Wish you could make a cappuccino at home – without investing in an espresso machine?
Nothing beats a barista-made coffee from your local café. However, when the coffee shop is closed or you’re at home in your pyjamas, being able to knock up your favourite drink in your own kitchen is wonderful.
So, let’s explore how you make cold brew, filter, and traditionally espresso-based drinks at home, using the iconic AeroPress.
Lee este artículo en español Cómo Hacer tu Bebida Favorita de la Cafetería Con el AeroPress
Credit: AeroPress, Inc..
Brewing Coffee With The AeroPress
The AeroPress’ versatility, affordability, and ease of use have made it a firm favourite of many coffee lovers. It’s comprised of a chamber, plunger, and a filter cap. You attach the filter cap and a filter to the chamber, add the coffee and hot water, insert the plunger, and then push. Some brewers also like to use the inverted method, where they leave the coffee to steep before plunging.
By playing with different variables, you can bring out different flavours, aromas, and mouthfeels from your AeroPress-brewed coffee. You can emphasise its body and chocolaty notes, or bring out its sparkling acidity and fruitiness.
This is because not all coffee flavours extract from the ground beans at the same rate. When you add water to dry coffee grounds, the bitter compounds are the first to extract, followed by the ones responsible for sweetness, juicy acidity, and then finally, astringency.
Learn more in Understanding Coffee Extraction
Here are some variables you can play with:
- Brew ratio: this is the ratio of dry coffee to hot water. The more dry coffee relative to the water, the greater the intensity – but the flavour could become unbalanced. With the AeroPress, you’ll probably want to use 14–16g of dry coffee for 250g of water, but you always change this based on your preferences.
- Grind size: the finer the grind size, the quicker the coffee will extract. This is because you’re increasing the coffee’s surface area so it can better interact with the water. A finer grind size usually correlates with fruitier, juicier notes.
- Brew time: the longer the coffee steeps, the more time it has to extract. For this reason, you’ll probably want to pair a longer brew time with a coarser grind size.
- Water temperature: the higher the temperature, the quicker the coffee extracts.
- Agitation: stirring the water will typically speed up extraction. Even more importantly, it will make sure that all of the coffee is exposed to the water. However, it can be hard to control.
Find out more in this video from the World AeroPress Championship YouTube channel:
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The espresso is the heart of many of the drinks you can order in a coffee shop: lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, macchiatos, and more.
The AeroPress was designed to create an espresso-strength concentrate. AeroPress recommends that you use one scoop of fine or espresso-grind coffee and then add 175°F/80°C water up to the “1” on the chamber.
Espressos often have an intense flavour and mouthfeel with a more chocolaty or toffee-like flavour, so that they taste good with milk. To achieve this, avoid exacerbating extraction through heavy agitation of the coffee. If you find that your brew tastes too fruity or acidic, reduce the grind size and increase the brew time to match.
You will probably also prefer a medium or medium-dark roast, as this is what is typically used for espresso.
Filter or Drip
Drip and filter coffee tend to have greater clarity and a less intense mouthfeel than espresso. This is because the filter traps much of the coffee’s oils, preventing them from entering into your cup. The thicker the filter, the less oil can seep through.
The AeroPress is already a filter brewing method, but to increase your clarity and get more of that batch brew or drip flavour, try doubling up your filters. Although they are environmentally friendly, you should also avoid metal filters.
Pour over brew methods, such as the Chemex, Kalita Wave, and Hario V60, are used in specialty coffee shops to highlight the fruity and floral notes of high-quality coffee. If you want this effect, aim for a fine grind, short brew time, hot water, and lots of agitation.
Of course, you won’t be able to extract citrus or jasmine flavours if they’re not present in the original coffee. Try light and light-medium roasts and check the flavour notes on the coffee bag.
Every coffee shop has its own recipe. However, a latte is typically around 8 oz/230 ml and made with steamed, stretched milk.
Start by creating your espresso-like concentrate in the AeroPress. Then, you’ll need to heat your milk. If using dairy, opt for fresh, full-fat milk. If opting for non-dairy milk, oat and almond are the two most popular types for coffee.
Read more in What’s The Best Non-Dairy Milk For Specialty Coffee?
You have a few options for the next step. You could use a milk steamer or frothing wand, or you could heat the milk on the stove or in the microwave before using a balloon whisk to aerate it.
If using a milk steamer or frothing wand, make sure to keep the tip under the surface of the milk. This will prevent you from creating cappuccino-like foam. Tilt the jug or cup at an angle while steaming. And after you’ve done, tap and swirl the jug to disperse any large bubbles.
Finally, steadily pour the steamed milk over your espresso, and enjoy.
Although often confused with a latte, a cappuccino is a smaller beverage that contains foamed as well as steamed milk. While steamed milk is silky and smooth, foam is drier and stiffer.
You may have heard that a cappuccino should be one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third foam, that’s not necessarily true. Experiment to find out what you like the most.
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To make a cappuccino-like drink with your AeroPress, start by brewing your coffee and heating your milk, just as you did for the latte. Then, to create the foam, you’ll want to introduce more air into the milk. If using a frothing wand, place the top just below the surface of the milk. Once you’ve got a good amount of foam, you can then dip it further into the milk to make sure it’s evenly heated.
When pouring your milk, hold the foam back with the spoon so that just the steamed milk runs into the cup. Then use the spoon to heap the foam on top.
Another milk-and-espresso beverage, the flat white is a great choice for those who want their coffee to taste stronger. Although recipes vary according to the coffee shop, it’s typically the same size as a cappuccino but with a double espresso shot and only a tiny layer of microfoam.
When brewing your coffee, you’ll need to use double the amount of dry grounds and water. Remember to keep the ratio the same to ensure that the flavour and extraction level don’t change.
An Americano, or espresso diluted with hot water, creates the rich flavour of an espresso but without the bold mouthfeel. It’s typically made with one-part espresso for two-parts hot water, yet there’s no need to stick to a hard-and-fast rule. Brew your espresso-like concentrate with the AeroPress and then experiment with different quantities of hot water to see what you prefer.
While you should pay close attention to the water temperature you use in the AeroPress, the temperature of the hot water you then add to the brewed concentrate doesn’t matter.
Cold brew normally takes 12–24 hours to make, since coffee needs a long time to extract in cold water. Yet the AeroPress official method is just two minutes long.
Take one scoop of finely ground coffee, add room-temperature water up until the “1” mark, and then stir non-stop for one minute to increase the extraction. Finally,press gently and dilute your drink with ice-cold water or milk.
Read more in How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in an AeroPress
The AeroPress might not be able to bring out as much crema on your espresso as a barista could, or create latte art-worthy steamed milk.
However, by tweaking brewing variables such as grind size, brew time, and water temperature, you can bring out many of the different textures and flavours present in lattes, pour overs, and even cold brew. And that sounds pretty great to us.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your AeroPress and start grinding your coffee.
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Photo credits: Credit: AeroPress, Inc.
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