What’s The Ideal AeroPress Water Temperature?
What is the best water temperature to use for AeroPress coffee? What do the experts recommend? Is it the same temperature as pour over, drip, or French press coffee?
Of all the puzzles to confound the most important thinkers of our time — Chomsky, Foucault, that guy with the amazing hair from that Ancient Aliens TV show — none is as difficult to solve as the great AeroPress water temperature mystery.
Instead of wasting my time asking questions about the meaning of existence, or how realistic Stargate is, I’ve devoted my time (the past few hours) to investigating the ideal AeroPress temperature.
The (Original) Ideal Temperature
As many of you are no doubt aware, the ideal water temperature range for most coffee brews is 195–205°F (91–96°C), and that boiling water (215°F) should never be used.
These higher temperatures lead to a more full-bodied and flavorful coffee, as well as a release of the delicate aromas associated with a tasty brew. However, due to a higher rate of oxidation at these temperatures, coffee can begin to taste sour and bitter.
The general rule is that brewing below 195°F will not extract enough of the dissolvable solubles trapped in your coffee beans — resulting in a lighter, watery brew — and that using water over 205° will simply burn your brew.
What the Roasters Recommend
According to the fanatics over at Blue Bottle Coffee, the best temperature for AeroPress brewing is in the middle of the ideal range, right at 200°F. These guys use the inverted AeroPress method, with about a two minute brew time and intermittent stirring.
Another well trusted coffee authority, Seattle Coffee Works, recommends using slightly hotter water at 205°F, or what they call “just off the boil.” Although they use an inverted method, just like Blue Bottle, they only require about a minute of brew time, and not as much stirring.
Similar to Seattle Coffee Works, Stumptown Coffee Roasters recommends using water just off the boil; however, these guys use the classic AeroPress method with 1:15 of brew time.
Each of these recipes toys with an old rule of coffee brewing: the cooler your water, the longer the brew time. When you decrease the temperature of water — like with cold brew — you need to increase the brew time to ensure that the maximum amount of coffee solubles are dissolved.
What the Brewers Recommend
Now it’s time to throw a wrench into the gears! There are a surprising number of AeroPress experts, including its makers, who recommend using a temperature well below the ideal range.
In their recipe manual — as well as on their website — Aerobie, the makers of the AeroPress, suggest a brew temperature range of 175–185°F (80–85°C). They say that this temperature range results in “smooth, rich brews without the bitterness and acidity that come with using hot water.”
You can’t always trust the inventor to come up with the best use (after all, it wasn’t Aerobie that discovered the inverted method) but they may just be right about the temperature.
Unbeknownst to most is a hidden, back alley world where roasters from around the globe compete for the title of World AeroPress Champion (WAC). Although I’ve made this sound much more cryptic than it really is — just a bunch shaggy coffee nerds obsessively perfecting their recipes — it is real, and yes, it’s kind of a big deal.
If you take a look at the recipes for the 1st place winners for the past 5 consecutive years (why would you, because I’m obviously about to tell you) you will notice that they stay within a 167–185°F (75–85°C) range. According to the rules of the competition, each brew is blindly tasted and evaluated for “aroma, pleasant flavour, a prominent sweetness and balanced acidity, good body and pleasing aftertaste.”
Keeping in mind what I said about how temperature affects flavor, higher temperatures do result in more full-bodied brews, but can also lead to bitter and sour tastes. Additionally, in accordance to the “time vs. heat” mantra, the recipes of the World AeroPress Champions require a slightly longer brew time, with particular focus on slowing down the “pressing” stage.
The (New) Ideal Temperature
In addition to the highly sensitive taste buds of WAC’s judges, there is some science to support this new ideal temperature range. According to research by Ted R. Lingle, published in his The Coffee Brewing Handbook, there is a decrease in chlorogenic acids in lower brew temperatures. Nick Cho, from Wrecking Ball Coffee, notes that the best results for decreased chlorogenic acid levels was found at 158°F (70°C).
But what are chlorogenic acids, and how do they affect your brew? So as not to bore you with the chemistry, chlorogenic acids are found in most plants, and are positively associated with antioxidants. Although antioxidants are good for you, increased levels of chlorogenic acid in coffee can lead to bitter and sometimes metallic flavors.
Verdict - So Whats The Ideal Aeropress Temperature?
So, considering that there are so many different “ideal” AeroPress temperatures, what the hell did we just learn?
What we learned is: like your ridiculous(ly awesome) sense of style, it’s totally up to you and the sorts of flavors you prefer.
To make it easy for you, here is what to remember:
- Over 205°F (96°C) is too hot for anyone, unless you particularly enjoy your coffee burnt.
- 195–205°F (91–96°C) is a good range for a quick (no more than 2 minutes) brew. It will give you a bolder and more bitter cup of coffee, but may create some sour flavors as well.
- 167–185°F (75–85°C) is good for a slightly longer brew time and a slow press time. This temperature range will result in a sweeter and more balanced brew, but will contain less antioxidants.
If you have a question about the article, let me know in the comments below, and, if you liked the article, then don’t forget to share it with your friends!