A few years ago I was given one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received: an Aeropress. Made by Aerobie, who used to primarily be a sports equipment manufacturer, Aeropress is an affordable, efficient sort of French-press style coffee contraption that makes amazing coffee. I’ve tried all sorts of different coffee making methods, and I’m always coming back to Aeropress because of its portability and ease-of-use—not to mention the great coffee and espresso you can make with it.
The Aeropress came about when its inventor Alan Adler, a Stanford professor who invented the Aerobie flying disc, was talking with someone at a dinner party about their frustration over having to brew a full pot of coffee all the time, and letting so much go to waste or stale. Adler, a coffee lover himself, was frustrated with this too and went to work on a single-cup coffee maker. It took a lot of studying about the brewing process and over 40 prototypes to get to the Aeropress we know and love today.
The Aeropress is now a celebrated device in the coffee world with international brewing competitions and a sort of cult following. Its forced air and paper filter method allow users to extract great flavor in a short time, and its simple plastic design makes for easy cleanup.
Just like the Aeropress itself was a bit of serendipity, the discovery that it makes great cold brew coffee seems to be as well. The Aeropress has long been lauded for its ability to produce the quality of espresso-based coffee drinks that a coffee shop’s $5,000 or $6,000 machines can, but hadn’t been talked about much in light of the recent cold brew craze.
As it turns out though, cold brew in the Aeropress was on Adler’s radar, and the coffee-loving inventor has come through again.The same Aeropress I reach for multiple times a day can be used to produce cold brew, too, with just a few modifications to the standard method.
Whether hot or cold, start with great coffee (I enjoy Intelligentsia’s El Diablo) and grind it at home.
As anyone who’s familiar with the Aeropress knows, there’s an incredible amount of different brewing techniques, and we deviate from the standard method ourselves, with a bit of a longer brew time and by using the inverted method so many of the Aeropress’ fans use. Here’s how we make our hot coffee in the Aeropress:
(Step by step instructions follow in the gallery below)
I was excited to hear that the Aeropress could handle cold brew too, so I decided to test out cold brew process in the Aeropress and see how it compares. I used the same coffee, same grind–even the same mug, and followed Aerobie’s instructions for cold brew to the letter, save for using the inverted method favored by most Aeropress users, which doesn’t affect the flavor of the brew, and was used in our hot coffee process as well.
It turns out the cold brew instructions aren’t very difficult to parse–in fact, there’s not that much difference in method until you come to the “agitation” step. Where Aerobie recommends a 10-second agitation for hot coffee, to make a cup of cold brew, you should agitate the grounds for a full minute. In the cold brew process, you just use cold tap water (no specific temperature was specified–It’s up to you if you like frosty glass cold or simply cool.) Here’s how our cold brew trial went:
The end result? Even though the coffee was a slightly different color coming out of the cold brew process, the taste was as smooth as I’ve come to expect from an Aeropress cup. The process isn’t hard, especially if you’re already using an Aeropress for your daily caffeine fix, and really, one minute agitating the coffee grounds and water is a small price to pay for cold brew, which usually takes quite a bit longer to produce. To my mind, this makes the Aeropress a great choice for cold brew as well, especially since it’s so affordable, efficient and easy to clean.