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Michael MacDonald applies scientific precision to Aeropress brewing

Mike MacDonald is just one of those coffee guys that you want to chat to. He takes knowing his stuff to a whole new level - he's the guy you call in when someone has a really technical coffee question. He roasts incredible coffees for Origin Coffee Roasting and he also delves deep into the science of coffee brewing. Mike recently started sharing his knowledge and the results of his research and experimentation in blog posts on Medium - the first of which was Understanding flavour in the Aeropress.

For the scientifically-minded, Mike's article is a fantastic read and for us, it begged an obvious question - how exactly does he recommend brewing with the Aeropress? Well we asked, he showed us, we tasted the results and it became very clear - this was something we needed to share. Below you'll find Mike's detailed, step by step Aeropress brewing guide that he uses to train Baristas. You can use the diagram with the Aeropress components for reference.

Aeropress System Components

Aeropress Brewing Variables

  • Use 17.5 grams to 200ml water (this should almost fill your inverted Aeropress to the top)
  • Grind to a setting between espresso and filter - err towards the finer side
  • The water temperature for brewing should be 85-90ºC (88ºC exactly is better)
  • Total extraction time: 1m45s - 1m50s

Aeropress Brewing Process

Inverted Aeropress
  1. Use the inverted method: place the plunger with rubber seal about 2cm into the chamber so that it has a solid connection and then turn the Aeropress upside down so that the chamber is facing up (see photo)
  2. Take the filter cap, place a filter paper in it and run some water through
  3. Pre-heat your cup or serving jug with hot water and then discard the water
  4. Grind your coffee and add it into the top chamber of the Aeropress - use the Aeropress funnel if helpful
  5. Pour the brewing water onto the coffee till about mid-way up the top chamber and start a timer
  6. Stir  the coffee, making sure the coffee grounds are all wet, scraping around the sides and especially bottom (just until the grounds are saturated)
  7. Now pour the rest of the water in - to about 1cm below the top rim
  8. Allow it to brew for 20 seconds ...then gently stir again in a back-forward, left-right motion - 10 movements, 5 in each direction
  9. Allow the coffee to brew till 45 seconds on the timer
  10. Lock the cap holding the filter into the chamber at the top
  11. Carefully turn the Aeropress in one swift motion and place it directly on the preheated cup or jug
  12. Plunge straight down with a mild force, until you hear air, then stop (this should take ~1 min so that the total extraction time is 1m45s - 1m50s)

About Michael MacDonald

Michael MacDonald

Mike has worked in the coffee industry for 7 years and is a roaster and coffee sommelier for Origin Coffee Roasting in Cape Town. He's an aspiring recreational Mycologist as well as a lover of alluring whiskies, craft beer and interesting wines.

You can follow Mike on Twitter: @Mmdsl28


Thanks for the great brewing method, will definitely try it out.

Posted by Joshua Turnbull on March 14, 2019

Yum!! I do a very similar approach, not as strict though. Also start with the ‘upside down’ press, add ground coffee, then I add about 1-2cm of COLD water and swish it around. I find the cold water gives a more rounded taste, doesn’t burn the coffee! Then add hot water to the brim and let is sit for a few minutes (quick stir). Top over and squeeze into your cup… perfect every time!

Posted by Lizl on March 04, 2020

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