The AeroPress is a specialty coffee icon, thanks to its versatility and ease of use. It’s hard to brew a bad cup of coffee with it, but it’s also easy to experiment and create your own recipe.
Up until now, however, it’s been mainly used for hot coffee. This all changed when AeroPress, Inc. announced their recipe for cold brew AeroPress coffee – which, astonishingly, has a brew time of just two minutes.
To find out how to make cold brew with an AeroPress, along with some tips and tricks for better flavor and extraction, I spoke to the brewing device’s creator, Alan Adler. Here’s what I learned.
You might also like AeroPress Coffee Guide: How to Brew For Different Flavour Profiles
The AeroPress, complete with stirrer and filters. Credit: AeroPress
Cold Brew AeroPress Coffee in Just 2 Minutes
Look up most cold brew coffee recipes, regardless of the brewing device, and you’ll see steep times of 12 hours, 24 hours, or even longer. Traditional coffee-brewing involves heat, and for good reason: it is this heat that speeds up the chemical reactions, allowing the flavor and aroma compounds from the coffee grounds to be extracted into the brew. To compensate for the cooler temperatures, most recipes call for longer brew times.
It’s worth mentioning that cold brew has a reputation for being sweeter and more mellow than hot-brewed coffee. This is because some chemical compounds cannot be extracted at cooler temperatures. However, with time or another exacerbating factor, you can still get a delicious – and refreshing! – beverage.
This makes the short steep time of the AeroPress cold brew remarkable. Alan tells me, “I expected to gradually increase the steep time until the brew was satisfactorily rich.
“So I started with our standard time and was pleasantly surprised that it was satisfactory, though about 10% weaker than hot brew. Very few people can taste such a small difference. But the easy way to restore that small difference would be to use 10% more coffee. Standard is a heaping scoop or about 16 grams for an 8 oz serving. So about 17.5 grams would restore the difference.
“But Alex Tennant, our general manager suggested increasing the stir time instead of using more coffee. We tried the standard 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1, 2 and 3 minutes. 1 minute was enough. There was very little difference beyond a minute.”
In other words, the intense agitation increases the extraction and results in a faster brew time – perfect for when the weather’s hot and you want a cup of cold brew right now. But let’s take a closer look at how you prepare it.
Learn more about extraction in Understanding Coffee Extraction
Cold brew coffee prepared in an AeroPress. Credit: Fernando Pocasangre
How to Prepare Cold Brew in Your AeroPress
The AeroPress is famous for its simplicity. Forget concentric circles and multiple pours, you simply add coffee, add water, stir, and press. Fortunately, making cold brew is similarly straightforward – although with plenty of room to experiment as you find your ideal recipe.
1. Set Up Your AeroPress
Whether you prefer brewing with the traditional or inverted method, the first step to good cold brew is preparing your AeroPress. You should begin by making sure it is clean and dry.
Next, set up the AeroPress and place a filter in the cap. It’s a good idea to rinse your filter with hot water once it’s in place. This will help it adhere to the cap and also reduce any paper flavors. Some people also like to experiment with doubling up on filters or using metal ones. Metal ones will allow more of the oils through, creating greater body, as well as resulting in less waste. Paper filters, on the other hand, will create a cleaner and lighter brew as they keep all the oils out.
Different AeroPress filters. Credit: Fernando Pocasangre
2. Prepare Your Coffee & Add It to The Chamber
The AeroPress’ beauty lies in its versatility. You can use it with a wide range of coffees and experiment with grind size, steep time, brew ratio, and more. As Alan says, “AeroPress works well with any type of coffee… The most popular roast is medium, which I think has the best flavor, but you can decide what you like.”
He adds, “I currently drink medium roast Yirgacheffe. Prior to that, it was mostly Guatemala.”
Yet despite the AeroPress’ flexibility, there are some guidelines to follow. The cold brew recipe calls for a fine grind. When brewing coffee, the finer the grind, the quicker the flavor and aroma compounds will extract. Coarser grinds are best suited for recipes with long steep times.
Even when brewing with hot water, Alan recommends being careful with an overly coarse grind size. This is because it leads to more drip-through before you begin the press. “If the drip-through while stirring is more than about 3 mm, you might want to try a finer grind or use slightly more coffee… Large quantities of drip-through reduce brew strength,” he explains. “Some people worry about even small amounts, but I’ve researched this and determined that less than 3 mm has no detectable reduction in strength.”
Dosage is another variable you should consider. Alan tells me that the standard is “16 g for an 8 oz serving.” If you want to experiment, start with this dose and then slowly adjust it until you find the recipe you like best. As Alan says in his inventing classes, you should “try things even if you don’t expect them to work.” This is how you discover new things.
Read more in A Guide to Coffee Grind Size, Consistency, & Flavor
Adding freshly ground coffee to the AeroPress. Credit: Fernando Pocasangre
3. Add Water
According to the official AeroPress recipe, a standard AeroPress coffee should be brewed with 80ºC/175ºF water. Then you should stir the coffee grounds and water for about 10 seconds before pressing.
For cold brew, you should add tap or room temperature water up to the number two mark (which, by my calculations, is around 130 grams of water). Some people also choose to use filtered water, because certain minerals commonly found in water can slow down or speed up extraction.
This amount of water should be enough to create a coffee concentrate, which will be the base of your cold brew. Alan tells me, “Pressing the concentrate and then adding water makes a smoother cup… than pushing all the water through the grounds,” he says.
Once you’ve added the water, stir for a whole minute. Don’t be tempted to skip this step, or you’ll be left with a weak drink.
Stirring the steeped coffee. Credit: Fernando Pocasangre
“Pressing gently is the fastest press,” Alan advises. He explains that pressing hard can compact the coffee particles into a barrier, making your work even harder. If you start to feel too much resistance, so that it becomes hard to keep pressing, pause for 10 seconds.
Once you’ve finished the press, you can now remove the ground coffee from your AeroPress and clean the device.
Pressing the AeroPress to create a cold brew concentrate. Credit: Fernando Pocasangre
5. Add More Water
Now that you have your coffee concentrate, you can proceed to add chilled or icy water to make an 8 oz cup/237 ml cup of coffee. Alan tells me that room-temperature water will also work well if you don’t have access to ice or a refrigerator. Again, you may wish to use filtered water.
Serving AeroPress cold brew over ice. Credit: Fernando Pocasangre
On a hot day, there are few things as refreshing as a cold brew. With this AeroPress recipe, you can skip the 24-hour brew time and start sipping on your coffee in less time than it takes an electric kettle to boil. Just make sure to use a fine grind and stir well before pressing.
Enjoyed this? Read AeroPress Coffee Guide: How to Brew For Different Flavour Profiles
Written by Gisselle Guerra. Feature photo credit: Fernando Pocasangre
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