The Coffee Nerdist: Open Up And Say Awesome
By A Real Person on June 7, 2010
Does this sound familiar? You’re trapped in your office building staring down the double barrel of both a long meeting and a hand-scrawled sign that reads
“The coffee’s NOT free, 5¢ a cup or 25¢ a week” atop a ramshackle Mr. Coffee, and shelf groaning under 3lbs of Folgers coffee-style product. When there’s no hope of a decent coffee bar for blocks, your remaining choices quickly become clear – join the cult of the nectar of the tards, admit utter defeat and drink the coffee-like dreck before you, OR enter the frustratingly delicious world of cubicle-based specialty coffee brewing!
Meet the Aerobie AeroPress. The frolf masterminds at Aerobie have taken the same technology that launches projectiles upwards of 1,333 feet and used it to funnel hot coffee into our gullets. While it may have started as a laughable product by the makers of the Aerobie Squidgie Ball, the AeroPress has spawned nothing short of an entire coffee subculture, furiously innovating the art of personal brewing.
What is this AeroPress?
The AeroPress is a pair of clear, nested, BPA-free tubes with a plunger and filter assembly that you fill with coffee and hot water and then stir before applying pressure to dispense coffee into your favorite mug… as detailed here.
The coffee geeks have said their piece (albeit in a 212 page half-decade-in-the-making epic dogpile of AeroPress discussion and debate ) – the AeroPress does NOT produce espresso. On the other hand, the manufacturer’s method DOES brew a tasty Americano-style coffee concentrate, and does so with a modest investment of equipment and time. Tech site Tested.com’s Will Smith made a fine video of the process here . Not satisfied to just enjoy AeroPressed coffee, dedicated coffee geeks have gone so far as to invent new brewing styles that yield a full 6oz cup of coffee and, as you might expect, have created the World AeroPress Championship , the THIRD ITERATION of which will be held in London on June 23rd and 24th. Before your eyes roll too deeply back into your head, consider that the previous champions of this competition have shared their winning recipes here for you to both ogle and wantonly copy in an effort to fill your belly with tasty coffee, all the while lording your superior coffee-making prowess over your peers during your next meeting. It’s like open source software, but with less compiling, penguins, and FSF donations and MORE hot coffee swilling.
I’m convinced. How do I get this tasty coffee in me?
As in all things coffee, remember the fundamentals – proportion, grind, water, and freshness. I hope to try all the champions’ methods, but with the competition looming I’ve recently been using Ben Kaminsky’s method (he’ll be representing us later this month and by us I mean U!S!A! U!S!A!).
What you’ll need for Ben’s method:
Supplies - coffee (use the shop grinder OR buy a pimpin Hario Skerton/Skeleton hand grinder), water, AeroPress filter discs (hundreds included in the package)
Equipment - AeroPress components (tube/plunger, scoop, stirring rod, filter assembly), kettle, timer
- Proportion: coffee geeks like to weigh everything these days (including water), but if you don’t want to invest in a scale just yet, use a heaping AeroPress scoop of coffee to approximate Ben’s 14g.
- Grind: slightly finer than “drip”, but DO vary your grind to find the sweet spot.
- Water: use fresh cool water. If your tap water tastes good, use it. If it doesn’t, use whatever water you drink. Boil the water on your stove or in this sexy kettle under your desk and let it rest like in Ben’s instructions. In the absence of a scale, fill the water up to the top of the inverted AeroPress.
- Freshness: always use fresh coffee, ideally an in-town coffee roaster who wants to talk coffee with you. Once you get the bag home, treat it right in between coffee’ings- squeeze the air out of the bag and roll it up tight, store it in a cool, dry place (not cold- no refrigerators or freezers), and use it up within a week.
Method - follow Ben’s instructions as closely as you can with the equipment you have on-hand. Enjoy your world class, flying-disc style coffee!
In this series of posts, I hope to successfully combine the coffee themed ha-has, gulp-gulps, and nye-he-nye-he-snort-snorts that you crave, so if you have burning coffee questions that would make interesting Coffee Nerdist fodder, please @me. In the meantime, here are a few important coffee facts, brought to you by TheOatmeal.