Zeke’s BirdSong

  • Beans: “Bird Song” from Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast level: Medium/Dark (6/8)
    • Origin: Central and South America
    • Roast date: 4/15/24
    • Purchase date: 4/22/24 at Green Valley Marketplace in Elkridge, MD
  • AeroPress:
    • 21-22g coffee / 250g water (1:11 to 1:12)
    • JX: 15 (45 clicks)
    • Water at 85°C
    • Prismo with metal and paper filters
    • Pour all 250g and stir 5-6x; cover and steep until 3:00; stir 5-6x; press slowly

I brewed the first few cups at 95°C. For a couple of them, I included a 45-second bloom step and steeped until 3:00; for a couple others, I skipped the bloom and steeped until 2:30. I didn’t notice much of a difference. The cups were a tiny bit on the bitter side, but not enough to be unpleasant. There was no acidity and not much in the way of complexity — more or less what you would expect from a darker roast, and not bad, but nothing to write home about, either. This afternoon, I dropped the temperature to 85°, and it made a big difference. The bitterness was gone, and the cup was rich and full-bodied. I’ll keep brewing it like this for the time being. I bet that this would also make really good French press coffee.

5/2: The past couple days’ cups were starting to taste a little bitter (right around 2 weeks past roast date), so I backed the grind off to 20 this morning. It would probably be good at anywhere from 18-20. The only issue I have with coffee brewed at 85°C is that sometimes it cools off more than I would like. Cooler cups can be good in the summertime, but a few options for a warmer cup would be:

  • Preheat the mug using water from the insta-hot or leftover hot water in the kettle. The former bothers me because it seems like it wastes water and energy. The latter seems inconvenient with the AeroPress, because once the water is heated, the brewer sits on top of the mug, unless I brew with it inverted.
  • Use an insulated mug instead of ceramic
  • Brew a stronger ratio and then dilute with hot water

5/5: I used the last of these up today. I settled on setting 19 for my last several cups, and they were pretty good.

Verona St Julien’s Breakfast Blend

  • Beans: Julien’s Breakfast Blend from Verona Street Coffee (Dubuque, IA)
    • Origin: Central America / Indonesia
    • Roast level: medium to medium/dark (3/5 per web site)
    • Purchase date: 3/20/24 at Hy-Vee Grocery Store in Omaha, NE
  • AeroPress in hotel room:
    • 1 heaping AeroPress-sized scoop beans plus “a little more” (18-20g)
    • JX Grind Setting 20 (60 clicks)
    • Prismo with 1 paper filter and metal filter
    • Heat water to boiling in microwave
    • Start timer and pour enough to wet grounds
    • Stir and let sit for 45 seconds
    • Top up to about 1/2″ below top of AeroPress chamber
    • Stir front to back 5 or 6 times
    • Steep until 3:00
    • Stir front to back 5 or 6 times
    • Press slowly
  • AeroPress with measurements:
    • 18g coffee
    • 250g water at 95°C (ratio 1:13.9)
    • 50g initial pour
    • Everything else same as above
  • Tasting notes: roasty, smooth, full-bodied

I bought a 12oz bag of these beans at the beginning of our NCAA Tournament trip to Omaha. There was no roast date listed on the bag. The web site lists the origins as Central America and Indonesia, and the roast level as 3 out of 5. I’d definitely call this a medium/dark roast, based on the appearance of the beans (dark and oily), as well as the aroma and taste. My first cup at grind setting 15 was bitter, so I backed off a half turn to 20, and the subsequent cups have been pretty smooth and tasty, in spite of inexact brewing parameters and hotel room tap water. It will be interesting to compare when I get home and try them with the V60.

3/26: I brewed an AeroPress cup at home today, using the same technique I used at the hotel, with more precise measurements (see above). The flavor and strength were similar to the hotel room cups, but I think it was slightly better overall, probably due to higher brewing temperature and/or better water quality (filtered vs straight from the tap). I may end up just brewing all of these beans with the AeroPress, as I like how the cups are turning out, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

3/31: For the past 2 or 3 days, I’ve been brewing 300g cups with grind setting 20, 21-22g coffee, and 250g brew water at 95C (about the max that will fit in the AeroPress) and then diluting with 50g of bypass water. The cups have tasted similar to the earlier ones I’ve brewed, so this seems like a good way to get a larger cup.

4/8: I brewed my last 12g of beans with 120g water (1:10) using the same AeroPress recipe I’ve used all along, except I skipped the bloom step and just poured all of the water at once. I really liked the result — it was strong, rich, and smooth, and just about the right amount. I think a larger cup would have worn out its welcome — kind of like an imperial stout, a little bit of really strong coffee goes a long way. I’m not sure how widely available this brand is at retail outside of Nebraska/Iowa, but I’d certainly buy it again.

Travel Brewing

Last week, I took my first stab at brewing decent coffee while traveling. Here’s what I packed:

  • AeroPress, plus:
    • scoop
    • stirring paddle
    • several paper filters
    • Prismo accessory with metal filter
  • 1Zpresso JX hand grinder
  • Zeke’s Snow Day Blend beans (in a mason jar)

I put all of this into my checked bag. TBD is whether I’ll be able to fit all of this into carry-on bags. Glaringly absent: a scale, a mug, and a way to heat water. I measured beans by volume using the scoop. To heat the water, I used drip coffee machines at three different hotels, and a Keurig at the house where I stayed the final two nights. I used bottled water in the hotel rooms, and tap water with the Keurig. I was a little bit worried that the typical paper hotel room coffee cups wouldn’t hold up to brewing with the AeroPress, but they worked just fine (granted, I didn’t press very hard).

Figuring that the coffee machines wouldn’t get the water quite up to full boil, I went with a medium roast. I could probably have used a darker roast as well. For a light roast, I’d probably want access to a stove or microwave to bring the water to full boil.

To brew, I used a medium/fine setting of 15 on the JX, which is 1.5 turns. I used 1 heaping scoop of beans plus “a little more”, depending on how strong I wanted the coffee. I used a paper filter in addition to the metal Prismo filter. I then added the grounds, heated 1 paper coffee cup full of water in the machine, and filled the AeroPress up enough to cover the beans, stirred, and bloomed for 45 seconds. I then filled the AP up to near the top. No need to use two cups for this, as the Prismo keeps the water from leaking out (lacking a Prismo, I could probably also have inverted the AP). Then I stirred back-to-front a few times, steeped until around 3:00 (using my phone as a timer), stirred again, and pressed slowly. The resulting coffee was not bad. It was not quite as good as a perfect pour-over cup, but it was well-flavored and well-bodied, and fairly consistent from day to day. I’ll likely try this again the next time I travel.

Orinoco Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

  • Beans: “Ethiopia Yirgacheffe”
    • Medium roast
    • Roaster: Orinoco Coffee & Tea, Ltd. (Jessup, MD)
    • Roast date: Unknown (best by 10/28/24)
    • Purchase date: 2/20/24
  • 20g coffee / 300g water (1:15)
  • JX: 30 (90 clicks) for V60; 13 (39 clicks) for AeroPress
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover, Light/Medium Roast AeroPress (TBD)

Taking some time to get this dialed in with the V60. I started at grind setting 20, and it was way too bitter. I brewed a couple of cups around 25/26, and they were less bitter, but still lacking. I backed off to 30 today (2/23) and it was the best cup so far, but seems like it could be better. The V60 drains really quickly at this setting: it is mostly finished by 2:30.

For AeroPress, I used this recipe with 250g water, 17g coffee, and grind setting 13. The flavor was good, but it was a little bit lacking in body, so I’ll start nudging it finer.

2/24: Brewed AeroPress with grind setting 12 this morning, and it was unpleasantly bitter, which kind of surprised me, given how it turned out at 13 yesterday. This afternoon, I brewed V60 at setting 29, which seemed a little better than 30. Will try at 28 tomorrow.

2/25 (morning): (V60) bitterness creeping in at 28. Seems like 29/30 may be the best setting. Could this be an issue with the beans being too “fresh” again? I wish I knew the exact roast date..

2/25 (afternoon): Went back to setting 29 with V60, and it was the best cup I’ve had to date. The only difference from yesterday afternoon’s cup was that I stirred the grounds with a spoon during the bloom phase instead of swirling.

2/27: Even 30 was bitter yesterday!! 32 was better today, but thinking 31 might be the sweet spot (today, at least 😀). This was the first time I had ever used a setting coarser than 30. These beans are behaving similarly to the last two bags of Zeke’s beans that I started brewing just a couple of days after the roast date. This lends credence to my theory that they may have been too “fresh” when I started brewing them.

3/1: I never quite figured out how to get a consistently good cup with these beans with the V60. However, I brewed a very good cup with the AeroPress this morning: 17g beans to 240g water (around 1:14), Prismo + metal and paper filters, 95°C water, JX grind setting 15 — pour 50-55g, stir, bloom until 0:45, top to 240g, stir 4x, steep until 3:00, stir 4x, press slowly. This cup was full-bodied and strong, with good flavor. That was the last of the beans, but noting this as a good starting point for when I eventually buy more of them.

Rise Up Organic House Roast AeroPress

  • Bean info and V60 pourover notes
  • 16 to 17g coffee to 250g water (around 1:15)
  • Prismo with metal and paper filters
  • Grind setting 12 14
  • Water temperature 95C
  • Add coffee, start timer, pour 45 to 50g water
  • Return kettle to base, stir to wet grounds evenly, and bloom until 0:45 (I just left the stirrer in the AP for this step)
  • Top to 250g water and stir front to back 4 or 5 times, finishing around 1:15
  • Cover and steep until 3:15
  • Stir front to back 4 or 5 times again
  • Press gently, finishing around 4:30

This is pretty much the same technique I used with Zeke’s Hippie Blend (a light roast) recently, except I stirred instead of swirling during the bloom step, and I also steeped it about 45 seconds longer. This cup was not bad, but tasted slightly over-extracted, so I’m probably going to want to grind the beans a little bit coarser next time. I’m thinking about trying setting 14.

2/8: I’m almost out of the beans, but noting for posterity that setting 14 was pretty good. I didn’t steep quite as long (maybe until 3:05) but doubt that made any difference.

Zeke’s Hippie Blend AeroPress

  • 16 to 17g coffee to 250g water (around 1:15)
  • Prismo with metal and paper filters
  • Grind setting 18
  • Boiling water (100C)
  • Add coffee, start timer, pour 45 to 50g water
  • Return kettle to base, Swirl AP gently, and bloom until 0:45
  • Top to 250g water and stir 4 or 5 times, finishing around 1:15
  • Cover and steep until 2:30
  • Stir 4 or 5 times again
  • Press gently, finishing around 3:30-3:40

This made a pretty good cup. It had no bitterness, and the body and flavor actually seemed better than the pourovers I have been making recently with these beans. I wonder if the cooler ambient air temperature this time of year is affecting the extraction of the pourovers.

I had been wanting to get back to occasionally brewing lighter roasts in the AeroPress, since I’ll likely be doing it a lot while traveling, where I won’t have precise control over the temperature of the water, or access to a scale. This seems like a good first stab. The recipe is very similar to what I’ve been using for dark roasts, but adds a bloom step. I used the scoop that came with my plastic V60 dripper to measure the beans, and also weighed them, and it seems that 16-17 grams translates to one slightly heaping scoop of beans. I’ll have to try this with a couple of different light roasts to see how much variance there is between them. Then, I’ll just need a way to eyeball the amount of water, and I expect that I can use the markings on the AeroPress cylinder for that. The Prismo definitely makes this easier, as it keeps the water from dripping out through the filter without the need to invert the AP.

1/21: I brewed the same recipe today with Zeke’s Holiday Roast (a medium roast) except I dropped the water temperature to 95C. It produced a perfectly OK cup that was neither better nor worse than my V60 cups. I have a feeling it would benefit from a little bit of tweaking, but as I’m almost out of the beans, I’ll likely just go back to V60 to use them up.

Peet’s Major Dickason’s AeroPress

  • Beans: “Major Dickason’s Blend” (Latin America/Indo-Pacific)
    • Dark roast
    • Roaster: Peet’s Coffee (Emeryville, CA)
    • Roast date: 11/19/2023
  • Dark Roast AeroPress Recipe
    • JX grind setting: 11 to 12 (33 to 36 clicks)
    • Water temperature: 85°C
    • Steep time: 1:35
    • Ratio: 1:12.5 (20g coffee, 250g water)
    • Prismo with metal filter and 1 paper filter
    • Go easy on the stirring (3x or so before and after steeping)

I initially brewed these yesterday at grind setting 16, but it tasted a little bit watery/under-extracted. I tried again today using grind setting 15, and it was quite good. Some “fines” definitely make it into the cup at this setting, which doesn’t bother me, but if it did, I could add a paper filter to get rid of them.

12/30: Decided to experiment today and see how much stirring really affects extraction, as I’ve read in various places that more stirring == more extraction. I stirred at least 10 times at both the beginning and the end of the steep period. The result was a really watery and lifeless cup, which is not what I had been expecting. After the fact, I realized that I had used grind setting 16 instead of 15, which kind of invalidates the experiment. It does prove that no amount of stirring is going to make up for the grind being too coarse. It also makes me wonder if I should try grinding finer than 15. Not sure if I’ll try that tomorrow, or try the stirring experiment again.

12/31: Went to grind setting 14 and back to just 4-5 stirs. Kind of a weird cup, where the first half tasted full-bodied and pretty good, but the second half seemed like it had less flavor. I’ve noticed this phenomenon a few times before, particularly with darker roasted beans, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the coffee cooling down as I drink it, or my own taste buds getting desensitized, or both, or neither. It could be that the beans are past their prime, in which case I may have hit the point of diminishing returns. However, it seems that I’ve used grind settings as low as 12 with dark roasts in the past, so I will likely try to go a little finer next time and see what happens.

1/1/24: Grind setting 13 was an improvement over 14. Interestingly, the first sip had a slightly watery mouthfeel, but the rest of the cup was pretty nicely balanced, which is the exact opposite of what I noted yesterday. Once again, I’m not sure how much of it is related to temperature vs palate. Could probably go even finer if I wanted to..

1/2: Grind setting 12 today. This was a little better still than 13, at least until the last third of the cup, when I started noticing some bitterness. This cup also had noticeably more sludge in it. I may try adding a paper filter tomorrow, to see if filtering the sludge out eliminates the bitterness.

1/3: Kept grind setting 12 and added a paper filter on top of the metal Prismo filter. Good cup with no bitterness at the end and no sludge. I think I might brew the rest of the beans this way, unless I get the urge to tinker some more.

1/5: This was still good at grind setting 11. I wonder how fine I can grind these before they start getting bitter…

1/9: Grind setting 11, stirred a little bit more than usual (maybe 7 times or so back and forth before and after steeping). This cup tasted kind of like burnt ashes. Is this what over-extracted dark roast coffee tastes like?

1/10: Used setting 11.3 (34 total clicks). I added 1 click on a whim, but I doubt it’s enough to tell a difference from 11. Didn’t stir much this time — 3 rather leisurely back-and-forth stirs before and after steeping. This ended up being the best cup I’ve brewed so far. It was good, with no burnt-coffee taste, and the entire cup was consistent (no mysterious loss of flavor halfway through). Could the stirring (or lack thereof) really contribute that much to the flavor? Unfortunately, I only have 30g of beans left to experiment with, so I’ll have to pick this back up with the next dark roast I buy.

1/12 or 1/13: Used up the last of these. I got the best cups using a grind setting of 11 to 12, going easy on the stirring, and using a paper filter in front of the metal Prismo filter, so I’ve updated the recipe accordingly. Incidentally, I ended up with 8 grams of beans left, which was not enough for a full cup, so I brewed it at 1:10 (80 grams water) and added it to some hot chocolate. It was quite tasty!

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.

Zeke’s Harvest Moon AeroPress

I had not used my AP in a couple of months, so I decided to dust it off today:

  • Beans: “Harvest Moon” medium roast (Indonesia/South Asia)
    • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast date: 10/30/2023
  • JX: 2 turns (Grind setting 20)
  • 96°C water
  • 15 grams coffee / 200 grams water (1:13.3)
  • 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
  3. Stir 3 times back to front
  4. Insert plunger and pull up to stop dripping
  5. Steep for 60 seconds
  6. Remove plunger and stir 3 times back to front again
  7. Insert plunger and press slowly

This recipe is actually very similar to one I tried back in September with a different batch of medium-roasted beans. According to my notes, that cup tasted “thin bodied”. Today’s cup, however, was pretty good. Here are the main differences:

  • 95°C water in Sept., vs 96° today
  • One paper filter in Sept., vs 2 today
  • Grind setting 18 in Sept., vs 20 today — September’s was slightly finer
  • Beans 10.5 weeks past roast date (vs 2.5 weeks)

The single biggest difference here was bean freshness. It’s possible that September’s beans may have been starting to get a little stale. Anyhow, I’ll probably try another cup using these beans with this recipe, and see if it turns out similarly to today’s.

I’m hoping to work the AP back into my “rotation” a little bit more frequently, as I’m considering using it as an option for making coffee while traveling. The idea would be to dial a recipe in for a light to medium roast, figure out the quantities of water and coffee used (to eliminate the need for a scale), and pre-grind enough beans for my trip. Then I would pack the AeroPress and ground coffee, and in theory, all I’d need at my destination would be a way to boil water.

11/22: After a slightly bitter cup a couple of days ago, I dropped the water temperature to 90° today and the resulting cup wasn’t bad. Setting 20 is on the coarse side of the “AeroPress range” on the 1Zpresso grind chart, so I might try it a little bit finer next time, just to see what happens.

11/25: I’m currently still at 90°, which seems to work well. Yesterday, I used grind setting 19, and today I tried 18, both of which have been good, with today’s maybe slightly better, although the difference is subtle, and as I’m tasting the cups 24 hours apart, also could be somewhat subjective. I think I’ll just keep nudging it finer and finer until it starts to taste over-extracted, at which point I’ll know it’s making a difference. 😀 I do think that I should probably start using an insulated mug when brewing at lower temperatures this time of year, as today’s cup cooled off very quickly in my ceramic mug, in spite of my having preheated it.

11/26: I think we are finally hitting the point of diminishing returns at grind setting 17. It was still a reasonably good cup, but with a slight hint of bitterness. So, the ideal setting would seem to be 18, or possibly one of the two positions between 18 and 17.

After-dinner brew

  • Beans: “Cold Brew Blend” medium roast (Guatemala/Colombia) from Local Coffee Roasting Co. in Roxana, DE
  • 17g coffee / 250g water (1:14.7)
  • JX: 2 rotations (20 on the grind chart / 60 total clicks)
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: A Better 1 Cup V60 Technique (see below)
  1. Preheat V60, pre-moisten filter, add coffee, and tare scale
  2. Make small indentation in center of coffee grounds
  3. 0:00: Pour 55g of water to bloom, then return kettle to base
  4. 0:10 – 0:15: Gently Swirl
  5. 0:45 – 1:00: Pour up to 100g total (40% total weight)
    • Hold kettle for the remainder of the brewing process
  6. 1:10 – 1:20: Pour up to 150g total (60% total weight)
  7. 1:30 – 1:40: Pour up to 200g total (80% total weight)
  8. 1:50 – 2:00: Pour up to 250g total (100% total weight)
  9. 2:00 – 2:05: Gently swirl
  10. Drawdown finished around 2:45

This cup was just about perfect — full-flavored, well-balanced, and well-extracted. It’s the same recipe that I brewed a few days ago. I added a few extra details here to try to document what I did as closely as possible. I find that I really prefer holding the kettle over returning it to the base after each pour. It makes the whole process seem more smooth and fluid, and I doubt that it makes much difference with regards to the water temperature. It does make me wonder if the volume of water in the kettle has any effect on the resulting brew (the more water in the kettle, the greater its thermal mass, so the longer it will hold its temperature) but I think that’s getting to the point of splitting hairs.

I do wonder why all of my AeroPress brews lately have been weak. Everything I read says it’s because the coffee is ground too coarse, the water temperature is too low, the steep time is too short, etc., but I’ve tried adjusting all of those, and the brew is still weak. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I know it wouldn’t be weak if I brewed it at 1:10, but I feel like I shouldn’t have to — this evening’s pourover was fantastic at 1:15, and my French press cups are good at 1:13 to 1:14. To add to the confusion, it wasn’t too long ago that I was consistently brewing good cups in the AeroPress at 1:14, with different beans that are long gone now. I haven’t been able to replicate that success with any of my other beans. If I have to brew at 1:10, then I don’t see the point of using the AeroPress when I can get the same results with pourover using less coffee. I expect I’ll eventually sort this out, but in the meantime, it sure is vexing.