How To Make An AeroPress Espresso
I’ve just woken up from a nap, I’ve got some work to do and I want something to help shake off the sleep still weighing down my eyelids. I want espresso but I don’t want to drive to the coffee shop to get it.
Unfortunately for the at-home barista, getting that first sip of espresso can be a costly endeavor.
Most espresso machines, including manual brewers, require a large upfront investment, more than us common folk would like to dish out. But thanks to the ever-unsatisfied community of DIY coffee brewers, a bypass to maxing out your credit card has been found.
With the magic of the AeroPress, it is now possible to have homemade espresso without dealing out cash like you’re in a 50 Cent music video.
So if you haven’t yet guessed, today I am going to show you how to make an Aeropress espresso!
What You’ll Need
You can get away with the minimum; an AeroPress, ground coffee and a tamp, however if you want a quality shot of espresso, grab all of the following:
#1 - An AeroPress (duh)
The first item you will need, without which this post would be totally irrelevant, is an AeroPress.
The AeroPress uses a pressure brew system - an absolute necessity for espresso - which uses your own muscles as the driving force.
For making coffee, the gadget is super easy to use, and, unlike the hulking espresso machines demanding so much counter-top space, the AeroPress, is small and inexpensive.
IMPORTANT: Oh - you'll need 2 filters for this exercise too.
#2 - A Great Burr Grinder
If you want great coffee, you need a grinder. There's no 2 ways about it.
You've got 2 options - manual or machine.
I prefer to use the Porlex Mini stainless steel grinder when im travelling. It's portable, easy to use and relatively inexpensive. It can also grind fine enough for espresso, which is critical for this tutorial.
If you're doing this at home, use your machine burr grinder as you'll have a better chance of getting your grind perfect.
Don't have a burr grinder yet?
No matter what you do; you should grind with a machine burr grinder instead of a blade grinder. A burr grinder allows for consistency and the ability to change grind size; which is extremely important, because espresso needs to be very finely ground.
#3 - Espresso Beans
Next you will need to pick out your favorite batch of espresso beans. Despite what your frugal grandpa (who always has a can of Folgers in his pantry) might think, there is a difference between normal coffee and espresso beans.
You can read more about the differences here, but to give a brief summary: espresso beans are typically a darker roast, and have a fuller bodied flavor, with very little acidity.
These dark roast Arabica beans by Koffee Kult are all the rave at the moment (for espresso based brews) - give them a shot!
#4 - A Scale
Another item you will need - and I do stress need - is an accurate scale. With other types of coffee, you can get away with eyeballing your measurements, but espresso is pretty sensitive to precision.
The AeroPress itself weighs about 180 grams, and you will need no more than 18 grams for a shot of espresso, so whatever scale you settle on, make sure it can handle all that.
#5 - A Thermometer
And speaking of precision, you should find yourself an accurate thermometer. Water temperature can have a significant impact on the taste of your brew, so it is important to avoid any high school perfected guesswork.
Typically, espresso is brewed between the 200-208ºF (94-98ºC) range. The higher the temperature the greater the extraction, as well as the less acidity and increased sweetness.
Here are a few more tips on achieving the right water temp when brewing with your AP.
Anything will do - nothing fancy required - something as simple as this little bad boy.
#6 - A Tamp
The next item you will need is an espresso tamper of sorts. The espresso tamper is the fancy, flat-headed weight you will see baristas using to compress espresso just before brewing.
Unfortunately, common espresso tampers are too small for the AeroPress, so you will have to get a little creative.
Pro Tip: Fortunately, many cylindrical, store-bought spice containers - which is what I use - fit just perfectly. So bust through your spice cabinet (or take your AeroPress for a little grocery shopping) to find your impromptu tamper. I'm using an old manual burr grinder in this tutorial - it does the job!
#7 - A Kettle
The last item in you will need is a kettle to heat and pour your water.
A gooseneck kettle, like the MIRA, make precise pouring (have I made it clear that precision is important?) a cinch, but you can use any kettle with a narrow spout.
Although I don’t recommend it, you can even use a simple stove pot if you have to. I’ve had to do it myself a few times, and with a steady hand it’ll get the job done.
The Step by Step Process: How to Make an Aeropress Espresso
Before we jump into the how-to, there is one more detail to share:
A traditional espresso requires at least 9 bars of pressure to make, and since it physically impossible for you (assuming you are a human) to create that much pressure using just your muscles, we will be creating a almost espresso.
Although the AeroPress method won’t get you all the way there, it will probably get you 95% of the way.
If you can't be F'ed reading the tutorial below, take 4 mins to watch this video tutorial by Cassey Faris. We go through exactly the same process:
Now that we’ve gotten that little disclaimer out of the way, and your patience for espresso is beginning to wear thin, it is time begin brewing.
Step 1: Grind your Beans
First things first - and this step is always first - it’s time to grind your little brown beauties!
For this tutorial, I am going to use 21 ish grams of espresso; which we want ground very fine, until it feels like a rough powder.
Like I said earlier, grind size is very important for espresso, so don’t be afraid to experiment a little with each brew.
Pro Tip: You are looking for a fine espresso grind. This point is critical. If you go too fine, the pressure will be too much and you will not be able to push your brew through. too coarse, and it will gush through. Either way, your coffee will SUCK. You may have to experiment with a few different grind sizes. I did.
Step 2: Setup you AeroPress & Add your Grounds
The second step is to prep your AeroPress. Start by placing one of the paper filters into the filter cap, and then pour a little hot water through the filter to warm it up, and get rid of any paper flavors.
Next, screw the cap onto the bottom of the AeroPress chamber and dump in your coffee grounds.
Step 3: Tamp the Grounds & Add Another Filter
After you’ve attached the filter cap, you will want to place a second filter on top of the grounds inside the chamber.
Wet the filter just a little with warm water and gently press it onto the bottom of your improvised espresso tamper.
Now, push the filter down onto the coffee grounds, using your tamper to compact the grounds. Then, twist and pull out the tamper, leaving the second filter on top of your puck of grounds, which will keep your grounds undisturbed.
Step 4: Add hot water....Gentle Now
Next, you want to heat your water somewhere within the range of 200-208ºF (94-98ºC), but the right temperature for you is dependent on your personal taste.
When your water reaches the desired temperature, slowly pour it over the puck of grounds in the chamber, filling the chamber to just above the “2”.
Step 5: Press Your Espresso
Unlike other AeroPress brew methods, you don’t have to wait for the grounds to steep when brewing espresso. As soon as you’re done pouring in the water, place the chamber on your mug and insert the plunger.
The final step is to push the plunger down into the puck of grounds at the bottom.
Position yourself with your shoulders over the AeroPress, with one hand keeping AeroPress in place and the other hand steadily pushing down the plunger. Keep pushing until you’ve squashed the puck as best you can.
If you've compacted your grinds too much, or if you've used a grind size that is too fine, you'll have trouble pressing. Its should be hard, but not so so hard that you feel like you need a can of good old Popeyes spinach.
Step 6: Make it yours
Finally, once you are finished squeezing out every milliliter of highly concentrated, caffeine-goodness, you can add whatever fixins’ you’d like to concoct your favorite, espresso style beverage.
If you prefer your espresso just as it is, then you, my friend, are done! So sit back and enjoy your very own homemade espresso!
What did you think of this tutorial?
As a homebrewer myself, I understand how difficult it can be to make good espresso without buying an expensive machine (although you can get something decent with as little as $300 these days).
The AeroPress espresso method is not only an inexpensive alternative, but also tasty and and easy to use. Give it a shot for yourself, and you may be surprised how well it works.
Let me know what you thought of the article in the comments below, and tell me your own espresso recipe.
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