The AeroPress is one of the most popular brewing methods on the market. It’s an intuitive, portable, and simple piece of equipment. It is also incredibly versatile.
While the AeroPress comes with standard brewing instructions to follow, many AeroPress brewers choose to use an “inverted” method which involves starting with the brewer upside down. This allows brewers to immerse the coffee grounds in water for a longer time and increases extraction as a result.
So, just what is the inverted method? And what are its pros and cons? Read on to learn more.
Traditional vs Inverted: What’s The Difference?
It’s impossible to know who first decided to invert their AeroPress, but many people believe the method was popularised around 2008, just three years after the AeroPress was invented in 2005.
To brew with the inverted method, start by placing the plunger on your counter with the rubber seal facing upward. Position the chamber upside-down on the plunger, and push the chamber down so that the rubber seal enters the chamber by at least 20mm.
Hold the chamber securely with one hand, and pour ground coffee and then hot water as desired into the chamber. You can then stir and steep for any length of time. When the desired steep time is reached, screw the filter cap (with a filter in place) onto the chamber.
Finally, securely grip both the chamber and plunger with both hands, and “invert” the AeroPress, placing it directly onto a mug or vessel. Plunge the coffee through the filter into your mug as you would with the standard brewing process, and enjoy.
The inverted method has been adopted by competitors and home brewers alike. However, to examine what makes it different, I reached out to the World AeroPress Championship (WAC) winner, Carolina Ibarra Garay. She used the inverted method when she won in 2018.
Carolina explains that the main difference between the two is how the coffee extracts. Whereas the traditional method pushes water through the coffee (percolation), the inverted method steeps the coffee grounds in water for a longer period of time (immersion). She notes that there is no “right” answer from her point of view, and that it is all down to personal preference and taste.
Georgina Lumb is a coffee educator, a National Brewers Cup judge, and a WAC competitor. She describes the method as “close to a filtered cupping”, and says that she has seen it used to cup and compare coffees in roasteries and cafés. This, she says, is because it is “hassle-free” and easy to replicate.
Brewing With The Inverted Method At Home
Carolina and Georgina agree that before using the inverted method, you should start with the traditional one. so that you can establish where you want your coffee to go from there.
Georgina’s suggested traditional AeroPress recipe:
- Grind 18g of your preferred coffee, medium to coarse.
- Start your timer.
- Pour 90ml of boiled water over the grounds, allowing them to bloom for 15 seconds.
- Add a further 160ml of boiled water and let it sit for another 20 seconds.
- Plunge your AeroPress, and enjoy.
Once you’re ready to tackle the inverted method, you may want to start with the recipe used by Filip Kucharczyk, who won the WAC in 2016 using it. His original recipe is as follows:
- Grind 35g of your preferred coffee, coarse.
- Rinse paper filter.
- Heat water to 84°C.
- Set up the inverted plunger and chamber.
- Pour ground coffee into the chamber.
- Start the timer.
- Take 15 seconds to pour 150g of water into the chamber.
- Stir until you reach 35 seconds on the timer.
- Attach the filter cap with filter on the chamber and wait for one minute on the timer.
- Use both hands to securely invert the AeroPress onto your mug.
- Add 100 to 120g of water to taste.
Carolina cautions that this competition recipe uses more coffee than needed. She recommends using just 20g of grounds, and letting the mixture steep for longer.
While you can experiment with any coffee, it’s worth bearing in mind that the traditional method tends to create a cleaner tasting coffee with a lighter body. As the coffee steeps for longer with the inverted method, it tends to have a heavier body and mouthfeel.
Experiments With The Inverted AeroPress
Carolina says that in her experience, the inverted method produces a dense and full-bodied coffee. She also tells me that because her family comes from Colombia, she was inspired to use it to recreate the traditional Colombian tinto.
The tinto is made by heating water (usually over a fire), and adding ground coffee as the water just turns to the boil. Typically, in a separate pot, you also brew agua de panela by boiling unrefined sugar cane in water. After the coffee has brewed for three or four minutes, you take both pots off the heat and mix them together. This creates a dark, inky brew, which is from where the tinto gets its name – the Spanish word tinta translates as “ink” in English.
As the tinto is brewed as a dark, intense coffee, Carolina says the inverted method is a perfect way to recreate it. She uses it to create a dense, concentrated, and bitter coffee. This can then be diluted by adding more water to taste.
While this is just one of the many recipes that can be made by inverting the AeroPress, the method’s versatility is one of the features that makes it so popular. By combining full immersion brewing with the typical percolation of water through grounds, you can use it to create unique drinks.
However, one of the traditional method’s main benefits is its ease and repeatability. By adding further steps to the process (steeping and flipping or “inverting”), you make it much harder to recreate a specific recipe time and time again.
As a result, Georgina says that it’s important to keep track of your variables and aim for consistency and simplicity with whatever recipe you use.
Both the traditional and inverted AeroPress brewing methods have their advantages. The former is great for those starting their brewing journey with the device or for trying out a new method. The latter, however, is a great choice for those who have experience brewing with the AeroPress and want to try something different.
Either way, this unique brewing method has been a fixture of many competitions and only become more and more popular in the past few years. So, next time you reach for your AeroPress, maybe you should ask yourself: is it time to try something new?
Enjoyed this? Then read 5 AeroPress Lessons I Learned From 4 Champions (& Their Recipes)
Photo credits: Julio Guevara, Neil Soque
Perfect Daily Grind
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