The AeroPress is quite possibly the best coffee maker on the market. Sure, you can spend a few hundred dollars on a top-of-the-line fully automatic machine, but the value, versatility, and quality of brew that you get from an AeroPress can’t be beat.
Recently the AeroPress has gained in popularity, and pop culture. At first coffee nerds where staging underground AeroPress competitions, pitting coffee aficionados against each other in private back-ally matches. Those matches have gone global and now AeroPressers compete internationally for the WAC title (World AeroPress Champion). It’s a pretty bid deal.
As the AeroPress continues picking up more popularity everyone is wondering how to get in on the action. Fortunately there is a growing community of enthusiast who share their experiences and love of this brewing method online. There is even a movie aptly named ‘AeroPress Movie’.
The AeroPress can be used in many number of ways: Coffee brewer, cold-brew dripper, or espresso brewer — It just depends on how creative you want to get. It can go pretty much anywhere and is always ready for adventure. But this little device can be tricky. We’ll walk you through how to use the AeroPress in its most basic function — a single cup coffee brewer. Be sure to check out some videos to see just how versatile and fun the AeroPress can be, including the Backcountry AeroPress video on our Calioh Coffee YouTube account.
Before you get started brewing with your AeroPress you’ll need to gather a few things:
Let’s briefly talk about each of these components.
Heat: We like to use a Jet Boil Sol when in the field. If we’re making coffee at the house or roastery we’ll use our standard gooseneck kettle. We like the Jet Boil because it is portable and extremely efficient at heating. We’ll also use other backpacking stoves when making coffee in the wild, but we have the least fuss with our Jet Boil.
Water: Filtered water is always best. If you have the ability to test the water hardness, you’ll want to shoot for 75-125 TDS. Avoid distilled or RO water all together. If you must use RO water add a little regular tap water to bring the hardness up just a tad. There’s much much more to water chemistry but we’ll leave that for another day. What we’ve found to work great is Crystal Geyser spring water.
Pot: The Jet Boil includes a pot to heat your water in, so you’re covered there, but if you decide on another route may I suggest an Esbit cook pot. This pot is very economical and fits a fuel canister and Snow Peak MaxLite perfectly. This is the kit to go with if you’re really looking to have a small travel kit and you’re not likely to be brewing in the wind or at high elevation.
Coffee: Of course we recommend one of our coffees, but if you must stoop to a lower level I’m sure your local roaster could help you out with some great beans. You want to make sure you’re packing whole bean though or you’ll sacrifice quality significantly. Read on for grind.
Grinder: Fresh ground coffee is very important to a good cup, which is why we don’t skimp when it comes to this item. We like the Porlex. They make this hand grinder in two sizes — the mini version is our favorite. Bonus — It fits snugly in the plunger of the AeroPress for even greater portability. When grinding your coffee for an AeroPress brew you’ll want to set the grind to medium-fine. More on this later. Let’s move on to actually brewing a cup of coffee.
Step 1 - Bring 12 ounces of water to a boil.
Step 2 - While the water is boiling, grind the coffee beans. Using the scoop provided, place a heaping pile of whole beans into the grinder. Grind your beans down to a granular size similar to table salt. You’ll have to experiment with the grind size to get it just right. A good way to tell if your grind is right is by taste, but you can also judge by the difficulty in pressing the coffee (once you get to that step).
Step 3 - Your AeroPress came with a stack of paper filters. Place one of those filters in the black circular filter basket. Take some hot water and rinse the filter a bit. We recommend not holding the filter during this step so you don’t burn yourself. We like to put the filter and basket in the cup we’ll be using so that we kill two birds with one stone — rinse the filter and warm the mug a bit. Which brings us to step 4.
Step 4 - Put the tip of the plunger in the AeroPress body and set the entire AeroPress on the plunger handle. Pour a little warm water in the AeroPress, then a little in the mug you’ll be using. When making coffee in the wild these vessels can be a bit chilly, this’ll help with that. This is smart to do at home, too. Once you’ve swished the water around a bit dump it out.
Step 5 - While keeping the AeroPress inverted, use the provided funnel and dump the coffee grinds in the AeroPress. Remove the funnel.
Step 6 - After resting the boiling water for 30 seconds, pour just enough water on the coffee to get all the grinds wet. Don’t over do it here — you’re just trying to make sure all the grinds are moist. We call this the “bloom.” Using the provided paddle, give the slurry a little stir. Keep the paddle in the AeroPress while we wait because you’ll need it again. Let bloom for 30 seconds.
Step 7 - Pour water over your coffee until it reaches near the top.
Step 8 - In Step 6 we left the paddle in the brewer. Grab that thing again and give your slurry about 10 gentle stirs. Don’t over do it here or you’ll make a mess and burn your hand.
Step 9 - Lock the black filter basket with paper filter onto the AeroPress. Since your filter was wet it should stick to the black basket. If it falls out you probably missed that step. Give it a quick rinse and move on.
Step 10 - With your non-dominant hand, take your mug and hold it upside-down just above the AeroPress. While using your other hand grab the AeroPress by the body, NOT THE PLUNGER. Flip the AeroPress onto the mug and set it all down together on a sturdy surface. NOT A SCALE. Let the coffee brew for one and a half minutes (1:30). If your coffee is dripping into the cup before you’re ready to press, ever so slightly pull back a little on the AeroPress plunger.
Step 11 - Start pressing at 1:30. Getting back to the note in Step 2, if pressing is too hard, and you find yourself straining to get the plunger down, then your grind is too fine. If you find yourself pressing so fast then the grind is too coarse. Go back to Step Two and make an adjustment. The total brew time should be about two minutes.
Step 12 - Finishing up. You’ll have about 8 ounces of coffee when it’s all over with. This may be the perfect amount for you, but if you’re like us you’ll want to add a couple more ounces of hot water to give you a full cup. Top off your cup and enjoy.
Troubleshooting: If your brew is too strong, add more water at the end. If it’s too weak, use a little more coffee. If your coffee is bitter then make the coffee grind more coarse. And finally, if it’s sour/salty tasing then use hotter water and/or finer grind.
It may take some practice to get the grind, temperature, and timing down, but be patient and have fun. If you enjoyed this tutorial and think someone else would as well, the please hit the share button below and tell your friends all about it.