A while ago the WAC Headquarters asked me to write something about Aeropressing – the tarte tatin of coffee brewers, never meant to be taken seriously, but actually an ingenious idea. I’d just won the World Aeropress Chamoionship for the 2nd time and people were keen to figure out my secrets.
The first time I saw an Aeropress was on Boing Boing, thinking it was a joke, however Tim Wendelboe contributed to proving everyone wrong, embracing it and using it in service, and in turn creating the World Aeropress Championships.
Initially, the way to get to the recipe was classic trial and error. Kaizen way of improvement: Every morning 2 Aeropresses, 1 ‘best’ method a standard, and 1 challenging method, if the challenging method was better than that one would be the next days ‘’best’’ method. There are many variables to play with to make a challenging method: grind, ratio, water, temperature, time. A few things will always improve a coffee; picking out bean defects, using better water, using a better grinder, sieving the fines, not pressing all the way through (the Ketel one technique) so that’s a given to improve these to the fullest.
What still might be most shocking to all is the use of the water temperature. This is my recipe from this year’s WACs.
17 grams of quality controlled coffee (pick out the dud beans) ground 5.75 on the uber grinder, little courser than paper filter.
Rinsed normal filter, aeropress in regular position.
50 grams of water at 83c for the bloom. Bloom for 40s. Nicely wet all grounds and lightly agitate holding the Aeropress by shaking it a bit around.
Very slowly add 215 grams of water at 79c for about 30 sec
Press very gently for about 30 seconds.
Leave about 50 gram slurry in the press and discard.
Put the rest of the brew in the gob.
Looking through the recipes of the previous years, one thing might become apparent; The use of a low temperature of water. Why this works I don’t really know, I’m no scientist. All I really know is that it’s the tastiest way to make an Aeropress. I was lucky to taste many recipes over the years through competing and judging 2 Dutch competitions.
Taking a guess why lower brewing temperatures are desirable: certain tasty solubles extract at 80c and other less desirable solubles and bitters extract (faster) at higher temperatures. The brew is served at drinking temperature so that it’s instantly enjoyable and had less time to oxidize, also aromatics won’t evaporate as quickly.
In the roastery where I work we don’t have many tools, the only way to make coffee is through an old Aeropress bought in 2008 at Kontra from a certain Troels Poulsen. I remember coming home to Belgium with it and Rob, my boss instantly making a very nice cup with it. Every roasting day I used to make at least 4 sometimes 15, trying every roast. Offering cups to visitors, the best way to learn if you’re doing it right is gauging their reactions.
Filter coffee has always been enjoyed in Belgium, mostly at home. There’s a big amateur scene for this and the Aeropress is a serious component for that. My boss at Caffenation, Rob, has organized this event already 3 years and every time there have been more people. We like hobbies and bizarre fringe sports in Belgium. Good example of odd pursuits is the vertical bow and arrow – look it up, it exists. The Aeropress now seems far removed from the World of the obscure, and has become almost the norm. And for good reason.