If you follow me on twitter, you will probably have seen my morning tweets where I post a picture of my morning flat white, with my latest latte art attempt. I only do this by the way when the attempt was at least slightly passable for latte art, sometimes I make a complete pigs ear of it, in which case I don’t bother ;-).
So in the mornings I wake up with a flat white, made with my Gaggia Classic, and then I have my Aeropress with me at work, and most of the time during the day I drink Aeropress coffee. I go for Aeropress at work because although I enjoy coffee made with all brewing processes, I find that Aeropress to be the quickest and most convenient way to enjoy freshly brewed coffee.
Aeropress is quick, but it’s not instant, and sometimes I’m really busy at work and in a real rush to make a coffee, but there’s no way I would settle for instant no matter how busy I am, I can’t actually remember the last time I drank instant, it certainly wasn’t by choice, and it wasn’t recently.
Anyway, I started pondering recently about whether or not I can make instant coffee with the Aeropress. By this I don’t mean use instant coffee granules; what I mean is to make concentrated espresso strength coffee to simply add hot water to.
You can do this with cold brew, and this is something which drew me towards the idea of cold brew, but what I don’t like about cold brew is the really long brew time vs the relatively small amount of concentrated coffee, which in my experience doesn’t go quite as far when diluting as some cold brew pot instructions / marketing blurb, would suggest.
When I make Aeropress coffee, I usually now favour the inverted method, and I use one level AP scoop of coffee to around 250ml of water (some of which is already in my cup, and I plunge over that). I know the AP is capable of much more concentrated coffee, if you use the standard non-inverted method, and go 1:1 water to coffee, you end up with a very concentrated espresso style coffee.
So, given that just boiled water is too hot to drink anyway, wouldn’t it be an idea to produce concentrated espresso style AP coffee and store it in the fridge, to then add hot water to for instant proper coffee? Don’t see why not, even if what results isn’t 100% as good as freshly brewed AP coffee, it would be good to have an emergency store of concentrate coffee ready to just pour hot water into, even if it’s not quite as good as brewing fresh I would imagine it’s not far off.
So, I tried it, and guess what – it works!
While I said I expected it to be not far off, actually I can’t tell the difference between a freshly made coffee using the Aeropress, and diluted concentrate made using the same beans, but having said that I’m only talking about coffee which has been left in the fridge for up to a few hours, I would imagine it will deteriorate the longer it’s left.
I would imagine that someone with a very sensitive coffee pallet would be able to tell some difference, for instance, Steve Leighton, other roasters, baristas and coffee professionals who have trained themselves over the years to be able to pick up all of the subtle tasting notes. It wouldn’t surprise me if these folk would be able to pick up some difference in taste, but even if I could, I’d take a slight reduction in taste for the convenience of having an instant solution for having quality coffee when I don’t have the extra minute or two required to make it fresh via AP.
This certainly wouldn’t be something I’d want to do all the time, I really enjoy making coffee, and I don’t feel that coffee should be an instant thing. Considering the huge amount of time, care and attention that is put into growing, picking, processing, exporting and roasting the coffee beans, it seems a shame not to do our very best to get the full potential from the coffee by brewing it properly. So I’m only talking here about a solution for when time is really tight and I don’t have the few minutes required to brew it properly,
I should point out that when I’ve tried this, the ratio of coffee to water has required more coffee than when I’m usually making a single coffee with Aeropress, I think is probably to do with a more course grind being required when pressing more than one shot at a time. That is, I usually do just one shot at a time, for a single cup, at a grind setting on my Sage smart grinder pro that is just a bit more course than I’d usually use for espresso on the Gaggia.
I read on the Aeropress website that they recommend a more course grind setting when grinding for more than one cup at a time, so I’ll experiment with the grind when doing multiple shots at a time. Also, I have previously put in 4 scoops and then filled to the no4, as it used to suggest in the older Aeropress instructions, but I’ve noticed that they have changed this now and state that it can brew up to 3 cups at once, not 4. So perhaps they found that with four scoops of coffee there isn’t room for the required amount of water, or that it’s not possible to get the same extraction?
I’m going to experiment with this and try to find out how to get the best results, I’ll try doing four single AP single espresso style shots for example, and I’ll try 2 at a time and 3 at a time with slightly different grinds, and I’ll update this post.
So like I say this is just a potential solution for when you’re short on time in the day and need a fast caffeine delivery but like me, you won’t entertain instant coffee in your kitchen.
This would also seem to be a good idea for other circumstances such as hiking and camping. While it’s no real bother to pack an Aeropress, you could make concentrated coffee via the Aeropress & take it with you to be diluted with hot water.
If you’re doing this though, I’d recommend taking more than you think you will use, you can always put it in the fridge when you get back if you don’t use it all. I don’t know how long it is safe to keep coffee in the fridge for, but I do see cold brew coffee pots quoting “weeks”, and I can’t see any difference in this situation? Don’t quote me on that!
I think this works mainly if you drink the average strength filter / Americano style coffee, due to the dilution ratio which will mean it’s nice and hot – if you drink your coffee at a strength which would require 1:1 dilution, then it’s probably going to be luke warm, so it wouldn’t quite work.
I made an interesting discovery too, while trying this – I accidentally froze an Aeropress concentrated brew. I put it in the freezer instead of the fridge, mainly because I’m stupid ;-). I wasn’t meaning to freeze it, but since I did, I tried diluting it from frozen.The result was a smoother taste than I usually get via Aeropress from the same coffee. It wasn’t completely frozen like an ice cube, it was more like a slush puppy, I’d left it in the freezer for maybe an hour.
I have no idea why freezing concentrated freshly brewed coffee and then diluting with hot water would create a smoother taste, but there you go – if you like a smooth tasting coffee, try making it with 1:1 water to coffee ratio with Aeropress and then stick it in the freezer for an hour or so before diluting it with hot water, and see what you think.
Anyway there’s an idea for you, if you’re like me and you would prefer to make coffee fresh every time but at occasionally you could do with a quicker solution, then this may be a handy idea for you.