How have AeroPress recipes changed in recent years?
The AeroPress coffee maker is one of the most popular brewing methods in the global coffee industry. The traditional AeroPress recipe is popular with both baristas and home consumers, but there is also a growing number of more experimental brewing recipes – which have largely been showcased at the World AeroPress Championships (WAC).
The competition has helped the push for innovation when brewing with the AeroPress coffee maker, including experimenting with dose weight, water temperatures, and diluting or concentrating coffee by bypassing.
I spoke with two WAC competitors and a WAC judge to learn more about how AeroPress recipes have changed over the past few years. Read on to find out what they told me.
You may also like our article on how to make your coffee shop favourites with the AeroPress coffee maker.
How have AeroPress recipes changed?
Yuki Saito is a trainer at Nemesis Coffee in Vancouver BC, Canada. He was also a 2021 WAC Wildcard competitor.
Yuki explains how the AeroPress coffee maker allows brewers to experiment in a number of unique ways.
“There are two main types of coffee extraction: immersion and filter. The AeroPress allows you to use characteristics from both methods,” he says. “This means you can select a certain balance of extraction, according to your taste preferences and each individual coffee.”
Tim Williams is the CEO of the WAC. He has a simple reason that he thinks explains why AeroPress recipes have changed over recent years.
“It allows the user to tweak and adjust many brewing variables,” he notes.
Naturally, like any coffee competition, the WAC has also encouraged innovation. In recent years, we’ve seen people tweak brew ratios, water temperatures, and extraction time.
Tuomas Merikanto is a barista at Kahiwa Coffee Roasters in Lahti, Finland. He is also the 2021 WAC champion.
“Most other brewing methods are more limited than the AeroPress,” he says. “For the most part, you can only use them in the way that they’re designed.
“The AeroPress is more flexible in this regard and you can be more creative with it,” he explains. “You can make different recipes for each coffee you use, which can enhance particular aspects of the coffee. You can experience its full potential.”
Yuki agrees, adding: “The AeroPress has a simpler design than other brewing devices, so it’s easy to see the difference when you change your recipes.”
How is the WAC helping to develop new recipes?
The first-ever WAC was held in Oslo, Norway in 2008. The competition started with only three competitors. Today, however, it takes place in 60 countries with more than 3,000 competitors every year.
Since then, the WAC has become one of the most anticipated competitions in the coffee industry, largely thanks to “experimental” AeroPress recipes developed by competitors.
Yuki tells me that because all WAC competitors are required to use the same coffee, competitors must focus on developing a unique recipe – forcing them to innovate and experiment.
“Extraction techniques and ways of thinking about brewing with the AeroPress have expanded,” he says.
Tim explains some of the ways in which AeroPress recipes have evolved over the past few years.
“WAC competitors use double-filtering, high-dose bypass brewing, sifting fines, and much more,” he says.
Let’s take a look at some of the AeroPress recipe changes inspired by the WAC.
Brew temperature and water quality
In the first few years when the WAC was held, competitors generally used higher water temperatures – typically around 90°C (194°F).
Over the following years, more and more competitors started to use lower brewing temperatures as a way of mitigating bitter flavours in their coffees. Today, it’s common to see WAC competitors use water heated to somewhere between 75°C and 79°C (167°F and 174°F).
Competitors are also better equipped to control water quality and hardness than they ever have been. In earlier WAC competitions, participants used water that was provided to them, whereas now they can brew with their own water.
This has also helped to increase awareness around how water quality and hardness affect coffee flavour.
Bypassing is a process where you brew a coffee concentrate before adding more water to dilute it. It can be a useful way to balance extraction and control flavour, particularly when using a brewing device that often produces a more concentrated coffee.
It’s believed that the first WAC competitor to use bypassing in their routine was 2016 winner Filip Kucharczyk.
Tuomas tells me how this technique has become incredibly popular in the competition in the years since, and across the wider coffee sector.
“Many WAC winners use the bypass method,” he says. “It also means that you can use different amounts of coffee.”
Competitors who use bypassing claim it helps to increase acidity and intensity of flavours, as well as enhancing the juicier flavours in coffee.
Dose and yield
After bypassing became more popular, the WAC updated its rules and introduced a dose cap. Before this rule change, competitors could use higher doses (with some going as high as 35g). Now, however, they must use a maximum of 18g.
Yuki explains the rule change: “Higher doses are not really everyday recipes because the amount of coffee used per cup is too high.
“So experimenting with a more limited dose is a good opportunity for baristas,” he adds.
Tim agrees: “This means that competitors have to be more creative in how they approach their brewing technique.”
The traditional AeroPress recipe
To understand where these innovations have come from, it’s first important to understand the “traditional” AeroPress recipes.
Since its creation in 2005, the AeroPress coffee maker has come with a “classic” recipe. This can be used for both hot and cold brewing, as well making espresso-style beverages.
- Push the plunger out of the brewing chamber and place one paper filter in the screw cap.
- Twist the screw cap to the bottom of the brewing chamber and place on top of your brewing vessel (screw-cap side down).
- At this point, it can help to preheat the brewing chamber and rinse the paper filter, but the AeroPress recipe does not include this. Remember to discard the water in your brewing vessel.
- Add one scoop (approximately 15g to 17g) of ground coffee to the brewing chamber. Shake the brewer to level the grounds.
- Pour heated water (AeroPress recommends a temperature of 80°C) up to the number 2 marker on the brewing chamber.
- Stir carefully for ten seconds to fully saturate the grounds.
- Insert the plunger at the top of the brewing chamber and apply steady pressure to gently press down. Pause if you feel any resistance.
- Once the plunger reaches the coffee grounds and you hear a hissing sound, the brew is complete.
- Remove the screw cap and push the plunger down to eject the used coffee grounds.
- (Optional) Add 237ml of water to prepare an americano-style “longer” coffee.
The standard AeroPress recipe works well for beginners who want to learn more about coffee extraction, as it’s a straightforward, easy, and repeatable process.
It’s also recommended to use this recipe if you’re looking to extract a cleaner-tasting coffee with a lighter body.
The inverted method
A popular alternative to the traditional AeroPress recipe is the inverted method. It’s not known who first popularised the method, but it’s believed that the technique was first used in 2008.
The inverted method essentially involves turning the AeroPress coffee maker upside down to brew coffee.
- Place the plunger on your countertop with the seal facing upwards.
- Turn the brewing chamber upside down and carefully fit it over the seal of the plunger.
- It’s important to make sure that the plunger seal fits tightly and securely in the brewing chamber, otherwise hot coffee could escape from the AeroPress chamber.
- Push the plunger down until the rubber seal aligns with the number 4 marker.
- Preheat the brewer and discard the water.
- Hold the brewing chamber and add the ground coffee. Gently shake the AeroPress chamber to level the grounds.
- Carefully add your brewing water and gently stir the grounds. Leave to brew for your chosen extraction time.
- While the coffee extracts, add a paper filter into the screw cap and carefully rinse it.
- Once the total extraction time is complete, gently twist the screw cap onto the brewing chamber. Firmly hold both the brew chamber and plunger and very carefully flip the AeroPress coffee maker onto the brewing vessel.
- Push the plunger down as you would with the standard method.
The main difference between the two techniques is that the inverted method allows you to leverage full immersion brewing for as long as you want before filtering the coffee. The standard AeroPress recipe, in contrast, involves pushing the water through the coffee, which is more similar to other percolation methods.
The inverted technique is often used by more experienced baristas and home brewers as it’s a more versatile method, which allows the user to experiment with brewing variables. It generally produces a fuller-bodied coffee.
How might recipes evolve in the future?
Over the years, AeroPress recipes have evolved in many different ways. There has been a recent trend at the WAC of changing recipes to be simpler, particularly as a result of the 2021 WAC finals taking place virtually.
“Last year’s online finals forced competitors to simplify their recipes,” Yuki says.
Tuomas agrees, highlighting that because of the dosing rule change, no competitors bypassed at the 2021 WAC – meaning the participants had to adapt to more practical recipes.
A more prominent focus on water quality was also apparent at the 2021 WAC, including in Tuomas’ winning routine.
“I was the only competitor who used a particular water profile,” he says. “I used Third Wave Water’s Espresso Profile capsules.”
Following these rule changes, it’s possible that many WAC competitors will move away from bypassing in the future, as there is less of a need to when you’re working with a lower dose. It’s likely that in time, we’ll also see this influence AeroPress recipes for home brewers, who usually opt for more practical smaller doses than competitors in the first place.
However, it remains likely that the inverted method will continue to be popular among WAC competitors, baristas, and home consumers, as it allows for more control over extraction.
“The AeroPress is a simple yet versatile brewer, so there is a high possibility that more new and interesting recipes will be developed over the coming years,” Yuki concludes.
Because of its versatility, there are a seemingly endless number of ways to brew coffee with the AeroPress coffee maker. Naturally, this means there is plenty of space for innovation where the brewer is concerned.
The WAC is a global stage to display this innovation, and has clearly inspired it in recent years. It has been a space for competitors to share their recipes with one another, as well as making them available to home brewers. There is no doubt that these recipes will continue to develop and evolve over the next few years, but precisely how this might take shape remains to be seen.
Enjoyed this? Then read our older article on how World AeroPress Championship recipes have changed over the years.
Perfect Daily Grind
Photo credits: Jesper Andersson, AeroPress, World AeroPress Championship
Please note: AeroPress is a sponsor of Perfect Daily Grind.
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