“Best Aeropress in the U.S.” Part 2: first attempt at home

Remember that award-winning recipe (repeated below) with the monster dose that Jay Caragay (of Spro) used to win the U.S. Aeropress Championship? I tried it today. Here’s what happened in quasi-real time.

1. 36 grams of coffee, ground to a “10” on a Compak R80 grinder

2. Add 4.7 oz. hot water and stir. Brew for 1 minute.

3. [Re]vert and press.

4. Add water to 12 oz. total volume.

For the grind, I used my Preciso on setting #8F (of 40), i.e. just a touch coarser than where I usually end up for espresso. Here’s a shot of what 36 g. of the good stuff looks like in an inverted Aeropress tube. Impressive, no? By the way, this particular good stuff was PT’s Finca El Socorro Bourbon micro-lot.

Right about here is when I realized that I didn’t have enough water in my Aroma kettle to handle step 4. I quickly filled ’er up and paced nervously (not really) while I waited for the boil.

Once I’d added 4.7 oz. and begun to stir, it occurred to me that I didn’t know when to *stop* stirring. I’d been distracted the other day while my barista at Spro worked her magic, but I did recall her kind of going to town, so I did the same until the 30-sec. mark.

Time to cap the Aeropress. Paper filter? That felt odd after weeks of messing around with a DISK Fine, but ok.

Aaaaaaaand…the plunge. Swifter than usual, as expected.

Dilution presented its own challenge. How did Jay (and the Spro hive mind) intend for me to figure out when I’d reached 12 oz.? I hadn’t plunged into a measuring cup, after all. I did have a scale handy, but it wasn’t possible to tare out the weight of the mug and figure out my brew weight on the fly. In the end I made a split-second decision to just tare and add an additional 7.5 oz. of water. I see now that this was likely not quite enough because it assumes only 0.2 oz. of absorption happened during the press. Live and learn, I guess. Next time I’ll weigh my mug beforehand and just subtract it out in my head or (better yet) pour 12 oz. of water into the mug ahead of time and remember how full it looks.

Let’s move on to…[drum roll, please]…the coffee. How was it? Well, PT’s describes their El Socorro Bourbon micro-lot as follows:

“…rich, sweet aroma of caramel and maple syrup. The cup features a creamy body with notes of honey, vanilla and bakers chocolate. A citrus sweetness comes out as the cup cools, hinting at notes of apricot.”

In my limited experience brewing up these beans using the Eva Solo and Aeropress, I’ve found PT’s notes to be pretty much right on. The coffee is lovely, full stop. Interestingly, today’s Spro-inspired expression of it was very much different, more muscular, with amped up body (which is saying something given the baseline), caramel out the wazoo, and a big, twangy apricot-molasses acidity that almost resonated through the mug’s handle.

How was the coffee? Good, without question, but virtually unrecognizable. I prefer my usual El Socorro recipe. However, I’ll try this one again with another coffee before long. The large dose doesn’t scare me off since there’s always beanage to spare in the cupboard, but I'm still uncomfortable with the effect on flavor profile of updosing to brew a concentrate and then diluting, so that will require an adjustment. To be continued...

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