By James Gallagher for Steampunk Coffee
Recently, I was thinking to myself how much I learned from the Aeropress when I started brewing coffee. This is why I would recommend the Aeropress to anyone who wants to make coffee at home, even if you already have another brewing device.
The Aeropress, at one point, was the only item on my home brew bar, aside from the coffee I used to brew. I quickly added a grinder and a scale but I still used the Aeropress exclusively for some time. I made many recipes without using a scale, eyeballing all of my coffee measurements. I used to use the Aeropress scoop to measure out how much coffee I would use. And I still made many delicious cups of coffee.
As I have bought more equipment and learned how to use more brewing devices, I have found myself using the Aeropress less. I no longer use my Aeropress daily like I once did, although I have come back to it quite often to try new recipes. Now, I'm more of an experimental home brewer. When I use my Aeropress, I like to change things up and see what kind of cup I can make.
Easy to use
A big part of the appeal of the Aeropress is the relative ease of use. My first cups of coffee with the Aeropress were not great but I quickly started to make better cups. I improved my recipe incrementally as I learned more about coffee and I loved doing so. Early on in my coffee making journey, I had a recipe that was good enough, one that I must have used for at least a few months before I experimented with other recipes. It is easy to find a recipe that works and to stick with it.
I was not so careful with the weights of coffee I used in each cup when I was getting started. This is a big benefit of the Aeropress. There is a high tolerance for error. I have missed pour times and used different weights of coffee and lost track of my brew. Yet, in these cases I've almost always been able to produce a good coffee. With the V60 I had to spend a week perfecting my technique. I've produced great cups although this was in large part due to the research I have done on brewing. I did not need to do a lot of research to get set up with the Aeropress.
No need for expensive equipment
Everything you need to use the Aeropress -- aside from coffee -- comes right out of the box. I use the stirring paddle that comes with the Aeropress because it is convenient and easy to use. It is long enough to reach the bottom of the Aeropress. The scoop was useful when I did not have a set of scales. I can almost guarantee I used a different amount of coffee each time as I was not too attentive with my scoops. But I still made great coffee. There is also a set of instructions that tells you how to make a coffee with the Aeropress. A lot of people in the community recommend trying out a different recipe. I experimented a bit with the one on the box but I found that the inverted method -- where you use the Aeropress upside-down -- worked better for me.
To brew a pour-over coffee with a Kalita Wave, I had to buy a ceramic Kalita Wave and a gooseneck kettle (the kettle is optional, but highly recommended). I also had to buy separate filters. A bag of 100 Kalita filters costs more than 350 Aeropress filters. You even get 350 Aeropress filters with the device, so you do not need to spend extra money paying for filters until you run out.
Although the Aeropress is easy to use at home, I cannot discount how flexible the device is. To me, the Aeropress is more like a toy than any other brewer, in that there are so many different ways to brew with an Aeropress that it is difficult to get bored. I've been brewing with the Aeropress since mid-last year and I have only scratched the surface on what recipes to use. If you are short on inspiration, you can find dozens of different recipes on the World Aeropress Championship list, not to mention all of the brew guides speciality coffee shops have. Some recipes are similar but you will find some surprises as you learn.
One of my most recent experiments was to make a French press-style coffee using the inverted method. I produced a coffee that I loved. It was not as chewy as other coffees I have had -- there were fewer bits of coffee in the final cup -- and I loved drinking the cup. It was a lovely surprise to know that I could use a four minute brew time when most recipes I had read up until then brewed quickly. And then I discovered that using a slightly coarser grind with the Aeropress produced an excellent brew. Since then, I have been using a coarser grind than the "fine" grind recommended by the manufacturer.
The diversity of recipes means that you'll always have experiments to run. I have tried using two filters. I have pushed slow and fast. I have used different doses of coffee. I have used longer and shorter times; coarser and finer grinds. I still have not explored all of the types of recipes out there. I have never brewed a "concentrate" where you make a really strong coffee and add regular water. There is so much for me to do.
Is it worth having an Aeropress? Definitely!
I'd recommend the Aeropress whether you are a keen home brewer who wants a new brewing device to play with, or whether you have no idea about brewing coffee and you want to learn, or anywhere in between. This device, with its low cost, ease of use, and flexibility, helped educate me in various aspects of brewing.
I started with very little knowledge and slowly I found myself picking up a thing or two and noticing what impacts the taste of my cup. At no point did I feel brewing with the Aeropress was impossible: there were always plenty of resources to help me out. Give an Aeropress a try for yourself and see what you think. Can you produce a cup you enjoy? Or do you prefer another brewer?
Contributed by James Gallagher, a home brewer and coffee enthusiast. View his excellent blog at jamesg.blog
Need a place to start when brewing with an Aeropress? Check out our recipe HERE.