Over a year ago, shortly after joining the Aeropress coffee brewers cult, I bought a permanent, metal filter for my Aeropress from Kaffeologie. At the time, they were selling a version of their S filter that was stitched on one side and supported by a metal ring on the other. It turns out that was a flawed design because after a few uses and cleanings, the stitching broke and the mesh filter began to peel back. It was disheartening to order this filter, anxiously await its arrival, only to have it break after three days.
In April 2013, I posted a review on Amazon about the filter, and someone from Kaffeologie who saw the review sent me a replacement. But it wasn’t just another flawed filter. This one had been redesigned with two steel rings to keep the mesh secure. After using it off and on for several months, I can report that this new design is a tremendous improvement because it still works. The rings do in fact offer greater support, and the mesh is still intact.
Apparently, the staff at Kaffeologie actively searches for dissatisfied customers. (They found me on Flickr last night.) They also took the time to send me their redesigned filter, free of charge. Color me impressed.
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Looking at their promotional graphic, I noticed that one of the sponsors listed was USAID: the United States Agency for International Development, a Cold War–era program, started by the Kennedy Administration, to promote economic development. This agency is a part of my never-ending research, but I only studied it in its early years. I’ve haven’t kept track of their activities after 1970.
Belinda was nice enough to buy me an Aeropress for Christmas. The Aeropress is hardly a new invention, and its affection among coffee nerds is nothing short of fanatical. But to the less obsessed coffee drinker, the Aeropress is a strange contraption. It looks nothing like mainstream coffee brewing machines, such as a Mr. Coffee dripper or a Keurig single-server. It is very inexpensive, costing only about thirty dollars. It requires no electricity: to brew you need only hot water, freshly ground coffee, and a cup. You need a filter, but you get about a year’s supply when you buy your very own Aeropress.
Despite its simplicity, the Aeropress is an extremely divisive coffee machine. Obsessive coffee drinkers love the Aeropress for the same reason that a casual coffee drinker may not like it. It comes with a very poor set of directions. The printed pamphlet (PDF) instructs you that for every scoop of medium-coarse coffee, add 175° Fahrenheit water to the corresponding mark on the side of Aeropress chamber, stir, plunge, and add water to taste. The resulting coffee is pretty good, but it lacks the finesse of a barista’s touch that you get with, for example, a four-minute pourover.
There are countless recipies floating around the Internet for brewing with the Aeropress. Some vary the ratio of coffee to water. Others use water as hot as 210° or as cool as 165°. Others even flip the damn thing and brew "inverted." Almost everyone has a preferred method. For example, there are more Aeropress recipes on a website of professional brewing techniques than any other method. There’s even a World Aeropress Championship, and the winners, most of whom are from Nordic countries, share their winning recipes. You could also lose entire days on YouTube watching total strangers brew coffee with a piece of plastic. Other than using bottled or filtered water and freshly ground coffee from a burr grinder, there’s no such thing as "best practices" with the Aeropress.
After nearly two months of experimenting with various methods for brewing with an Aeropress, I have settled on a method that works for me. It might not work for you, but that’s because you’re not me and with the Aeropress, you really have to develop your own technique.
Me and My Aeropress
Aeropress, right-side up.
Medium-Fine grind on my trusty Capresso Infinity burr grinder. I use the notch corresponding to the second-finest of the "Medium" settings when using the paper filters. (I prefer to use the second-coarsest of the "Fine" settings when using the Kaffeologie S Filter.
16:1 water to ground coffee: With 320 ml of water, I use 20 grams of coffee grounds.
Freshly drawn, filtered water heated to 95° Celsuis (203° F)
I add the grounds to the Aeropress and then some hot water to begin the bloom. Using the rule-of-thumb method of 2 ml of water for each gram of ground coffee, I pour very slowly over the grounds trying to wet them all. I let the bloom "develop" go for thirty seconds.
I then slowly pour the remaining water, again circulating the water around the brewing chamber. I stir with the Aeropress paddle for ten seconds and then quickly insert the plunger and allow a vacuum to keep the brew in the chamber for another ten seconds. I then plunge slowly, for about twenty seconds, just until I hear the "hiss" of the brew extracting.
Total brewing time is about two minutes. With this method, I get a ten-ounce cup of full-bodied brew. There’s a small amount of bitterness at the beginning and other more complex flavors afterward. Delicious!
If you don’t like it, develop you own technique. You’ll be in good company.
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