By Angela Manners
Here is the story of how we began our days of homebrewing with Aeropress… It all started with a broken handle (portafilter) on my espresso machine and a loaned Nespresso. You can imagine the major disaster it was when our espresso machine’s portafilter cracked. I won’t lie when I say that tears were shed! There was a desperate hunt for our old Nespresso machine. Thankfully, we had loaned it out to a friend and forgot about it. If my Nespresso had been there, my affair with Aeropress might not have happened.
Reluctant to ask for the return of our Nespresso and not reeeeeeaaally wanting to get back into the easy, low mess, semi-decent coffee it gave us, I decided that we would buy a new machine. This was because the part to our cheap and cheerful Krups was on back order and they didn’t know when it would come in. Five years ago, I had bought the machine including grinder for a sum of $350 so I figured it could be time for me to upgrade. Lucky for me, the Singapore Coffee Festival was on that very day and I had tickets to go. It seemed like the heavens were telling me something.
The Singapore Coffee Festival was a wonderland of everything I love most about this elixir. I immediately fell in love, on sight, with the Rocket espresso machine. It, however, was cost prohibitive – over $3k! More tears until I saw the Aeropress, a gadget that I had noticed popping up ever so often on Instagram. It had been touted as a “travel” espresso machine so I thought it just might get me out of the bind I was in until the Krups part could be replaced. The retailer was asking $65… What?! That much for a bit of plastic! Little did I know the magic it could do.
I ended up walking away from the Festival empty handed and disappointed. To cheer myself up, I decided to go collect a fountain pen that I had ordered from Grouphunt.sg (usually a $50 Lamy pen, it was $30 on Grouphunt). While there, I got to talking to Joel, the super friendly co-founder of Grouphunt who asked me what I had been up to that day. Of course, I told him all about my dramas with the espresso machine, the Coffee Festival and how I should have bought that Aeropress… Joel’s next words were music to my ears! “Oh, we have that here, would you like one?” I could not believe it! So I left with my Aeropress and even better, I only paid $59 which is what it was selling for on the Grouphunt Marketplace.
Apologies for the long-winded tale of how I got my Aeropress. On to what you really want to know!
Aeropress uses the immersion process but it’s turbo, as in super speedy. It’s really simple to use and the simplest manual gadget I’ve tried that gets you close to an espresso (close, I say). This worked for me back then because I was still drinking lattes. However, it is also very flexible and allows you to brew a beautiful black coffee as well. If you want a truer espresso-style coffe, try a Moka pot. Literally meaning “small coffee machine” from the Italian translation, this was the first gadget that I had my first “real” espresso from (Read Novice Guide: Instant Coffee vs Homebrew).
That being said, it can also be tricky to perfect. For a while there, I was only slighly enjoying my coffee experience until I talked to Paul at Perk Coffee. Read his general tips in our first Novice Guide: Mr Clever Dripper, under the second subtitle Pro Tips. Once I understood those few basics, my technique improved dramatically.
I also did some research online and came across the inverted method used by all the Aeropress barista winners and experts. For this Novice Guide, I’m only going to show you the inverted method because, for me, it makes a better brew. I have no idea why and I’m really not trying to be all tricky about it, but it just tastes better to me. I recommend that you try it out both ways though.
The beauty of Aeropress is that it all comes in a neat, little, portable pack. This is why people say it’s perfect for travelling. Everything you need, apart from coffee and water, comes in the bag. The instructions are also really easy to follow but prepare yourself for some trial and error to acheive the brew that you want. If you get your basics right – coffee/water ratio, grind size and temperature (as explained in our first Novice Guide: Mr Clever Dripper) – you will be just fine.
Again,we have provided Pro Tips for the Aeropress from Perk Coffee to help you perfect your technique. This can be found at the end of this article.
From left, clockwise: Coffee beans, Aeropress plunger, chamber, Keep Cup, filter cap, scoop, stirrer, funnel, filters in filter holder.
What you’ll need:
An Aeropress (and all its bits) There is currently an interest check on at Grouphunt.sg. Head over and check it out. To receive a $5 credit when you sign up, use this link: Vanilla Beige $5 Credit. Vanilla Beige will also receive a $5 credit so thank you for supporting us! Once you’ve signed up, just search for Aeropress. You can also follow this link here.
Aeropress paper filter (I believe they give you a set of 100 with the standard Aeropress kit). I’ve already joined the hunt for the reusable Aeropress filter but there is another round of interest check happening now here.
Coffee beans or ground coffee (depends if you have a grinder at home)
This is how you do it:
Firstly, set up your Aeropress, inverted. To do this:
Place the plunger into the barrel, rubber tip in.
Stand the Aeropress on the other end of the plunger
Insert the funnel (the funnel is used to ensure that coffee grounds don’t fall into the screw area for the filter cap).
Once you’ve done this, you can brew!
- Boil the kettle.
- Wait for a minute to let the water cool to an ideal temperature (remember to open the lid).
- While you’re waiting, freshly grind your beans. You will only need enough to fill the Aeropress scoop provided once or twice.
- Place the filter paper in the filter and then wash it to remove the papery flavour.
- Add in one scoop of coffee grounds through the funnel (more if you’d like a stronger brew).
- Add water up to between the two and three marks. You can increase or decrease this depending on how strong or light the brew is preferred. I find the one scoop and one and a half measure is good for a espresso-like, strong brew.
- Give the liquid inside a stir with the stirrer. Stir for about 10 seconds.
- Twist on the filter cap with filter inside (pre-washed).
- Place your mug upside down on the Aeropress.
- Grab the cup in one hand and plunger of the Aeropress in another hand then quickly turn it over so the cup on the bottom. Place the stack on the countertop with the cup at the bottom.
- Making sure the stack is steady, press down on the plunger to dispel all the liquid into your cup. It should take a bit of pressure but do this gently. The total press time can be five seconds or more and it is normal to feel some resistance. A wimp like me has to press rather hard to push it down.
- Keep pressing until the rubber end of the plunger reaches grounds. There is no need to compact the grains inside the Aeropress.
- Add water or milk to your liking and savour your brew!
The setup of the Aeropress should look like this with the filter paper washed.
Because you’re inverted, the water should come up to halfway between the 2 and 3 marks.
Stir the liquid for 10 seconds. This allows the water to saturate all the grounds and extract all the flavour. You can see that I’ve actually added more water as I’m brewing for a long black.
The filter should be placed inside the filter against the holes.
Looks a bit wobbly but trust me, it will be just fine.
When finished with your press, the Aeropress should look like this and the coffee should be in the cup.
PRO TIPS (from Perk Coffee):
Grind size: Fine to medium as a start but there is room to try different grind sizes for different kinds of coffee.
Recommended beans to try: Try an Ethiopian bean like our Aramo because this method highlights complex flavours. Since the Aramo is a very flavourful coffee, it suits the Aeropress.
Top tips: The Aeropress is the most versatile of implements so experiment to see what you like. The pressure of the Aeropress enables further extraction of flavour from the coffee so pick a bean that is full of flavour.
Steep it for less time. Even 10 to 15 seconds will do.