AeroPress Brew Optimization

In this post on an AeroPress Brew Optimization, we cover a methodology to use whenever you purchase a coffee. It is great to play with the coffee to see how different temperatures, doses and yields affect the coffee.

Methodology

The methodology of identifying the brew parameters that bring out the best of a coffee is to only change one thing at a time.

When it comes to AeroPress what are the variables we can change?

All coffee brews have at least three variables?

  • Dose: Quantity of coffee to be used.
  • Yield: Volume of coffee to be in the vessel at the end.
  • Time: The amount of time the brew takes. This is determined by two factors:
    1. The grind size used;
    2. how person brewing the coffee approaches the brew.

There are two other variables that need to be considered. While these can be linked to time, they are in fact separate considerations:

  • Temperature: The temperature of the water used to brew the coffee.
  • Pressure: The Pressure used to extract the coffee.

In this discussion we will look at temperature, but we are trying to use a gentle pressure on the AeroPress – aiming for time to ease the water through to be between 30 and 40 seconds.

Use Two AeroPress

So where to start?

Fix Dose first.

For AeroPress we are going to start with Dose. So, we fix the other variables as best we can and we play with Dose.

One thing worth noting here that when changing the Dose, you will also need to change the yield since, yield is the volume of coffee out, and that will be determined by the amount of water in minus the amount of water the grinds absorb. Typically grinds absorb about twice their weight in water (this changes per coffee, grind and roast). However, if you use the 2 x Dose as a guide you can calculate the amount of water needed for the desired yield. We will cover this in the example.

Then Yield

Once you are happy with the dose, you can change the yield. As a guide remember that Coffee extracts first acidity, then sweetness than body. So if you find the coffee too acidic then increase the yield, if you find it a little bitter decrease the yield. Once it appears to have acidity, sweetness and body (or mouthfeel) in balance then the yield is fine.

Then Grind

This may be very debatable as the last item to check. If you are not happy doing this now do this first. In the example we are starting at an estimated grind for the coffee and brew type (in this example AeroPress). We used the manufacturer’s guidelines and set the grinder there for the first and second round of testing. Then once happy with dose and yield we adjusted the grinder.

Then Temp

After fixing all these, we then change the temp of the water. Trying at least two brewing temperatures against one another.

Then…

What else do you want to check?

Two Brews at a time.

You need to do at least two brews at a time. Three makes this quicker but two is a must. If you are unable to do this then you make need a vacuum flask or something similar.

Grinds in AeroPress

Example

Using a simple table log the process use. Weigh the brew vessel before so you can calculate the yield. If you do not do this then you can use Yield – (Dose x 2) – as this is a good estimate.

Change Dose

Brew #12
Dose16g15g
Grinder Setting14E14E
Temperature at pour88°C88°C
First Pour (time/g)30sec/202g31sec/201g
Number of stirs1010
Total Water in202g201g
Total immersion time1:301:30
Total plunge time31sec30sec
Yield (Weight of vessel now – Weight of vessel empty)170171
Which do you preferX

You can repeat this until you find the sweet spot. So you could go 15g vs 14g then 14g vs 13g. Let us assume that you do 14 and 15 g, and you prefer 15g. So we choose 15g.

Change Yield

Now we have the dose we like for this coffee we can play with Yield

Brew #12
Dose15g15g
Grinder Setting14E14E
Temperature at pour88°C88°C
First Pour (time/g)30sec/200g33sec/220g
Number of stirs1010
Total Water in200g220g
Total immersion time1:301:30
Total plunge time30sec32sec
Yield (Weight of vessel now – Weight of vessel empty)170190
Which do you preferX

You can repeat this and choose 200g in and 190g in and see if that affects the taste. We will assume that you preferred the 200g.

Comparing The AeroPress Brews

Change Time

Now you change the immersion time, or you could change the pour time etc.

Brew #12
Dose15g15g
Grinder Setting14E14E
Temperature at pour88°C88°C
First Pour (time/g)30sec/200g30sec/200g
Number of stirs1010
Total Water in200g200g
Total immersion time1:302:00
Total plunge time30sec31sec
Yield (Weight of vessel now – Weight of vessel empty)170171
Which do you preferX

Once again you can repeat this and find a Immersion time you like. We will go with 2 mins in this case.

Change Grinder fineness

Now you change the fineness of the grind.

Brew #12
Dose15g15g
Grinder Setting13A14E
Temperature at pour88°C88°C
First Pour (time/g)30sec/200g30sec/200g
Number of stirs1010
Total Water in200g200g
Total immersion time2:002:00
Total plunge time31sec30sec
Yield (Weight of vessel now – Weight of vessel empty)170170
Which do you prefer X

As with all the previous examples you can do more tests, but for this example we will stick with 13A.

Temp of Pour

Change Temp

Now you change the temp of the pour.

Brew #12
Dose15g15g
Grinder Setting13A13A
Temperature at pour88°C82°C
First Pour (time/g)30sec/200g30sec/200g
Number of stirs1010
Total Water in200g200g
Total immersion time2:002:00
Total plunge time30sec31sec
Yield (Weight of vessel now – Weight of vessel empty)170170
Which do you preferX

 

As before you can change the temperature of the water when pouring, We have found that most coffees have a sweet sport between 80 and 90C with AeroPress.

Change Preinfusion / Pour Methodology

We also did a test where we tested pre-infusion using the inverted brew, versus the classic brew. We used all the same settings, except for the first pour

Brew #ClassicInverted
Dose15g15g
Grinder Setting13A13A
Temperature at pour82°C82°C
First Pour (time/g)30sec/200g30sec/45g
Bloom timen/a30 seconds
Number of stirs1010 (after second pour)
Total Water in200g200g
Total immersion time2:002:00
Total plunge time30sec30sec
Yield (Weight of vessel now – Weight of vessel empty)170170
Which do you preferX

We found the inverted brew with bloom had more body but less complexity, so we choose the Classic.

Update – Change Water

After posting this we originally stated we had not altered the water. Since then we have tested the 15g/82C classic brew we liked about with Cape Town municipal water, and a made water using Third Wave Water.

To make the Third wave water we used 5 litres of RO (Reverse Osmosis) water with a sachet of their fitler water mix. They recommend 4ltrs we used 5litres, since we found the 4 ltrs mix was a little too juicy.

Of the two AeroPresses we brewed the cape town water one was a little dull, and one the one with the third wave water more juicy and more enjoyable. So water also has a dramatic effect.

In Closing

What we tried to illustrate here is a process that can be used to asses different brew parameters for an AeroPress (and most of this is applicable to almost all brew types, with some minor changes).

The differences sometimes are subtle, and perhaps you could say to make it truly scientific each process should be repeated 3-5 times – since small things like pouring a gram more water, or grinding .1g coffee can have subtle effects too. However this is a basic guide rather than a PhD dissertation.

Also the idea is to have fun doing it, invite some friends to join you. And you can also do it over a number of days, we did.

Notes: We used Colombian Los Naranjos in the above test.

What we left out

We used standard AeroPress filters, this can also be changed. We used particle filtered Cape Town Water. Changing the water can have dramatic effect</strike< (see update above).

We also did not list the grinder we use: it is a Sette 270.

Did we leave other stuff out that we should have checked, quite sure we did.

Update

After publishing this the next day I received a very interesting article by Scott Roa – if this stuff interests you read more here: www.scottrao.com/immersion-vs-percolation. If you are not sure what type of brew AeroPress is – it is an immersion brew.

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