Who has ever looked for winning aeropress recipes and tried to repeat them at home? I am guilty, I’ve tried. And I am almost sure that if you are here, reading this – you have done it as well.
So, how were the results?
Mine… Were controversial. I mean, those are the winning recipes, they must taste very good – that’s the point, no? But they kinda were tasting just ok. Just fine. In the beginning. And when the coffee cooled down – they were not tasty anymore. Surprise!…
I participated in an aeropress championship here in Portugal once, and decided to go my way – use a strict minimum of coffee, and extract everything from it, instead of going for 30+ grams for one cup, and then doing a bypass. It did not go well – the full story and my conclusions you can find here.
But the point is – I started to question myself if aeropress recipes created for aeropress championships are the best recipes indeed, or they are just the best for these particular circumstances?
Of course, recreating a recipe at home you can’t repeat it 100%, unless you have exactly the same coffee, water, grinder, other equipment, and you follow the exact steps of the participant. So, we should admit, our attempts to repeat will never be 100% successful.
My problem with repeating the recipes was that coffee was simply not tasty. Not lasting. Not 3 dimensional. It was striking me with acidity at first, boom, but then, 3-7 minutes after – there was nothing left. A flat cup, with very low sweetness.
So I started to look for the reasons why.
Let’s reconstruct the circumstances of making an aeropress at home vs making it at the stage.
Home: no pressure, you are brewing your coffee to enjoy it for some time, drinking it sip by sip from your favourite mug, going from pretty hot to lukewarm, and sometimes pairing with food.
Championship: you are making your coffee when people are looking at every step you make, you are focused on repeating the recipe you practiced with all the timings, and your coffee is going to be poured in a cupping cup, and then evaluated by slurping right after you finished brewing, at one temperature only.
What do we have here? Different presentation vessels (regular cup or mug vs cupping vessel), different way of drinking (actually drinking, swallowing vs slurping), different temperature range (from hot to lukewarm vs one temperature only).
Can you see what I see?
Winning Aeropress Championship recipes are not The Tastiest recipes, they are not designed to perform the best way at home – they are designed to be brewed end evaluated when hot, so of course the goal of the recipe for the competition is to be at its very best when it is hot, nothing less nothing more.
Which one is the characteristic that you can accentuate and your palate perceives the best when the brew is still hot?
It is acidity.
Of course, if for a moment we think about cupping coffee using the SCA or any other protocol, we will say that our perception of the acidity changes when the brew cools down. Sometimes it is improving, sometimes it gives you a punch at first, but then becomes kinda hollow. So it is important to see the evolution to make an informed opinion about the coffee.
But Aeropress championship is not a cupping, the goal here is different – is to present the coffee at it’s best fast, make it obvious right away. There is no time.
You have to opt for high but yet balanced acidity in the brew from the first seconds. That’s the reason behind using high amounts of coffee, low brewing temperatures and concentrates. It is not about extracting all the good stuff. It’s about extracting the stuff that we need to be extracted and that we know that will be evaluated in a cupping bowl by slurping immediately after the brew is done.
Let’s see what was the strategy of the last 4 World Aeropress Champions. You can look for them here, at the official page of the World Aeropress Championship.
Here I am just gonna put them into the table, so you can see all of them at the same time.
Filip Kucharczyk, Poland
Carolina Ibarra Garay,
Wendelien van Bunnik,
|amount of coffee||35g||35g||34.9g||30g|
|amount of water||150 for brewing, 100g – 120g for bypass||150g for brewing,160g – 200g for bypass||160g for brewing,40g for bypass||100g for brewing120g for bypass|
|grind size||Coarse||8/10 (1=very fine, 10=very coarse)||8/10 (1=very fine, 10=very coarse)||7/10 (1=very fine, 10=very coarse)|
|water composition||–||Spa Blauw water (30PPM)|
|water temperature||81°C||84°C||85°C for brewing, room temperature for bypass||92°C (197.6°F)|
|filter||Paper||Paper||Paper||Aesir Filter (Rinsed)|
|total brew time||95 seconds||90 seconds||60 seconds|
|bypass||100g – 120g||160g – 200g||60g of 85 degrees Celsius water and 40g of room temperature water||100-130 g (120)|
|the recipe steps||Start the timer|
Pour 150 grams of water for 15 seconds
Stir until 30 seconds on the timer
Put the lid on, wait until 1 minute on the timer
Invert AeroPress, give it a swirl, plunge
Add 100 to 120 grams of water to taste
|Put 35g of coffee into your AeroPress|
From 0:00 to 0:15, add 150g of water
From 0:15 to 0:35, stir and keep stirring
At 0:35, put filter cap (with pre-wet filter) in place
At 1:05, flip the AeroPress and start pressing
At 1:35, stop pressing.
You should have now 90ml of the concentrated brew (4.5%TDS)
Add 160g – 200g of hot water and enjoy!
|Set your water temperature at 85 degrees Celsius.|
Prepare your filter paper (by rinsing with hot water) and grind your coffee.
Pour 100g of water for 30 sec.
Stir vigorously but carefully with a wooden pair of chopsticks for 30 sec.
Put the filter cap on, flip the AeroPress and press into a glass server for 30 sec.
Do not preheat your serving vessel.
Top up your brew with 60g of 85 degrees Celsius water and 40g of room temperature water.
|Pour 100g of water on the coffee in 10 seconds.|
Stir firmly for 20 times in 10 seconds.
Put the filter cap with a rinsed filter on the brewer and gently press out excess air.
At 40 seconds, flip the AeroPress and press out all coffee.
You should end up with roughly 60g of extracted coffee.
Add 100g of water to the extracted coffee.
Taste and add more water until the desired strength
(I ended up with 120g dilution)
Cool the brew down to roughly 60°C (140°F) by stirring and decanting
Slurp & enjoy!
The main idea of this blog post is – aeropress recipes that are designed for the championships are not the best to make at home or at the cafe, simply because they are designed to be evaluated differently. But it is a good source of inspiration and knowledge about brewing, when you try, deconstruct and reconstruct them at home. After all, you learn how to manipulate the flavour of your coffee – and isn’t something that all of us are looking for?