The Aeropress is a relative “new kid on the block” as far as manual brewing devices, having only been invented in 2005. Despite it’s short life so far, it’s accrued a horde of fans across the coffee community, and is widely hailed as one of the most simple and versatile single-cup brewers available today.
Despite this, or possibly because of this, the aeropress can be daunting and even unrewarding to a novice; the instructions included with the device somewhat counterintuitively create a coffee concentrate, rather than a single-cup brew. It can be challenging to find a setup that brews the single, exceptional, cup of coffee that the aeropress gets such a great reputation for.
We use two methods here: one, the upright, treats the aeropress like a very unusual filter drip brewer; the other “inverted” method treats the aeropress more like a paper-filtered french press. The first will flatter lighter roasts but may over-emphasize roasted or baked notes in darker beans, while the second will develop strong body and deeper notes with darker roasts but may leave lighter coffees feeling too bright or sharp.
Whichever method you plan on using, fill and start your kettle.
Using the aeropress to mimic a drip brewer, put your filter into the cap, rinse it quickly to wet it, and screw it onto the body. Use a relatively fine grind, typically between 12 and 16 on the Encore depending on the coffee, and put two scoops of coffee into the aeropress. Gently shake it side to side to settle your coffee into an even, flat-ish, bed. When your kettle reaches a boil, let it stand for two minutes to drop in temperature, then pour in just a little more water then you have grounds, directly into center mass and as gently as possible. Allow the coffee to “bloom” (grounds swell, vent trapped gasses and take in hot water) for 40 seconds, add the remainder of your water, stir enthusiastically twice, and allow to sit for a minute. Put the plunger in and gently plunge your coffee, applying barely more pressure than is needed to keep the plunger moving downward. I stop just as the water reaches the top of your grounds - as delicious as that froth looks, it will introduce bitters and sharps that some people find undesirable. If you like a sharper cup of coffee, press all the way through, otherwise simply put the aeropress over another cup or in the sink and enjoy your coffee.
In order to use the aeropress more like a french press, we’re aiming to simulate immersion brewing by turning the whole thing upside-down. Put the plunger in just enough that it holds it’s place, while leaving the other end un-capped. Check to make sure that it’s secure. Put a filter into the cap and rinse it, then set aside. Use one and a half scoops of coarsely ground coffee, ranging between Encore 22 and 28, again depending on your coffee. Once your kettle has come to a boil, let it stand for four minutes then add ⅓ of your water. Let your grounds bloom, stir twice, then add the remainder of the water. Once the brew mass has settled to the top, stir gently until you have more coffee foam on top than grounds. Allow to brew for four minutes, stir once more, then put the cap on. To get the coffee into your cup without making a mess, I recommend putting your mug upside down on your aeropress, then righting the whole assembly. Others simply flip the aeropress quickly, doing this consistently without making a mess takes practise, but is much easier in the long run.