The Aerobie Aeropress ($26), coupled with the Hario Slim hand mill ($33), is my favorite coffee kit for traveling, and home use. (To save a couple bucks on both, buy them together here for $54, thanks to Steve in the comments).
They’re both light weight, easy to keep clean, relatively self-contained, and cheap. Sure, if you’re traveling you could bring a trendy pour-over filter, like the Hario V60, but then you need to bring a kettle which adds weight and bulk.
The Aeropress is particularly nice because you can play with so many brewing variables. I’m not committed to any particular method (yet), but I usually go for the upside-down Aeropress brewing style. You can see what I mean in these two videos. However, I do it a bit differently, here’s how I like it:
- Start heating your water. By the time it’s boiling you’ll have everything else set.
- Rinse the paper-filter in the filter-holder under warm water to minimize any paper taste.
- Grind your coffee and put it in the upside-down Aeropress. I use ~16 grams, ground the same as I’d use for the V60 pour-over. If you have the Hario Slim, then I have mine set between 8-10 clicks from the finest setting. Grind size is difficult to describe, so you’ll need to taste and adjust until you get this right. (In this case, if it’s too strong, and verging on bitterness, you’re probably too fine; and if it’s a bit watery, light, or sour, you’re probably too coarse).
- Take the water off the heat and let it sit for 20 seconds after it’s reached a high boil (large bubbles). If you like, you can check the temp on a thermometer. I’ve found that this brings the water temperature down to about 195F with the pan I use to boil water. When poured into the Aeropress, the brew temperature drops to about 180-175F. Some people prefer a lower temperature of 176F to start with, but I haven’t tested this enough to have an opinion.
- Pour the water in. I generally pour about 230ml of water, which takes me up to the top of the Aeropress chamber. Be careful not to overfill, and be mindful of bloom (released CO2 gas) that will occur with very fresh coffee and might cause overflow. You can use the remaining hot water to pre-heat your cup.
- Stir, wait 2 minutes, and stir again. I stir once right after I’ve filled the chamber, wait 2 minutes, then quickly stir again, place the filter on, put the mug over top to prevent anything from leaking, and flip the whole assembly over so that I can start pressing. I don’t press hard, it usually takes ~20-30seconds for it to fill the cup.
- Stop before the hissing sound. Some people argue that you should press until the bitter end, but, if you move the Aeropress to another cup and taste the last bits of the brew, I’m pretty sure you’d rather not have that going into your cup. It’s thin and bitter by that point.
After you’ve done it a couple times it’s actually pretty simple. There are quite a number of different techniques detailed over at Brewmethods.com, but this combination of styles is the one that’s gotten me the most consistent, full potential of the coffee.
There’re many different methods, though. If you have a favorite, or a suggestion, post it in the comments!
UPDATE: Since moving to New York, I’ve had to alter my Aeropress method. I’m still trying to pinpoint the cause, but my tentative guess is that it’s the total dissolved solids in NYC tap water being lower than Seoul or Malmö… Here, anything more than a 1:00 minute steep time seems to be over extracting. I could be missing some other variable, but once I figure it out I’ll write a new post :)
In the photos you can see a few shots of coffee prepared on the Aeropress. It’s an essential piece of luggage any time I travel. I’ve even taken it with me to brunch at the Seoul Grand Hyatt for some guerrilla brewing (shown above, with more info here).
The Aeropress makes enough coffee to share, if you’re happy with quality over quantity. Seen here during my trip to Tokyo.
Here’s a shot at my apartment in Sweden, going the extra mile with scale and thermometer. I was playing with some sample roasts from Solde Kafferosteri, watch out for a review soon, these guys run an up-and-coming cafe & roastery based in Malmö, Sweden.
In the last image, you can also see the Hario Slim mill. I also have a Kalita hand mill, which works similar to the Hario Skerton, but I perfer the Hario Slim because it has an easy to adjust grind setting on the bottom. I’ll do a more in depth review of that in the future!