By Seth Brown.
I love the concept of doing (relatively) controlled, scientifically sound experiments around some of the voodoo in the coffee-snob world.
I’ve always wanted to set up a controlled panel with expert tasters and properly blind-test some common AeroPress myths. My hypothesis is that many common “best practices”, such as rinsing the filter, a separate “bloom” stage, and water-pouring techniques, don’t have any noticeable effect on taste and are therefore unnecessary. In reality, I don’t know whether I’ll ever set up such an event.
But I do have some doubts about Seth’s results. For one, coffee preferences vary widely — he doesn’t even specify whether any testers added dairy or sweeteners, which radically swing the flavor in uncontrolled ways and severely reduce the detectable differences between the actual coffees.
He also doesn’t specify which AeroPress method led him to conclude that a blade grinder is better than a burr grinder. The AeroPress can brew a lot of different flavors and strengths depending on method, ratio, and grind size. Coarser grinds wouldn’t see much benefit from a burr grinder,1 but a finer grind would, and the grind size has a major effect on the coffee’s taste in my (admittedly uncontrolled) experience. The ratio of beans to water also has a huge effect — using a fairly diluted ratio (or preferring a very dark roast) might explain why he didn’t detect much difference between bean freshness or origin.
I’m glad to see some real experimentation, though, rather than someone’s ritualistic voodoo placebo.
Unless you’re grinding coarsely for a French press, in which case a burr grinder reduces the amount of accidentally-fine particles that fall through the filter and form sludge on the bottom of your cup.
The AeroPress, with its paper filter, doesn’t have that problem and can accept any grind level. Some people even use it like a French press — inverted, coarse grind, long brew time — but that’s not all it can do. ↩︎