When you start your journey in search of good coffee, at some point you are bound to meet the AeroPress. It looks like a modest syringe, and yet, it can make some delicious coffee – even upside-down – and help you become a world champion.
A young alternative
The AeroPress is one of the latest alternative coffee brewing methods. It was invented back in the 2000s in the United States… By a toy maker named Alan Adler, noted for making fantastic frisbees. Mr Adler came to a conclusion that he wants to have good quick coffee always at hand, so he invented the AeroPress. Easy. In the letter putting forward the reasons behind him wanting to sell his company Aerobie (the same company which manufactures the AeroPress), Mr Adler admits that he did not expect such a high demand for the AeroPress and that brewing with it would become an international sport:
It’s been a joyful rocket ride ever since. Millions of AeroPress coffee makers have been sold in over 60 countries. And of course, there is the “World AeroPress Championship”. I would never have dreamed that brewing coffee with my little device would become an international sport.
So what’s the secret?
The AeroPress gives you, first of all, a great universality and scope for imagination. There are no ideal recipes or perfect ratios, no best timing or optimal grinding. The AeroPress is so simple that it does not really restrict you in any way – and the outcomes can be diverse.
The AeroPress works like a syringe. It has a main tube, an open cylinder, into which you insert the plunger ending in a rubber seal, thus closing the brew chamber from one side. Now all you need to do is place the AeroPress on the plunger, pour in ground coffee, add hot water, stir and then turn thencap with the rinsed paper filter around. After a while, invert the device and press the coffee into the mug.
How much coffee and what grind level… That depends only on you; you need to try out and taste different options. For a start you could use the following recipe:
18.5g of coffee for alternative brewing methods, ground coarsely
Filtered hot water (at 88-92 °C)
Two paper filters
Place the filters inside the cap and pour hot water over them (the filters will stick on to the cap, thus eliminating the paper flavour). Rinse the AeroPress with hot water to clean and warm it up. Place the empty device on the plunger, on the scale. Pour 18.5g of ground coffee, start the timer, add 50g of hot water, stir the slurry a few times and wait for 30 seconds. Then fill the AeroPress up with water, stir a few times and screw back the lid. After two minutes, invert the AeroPress, putting it on a mug/glass/server and plunge. Gently, without using too much force.
Two filters make for a clearer taste; personally, I like to use two at a time. However, check whether one filter wouldn’t work better for you. Of course, you can also brew coffee without inverting the AeroPress – in the so-called traditional way. I suggest using the same coffee grounds to see how the taste will change.
18.5g of coffee for alternative brewing methods, ground finely
Filtered hot water (at around 90 °C)
Timer, scale, filters
Fix the cap with the filter to the AeroPress, rinse everything with hot water, put the device on a mug/glass/server and everything altogether on the scale. Pour ground coffee, start the timer and then fill the AeroPress with water almost up to the top – do it in one go and in a rather thick stream. Next, stir twice and place the plunger on the top, but do not start plunging yet. Putting the plunger on will almost completely prevent the coffee from dripping off to the container beneath. After 1-1,20 minutes, you can start gently plunging your coffee. Done!
That’s how you make lighter coffee, with a lower body than in the first method, and with richer fruit notes. Taste it with your own tongue and feel free to be inventive, since recipe modifications can give you…
… a World Championship
The AeroPress is such a popular and awesome device that it has earned its own championship both on a local and global level. And, yes, also in Poland!
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The rules are very simple: registered participants are given the same type of coffee grounds and have to prepare the most tasty coffee cup using the AeroPress. They compete in trios. The time is set, they have eight minutes for brewing coffee and serving it in a special cup. Once the time has passed, all three cups are placed in a row and the judges try coffee with a cupping spoon to decide which cup is the most tasty. Every coffee cup comes with a participant number written on the bottom: the lucky winner makes it to the next round and then the story repeats itself.
The Polish AeroPress Championship brings together more and more coffee freaks each year. In 2015, we had 70 contestants (compared to 18 in other countries), in 2016… over a hundred! The open nature of the competition is really inviting: the contest is fun to take part in, it resembles a casual meeting with friends and coffee.
Sometimes it takes place outdoors and is accompanied by music – that’s how this year’s Championship which took place at the River Vistula in Warsaw looked like. So it’s fun and rivalry at the same time. Rivalry and competition for the Champion of Poland title: winning it is no small thing, since it gives you a ticket to the World AeroPress Championship.
With regard to which we have something to boast about. In 2009, Łukasz Jura became the World Champion and earlier this year Filip Kucharczyk won the title! By the way, the World AeroPress Championship has published an interesting book about all Championship editions which features the winners’ profiles and their winning recipes.
You can see Filip’s recipe in the film made by the European Coffee Trip:
What can be improved?
As you can see, with this plastic syringe you can get very far. There is a huge space for experimentation. What’s more, if you replace paper filters with metal ones, like the FlaVin for example, you can also play with pressure and grind levels.
The AeroPress is so popular, also as a travel coffee maker, that some grinder manufacturers, the Rhinowares for example, sell it with an adapter to make sure that not a single bit of coffee is shed while pouring.
Honestly, now, the AeroPress makes an impression, doesn’t it?