175°F, but this can be adjusted) . Grind your beans right before you plan to use them for ultimate freshness.
Step #2: Take the filter cap and, if you’re using a paper filter, place the slip of paper inside. Before you put your AeroPress together any further, we need to do something we always must do whenever there is paper involved: run hot water through it. The last thing we want is a 'papery' taste in our coffee.
Step #3: Pick up the bigger cylinder (the AeroPress itself) and screw in the filter cap. That water we ran through there also pulls double duty—it’ll help keep the filter where it’s supposed to be.
Step #4: Settle your AeroPress on top of your chosen mug, filter-side down. (Before you duh me, somebody asked, okay? I’m covering my bases.)
Step #5: Settle the funnel on top of the AeroPress and pour in the 18 grams of ground coffee. Give the side of the Aeropress a gentle tap in order to level the grounds.
Step #6: Check the temperature of your heated water and, once it hits between 175 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, fill up the cylinder to the top of number "4" on the side within about 10 seconds, making sure to saturate all of the coffee. Much like we do in most other brewing methods, we want to get this coffee to bloom.
Let the grounds mull for about 10 seconds as they expand and release that delicious scent.
Step #7: Take the paddle (or a pair of chopsticks) and stir the coffee/water mixture for just a few seconds.
Note: If you've been keeping track of time, we're about 25 seconds into the brewing process so far (10 seconds to fill the cylinder, 10 seconds to bloom, and five seconds to stir).
Step #8: Place the plunger on top of the cylinder and pull up slightly to create a pressure seal (but don't press down on the plunger yet!).
Step #9: Let it brew for 1 minute and 15 seconds.
Note: you can very the brew time depending on your strength preference.
Step #10: After 1 minute and 15 seconds of brewing, remove the plunger from the top of the cylinder and give it a five-second stir with your paddle or chopsticks. Then, immediately place the plunger back on top and give it slow, steady press. The press should last about 25 seconds. Stop pressing once you hear a 'hissing' sound.
Finally, remove the Aeropress from the top of your mug and give your coffee a nice ol’ sip!
The AeroPress often gets labeled a 'reconstitution' method of brewing coffee, as some people find the resulting brew to be quite concentrated. If you find this to be the case, add some hot water until it hits the sweet spot.
If, however, you feel that it’s not quite concentrated enough or is lacking certain flavorful notes, you'll likely be much happier with the brewing method preferred by many Aeropress aficionados: The Inverted Aeropress Method.
The Inverted (“Upside Down”) AeroPress Method
While the 'standard' method was the one that Adler intended for the Aeropress, there has been somewhat of a 'Aeropress Revolution' over the last few years that has made the 'Inverted Method' particularly popular.
A large part of this popularity has come from the Aeropress World Championships (yes, that's a real thing), as a number of winning recipes use the inverted method.
One of the problems with the 'standard' method is that pouring the grounds and water on top of the filter will allow under-extracted coffee to immediately drip into your cup. Additionally, the bloom (which is the thin foam layer full of flavor) is almost completely lost once it's pushed through the puck of grounds at the bottom of the chamber.
For those coffee lovers who don't mind extending the brewing process ever so slightly in order remedy these problems, the Inverted Method is for you.
Step #1: Grind your 18g of beans, heat 250g of water to 175 °F (or about 80 °C), and pre-wet your filter. (You can set the filter cap and filter off to the side for the moment.)
Step #2: Assemble the Aeropress by first inserting the plunger about half an inch into the top chamber. Now, stand the device upright so the bottom of the plunger (where you hand will eventually push from) is on the counter.
Step #3: Pour your ground coffee into the brewing chamber. Gently tap the side of the Aeropress to level the grounds.
Step #4: Start your timer, and immediately begin pouring 100g of water, carefully saturating all of the grounds. This should be done in approximately 10-15 seconds.
Step #5: Let it bloom for 15 seconds. Then take a spoon or pair of chopsticks and stir for approximately 5 seconds.
Step #6: Pour in the remaining 150g of water (or until it's close to being full at the top). This final pour should take no more than 10 seconds.
Step #7: Give it another quick stir and immediately put the filter cap on.
(Note: the filter cap should already have the pre-wetted filter on at the point!)
Step #8: Once the timer reaches one minute and fifteen seconds, you're brew time is complete.
(Note: As we mentioned in the brewing instructions for the 'standard' method, you can vary your brew time depending on how you like the strength of your coffee.)
Step #9: Put your mug on top of the device, ensuring that it's fully covering the filter cap. (The bottom of the mug should be face the ceiling at this point).
Step #10: With one hand on the mug and one hand on the Aeropress, carefully flip it over so the bottom of the mug in now sitting on the counter.
Note: During the flip, which should only take a couple of seconds, make sure your hands are keeping the Aeropress and mug completely vertical and secure the entire time. If you're not careful, it could leak or even slip out of your hands!
Step #11: Slowly press for 30 seconds and stop when you hear a 'hissing' sound. The total brew & press time should one minute and 45 seconds.
Sometimes things happen, even when you follow the directions exactly as they're laid out. Let’s briefly talk through them.
You: I can’t seem to depress the plunger. It’s legitimately super hard. And I swear I’m using legitimately correctly.
Me: First, make sure you are plunging straight down and not at an angle. But it's most likely that your grind is too fine. If you use a medium-fine grind, or even up it to a medium grind, your problem should be solved.
You: This coffee is waaaay too strong. I can't even drink it!
Me: Here are a few possible solutions:
1. The longer the coffee brews in the chamber, the stronger it will taste. If you suspect you brewed it for too long, try again using the same amount of coffee you used before, but let it brew for a shorter period of time.
2. If you think your brew time was reasonable (or even on the shorter end) and it still tastes too strong, use a bit less coffee next time.
But for now, add more hot water to the already-brewed coffee, taste testing it periodically until it's to your liking.
You: You want me to dilute it?
Me: It's called "bypassing", not diluting. Aeropress coffee is more concentrated. There's no problem with adding more water to the coffee if it tastes too strong.
You: I just made a cup of coffee using the standard Aeropress method but I wish the coffee was a little more rich and flavorful. I just feel like it's lacking something.
Me: You’re the perfect candidate for the inverted method! But if you want to stick with the standard method, try using 20g of coffee and grind it a little bit finer than you did before. See if that does anything for you. If that water-to-bean ratio doesn’t tickle your fancy, give the inverted method a try. It's our preferred method!
An AeroPress is ideal for the office, for at home, for on-the-go—it’s a quick, convenient way to get a great-tasting cup in around 90 seconds. While it doesn’t blow other methods out of the water, it’s made every bit of it’s short time in existence mean something. The AeroPress can keep its head up high, proudly, in any coffee-making lineup.
We don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the results. Happy sipping!