Before we talk about the fineness of the coffee grinds, specifically for the Aeropress, let’s have a frank discussion about the reasons you want to grind your coffee at home. You’ll likely have a few reasons for wanting your own coffee at home.
Those reasons might include:
- Costs of buying a cup of coffee or two each day – They certainly add up!
- Too many burnt/terrible/bitter brews you’ve had to choke down to get your daily caffeine fix.
- No control over the taste and flavor of your purchased coffee. – You’re at the whim of the barista!
What We Know About Grinding
One of the most important steps in making your own coffee is the grinding process. The grind size and consistency of your coffee can mean the difference between liquid gold and a bitter brew. The surface area of the coffee grinds contributes to the taste of the coffee. With a higher surface area, you’re going to have a higher extraction rate. This leaves you with the choice between a high extraction rate and the amount of contact needed with the grinds. When you want to increase the surface area, the coffee’s grinds should be fine.
With an immersion brewer, the coffee grinds will be steeped in water for a longer period of time, which means it doesn’t need a large surface area. A coarser grind can be the right mix for this type of coffee maker. The rate of contact and the size of the grind can result in a coffee that is too weak or too bitter. These are the ends of the spectrum in bad coffees, and they’re likely why you are choosing to learn about how to grind specifically for the Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker.
Type of Coffee Dictates How Fine To Grind
Coffees like Turkish blends need an extra fine grind, and espresso requires a fine grind because the water is forced through them very quickly. This means the grind will need a larger surface to come into contact with the water.
In terms of which coffee grinders one may wish to acquire, some people swear by manual burr grinders because they seem (and in some cases are indeed) custom built to grind directly into the Aeropress itself. On the other hand, a high quality electric burr grinder can do things with speed, efficiency, and can allow you to micro-manage the grind size, and hence others prefer this method.
The Aeropress Espresso maker recommends a size of grind that is somewhere between medium and fine, which depends on the type of coffee being produced. Something like this is a grind size to shoot for when it comes to Aeropress…
Method Influences Taste
Whether you use a fine, extra fine or medium grind for your coffee with the Aeropress will depend on the coffee flavor you’re hoping to extract from the beans. In many cases, this will depend on the method of pushing the water through the machine. Everything you do to the grind will influence the taste. For example, if you rinse the filter and allow the water to bloom, it’ll have a different flavor than if you didn’t wet the grounds first.
Competition and Recipes
You might be surprised to learn that there is an Aeropress Coffee competition each year where people create coffee with their Aeropress that is judged by a panel of coffee lovers. Each recipe uses the Aeropress and results in a variety of coffee flavors.
Watch this video featuring Chris Heiniger, the first place winner at the 2015 US Eastern Regional Aeropress Championship, with a video from Prima Coffee here.
In 2009, the second year of competition, the winner used 19.5 – 20 grams of coffee and 200 ml of water at 75 degrees C over a slightly coarse grind. The normal filter was rinsed and the Aeropress was turned upside down before the coffee was added. The water was added and stirred 4 times. The filter was secured and the Aeropress was turned after 10 seconds. Then it was pressed. The total time to make the coffee was 15 seconds. You could copy this winning recipe yourself after some practice.
2010 Winning Aeropress Recipe – A Gold Standard
You might want to use this 2010 recipe, which called for 20 grams of fine ground coffee, water at 80 degrees C and 250 ml of water. In this recipe, the normal filter was rinsed, the Aeropress held upside down, too. The coffee was added then the water almost to the top. It was stirred for 10 to 12 seconds. This winner made sure the cup was hot before pushing the coffee down. This winner stopped before hearing the air wheeze from the unit.
You don’t have to be preparing for competition to try some variety to your coffee grounds and method of using the Aeropress to find the right coffee. What you love in your coffee flavor will not be what someone else loves. It can’t hurt to be adventurous.
More Aeropress Competition Tricks to Try at Home
- Rinse the filter before adding the grounds
- Wet the grounds for a few seconds prior to pouring the majority of the water
- Press gently for varied amounts of time
- Don’t allow the unit to wheeze air – discard the slurry left behind
- Use soft mineral water
The best coffee flavors to come out of the Aeropress are ones where the coffee is ground to a fine or medium coarseness. This is equal to the size of normal table salt. Other than that, you can experiment with preparation to find a flavor that speaks to you.
Check out more of the best Aeropress coffee recipes below, as there are some fantastic ones to try out!