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I was chatting a few days ago with a friend of mine, a fellow coffee geek, about brewing with Aeropress. He claimed he found the best coffee beans for AeroPress. I replied that I doubted he found those beans, and I had my reasons. You’ll see in a bit what I meant, and what my friend had to say about my argument.
I love making coffee with the AeroPress. There are a few reasons I love to use it, but the most important for me is the versatility of this great brewing method. I have more reasons why I like AeroPress brewing, and I’ll touch on the subject later in the article. Versatility though, is more important than all of the other reasons, and this reflects on how we choose the coffee beans and the roast.
A Bit on AeroPress Versatility
AeroPress is probably the most versatile coffee brewing method. Why is it so? Because you can adjust most of the brewing parameters and still get a great cup. Sure the final cup will taste completely different, but it won’t be a bad cup, just different. What does this have to do with the choice of coffee beans?
People associate the AeroPress coffee with drip, espresso, French press and cold brew. And you can obtain the respective cups by modifying the brewing parameters accordingly. I should say you can obtain close versions of those brewing types. We made a comparison between French Press and AeroPress here and a comparison with pour over here.
If you want to get an espresso-like cup, you grind finer, steep less, and use a metallic disk filter. If you want to get a drip-like coffee cup, use the stock paper filter, grind coarser, and use a higher brewing temperature. For a French press mimicking cup, you will use the metallic mesh disk filter, grind a little coarser, and use a brewing temperature in between drip and AeroPress. The possibilities go on, with the grind, brewing temperature, steeping time, pressing time/force, and filter choice.
With so many brewing options, the coffee bean choice doesn’t seem so restricted anymore, does it? You would have to match that bean and roast with the result you want to get, rather than to a “generic AeroPress” brewing. The best way to choose the perfect roast and origin/blend is to master the brewing. Here is our AeroPress brewing guide, if you need a refresh.
The Best Beans for AeroPress – Roast, and Origin
If you are into specialty coffee, you know that roasters can spend quite some time to nail that perfect roast for a bean. At the same time, the coffee lover has their own preference of the roast. The dark roast people don’t care if it’s a single origin, and they don’t care about the terroir. If you want to explore the single origin subject, Perfect Daily Grind has a great article on the subject.
On the other hand, a brewing method will generally suit better a certain roast. Statistically speaking, drip coffee lovers use a dark roast, espresso drinkers use a medium to medium dark roast, whereas light roasts are mostly used for manual brewing, such as pour-over, Greek coffee, cold brew, and other.
If you are into specialty coffee, you probably don’t need this guide. The information above should be enough. Make sure you read the AeroPress brewing guide we mentioned earlier in the page. The guide will show you how to adjust brewing parameters for your favorite single origin beans. Take a peek at our recommendation anyway, maybe one of our suggestions will resonate for you.
Single Origin Coffee
No matter what coffee you love, you should consider a single origin. We are not going to debate the question about single origin vs blend. There are many pros and cons for both of the choices. I personally have a hard time choosing one vs the other. Every time I find a new great single origin, I find an equally great blend. I’d say try both. Since Aeropress is such a versatile brewing method, any beans are appropriate, if you have the brewing parameters correct. My next recommendation is a South American bean that won the recognition of the specialty coffee world. This coffee has the record of being sold at the highest price per pound at a specialty coffee auction. It also won the international Cup of Excellence.
Aida Battle’s Finca Kilimanjaro
If you don’t know who Aida Battle is, read this article published in 2011 in The New Yorker. She has quite an interesting story, is worth reading. The story tells you why the coffee produced by her farm is so prized everywhere in the world.
Aida Battle’s Kilimanjaro is a different South American bean. Most beans and South America are known for their sweetness and nutty undertones. Kilimanjaro is a more complex bean, very similar to African beans. The complex acidity and floral notes remind us of the origin of the cultivar – Kenya. However, Kilimanjaro is a distinctive coffee, retaining the caramel and dark chocolate notes that we are used to when drinking South American coffee.
You can buy this coffee on Blue Bottle’s website.
Beans or Pre-ground?
I recommend you use beans that you grind just before brewing. This is the best way to ensure your coffee is fresh and it doesn’t lose flavor and aroma. Ground coffee loses aroma and flavor a few times faster than beans because there is more contact surface with the air. You can store ground coffee for a few hours without flavor loss, whereas you can store beans for a couple of weeks if you use an airtight container.
Pre-ground means you are stuck with that particular grind size, and you need to adjust all of you brewing parameters around the grind size. This is much more difficult than using an AeroPress recipe as formulated.
If you absolutely need to buy pre-ground coffee, just buy small quantities, and adjust your recipe accordingly.
Any Good Beans Work for AeroPress
Any decent coffee beans are good for AeroPress, but I love great coffee, and I recommend you to aim for greatness every time you brew. Choose specialty coffee, and not the run of the mill. You will be amazed how good coffee can be.
If you don’t know where to start with your trials, just pick any bean that you like and try it. If you would like to try our recommendations, here are some great options.
Espresso Beans – Klatch Coffee
Belle Espresso is a medium dark espresso blend created for pleasing most of the espresso lovers. You can’t go wrong with this blend, even if you are an aficionado.
Belle Espresso is your familiar espresso blend, it has a recognizable taste, but it is more complex than your average blend. This makes it unique and it stands out from the crowd. The familiar notes of chocolate and caramel, that we look for in an espresso, are doubled by a pungent sweetness. The cedar and flower notes are what gives the blend the extra dimension.
Intelligentsia El Diablo, Dark Roast – Drip Coffee
El Diablo by Intelligentsia is a blend aimed at the regular drip coffee lover, however, the blend works well for about any coffee brewing method. The blend is made with African beans and is carefully crafted to maintain consistency. To be honest, though, I tried it in different years and the difference was noticeable. That’s not to say I could choose one year over the other, but it was a different coffee. The inherent acidity and floral notes associated with African coffee is toned down by the dark roast. The beans are darkly roasted, though not as dark as you would expect from the name. The blends I tried were a mix of Kenya and Rwanda a few years ago, and Tanzanian beans just recently.
For the regular drip coffee lover, El Diablo is a perfect blend to try in an AeroPress. The brewed coffee is not overwhelmingly complex, but it’s not a boring one either.
More About AeroPress
Post a comment in the designated area if you have a bean you absolutely love, or if you just need more info on the subject. I’ll try to answer your questions as soon as possible.
A great resource to get answers to your AeroPress questions is Reddit. There are a lot of AeroPress enthusiasts on Reddit, and they are very friendly. You will get an answer to any Aeropress question here.