If you intend to brew using the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker, this is not your first cup of joe.
I discovered AeroPress when I was searching for a more refined coffee experience. As a college student, I started drinking instant coffee which, at the time, I thought was the real deal (spoiler alert: it’s not; it’s more like coffee-tasting-hot-water than coffee).
Since then, I have fallen in love with coffee and have tried all kinds of brewing methods and beans in my quest to create my perfect cup.
Enter: AeroPress and the Almighty Grind
I discovered the AeroPress system when searching for an easy way to brew using the French press method. If you haven’t heard of French Press before, or are curious to learn more about it, check out this post I wrote about immersion brewing methods to find out if it’s right for you.
In short, French press brewing is based on using manual pressure to separate grinds from hot water after it has steeped to produce a flavorful cup of coffee. Coffee fanatics love it because it’s easy to customize a cup by simply adjusting how fine you grind your favorite coffee bean.
What grind do you prefer? Random question, I know. My goal today is to help you answer that question and then give you the tools to get that ideal grind.
My Method and Coffee Crew
The information I present today is based on my research and personal experience and is also informed by online reviewers of all-things-coffee that I affectionally call my Coffee Brigade. These folks are my virtual know-it-all baristas that love sharing their caffeinated conquests and catastrophes to help others.
While there is no true “best” grind since taste preferences vary wildly, there are ways to find your best cup using the French Press method.
Let’s get started!
Meet: The AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Before we can talk about which grind will work best using the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker, let’s get to know this coffee maker.
Price: $29.95 (Check out the latest prices here.)
Amazon rating: 4.6/5 stars based on 4,362 reviews
Time to brew: one minute: 40 seconds to brew, 20 seconds to press
Brew method: immersion
Yields: 1-4 cups of coffee or espresso (enough for 1 or 2 mugs)
For $29.95, the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker includes the following:
This gif explains how the Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker works:
Have a look at the press in action:
If you prefer real life demonstrations over animation, this video by York Coffee Emporium is for you:
Let’s Talk Grind
Now that we know what the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker works, it’s time to get grinding.
Any veteran coffee drinker will tell you to grind beans immediately before brewing using any method, and the same is true using the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker.
When you first begin using an AeroPress brewing system, I suggest using the same bean you are brewing now and adjust your grind accordingly. Do you love a lighter roast? Start with that same bean with the understanding that it will be a much more concentrated cup of coffee than what your automatic drip machine brews using the same bean. Pour-over methods like Chemex and French Press typically use a grind that is a bit on the coarser side since the brew needs to bloom by steeping.
This is where taste preferences play a major role. If you enjoy a stronger cup, then a finer grind will create that experience for you. For those who prefer a lighter cup, use a coarser grind.
Members of my online coffee brigade that love espresso love this method, so it’s no wonder they suggest using a fine grind to those new to AeroPress. How is fine defined? Here’s a visual:
Fine grind has the consistency of sand or table salt, while very fine grind feels like saw dust or ground spice. Many of my online friends recommend a finer grind to create a robust espresso-like coffee experience.
Keep in mind that each brew using an AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker makes one cup of joe. This means that you should grind around 17 grams of your favorite beans per cup to create a standard AeroPress cup. Depending on how strong you like your cup, this amount of beans may vary.
How to Get That Grind
It’s one thing to see which grind you would like; it’s another thing to make it happen.
If you already own a grinder then awesome, grind away. For those that don’t, let’s talk grinders.
Manual vs. Electric grinders
There are two very distinctive camps regarding whether to flip a switch or put some elbow grease into your grind. For the most part, both sides agree burr grinders are better than blade grinders, so for the sake of this post, let’s all agree to start there and look at both a manual and electric burr for a fair comparison.
Here are two of the best grinders available on the market today; both are top-sellers on Amazon and come highly recommended from my online coffee community:
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
Amazon rating: 4.5/5 stars based on 2,478 reviews
Four best features:
- Adjustable grind selector with 18 click settings
- No electricity or power source required
- Quiet operation with removable hand crank
- Easy to clean, transport, and store
This manual grinder features ceramic conical burrs and a dual plate system that rotates and grinds the beans evenly each time. Reviewers love how quiet this grinder is compared to electric grinders and how easy it is to use, clean, and store.
JavaPresse and AeroPress: What the Coffee Brigade Thinks
One reviewer said the “fine” setting is the best for his AeroPress cup of coffee and the grinding process takes minimal effort, taking only 1-2 minutes. He liked the built-in window and said the grinder fits into the AeroPress making it easy to store when traveling.
Some reviewers said they are not experiencing a consistent grind 100% of the time, but not enough to give it a poor review.
I must include this snippet of a review that made me smile and is, well, fantastic:
“Great, Simple, Well made, Grinder” – 5 stars
“I have had 2 weeks now and drink 4 cups a day. I use a high-quality organic coffee bean… purified water… brew at around 190 degrees. This is a lovely aesthetically and functionally wonderful little machine. ..Life is too short to drink crappy coffee.”
Indeed, life is too short to drink crappy coffee KenBar. I couldn’t agree more.
Now let’s check out a more modern approach to grinding:
KRUPS GX5000 Professional Electric Coffee Burr Grinder
Amazon rating: 4.3/5 stars based on 10,843 reviews
Four best features:
- Metallic flat grinder featuring nine grind levels
- Precise grinding using grind fineness selector
- 8 oz. clear bean container
- 2 to 12 cups grind capability
Reviewers love how easy it is to store their fresh beans in the airtight hopper until they are ready to grind the exact amount they need. With nine settings from “very fine” to “very coarse,” it allows for effortless customization each time.
KRUPS GX500 and AeroPress: What the Coffee Brigade Thinks
A reviewer purchased this grinder to take on vacation since it is small and easy to carry and was pleased with how quickly it works. He claims it only takes him ten seconds to grind beans to the extra fine texture he needs for his morning espresso using an AeroPress to brew.
One reviewer said it is difficult to transfer the coffee grinds to the AeroPress, and that the grinder can be inconsistent when attempting to produce that perfect texture. Others noted inconsistency as a concern as well with one reviewer saying it does a great job with the “very” settings, but any texture in between “very fine” or “very coarse” is inconsistent.
Which Grinder Should You Choose?
If you are a control freak like me, you should probably go with a manual grinder. Yes, you will have to turn a crank for a minute or so, but you have complete control over how much, or how little, you grind your beans.
For those who don’t care as much, or who just want an easier way to grind, then an electric grinder is a better fit for you. I do like the fact the beans are ready and waiting for me each time I would want to grind, and that all I would need to do is push a button, but my need for control outweighs my desire for modern conveniences.
Are You AeroPress Ready?
I bet you are. People who use pour-over methods to brew are sophisticated coffee drinkers who care enough about their daily ritual to read a post about coffee grinds like this one. Remember, only the freshest beans and a top-notch grinder will give you the coffee experience you crave. If you have both and intend to follow the AeroPress information presented here, you should be good to go!