19 May 2013

The Caffeine Chronicles: Inversions

It's been over a year since I got my first Aeropress, and I'm now a complete convert, with one at home and one at my office. The next stages of coffee geekery took a little longer, however. I bought a bag of coffee beans at The Common Cup in Monteverde, Costa Rica, which came from a local farm and which had been roasted the day before. Because I wouldn't be getting home for another week, I didn't get the beans ground, and on my return, this prompted me to get a grinder at last. As I didn't have an unlimited coffee geekery budget, I went for a Cuisinart burr grinder, and I've been pretty happy so far. It took a little bit of experimentation before I found the right grind (not quite as fine as the grinder will go, but almost, for my 45-second steep time).

Cuisinart burr grinder and some Costa Rican coffee beans

So far, so good. It's been great drinking freshly ground coffee at home each morning. The grinding process is a little messy, but it's worth it.

The next step in the coffee geekery process was mastering the inverted Aeropress technique. The problem with the regular method (see this post) is that as soon as you pour the water into the chamber it starts to drip through before the coffee has had enough time to steep. The inverted method gets around this problem and gives you a richer, stronger brew. It's fairly straightforward, but a can be a little messy, so it's definitely best to practice in the kitchen if you usually make your Aeropress somewhere else.

First, grind a small amount of coffee—I use one scoopful of the scoop that came with the Aeropress; I'm not yet measuring by weight! Turn the plunger upside down, so that the rubber seal is facing up. I like to wet the seal with a little water. Turn the chamber upside down and gently press it over the seal, which should come to about the number 4.

Add your coffee into the top of the chamber and then add just-boiled water. I like to fill up to the number 1 mark. Give it a quick stir and then allow to steep. For my Costa Rican coffee, I like to steep it for 45 seconds. While it's steeping, I like to warm my mug with some hot water. I will then put one of the paper filters into the cap and pour a little hot water through the filter.

Put the cap on the top of the chamber and then, holding all of the apparatus in both hands, turn the Aeropress upside and onto the top of your mug. It's really easy for the rubber seal to come loose from the chamber so hold it firmly. Gently push the plunger through the chamber, stopping once you hear the rush of air and expel the rest of the liquid into the sink—this part tends to be over-extracted.

Depending on how strong you like your coffee, you may want to top up your mug with a little more hot water. I tend to add a little. Enjoy!

The next stages, of course, are buying a super-accurate kitchen scale and experimenting with a metal Aeropress filter. I'm a hopeless case...

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