Words VICKI RAVLICH-HORAN | Images BRYDIE THOMPSON
If great coffee wherever you go is a priority this summer, Josie Evans from Excelso Coffee says the AeroPress is the way to go. This nifty little bit of kit is perfect for the bach, motorhome, camping … In fact, you might just like it so much that it becomes your home brew method too.
Josie says it’s the “AeroPress’ versatility, affordability and ease of use that have made it a real favourite for our team and any of our fellow coffee lovers on the go”.
In its simplest form you add a filter, coffee and hot water to the chamber, push the plunger and enjoy a great brew. But the AeroPress is more than a complicated French press or plunger! Unlike the plunger, the AeroPress has a paper microfilter for a clean, grit-free coffee. Different to most other immersion brewers, the AeroPress is also a pressurised brewer, as you use your arms to force the water through the coffee grounds. This results in an even extraction with a full body.
Josie says, “The beauty of the AeroPress is your ability to play with different variables. You can bring out such different flavours and aromas from your AeroPress coffee. When I use my AeroPress at home with our Seasonal Blend I can emphasise its rich body and sweetness or I can adjust the grind size and brewing ratios to bring out its sparkling acidity and fruity flavours.”
Not all coffee flavours extract from the ground beans at the same rate. When you add water to dry coffee grounds, the bitter compounds are the first to extract, followed by the ones responsible for sweetness, juicy acidity, and then finally astringency.
Brew Ratio: the ratio of dry coffee to hot water. The more dry coffee relative to the water, the greater the intensity—but the flavour can become unbalanced. With the AeroPress, 14–16g of dry coffee for 250g of water is a great starting point.
Grind Size: the finer the grind size, the quicker the coffee will extract. This is because you’re increasing the coffee’s surface area that can better interact with the water. A finer grind size usually correlates with fruitier, juicier notes.
Brew Time: the longer the coffee steeps, the more time it has to extract. For this reason you’ll probably want to pair a longer brew time with a coarser grind size.
Water Temperature: the higher the temperature, the quicker the coffee extracts.
Agitation: stirring the water will typically speed up extraction. Even more importantly, it will make sure that all of the coffee is exposed to the water. However, it can be hard to control.
The PuckPuck – cold brew attachment
The PuckPuck is the newest addition to Excelso’s offerings of brew equipment and with the days getting hotter, I think this is the most exciting one for sure!
The PuckPuck is an adjustable plastic valve which fits over the top of the lower chamber of an AeroPress and is just about the easiest, affordable way of making cold brew this summer.
Excelso’s head barista Gus guided us through the brew and it really is just a few basic steps to have your favourite coffee icy cold and refreshing for summer. All you have to do is fill the lower chamber with some ground coffee and a standard AeroPress filter. Then drop a piece of plastic dubbed the ‘splash filter’ on top of the grounds. This fits neatly over the coffee and will make sure it gets an even soaking during the brew and stop the weight of the falling water from shifting the grounds in the chamber below.
Add the PuckPuck itself. The top of the valve has a screw-in attachment to which you can attach the water chamber or even a mineral water bottle turned upside down. The puck-shaped valve is designed in two stacked discs which are twisted to slow or speed up the rate at which water falls into the lower chamber of the AeroPress below. Using nothing but gravity, the dripper will yield around 500 ml of slow-drip cold brew coffee in two and a half to three hours.
Adjusting the valve allows you to control the speed of your brew in line with your taste preferences and urgency. PuckPuck’s brewing guide states that you should aim for a drip rate of around 50 drops per minute in order to get the best results—this will take a three hour run time. But how will you know if you are hitting 50 drops per minute? Enter the PuckPuck app.
In a move which takes coffee geekery to the next level, PuckPuck comes with an app that allows you to easily calculate your drip rate. Gus says, “Having a consistent drip rate is one of the most important steps to making a delicious cold brew.” The app also comes with a set of digital instructions, which will no doubt come in handy when the originals get lost, or too dog-eared to read. Cold brew typically has a high sweetness and incredibly low acidity, making it a perfect pick me up for any time of day.
The Prismo – Espresso attachment
Nicole Melvile, Excelso’s barista trainer, was pretty excited to add the Prismo to her line up of brewing equipment at home.
The Prismo is a pressure-actuated valve designed by Fellow to be used as an attachment with the AeroPress Coffee Maker. Nicole says this little device is unlike anything she has seen before for manual espresso methods. It allows for a serious build-up of pressure to brew espresso-style coffee and its design also creates a no-drip seal. To eliminate the need for paper filters, a reusable 150 micron etched filter stops sludge in its tracks and fits directly over your favourite espresso glass to ‘press a shot’ at home.
The magic of the Prismo is its pressure actuated valve that generates additional pressure and shoots out the brewed shot in a way that forms a creamy mouthfeel and bold flavour. It is key to remember that the crema created in a standard espresso is created through the extreme high pressure of an espresso machine. While the valve generates additional pressure to create an espresso style brew, it is not high enough pressure to affect the way that the water absorbs the CO2 in the coffee (this is the starting phase of creating crema).
Excelso’s popular Stag blend is Nicole’s favourite for the Prismo. She says that the lighter pressure of the Prismo brings out the chocolate notes of the Stag perfectly.
Regardless of your brewing method, remember all great coffee starts with beautiful fresh beans, so make sure you get yours freshly roasted from Excelso Coffee, 112 Third Avenue West, Tauranga and online at www.excelso.co.nz
The team can not only help you with the best beans for your brew but your brewing method too, so pop in and have a chat.