Zeke’s Festivus Roast AeroPress

  • Beans: “Festivus Roast” (Indonesia/Central America/South America)
    • Dark roast (7/8)
    • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast date: 11/27/2023

Initial Recipe

  • JX: 2 turns (Grind setting 20)
  • 83°C brew water / 99°C bypass water
  • 20g coffee / 200g brew water + 50g bypass water (1:12.5)
  • Two paper filters, pre-moistened
  • Recipe: An AeroPress Recipe by Tim Wendelboe
  1. Set AeroPress up in standard orientation and rinse filters
  2. Add 200g water to AeroPress and return kettle to base
  3. Stir 3 times back to front
  4. Insert plunger and pull up to stop dripping
  5. Turn kettle up to 99°C
  6. Steep for 60 seconds
  7. Remove plunger and stir 3 times back to front again
  8. Insert plunger and press slowly
  9. Add 50g bypass water

Best Recipe

  • JX: Grind setting 16 (1.5 turns plus 3 clicks, or 48 total clicks)
  • 85°C brew water (no bypass)
  • 18g coffee / 225g brew water
  • Prismo with metal filter
  • Insulated mug (Hydro Flask or similar)
  1. Set AeroPress up in standard orientation and add ground coffee
  2. Start timer and add 225g water, finishing at around 0:35, and stir 4-5 times back to front
  3. Cover AeroPress to minimize heat loss (I set the plunger on top)
  4. Steep until around 2:10 (1 minute 35 seconds)
  5. Stir 4-5 times back to front again
  6. Insert plunger and press slowly (I use just enough pressure to keep the Prismo valve open)
  7. Put lid on mug immediately to retain heat

The “initial recipe” turned out really good the first time I brewed it. Compared to the pourover cups I’ve been making recently, it was smoother and had more of a chocolaty note to it. It makes me wonder if I can tweak the pourover recipe to get a similar result. I used a finer grind setting for the AeroPress, but I don’t think I’d want to go much finer with the pourover, as it already had a slight edge of bitterness. The AeroPress cup had no hint of bitterness at all. It definitely seemed stronger than the pourover (maybe a little too strong, actually 😀), so I’m wondering if the longer steep time leads to more bean extraction at the lower water temperature. I suppose that I if I wanted to reduce the caffeine hit, I could skip the bypass and brew 200g water with 16g coffee, but I liked that the hotter bypass water brought the cup up to (what I consider to be) an ideal drinking temperature. I’ll have to give this some thought.

12/6: The same recipe with 18g coffee (1:14) had similar flavor, but (predictably) less body. I think I’d be best off brewing a little bit less coffee at a stronger ratio. A few possibilities:

  1. 200g water with 16g coffee and no bypass
  2. 160g water with 16g coffee and 40g bypass (total 200g)
  3. 180g water with 18g coffee and 45g bypass (total 225g)

All 3 recipes keep a 1:12.5 ratio. #2 and #3 are identical to 12/5’s recipe, just with proportionally less water and coffee. I think I’m going to try #3 tomorrow.

12/7: I’m not sure why, but option #3 (from above) turned out really bad. It had no flavor at all, and had I not known better, I would have thought I was drinking hot water. Maybe I did something wrong, as it seems like simply reducing all of the quantities by 10% shouldn’t have that big of an effect. Whatever the case, I’m probably not going to try #2 or #3 again.

12/8: The same recipe that was great on 12/5 (20g coffee at grind setting 20, 200g brew water at 83°, 50g bypass at 99°) was not good today. It was marginally better than yesterday’s, but still watery and lacking in flavor. Not sure what the reason is for the inconsistency. I thought perhaps that yesterday I had forgotten to tighten the filter cap on the AeroPress, but that was not the issue today. I don’t think there was much variation in my brewing technique, so I’m a little bit perplexed.

12/9: Decided to shake things up today: 18g coffee at grind setting 15, 200g brew water at 83°, 25g bypass at 99°. This is a much finer grind and a lower ratio of bypass to brew water. Due to the fine grind, there was less initial drip-through, and more plunging resistance. I pressed very slowly, backing off at any hint of back-pressure. This was a much better cup than either of the previous two. I guess the finer grind was the difference-maker, but it doesn’t explain why the first two cups at grind setting 20 were good, but the next two were under-extracted.

12/12: I’ve been brewing the 12/9 recipe for a few days now, and the main issue is that the coffee cools too fast after brewing, even when I brew it into an insulated Hydro Flask mug. I may try nudging the water temperature up closer to 90 to see what happens. If it ends up tasting bitter, I can make the grind slightly coarser.

12/13 and 12/14: I picked up a Fellow Prismo this week, mainly because I wanted to be able to brew “drip free” without having to invert the AeroPress. Yesterday, I brewed with 18g coffee at grind setting 20, 200g brew water at 85°, and 25g bypass water at boiling. It definitely had a different flavor from the same recipe brewed with the standard cap and filter. It had more of a smooth mouthfeel, but maybe not quite as strong. No hint of bitterness. Today, I tried 17g coffee at grind setting 20, 200g brew water at 90°, and no bypass. The cup stayed hot longer, but the taste had a little bit of bitterness to it. I am going to continue playing around with the Prismo over the next several days, and see if I can get something dialed in. (Note– did I actually use setting 20? Had been using 15 since 12/9).

12/15: 200g brew water at 85°, 20g coffee at grind setting 15 (confirmed), 25g bypass water at boiling. I meant to brew this at 1:12.5, but mistakenly used 250g as the divisor, and thus ended up at 1:11.25. Regardless, for whatever reason, this cup was watery and flavorless. The common thread among the bad cups I’ve gotten seems to be the 1:10 brew ratio. I found a really good article that discusses the relationship between water and coffee volume and how it affects strength vs extraction. It’s the best, most succinct write-up on the subject that I’ve found. In a nutshell, (more coffee with the same water volume) == (more strength but less extraction [flavor]). This would seem to explain why the coffee tastes better when I brew 18g coffee to 200g water, vs 20g to 200g. The article recommends dialing in the strength first, then adjusting extraction by varying grind size, temperature, and/or immersion time.

12/16: 200g brew water at 85° (overshot slightly, so probably more like 205g), 18g coffee at grind setting 16. I also added a (dry) paper filter in front of the metal Prismo filter. I steeped from 0:35 until around 2:05 (including the initial stir), which is about 30 seconds longer than I had previously been steeping. I stirred in a back-and-forth motion and pressed slowly. This was much, much better than yesterday’s cup. I tried it with no bypass water initially, but it was too strong, so I added around 20g which brought it to probably about 1:12.5. I think that the combination of lower ratio of coffee to brew water, plus longer steep time, led to better extraction. I’m not sure if the paper filter made any difference — I added it mainly to see if it would help with cleanup, but it was kind of a push. It saved me having to rinse off the metal filter, but I still had to shake the two out of the Prismo cap and pry them apart, which isn’t really any less messy.

12/17: Brewed the same recipe as yesterday, and got another very good cup. For the record, the exact steep time after finishing the pour was 1 minute 35 seconds (0:35 until 2:10). I left out the paper filter this time, and did not notice much difference. The longer steep time seems to be the big difference-maker with this recipe.

12/19: Decided to try brewing with the full amount of 225g water (at 85°) and no bypass. I kept everything else the same (18g coffee at grind setting 16, 1 minute 35 second steep time, slow press). I think this turned out a little better than brewing with 200g water + 25g bypass. However, it’s definitely important to use an insulated mug to keep the coffee from cooling too quickly.

12/22: Used up the last of the beans. I’ll likely use “best recipe” (above) as a starting point for the next dark roast I buy, and see how it turns out.