Making the perfect brew in an Aeropress
It was early morning. The sun casting its dazzling first light across the Indian Ocean as I sat and drank what I thought would be my last ‘proper’ coffee for the foreseeable future. I took my time, soaked in the smell of the rich coffee beans and thanked the universe for every sip.
The next day, I was set to implement my nomadic adventurer plan. One where purchasing delicious, barista made coffee would not be in my budget.
I was sceptical about changing my barista made coffee for a plunger style coffee so I was all set to move on over to the dark side – the scent filled world of loose leaf tea drinkers.
It was this same day that my husband convinced me to look further into the Aeropress. A compact coffee press that would fit perfectly in my ‘one bag’ adventure lifestyle. The website did not do much to convince me of the value of the portable coffee plunger, but I started to read some really inspiring reviews. A motorcycle traveller friend also gave me a great review as he explained his coffee addiction and delved into the myriad of ways to brew coffee your special way in this little device.
At close to $50 for the purchase of the Aeropress, I was a little hesitant – one whole days travel budget going into my coffee addiction! But then I pondered again a life without that beautiful scent of coffee brewing and quickly bought one before I changed my mind!
I went to my favourite coffee grinders and bought some of my favourite beans. I decided not to purchase a grinder as space and weight were important considerations for my upcoming adventure lifestyle, so I asked the coffee house to grind them for me – which they were more than happy to do.
Recalling the advice of the sales assistant who sold me the Aeropress, I did some research on brew methods and forgot the instructions included in the Aeropress box.
After experimentation with coffee to water ratios and brew times, I perfected the art of a double shot espresso using only the Aeropress.
As I have always been a latte drinker, I then went on to teach myself to heat milk properly on a stove top and eventually on our camping stove.
During our 18 month overlanding adventure trip from Alaska to Argentina, I enjoyed my favourite cup of coffee every day!
There are lovers and haters of the Aeropress and, as with all products, there are downsides which need to be overcome.
So what are the disadvantages and how did I overcome them?
Disadvantage #1: The brew time results in the coffee being only luke warm by the time you drink it, especially if you add cold milk or cream to your coffee
Solution: Put the plunder in place (without plunging) and then turn the Aeropress upside down and place it on a relatively flat surface. Fill your Aeropress AND your favourite coffee mug with boiling water, placing a cover over your mug (I did not use a travel style mug with a lid, so I used a saucepan to cover my mug). This this trick allows your Aeropress and mug to warm up before you brew your coffee. This helps to keep your coffee warmer, for longer. Empty your Aeropress of the boiling water and start the brewing process, being sure to leave the hot water in your mug until you are ready to plunge your coffee.
Disadvantage #2: There can be reduced control over how long the coffee brews, as it may drip feed into the mug during brewing (depending on the type of filter you are using). Following the instructions does not result in a universally enjoyable brew.
Solution: Just like when warming up your Aeropress, place the plunger in the top and turn your press upside down to brew your coffee. This allows you to control how long your coffee brews for, regardless of the type of filter you are using. I recommend the method below.
Add in your desired amount of coffee (I use one tablespoon of strong coffee grinds to make a full Aeropress). Add about a quarter of water and stir – experiment with different stirring times, I like to stir for about 30 seconds. Fill the Aeropress with the desired amount of water and place the filter and the perforated cap on top.
Leave upside down until you are ready to plunge the coffee. I recommend trying out different brew times – a starting point is somewhere between 2 and 5 minutes. This obviously depends on the intensity of the beans and what flavours you like, so enjoy some experimentation!
Finally, flip your Aeropress over onto the mug and plunge away. Remember to take it nice and slow.
Disadvantage #3: The Aeropress comes with a bunch of single use filters, creating additional landfill waste.
Solution: As someone who tries to be conscious of the waste I produce, particularly in countries where recycling is not well established, I would prefer the Aeropress came with a stainless steel, re-usable filter. However, there are companies who do produce such a filter for the Aeropress – I use the Able Disk Coffee Fine Filter. I used the paper filters that came with the product when I could recycle them, however, now they are all finished, the stainless filter will be my filter of choice.
The secondary difference in using paper filters, is because they are fine they tend to trap more of the sediment and oils in the coffee. Whilst some people may enjoy the clarity of a coffee brewed in a paper filter, I have a fondness for the dark and cloudy look produced by the oils leaching through a stainless steel filter. Particularly though, a coffee brewed in a stainless filter is generally richer with a full bodied taste.
Disadvantage #4: There is no milk frothing capabilities and adding some cold milk to the mug really doesn’t cut it!
Solution: Honestly, frothing up the milk is an important part of my coffee. I started my Aeropress adventure using just plain old cold milk. It did not work for me.
So I started using a saucepan on the stove top to warm up the milk. I then transferred this technique to the camp stove. Stirring vigorously to aerate the milk creates the same effect as a milk frother (well, nearly the same!). Skim milk is easier to froth, but I always prefer full cream milk as I dislike the additives that are put in skim milk products (some skim milk products have quite large amounts of added sugar). I regularly used this method with full cream milk powder with the same effect.
So what’s the lesson to be learned here?
Throw caution to the wind, along with the provided instructions, and try out different combinations of coffee amounts, water temperatures and brew times.
Access your inner coffee snob and experiment, experiment, experiment! You will find your perfect brew with this portable and lightweight plunger.
Is the Aeropress the answer to your coffee prayers whilst living a minimalist, adventure lifestyle?
I say a big, resounding YES!!!
My morning ritual of coffee drinking has always been extremely important to me. I like to take my time, sit in the sunshine, ponder life and enjoy being still. Just for 15 minutes or so.
So a product that allows me to continue to maintain my morning ritual whilst enjoying great coffee, brewed my way, is a must have in my opinion!
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