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.

Latest AP Attempt

After a few days of dodging it, we finally got a significant, torrential rainstorm last night. It poured for a couple of hours and I suspect we got 2-3″ of rain (one of these days, I need to buy a rain gauge, so I’ll know for sure). It was the first real test for our new driveway trench drainage system, and it seemed to go fine, as we had no water in the basement except for wetness behind the bar, which is a known issue. In theory, the drain should keep a lot of water from reaching the sump pump on the east end of the house, so the pump should not run as often any more. In practice, the jury is still out. The pump still runs occasionally, but I need to hang around it for a while during a heavy rainstorm to get a better sense for how often it runs now. Last night, I rode the storm out in bed. This morning, I rode to work through Patapsco Valley State Park, and the only evidence of flooding I saw was on the road near the parking for Lost Lake and the Grist Mill trailhead, which is a common trouble spot. No issues on the trail itself — the new bridges seem to be working great. Overall, the trail (and the park in general) was in much better shape than it would have been a few years ago after a similar rainfall event.

Here was this morning’s AeroPress experiment:

  • Beans: “Cold Brew Blend” medium roast (Guatemala/Colombia) from Local Coffee Roasting Co. in Roxana, DE
  • JX: 2 turns minus 6 clicks (Grind setting 18)
  • 95°C water
  • 17 grams coffee / 220 grams water (1:13)
  • One new paper filter (pre-moistened)
  1. Set AeroPress up in standard orientation and add coffee
  2. Add all water at once, spinning brewer to wet coffee while pouring, ending by around 0:10
  3. Stir several times
  4. Insert plunger, then pull up to create a vacuum
  5. At 1:15, remove the plunger and stir several times again
  6. Re-insert the plunger and press gently, finishing between 1:50 and 2:00

This recipe comes from, and is similar to the instructions that ship with the AeroPress. There are small, likely negligible differences in the amount of coffee and the water temperature, but the main difference is that this recipe adds a little bit of stirring right before pressing. I didn’t zero my scale until I had already poured a little bit of water, so the total volume may have been off a little bit, but I suspect not enough to really matter. I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record, but this brew was similar to the last several I’ve done in the AP: the flavor was fine, but the body was thin. The quest for fuller-bodied AeroPress coffee will continue, but I may take a break and go back to pourover for a little while.

Another Monday

  • Beans: “Cold Brew Blend” medium roast (Guatemala/Colombia) from Local Coffee Roasting Co. in Roxana, DE
  • JX: 2 turns plus 6 clicks (Grind setting 22)
  • 90°C water
  • 13 grams coffee / 180 grams water (about 1:14)
  • One new paper filter (pre-moistened)
  • Recipe: 13g that makes you happy (inverted: add 30g water, stir 5x, top up to 180g at 0:30, stir 5x, flip at 1:30 and press very slowly, finishing at 2:30)

First stab at brewing a (hot) cup with these beans in the AeroPress. This is a recipe I’ve used quite a few times before, but recently, I’ve been using more coffee than the recipe calls for, in an effort to get richer-tasting cups. Based on my experience with pourover, I think there should be a way to achieve this without using so much coffee. Today, I went back to a 1:14 ratio, which is what the recipe calls for. According to my notes, I have previously used a JX grind setting of 24 or 25 (around 2.5 turns) every time I’ve brewed this recipe. For today’s cup, I went with 22, which is a lot finer, and similar to what I’ve been using for a lot of my pourovers. This cup was not bad overall — it still was not quite as rich as a pourover at the same ratio, but it wasn’t weak, either, and had no bitter or sour notes. One thing I have noticed with these inverted AeroPress recipes is that after steeping for a while and then flipping, a bunch of coffee grounds frequently end up stuck to the plunger. I could prevent this by briefly stirring right before flipping, or by flipping immediately after the initial stir and letting it steep in the “standard” orientation. I might try one or both of these next time, just to see if it makes any difference.

I had a fairly routine bike commute to the office this morning. I woke up at 5:30 to another pre-dawn deluge, but it cleared out of the area in time for me to get out of the house on time. I have found that 7:20 is the absolute latest I can get rolling if I don’t want to deal with foot and bus traffic for the nearby middle school. If it had rained much longer, I likely would have ended up telecommuting. The Patapsco River was running higher and faster than I had seen it all summer, and a lot of the little feeder streams were really raging. The areas to the west of us have gotten hammered with rain over the past few days, and this morning’s downpour hit those areas as well.

Update (9/12): I brewed the same AeroPress recipe again, slightly finer (grind setting 21) and I flipped right after filling to 180g and stirring. It made no discernible difference. If anything, it tasted slightly weaker — again, not unpleasant, just lacking in body. I did notice that, while the plunger started out clean, grounds started getting stuck to it as I was plunging. So, it appears that the issue isn’t that they get stuck there during steeping, but more so that they just accumulate there while plunging. Seems like this would be unavoidable, and given that the finished product wasn’t an improvement, there’s no need to use a different technique from the recipe. I may try one more AeroPress experiment with these beans (not sure exactly what yet) and then I’ll just switch back to pourover to use them up.

Brew #2

Round 2 with the same beans as yesterday:

  • Beans: “Angel Albino Corzo-Chiapa” medium roast (Mexico)
  • Grind: Medium-coarse – 2.5 turns on the JX minus (25 on the grind chart, or 75 total clicks)
  • 90°C water
  • 16 grams coffee / 180 grams water (1:11.25)
  • One new paper filter (pre-moistened)
  • Recipe: 13g that makes you happy (inverted: add 40g water, stir 5x, top up to 180g at 0:30, stir 10x, flip at 1:30 and press very slowly, finishing at 2:30)

This turned out similarly to yesterday’s cup. The flavor was fine, and while it was a tiny bit stronger (in line with the slight difference in ratios) and overall a pleasant cup, it was still a little bit weaker tasting than I would prefer. So, not much difference between the two recipes, at least when it comes to the finished product. I feel like I’m going to end up at 1:10 again, which tasted really good with a dark roast, but seems kind of like overkill. Based on an interesting Reddit thread I found, I think as an experiment, I’m going to try the following, not necessarily in this order, and see what I end up with:

  • One of these two AeroPress recipes at 1:12 to 1:15, with a very fine grind
  • Pourover using 20 grams of coffee with 250 grams of water and a similar grind to my previous pourover cups

If neither of these do the job for me, then I’ll break down and try 1:10.

Brew and Run

Got a bunch of medium roast coffee beans to use up before I resupply. Here was this morning’s attempt:

  • Beans: “Angel Albino Corzo-Chiapa” medium roast (Mexico)
  • Grind: Fine – 1.5 turns on the JX minus 6 clicks (13 on the grind chart, or 39 total clicks)
  • 95°C water
  • 16-17 grams coffee / 200 grams water (around 1:12)
  • One new paper filter (dry)
  • James Hoffmann’s Ultimate Aeropress Recipe (20 second pour, 2 minute steep, swirl, wait 30 seconds, press 30 seconds)

This is essentially the same thing I brewed about six weeks ago, with slightly hotter water and a little bit more coffee. The result was similar to last time: just fine flavor-wise, but lacking in body. I guess I could try grinding even finer, or I could try my go-to inverted recipe again, although that attempt also yielded a thin-bodied cup. Maybe I’d get better results with pourover or French press. I’ll figure it out one way or another.

I left the house at 7:10 this morning and ran a little over 7.5 miles. It was not a bad run on yet another damp, overcast, humid morning. Similar to yesterday’s bike commute, I wanted to get a sense for how the bell schedules for all of the local schools will affect my route. Verdict: unless I wait until after 9:15, I’m going to be dodging kids in one place or another. 7:10 worked out OK, but there may be another window between 8:00 and 8:20ish that may work out. I may try leaving around then on Thursday.

Cold Brew Redux

I made some cold brew at dinnertime today, with the same recipe I’ve been using for most of the summer, and decided to measure the quantity of water used so that I can double the recipe more easily and accurately. Here’s the latest recipe. Note that a “scoop” refers to the scoop that comes with the AeroPress.

  1. Set AeroPress up in inverted orientation and add 1 heaping scoop of drip-grind coffee
  2. Add 200 to 220 grams room-temperature water (enough to fill AeroPress to about 1cm of the top)
  3. Stir vigorously for 1 minute
  4. Flip and press into a glass tumbler (30 seconds)
  5. Add 2-3 ice cubes and a few drops of stevia to taste
  6. Stir and serve

Doubled recipe:

  1. Set AeroPress up in inverted orientation and add 2 heaping scoops of drip-grind coffee
  2. Fill AeroPress with room-temperature water to 1cm from top and note how much was added by weight
  3. Stir vigorously for 1 minute
  4. Flip and press into a tall glass, small pitcher, or carafe
  5. Top up to a total of 400-440 grams of water
  6. Add several drops of stevia to taste
  7. Stir, pour into tumblers, add ice, and serve

I’m still using Wellsley Farms Breakfast Blend pre-ground coffee to make this, but I’m almost out of it. Once it’s gone, I’ll try it with some Maxwell House Original Roast that we have in the cabinet.

Pourover vs AeroPress

I’ve brewed the same light roast coffee beans with the same pourover method four times now, and the results have been fairly consistent — good cups that could probably be a little bit better. Today, for comparison, I went back to my AeroPress, using a recipe I had tried once before with these beans. Other than the brewing method, the main differences were that I used a slightly coarser grind with the AeroPress (2.5 turns on the JX vs 2 for pourover) and also a little bit higher ratio (1:14 vs 1:16.67). Both cups seemed good strength-wise. The AeroPress cup was stronger, but the pourovers weren’t thin or weak tasting. They did have more of a noticeable fruity/acidic taste than the AeroPress cup. I think, overall, the AeroPress cup was a little bit better, but I’m curious to see what happens if I try the pour-over with a different grind size. I’m just not sure whether to try it coarser or finer.


I’m getting to the end of the bag of dark roast coffee beans that I bought in Shepherdstown this past May. I have been using this recipe with them for the past week or so, and it produces a consistently good cup, but maybe just a tiny bit weak at 1:13 (which I find interesting, because the original recipe has a ratio of 1:16.5). Just as an experiment, I decided to brew it with 20 grams of coffee to 200 grams of water, or 1:10. I used around 58-60g water for the initial pour-and-swirl. The result was very bold and very good… probably the best cup I’ve brewed with the beans. I have enough left to make one last cup at this strength, but now I’m wishing I had more!

This experience begs the question of why I need to use so much coffee to get the taste I like, when almost every recipe I see uses less coffee per volume of water. It could be because the coffee is maybe a little past its shelf life. It could also be a dark roast phenomenon. I remember reading or seeing somewhere (I suspect it was a James Hoffmann video) that there’s less “good stuff” to extract from dark-roasted beans, so you have to grind them more coarsely and brew at lower temperatures to avoid extracting “bad stuff”, but this can result in a weak-tasting cup at low ratios. The recommendation was to use more coffee for a bolder taste, and that certainly mirrors my experience. However, there are a lot of “dark roast” specific AeroPress recipes floating around that use fine grinds and rather low ratios of coffee to water. I’ve tried a few of them, and they all taste weak to me, so I’m wondering what I’m missing. Maybe I just like bolder-tasting cups than most people? Who knows. In any case, I’m going to keep brewing dark-roasted beans like this until someone tells me what I’m doing wrong. 😀

5am Darkness

Woke up early today, and for a change, I got moving instead of lounging around in bed on the computer. I decided to try a different AeroPress recipe this morning.

  • Beans: Lost Dog “Mocha Sidamo” Ethiopian dark roast
  • JX: 2.5 turns (75 total clicks, or 25 on the grind chart)
  • 80°C water
  • 13 grams coffee / 200 grams water (1:15.4)
  • One new paper filter (pre-moistened)
  • Recipe: “Basikairoo” (inverted: add 50g water, swirl aggressively for 3s, top up to 200g starting at 1:00, invert at 2:15, press for 30s starting at ~3:00)

I have no idea how this recipe got its name or what it means. My only deviation from the recipe was that I slightly overshot the initial 50g of water, and ended up with 55g (which probably made no difference) and I used slightly less total water than the 210g that is called for.

This made a pretty good cup! 80°C is the lowest temperature I’ve brewed with to date (other than cold brew). The nice thing about the AeroPress is that it brews more quickly than the French press, so the water doesn’t lose as much heat. When I brewed single cups with these beans in the French press at 85°, they were never quite warm enough. This cup was at a good drinking temperature right after pressing. It seemed well extracted, with no bitter or sour flavors. It was neither too weak nor too strong. I may try it with slightly less water (180g) to see if I get a bolder tasting cup, but it’s perfectly fine as-is.

Morning ride

Nice morning for a ride today, even if it was just a garden-variety commute to work. It’s my second day in the office this week, which has been the exception more so than the rule this summer, in spite of intentions. Weather, holidays, and vacations (mainly weather) have kept me home on a lot of Mondays. Weather once again threatened this past Monday, but held off until I got home, and I made it to the climbing gym in time to ride out the crazy storms. Different story today, with pleasant weather (for August) and no storms predicted. Both of my commutes this week have been on the road, as the trails have been a little too wet for mountain biking.

On the coffee front, I brewed yesterday’s recipe with the same beans this morning, and the cup was fine, but not quite as good as yesterday’s. I noticed some dripping while it was steeping, and when I flipped the AeroPress, I saw that it was because I had inserted the plunger a little bit crooked. Also, the filter paper was used once (for yesterday’s cup). I can’t really see where either of those things would affect the finished product. All the same, I’ll eliminate those variables the next time I brew this, which will be either late this afternoon, or tomorrow morning. I have enough of the beans left to make 4 more cups, and I’m hoping at least one of them is as good as yesterday’s.