AeroPress: How to press aromatic coffee like a master

AeroPress: So drückst du aromatischen Kaffee wie ein Meister

The AeroPress and what this coffee maker has to do with Frisbee discs. This could have been the name of this article too! Because maybe Frisbees that you throw to your friends in the park in the afternoon and the AeroPress that you made coffee with in the morning come from the same production facility. The company behind it, Aerobie, has cleverly diversified its product range and, in addition to professional frisbee discs, has also been offering the coffee maker since 2005. Both have somehow to do with "Aero" - Latin for air. One flies through them (frisbees) and the other one has air playing a role in "coffee pressing".

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Optically the AeroPress reminds of a toy and is, let's be honest, not very beautiful. It remains forever questionable whether it is an occasional product that could easily be produced with the existing production facilities at Aerobie. Or whether the AeroPress is really a stroke of genius that has been worked out over a long period of time. What is clear, however, is that this versatile and popular machine can produce truly excellent coffee. With the "World AeroPress Championship", even entire world championships are now entwined around the coffee maker. The winner is the one who has previously won the national preliminary decisions - which exist in almost every country.

AeroPress Championships

What is special about the AeroPress?

The AeroPress does not look particularly stylish. Its brewing cylinder made of transparent plastic, on which numbers on the side indicate the fill level like a measuring cup for baking, looks a little bit inelegant. Inside is a plunger, also made of plastic, and at the bottom a disgusting filter sieve for the coffee. Nevertheless, the eyes of many a coffee nerd start to glow at the sight of them. Because with the AeroPress you can elicit completely new, undreamt-of aromas from your coffee! Instructions for the best recipes with the AeroPress vary widely. This little thing, which cannot be used to prepare large quantities of coffee, leaves plenty of room for experimentation!

Christian from Happy Coffee with the Aeropress. Easy to operate and perfect for on the go.

What does the AeroPress have to do with air?

Even before you know how the AeroPress works, its name reveals something about the brewing method: Aero = air. So coffee is somehow pressed with air. But it actually only plays second fiddle - most important, as with the French Press, is the press mechanism. Have a look at the animation on the right: In the brewing cylinder you can see the mixture of ground coffee and water. After some contact time, both are pressed through a filter at the end of the cylinder by pushing down the plunger. During this process the air - initially still at the top - displaces the coffee-water mixture and pushes it through the filter into the cup. By pulling up the plunger a little before pressing, a kind of vacuum is created.

A coffee maker for Slow Coffee fans

On the one hand, the AeroPress should be so popular because it fits the trend of the "slow coffee movement". This also includes other methods such as hand filters for delicious pour-over coffee, which take a lot of time to prepare and enjoy. On the other hand, the AeroPess allows you to experiment astonishingly much and elicit undreamt-of aromas from the coffee. For example, the amount of water added to the coffee, the hardness of the water and the degree of grinding of the coffee, and how long the mixture is allowed to rest in the brewing cylinder before pressing, all play a role in the taste. A science in itself!

Special features of the AeroPress

(1) The multi-talent is not an either/or coffee maker. Because you can use the AeroPress with both coffee and espresso! This way, practically minded people save the expensive second appliance. However, an espresso won't taste as good with it as, for example, from a sieve carrier machine, because you simply can't apply the necessary high pressure.

Aeropress Set

(2) An AeroPress is a plain and simple product without any technical gimmicks. This is why you can buy it at a very reasonable price compared to other coffee makers! A standard AeroPress set (see above) consisting of brewing cylinder, plunger, filter and the appropriate paper costs around 30 Euros. And then you actually only need one cup!

(3) Many people say that the AeroPress elicits unexpected aromas from their coffee. One reason is said to be its mechanism: The coffee-water mixture is pressed through a filter from top to bottom, instead of the liquid having to rise slowly the other way round. This is the case with filter coffee machines, for example, where important factors such as the water temperature cannot be regulated by the user. In addition, the filter of the AeroPress with its fine-pored filter paper is better than that of the French Press - because it separates even the finest coffee residues from the liquid.

(4) The AeroPress is made of plastic and therefore very robust. Even when you are travelling: Whether in a camping bus or in a suitcase - the device can be easily stowed away and is very durable. By the way, you will find more great gadgets for good coffee while travelling in this article. But we have to mention a small disadvantage of the AeroPress: Large quantities of coffee like with the French Press or a coffee machine cannot be produced with it. So rather nothing for the big round!

Let's go: How the AeroPress works and methods

The AeroPress reminds in its functionality of the French Press. But already at first sight you can see the differences. Firstly, the coffee is not strained in a jug belonging to the coffee maker itself, but in a separate container. For example, the coffee cup or a small pot that you place directly underneath it. In addition, with the AeroPress the coffee powder and the prepared coffee are separated by a fine paper filter, so that no coffee grounds can remain in the finished coffee.

In general, the AeroPress is suitable for two preparation methods: The classic method, as also indicated by the manufacturer in the manual, and the Invert method. Both are perfectly suited for making good coffee. And there are countless recipes for both of them - which vary, for example, in the amount of coffee used, the degree of grinding, the contact time with the water, etc. And even among the winners of all the AeroPress World Championships there is no consensus: One half brews in the classic way, the other according to the inverter principle. Therefore we present both methods here.

(1) The classic brewing method with the AeroPress

Here, everything still runs in the right direction: the wider brewing cylinder with the filter is at the bottom and the plunger is inserted in it. It must now be pressed down during preparation.

A step-by-step guide for the Aeropress

Prepare the individual components of the AeroPress (brewing cylinder, ram, filter and filter paper). You will also need a stirring spoon, a kettle, a funnel to pour the coffee into and of course a coffee mug. Now complete these steps, which you can follow in ours:
  • Grind the coffee beans fresh. A medium grinding degree (3-5) is good so that the aromas dissolve well and particles are later collected well by the fine filter.
  • Insert filter paper into the filter. Rinse the round filter paper briefly with hot water to wash out its own taste.
  • Boil water. A water temperature around 90°C is normally ideal. With the AeroPress it may even be "only" 80°C, as recommended in the instructions. This is because the water later completely surrounds the coffee, and excessively hot temperatures release unwanted bitter substances. Let the water cool down a little after boiling or use a special kettle.
  • Add coffee. Place the brewing cylinder with the filter underside on your coffee mug and add about 2 tbsp. of coffee. This corresponds to about 15-17g; brave ones take a little more.
  • Pour on water. Pour 3/4 of the coffee with the water. The markings on the edge of the brewing cylinder are helpful. Circular, slow pouring is good.
  • Stir. Stir the coffee-water mixture evenly. A long-stemmed stirring spoon is usually included in AeroPress sets for this purpose.
  • Fill it up. Fill the AeroPress completely with water up to the uppermost mark. In total you will need about 220 ml. Now let your coffee steep for half a minute to a full minute. The longer the stronger it becomes.
  • Push. Place the plunger in the brewing cylinder and press it down slowly so that the coffee flows into your cup underneath.
AeroPress normal method

The Aeropress "the right way round" (aeropress-iced-coffee by Roland Tanglao, CC0)

Attention: Experimenting is desired!

This is only one possible recipe for the AeroPress. Feel free to experiment to find your personal taste! Possible settings are e.g. the grinding degree, the water temperature, the coffee-water ratio or the brewing time. Have a look at the website of the World AeroPress Championship for example. There you will find great recipes from the reigning champions!

(2) The Invert method with the AeroPress

With the Invert method, as the name suggests, everything works in reverse. But not in reverse order of the steps - because then we would turn coffee into powder ;) Only the construction of the coffee maker itself is the wrong way round. Instead of placing the AeroPress with the filter side down on the cup, it is placed with the filter side up. The press plunger is therefore at the bottom and the brewing cylinder on top, as in the following picture. Coffee powder and water are added to the brewing cylinder, stirred and allowed to draw, as in the classic method. Then you attach the filter with the inserted filter paper, turn the AeroPress over and place it on the cup. Already the first coffee droplets start to drip into the cup with a little pressing. Simply press the entire coffee into the coffee cup with the plunger - done!

AeroPress Inverted

The AeroPress "upside down" (Morning coffee ritual by Matt Wunderle, CC BY 2.0)

Whether this method differs in taste from the classical method remains questionable. This is a matter of dispute among coffee nerds ;) But no matter which method you prefer: It is definitely worth trying the AeroPress yourself. But one thing should always be right: The quality of the coffee beans!

Article picture: "Norwegian Championship in AeroPress 2014" by Pal-Kristian Hamre (used under license CC BY-SA 2.0)


About the author: Heidi loves coffee, especially in combination with a healthy breakfast. When she is not writing on Happy Coffee, the globetrotter reports on her blog about your travels.

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