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The Coffee Nerdist: Open Up And Say Awesome

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

Even pessimism can be tasty!

“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?

 

Aerobie AeroPress

Aerobie 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.

image via Aerobie.com
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13 comments

  • @l.m.orchard – I really find the Aeropress to be extremely efficient from a coffee usage standpoint. That fact that you can get over 25 individually brewed cups of coffee out of your average $15/12oz bag of coffee is lovely and amazing to me. At that rate, each cup is costing you maybe 60¢, which is just absurdly cheap knowing the quality a $15/12oz bag of coffee gets you!

    Please, everyone remember that the Aeropress is a filter coffee brewer NOT an espresso maker. It can brew a concentrate that you can then dilute, but I recommend just making one small cup followed by more if you require it… Make sure to use water that is at about 205f when you pour into the aeropress. Many techniques recommend much cooler water that will make terrible tasting coffee. Lastly, the key to any delicious cup of coffee is of course the coffee! Buy freshly roasted, recently harvested coffee from a roaster that provides clear transparency about the coffee roast date, origin and variety.

  • @Brett, there are no temps printed on the dial, only a “green zone” for lower temp green tea brewing, and a “brown zone” for black tea brewing.

    Experiments with a cooking thermometer puts 190° just a bit over the green zone on the dial. Find your ideal temp, then set and forget. Much easier than dealing with a teapot, IMO.

    BTW, I do use more coffee per cup than with a drip machine, but I drink less since the AeroPress coffee is stronger (as in Euro coffee, not trucker speed).

  • @everyone- Thank you for the feedback, keep it (and questions) coming. I’m very happy to be here and serve.

    @Jeff- Thanks for the tip on the Adagio. I can’t tell from the image– does the dial have temps printed on it?

    @anthony- Agreed. Those with access to a stove must rock the homebrew. Keep up the search and soon you’ll be… one of the rest of us schmucks in cubelandia.

    @l.m.- the Aeropress shouldn’t use much (if any) more coffee than a drip machine. Mind you, in the commercial race-to-the-bottom, some drip manufacturers have played tricks (calling 5oz “one cup” of coffee and instructing 1TBSP be used to brew two or three cups of coffee); all in order to make dubious marketing claims about the brewing prowess of their machines. “Brew a whole pot with only 3TBSP of coffee” and similar nonsense. As a starting point, I recommend testing how many ounces your brewer really holds in the carafe when it’s at its highest “cup” marking. Then, proceed with a coffee ratio that modern coffee roasters recommend- usually 2TBSP of coffee for each 6 ounces of coffee brewed. If nothing else, keep playing with coffee. Your mouth will thank you.

  • This is relevant to my interests.

    The only thing I don’t like about the aeropress, is that it seems to chew through 2-3x more coffee than a drip machine. Is that just the magic of concentrated coffee in action?

  • interesting and confusing. i’m going to stick to my bialetti moka pot since i don’t have a job and can make myself coffee whenever i want. yeah! suck it everyone with jobs! …and money.

  • I love the AeroPress. I typically use Cafe Bustelo espresso and the Adiago utiliTEA for perfect temp – boiling water kind of burns the coffee. Cheap and delicious!