In recent years, AeroPress championships have introduced a range of brewing techniques and recipes to the wider public. The sheer variety of recipes and techniques showcased in the tournaments has highlighted the fact that there is no one way to make the perfect cup of Aeropress coffee.
World AeroPress Championship (WAC) winners utilize a range of different methods and strategies to produce interesting and exceptional flavor profiles. Each championship also brings an array of new tips and tricks that emerge from the winning recipes, allowing AeroPress users to continually experiment and improve their brewing experiences at home.
While there is no definitive way of brewing delicious coffee with AeroPress, trends have been observed among WAC winners, including inverted brewing techniques, optimum grind size, water chemistry, filtration choices, and brew ratios.
This article will run over the key elements observed in recent WAC to offer you some general guidance as to what works best while brewing coffee with an AeroPress.
- Inverted brewing is generally the most popular among WAC winners, and the method offers greater control and consistency.
- Factors including water chemistry, grind size, and water quality and filtration can influence the final taste of the brew.
- Adjustments to brew ratios, agitation, and press methods can help personalize each cup.
Inverted brewing is the most popular method among recipes created by recent AeroPress champions .
The technique has been consistently employed by competitors, with only three who have finished in the top three in the previous five years using the standard upright position.
There are two main benefits to inverted method – control and consistency. These are two essential factors for coffee brewing. Upside down brewing ensures you can accurately time the agitation and manipulate the brew since no water will drip from the brew chamber until you press down the plunger.
On the other hand, brewing in the standard upright position means hot water moves through the coffee bed almost immediately adding an uncontrolled variable that can lead to inconsistencies in the finished beverage. However, it’s not always bad, this short video explains how I make my morning coffee with Aeropress.
As with many areas of domestic brewing, though, the key is to experiment with different brewing positions and techniques to find the perfect cup for your tastes.
In other words, don’t be afraid to try different methods until you find one that works best for you – often the enjoyment comes with figuring out what works and what doesn’t then fine-tuning as you go.
Max Batch Size
In recent years, substantial changes have been implemented in the maximum batch size allowed in AeroPress competition.
Before 2021, competitors were permitted to use up to 35g of coffee per recipe. However, such a large amount was not sustainable or cost-effective for most domestic brewers.
Therefore, the WAC committee reduced the maximum allowed dosage to 18g.  That produces a similar amount of coffee to other brewing methods. The change also had the positive effect of immediately making the AeroPress more accessible and practical for everyday brewing.
Most winning recipes in recent years have used a coarser grind size. That’s interesting because standard AeroPress instructions recommend a fine grind. However, there are several reasons why a coarser grind has become popular.
Firstly, coarse coffee grounds produce a faster flow rate, which can be a big issue for the standard upright position. However, this doesn’t pose the same problem for the inverted brewing method, because the flow rate doesn’t really matter. With that method, baristas have complete control over the brewing process.
Secondly, a coarser grind can reduce the presence of fines – the small coffee particles that can create a muddy or murky texture in the final cup. This achieves a cleaner cup with more distinct flavors and clarity. The trend towards a clean and crisp brew was demonstrated by 2022 champion Jibbi Little, who sifted out the fines before brewing the winning cup.
When you’re using an AeroPress, it is important to find a balance between the batch size and a grind size that complements your taste preference. It’s never a bad thing to consider these trends and learn from competition-winning recipes. However, ultimately it’s up to you to determine the perfect combination through trial and error.
There isn’t a one size fits all approach where it comes to water chemistry for AeroPress. Of course, water is the main ingredient in coffee, so its quality significantly impacts the overall flavor of the finished cup.
A variety of water choices are made each time the WAC comes around, which highlights the importance of finding the best water for your brewing needs. In 2022, winners used the Perfect Coffee Water and in 2021, they used Third Wave Water Formula to ensure the best water for coffee.
However, using straightforward and simple filtered water is generally more than adequate for domestic brewing.
Selecting the correct filter is another essential aspect of AeroPress brewing.
Each year, the top recipes use at least one paper filter, whether it’s the type supplied by AeroPress, an aftermarket filter, or cut from another filter type. Meanwhile, some competitors even use two papers. The 3rd place in 2017 and 2nd place in 2019 even used both paper and metal filters.
Paper filters are generally the most popular because they trap oils and sediments that can pass through metal or cloth filters. Again, this results in a cleaner, crisper coffee.
Also, whether or not you rinse the filter it doesn’t appear to make a significant difference to the finished cup.
Another element to consider is the brew ratio, and exploring different ratios can help you find the perfect balance for your AeroPress beverage.
A 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio is often considered standard for filter brewing, meaning you’ll use 1g of coffee for every 15 grams of water.
However, you should experiment with more concentrated ratios, which create a denser, more intense coffee concentrate, particularly if you’re a lover of stronger coffee.
Some competitors used the bypass technique, which involves adding water to the brewed coffee to adjust its strength. This allows even more customization of the coffee and eliminates the need to reset and re-brew if the flavor isn’t ideal.
Brew Time and Agitation
Regarding brew time, most AeroPress recipes don’t exceed three minutes.
Before the 18g rule, most winners brewed their recipes in under two minutes. Because of the need to get the most out of the smaller dose and the trend towards using a coarser grind, brew times have increased slightly to an average of around two minutes. This ensures there’s enough contact time between the coffee and the water to fully extract the flavor.
You have an Aeropress paddle in the box, so you know agitation is also important in increasing or bolstering extraction. Most winning recipes recommend at least a few quick stirs using various techniques, particular patterns, and tools.
Whatever method is used, it is essential to keep track of how many times the coffee is agitated and in what way so that you can adjust or repeat the process as desired.
To figure out the best Aeropress brewing temperature, I made a list of the water temperature used in the championship recipes.
|Year||Winner (°C/°F)||2nd (°C/°F)||3rd (°C/°F)|
|2014||78/172.4||35/95 & 92/197.6||82/179.6 & 76/168.8|
The water temperature used in the championship AeroPress recipes has varied over the years. There was an increasing trend in the past few years compared to the early 2010s.
I think this is also related to the change in the decreasing dosage we mentioned above. Higher temperatures can lead to faster extraction, meaning more flavors and compounds are pulled out of the coffee grounds in a shorter time. I prefer to use 90C as a starting point for 18 grams of ground coffee, and adjust the hot water according to the roast level and the grind size.
By the way, Aeropress can make cold brew coffee. However, no WAC recipe is for cold brew.
When all else is taken care of, one of the most critical elements of using the AeroPress is still to come – the final plunge that forces the water through the coffee puck to produce your coffee.
The press is an extremely important element in achieving a perfectly brewed cup of coffee using the AeroPress. Recent winning recipes from the WAC demonstrate that a slow and gentle press is generally the key to achieving the desired results.
Indeed, all three of last year’s podium winners employed a press that lasted for at least 30 seconds. Doing so for that length of time ensured that water passed through the coffee evenly and prevented channeling, which is almost certain to negatively affect the brew.
While it may be tempting to press the plunger down very quickly, the evidence shows us that a methodical approach is by far the best way to maintain consistency and control throughout the brewing process.
Overall, the key thing to remember is that if you consistently use gentle pressure throughout the pressing phase, you will be far more likely to ensure a more evenly extracted cup of coffee without the likelihood of introducing inconsistencies into the final cup.
One of the best things about AeroPress is the transparency it offers on its official website, where the championship recipes are published, which allows domestic brewers to either mimic them learn from them.
However, it also shows just how many variables there are in making the best possible cup of coffee using an AeroPress.
Because of that, it can be easy to get consumed with the many different options at your fingertips. However, as with many areas of domestic brewing, there is no definitive way of completing a task.
Instead, experimentation is the key because everyone has different taste preferences and preferred ways of working.
To that end, taking note of elements including brewing time, agitation, water temperature, and press techniques, can help you achieve the perfect AeroPress coffee at home.