Which way would be your preferred way to use the amazing AeroPress coffee maker?

AeroPress coffee maker Series 5

The AeroPress is a brilliant coffee maker which can produce consistently good results, with a couple of different options for how you use it.

The classic method is the quickest which is simply..

coffee – water – stir – press.

The AeroPress packaging still says stir for 10 seconds and push for 20 seconds – it really can be that easy to make great coffee. You can watch a video of Artistry’s Sarah demonstrating this method.

Then there’s the inverted method which is a little slower and more intricate, but the favoured method of baristas worldwide.

This involves pouring the ground coffee and the water into an inverted AeroPress, stirring and then letting the coffee brew for a few minutes.

Then adding the filter and mesh cap and quickly turning over to press the coffee through into a mug below.

This allows for lots of experimentation with different grinds on the coffee and different brew timings.

So you can decide if you want a quick well-made coffee that beats instant coffee hands down – or to take more time over the coffee and the experimentation to perfect your own brew technique!

There’s now a Series 5 version of the AeroPress, which has shiny gold lettering and a cloudy brown look to it.

Colours and materials used have changed over the years as the design has been adjusted from the original clear with blue guide marks.

The journey gets more serious? ….starting to discover pour-over coffee!

Hario Buono, and V60 Ceramic Dripper from Artistry Coffee

So for many of us coffee is a part of our life whether we think about it or not!

The question do you want a coffee has probably already been said to you or by you today, even if only in your mind to yourself!

However, to start to pay more attention to what your cup of coffee contains can be the beginnings of a journey that gradually increases in intensity.

There was a point when – rather than using drip-filter by accident (i.e. without realising) or french press because it sat there (thinking it was just a cafetiere: which of course it is!) – the idea of hand-brewing coffee became more than a means to an end, it became an enjoyment in itself!

This started with a V60 Ceramic pour-over: a cup-like thing with a conical shape and a hole in the bottom. You place a filter paper within it then add ground coffee and pour hot water over the coffee which then drips through to a mug sitting below.

This is a slow coffee making process to savour: not perhaps the best method to use if you’re in a rush!

But this is where a real enjoyment in coffee making started for me and my wife. The process of thinking about the coffee and what it was doing as you were making it became interesting, and the time taken in the pour-over coffee making started to be a relaxing routine.

Starting with the same ground coffee we were using from the supermarket, we enjoyed “blooming” the coffee by pouring a small amount of hot water for about 15 seconds to let the Coffee grounds swell; then pouring hot water gradually over the coffee for another 2 to 3 minutes whilst seeing gasses from the coffee bubble up a little.

Hario V60 Pour-Over Coffee Maker available from Artistry Coffee
A V60 Pour-Over Coffee Maker
Pour-Over Coffee Making Equipment available from Artistry Coffee
Making Pour-Over Coffee

The aroma from the coffee when making it, as the coffee interacts with the hot water and then drips though, adds to the pleasure – and this is heightened because of the slow process of the pour-over coffee making. We found that the coffee was much more pleasurable as black coffee than we had ever experienced before: which then took us to a new place in coffee appreciation.

Discovering pour-over coffee making was a great find, and we recommend it to all – when you have time to savour the process!

Water Temperature Experiments for Coffee (6): …

Recording Temperature of Poured Water

This series of posts started from a fairly simple question in my head – what is the rate of cooling of water from boiling – to have some sense of what temperature coffee making is conducted at when there are no thermometers to hand! It has turned into a rather more complex investigation than first thought – but has been at least a little fun along the way. Here, were close to the end of my write-ups!

We’ve already covered that when transferring water after boiling from an electric kettle into another vessel such as a Buono kettle (in order to achieve greater accuracy for pour over coffee making) there seems to be about a 3 or 4 degree Celcius loss of temperature straight away.

So this post is about the expectation that as the water is then poured from the Buono onto the coffee grounds themselves there is likely to be another (notable?)drop in temperature.

That was the expectation and indeed has been exactly what I observed in my experiments.

In order to attempt to measure this effect, I rigged up a set-up (imperfect, but trying to get close to something realistic) where I could pour water from the Buono spout directly onto the bulb of the thermometer. That’s the closest I’ve been able to construct to something reasonably meaningful.

I conducted most of my previous efforts over a 10 minute observation window – however the idea of pouring water from a Buono kettle for 10 minutes was never going to be achievable – I did try and control it well, and managed around 5 minutes each time, which I think was a good achievement (also meant my rate of pour should have been similar on each attempt).

Chart of Observed Temperatures (time from Boiling Point)
Top Line (darker) : Observed Temperatures in Electric Kettle
Next Line (mid-tone): After being poured into Buono Kettle
Bottom Line (lightest): Temperatures of the Pour

The temperature within 30 seconds had dropped to 90 degrees Celcius, but took till almost 6 minutes to drop the next 5 degrees – by which point it was almost equal to the observations of the temperatures achieved in the Buono kettle itself(with no pouring).

That line on the chart that resulted did puzzle me at first – although the greater initial drop in temperature made sense, the slower rate of decline in the following minutes than observed in the kettles did seem odd ( I haven’t worked all the way through this yet, but I think one of Newton’s Laws does help – I need to look into that a bit more, and will try and write something in a few days).
What also seemed odd is that the water poured from the Bouno (having been poured in the Bouno from the electric kettle) was at a lower temperature in the earlier moments of observations than the water in the open-top vessels.

Observed Temperatures from Boiling Point
Top Line (darker): Temperatures in Electric Kettle
Next Line (mid-tone): After being poured into Buono Kettle
Bottom Line (lightest): Temperatures of the Pour
Yellow Line: Temperature in open-top container

OK – only for 30 seconds, but that it crossed the line, then crossed back again made me think that this science lark was just far too complicated!

But here could perhaps be the most important thing to understand from these experiments – that the pour itself is where the temperature changes the most (pouring from the kettle used for boiling, into another vessel in the first place, and from the pouring vessel onto the coffee).

And therefore different styles of pour, durations of pour, or methods of dealing with the water will mean that the temperature, in effect, on the coffee is different.

This is where the water is coming into most contact with the air (or perhaps more importantly (scientifically) the much lower ambient temperature) and so is losing the most heat.

So I guess one of my biggest conclusions is that when we’re talking temperature we may or may not be talking the same thing – the temperature of the water can change greatly quite quickly depending on how it is transferred from the boiling vessel to the coffee.

Water that is the same temperature for 2 different coffee making techniques at the starting point could actually be at very different temperatures when hitting the coffee grounds seconds later.

This coffee making really is both an art and a science!!

please note: boiling and hot water can be dangerous if not handled with care!
(despite the haphazardness of some of my approaches above, I did take some care and would suggest anyone else does the same: and children should be accompanied by an adult)

Water Temperature Experiments for Coffee (5): ….

Hot Water onto Coffee Grounds

Interim Conclusions …?

Instead of being one simple set of experiments to while away an afternoon and get the brain cells working – this little exploration has actually turned into a set of experiments and blog notes and pseudo scientific activity that has occupied rather more than the initial expectation!

Where we’ve travelled so far, I think, is that the temperature of the hot water as it hits the coffee could vary perhaps rather a lot – affected by all that can happen between the boiling of the water and the drips hitting the coffee.

What I seem to be able to conclude so far is that if the water remains in the kettle it retains its temperature much better than if poured into another vessel. If this other vessel is closed top (e.g. Buono kettle) the temperature will perhaps drop 3 to 4 degrees on the initial pour from the kettle, then hold at a slower rate of decline than if poured into an open-top vessel (where over a few minutes the temperature difference may easily be 10 to 15 degrees Celcius).

All of that fairly logical (and some would say obvious or a matter of common sense perhaps), but I’ve found it rather interesting to be able to place some (amateur) quantification on what’s going on, and helpful to think through what may be affecting the readings.

But the key issue is perhaps what temperature the water is as it hits the coffee. And for my own normal coffee making at home, this involves first pouring the boiling water from the electric kettle into the Buono, and then pouring from the Buono onto the coffee grounds themselves.

So the idea that there might be a second heat loss as poured from the Buono kettle seems to be a logical expectation, and that’s exactly what we get – but the results did puzzle me at first.

(I’ll write that up next post…..)

please note: boiling and hot water can be dangerous if not handled with care!
(despite the haphazardness of some of my approaches above, I did take some care and would suggest anyone else does the same: and children should be accompanied by an adult)

Water Temperature Experiments for Coffee (4):…

Buono Kettle with Thermometer

I started out looking at the temperature that boiled water reaches when it is left to cool – to think about having some guide for coffee making when just getting on with it rather than trying to measure every element, every time.

I quickly realized that it wasn’t as simple as that, and the water temperature depends on lots of things that can go on from the point of boiling.

So being in semi-scientific mode (a real scientist could probably tear my methods apart), I went off on an exploration of water temperature with some kitchen table experiments.

Having had a fairly simple start – by simply pouring boiling water into a jug and recording temperatures for 10 minutes. I then figured I needed to think about much more:

  1. If the water is held in vessels of different material
  2. If there is a smaller surface area, especially smaller top of the water, from which the water may lose heat.
  3. What happens when the water is not transferred from the water boiler (kettle).
  4. With those, I tried measurements in a ceramic mug rather than plastic jug which sort of covered 1 and 2 above. Nothing much to report there though.

    Measuring the water in the kettle itself was dramatically different (upto 15 degrees Celsius different at the same time since boiling in my observations).

    But still more to think about: The way I usually make coffee is either to pour first into a Buono kettle and then pour onto the coffee (either in one go into an AeroPress or over time as a drip filter). So I needed some other answers

  5. What happens to the water temperature in the Buono kettle?
  6. And perhaps most importantly, what is the temperature of the water as it actually hits the coffee?

To answer question 4 was relatively simple – simply pour the water straight from the kettle into the Buono and take the temperature readings from there. Answering 5 is a lot more complicated (that’s for next time).

The observations showed that there’s a cooling that goes very quickly, reducing the temperature by around 3 or 4 degrees Celcius, when the water is first poured into the Buono vessel – and that this temperature difference is then roughly maintained for the duration of the observations.

Darker line: observed temperature in boiling device (electric kettle), Lighter line: temperature in Buono Kettle (poured into from electric kettle)
Darker line: observed temperature in boiling device (electric kettle), Lighter line: temperature in Buono Kettle (poured into from electric kettle)

The observed temperatures from the Bouno kettle is the lower (lighter) line on the chart and you can see it approximately holds the relationship with the line above (the observed temperatures from the boiling kettle).

So this is logical, and in line with my first thoughts – that the initial pour into another vessel cools the water by a few degrees from boiling point (whether it be pouring into the plastic jug, the ceramic mug, or the Buono kettle). But the Buono clearly holds the temperature in slower rate of decine than an open topped vessel (this is science of some sort, but not really rocket science! Or perhaps it is!!!).

So I feel that this has all been helpful in coming to some greater understanding of what happens to the temperature of the boiled water, before it is poured onto coffee – but doesn’t get us to the answer of what is happening as the hot water it hits the coffee grounds (so that will be looked at next time….).

please note: boiling and hot water can be dangerous if not handled with care!
(despite the haphazardness of some of my approaches above, I did take some care and would suggest anyone else does the same: and children should be accompanied by an adult)

Water Temperature Experiments for Coffee (3):…

Kettle

From my initial inquisitiveness about what temperature is reached when you leave boiled water standing, a whole lot of other questions gathered. The reason for the initial inquisitiveness was about making good coffee and having some idea of what temperature the water might be at when there is no thermometer to hand: because the taste and characteristics of the coffee are affected by the temperature of the water.

From in initial set of observations and thoughts, I had a need to try some different scenarios to explore whether all the things that I thought might affect the rate of cooling had any meaningful effect.

Actually on my first modifications, I didn’t really get any very different results from pouring the water into a ceramic mug to cool rather than the plastic jug. I guess if my observations were more precise there might have been a small discernible difference, but obviously not big enough to show up for me.

However, measuring the temperature of the water in the vessel where it was boiled (electric kettle in my kitchen experiments) made a big difference – seemingly in the rate of cooling and in the temperatures reached in my 10 minutes of recording temperatures each time.

Not really surprising, but I’m attributing this (perhaps rather rashly, but it seems logical) to the cooling on the water from the pour from the kettle to the jug (or mug), as well as to the fact that the tapered shape of the (at least my) kettle exposes less water directly to the air.

TemperatureAtTimeSinceBoilingPoint_ElectricKettle

Lilac line represents observed temperatures of water in kettle at time (mins:secs) since water boiled.

Rather than getting to c 95 degrees Celcius within the first 15 seconds, that temperature wasn’t reached until 2 and a half minutes. And the 90 degrees wasn’t breached until after 5 minutes of cooling, rather than approximately 60 seconds in the open-top experiments as I’ll now call the first set!

It took over three times as long for the water to cool to c85 degrees Celcius: 7 and a half minutes rather than approx 2minutes 30 in the open-top ones. The rate of cooling also seemed fairly steady in these Kettle experiments rather than changing (slowing down) in the open-top experiments.

TemperatureAtTimeSinceBoilingPoint_OpenContainerVsKettle

Lilac line represents observed temperatures of water in kettle, yellow line for water in open-top container.

This means that if using a rule of thumb as to what temperature the water is at some time after boiling, there could be some great differences depending on where your water is (in relation to where it boiled).

More to come – as we still haven’t got to an answer that is practical ……

please note: boiling and hot water can be dangerous if not handled with care!
(despite the haphazardness of some of my approaches above, I did take some care and would suggest anyone else does the same: and children should be accompanied by an adult)

Water Temperature Experiments for Coffee (2):

Jam Thermometer

So thinking of my first experiments – consistent as they were (within their own world of haphazardness) – I wasn’t really satisfied that I’d ended up with a measurement of the right thing. It was informative and revealing, but what about:

  • – The fact that I had done my observations at room temperature (the rate of cooling would have been different if the temperature were much lower or much higher).
  • – The fact that the vessel was made of plastic (of course the ability of the vessel to conduct heat will have an impact)
  • – The vessel was unheated on the first observation, but would have warmed up a little on later experiments (so slowing the rate of cooling?)
  • – The size of the vessel – surface area – probably has an impact on the speed of cooling, and especially, I’m guessing, the surface area of the top of the water.
  • – The fact that I had poured water into an open topped vessel of itself was likely to be important – what of the water that had remained in the kettle,
  • – What if I had poured the water into another contained and covered vessel? (such as a Bouno pouring kettle)
  • – And after all of that, it’s the temperature at which the water actually hits the coffee grounds that matters – so how to measure that?? And could this be particularly important if the rate of cooling on the pour is actually faster than the rate of cooling when water is standing.

I decided to repeat my experiments with some variations –to take account of what I thought would be the most important aspects:

  1. Pour water into a ceramic mug – different material, smaller surface area, especially smaller top of the water.
  2. Measure the temperature in the water boiler (kettle used to boil the water). Without lid (practicality rather than best experiment).
  3. Measure the temperature in a Buono kettle (having been poured from another kettle which boiled the water). With lid replaced between readings.
  4. Measure the temperature of a Buono kettle with lid being slowly poured directly onto the bulb of the thermometer – the closest I can easily get to measuring the water as it hits the coffee.

Inadequacies in all of the above in the way that they are conducted, what they are demonstrating, and whether they are measuring anything near reality – but interesting and a bit of fun. And some conclusions possible, I think!

More to come in future days -including the realisation that Newton had a law for ( some of) this……


please note: boiling and hot water can be dangerous if not handled with care!
(despite the haphazardness of some of my approaches above, I did take some care and would suggest anyone else does the same: and children should be accompanied by an adult)

Gradually Piecing Coffee Learning Together…..

Coffee Making with Artistry

Through accident, experiment, and impediment it’s possible to gradually realise that there are better ways to make better coffee.

Realising not to pour on absolutely boiling water, realising that there are a wide variety of coffees available, realising that there are ways to become more consistent or methodical in your approach to coffee making, and that there is a choice of many ways of making coffee.

Piecing all this together brings an awareness that coffee making can be a bit of an art that you can enjoy for itself aswell as for the caffeine kick!

In fact each part can be made into a bit of an art. There’s the choosing of the coffee to buy, the decision about which way (brew method) to make your coffee, the process itself including the grinding of the beans, the pouring of the water, the timing of the process, and the method of delivery (which can be experimented with and varied to produce discernible, and perhaps sometimes not so discernible results), and of course the sitting down and savouring the result.

Basically you can take your coffee making as seriously as you want. If you know what you like and you know how to make it and don’t want to think any further than that, then fair enough. But if you want to you can explore the coffee and the coffee making process and even turn it into a new hobby! You can explore different tastes and simply enjoy learning the various processes that can be applied to the coffee to vary the flavour.

At Artistry Coffee we became fascinated by the old and new techniques that there are to create hand-brewed coffee: and have enjoyed exploring and collecting together some great products to make coffee with.

My main basic learning came about in the last decade through blundering around with various cafetieres and a simple one-cup drip filter maker. Gradually coming to some of the realisations above.

In the last couple of years I have:
– discovered the art of the pour-over method and greatly enjoyed taking time over the process of pouring and making the coffee
– discovered hand grinding, and explored various grind settings that affect the interaction of the water and the coffee grounds.
– and discovered that there really is so much to explore about coffee making. We have favoured exploring hand brewing options rather than anything with machines: as for us it feels closer to the coffee.
Experiencing the AeroPress coffee maker as a way to quickly make a cup of coffee that packs a punch was great, and it still remains a favourite.
As well as the ease and simplicity, and yes cleverness, of the Clever Dripper which has an innovative valve shut-off system to help serve the coffee.

I don’t think you ever end the learning about coffee beans and the growing methods though.

Enjoy making coffee, whether in straightforward ‘just get me the caffeine’ mode, or in ‘fascinated, artistic, exploration’ mode.

There’s something in the water….

Water pour onto coffee

More and more I realize that the starting point for things really matters – so for coffee the water and the beans are the prime ingredients. So it’s obvious really that what you do with each of these is fairly key to what ends up in your cup. It’s perhaps one of the first things that you learn about coffee that it’s not good to use absolutely boiling water as you make the cup.

Even with instant coffee this can be pretty early learning. The fizz of the granules as the water boils them is interesting but not a prequel to a good cup of coffee. So the water and what you do with it in making the coffee is important.

The water temperature should probably be a good 5 to 10 degrees off boiling point, and for some coffee making even lower than this. I don’t know the full science behind this, but it does make some common sense that the water can be too hot and spoil the grounds (or the instant). So a little patience after the kettle boils can only be a good thing.

I do want to do some experiments with what happens to water after it has boiled: partly for fun, and partly jut to be inquisitive.

It’s also true (OK perhaps not strictly speaking, but certainly practically speaking) that water does not equal water does not equal water.

We all know the stories of washing your hair in hard and soft water areas – or the dishes, or clothes – and perhaps the fact that water can taste different on holiday or in different locations. So it’s got to be no surprise that there are characteristics to the water that we use, and these affect the taste of the water and therefore the effect that the water has on the coffee that is made.

There are even discussions amongst the most eloquent of the coffee aficionados about which spring water is the best one to use to make your coffee.

That may be a bit extreme for most people, but it highlights the point that the water does affect the end result. So water filters may not be a bad idea, or at least being aware that water matters and at least keeping an eye on not scalding the coffee by being too eager after the kettle has boiled.

How I wished I’d paid more attention….

drip filter for one

My weekend coffees in the noughties facilitated then by supermarket bought ground coffee – of such better quality than my weekday ones facilitated by instant coffee – were also made to a better method than I realised at the time.

Actually it was a fairly simple and very plasticy mechanism, but one where hot water dropped slowly through a plastic container with holes in it onto the ground coffee below, and then through a mesh into the cup at the bottom. So even though I never described it as such this was genuinely a Drip Filter coffee which gave a good chance of getting the best out of the coffee that I had bought.

Oh how I now wish I had paid a little more attention – attention to the coffee I bought, the different blends I tried, the way the device made the coffee. Had I done that I might have progressed through the coffee journey more quickly, and appreciated the views along the way a bit more too.

Coffee this way was surprisingly straightforward to make – it kind of made itself while getting breakfast ready, or seeing what the kids were getting upto. Pop the grounds in, pour the water into the top container, put the lid on – then pick up the coffee in a couple of minutes. The little device still sees the light of day occasionally!

Easy for a busy Saturday morning before taking our youngest son to music school. Or now and again with the luxury of breakfast in bed on Sunday before heading off to church.

At the time the fact that the coffee tasted better than during the week seemed good enough.

Only more recently have I really appreciated how much more it’s possible to learn about coffee – and realised that if you’re interested enough you may never run out of things to learn – and that its a bit like wine: the more you know, the more you discern, the more you appreciate, the more you realise that there is still more to learn.

So journey fast or journey slowly, journey a short way or a long way – but enjoy your coffee journey.