How to Make Espresso-style Coffee with an Aeropress
While some folks are perfectly alright with Cowboy Coffee brewed over an open fire, we know that, for those who enjoy the finer things, creating a premium coffee experience in the backcountry is non-negotiable. We’ve teamed up with our local coffee expert, Brandon Litun of Smoking Gun coffee, to give us the low down on his off-the-grid espresso making method using VSSL JAVA and an Aeropress.
Can you make an espresso shot using an Aeropress? In short (and if you ask James Hoffman) - no. Espresso is a brew method that uses high pressure to extract a lot out of the coffee in a short period of time. This is a precise method that has developed over time with new technology, materials, and knowledge of the process - there's a reason the price tag of espresso machines can range from $500-$5000+ for home style machines. If you're looking for a perfectly dialed espresso shot with thick golden crema, I'd suggest pulling up to your favorite coffee shop and let the pro's do their work.
But can you make espresso style coffee with an Aeropress? Something big, bold, velvety, and strong? After some brew testing, I'd say absolutely! Though the manual extraction pressure of an Aeropress will be far less than an electric espresso machine, it is still possible to make a delicious, concentrated coffee shot at home or in the wild. Here's one simple method:
18g finely ground coffee
125g boiling water (200F or 30s off rolling boil)
Total brew time: 1:50
First gather up your gear - grab your VSSL JAVA Grinder; Aeropress; paper filter; spoon; cup (something sturdy - you'll be putting a lot of pressure on it and want to avoid something that could break); kettle; scale (optional); freshly roasted coffee.
1) Boil water to approx 200F (or 30 seconds off rolling boil)
2) Grind 18g of coffee finely - I adjusted the VSSL Java to its finest setting, then backed off 7 or 8 clicks. Grinding will take longer at this finer setting (good thing the Java is so smooth!) *If you don't have a scale, the attached cup on the grinder holds approx 18g when full
3) Insert Aeropress filter into the black filter attachment, insert into bottom of Aeropress and rinse the filter to remove papery taste
4) Add coffee into Aeropress, get ready to add around 125g of water
5) Bloom - add about 30g of water (or just enough to wet all grounds), stir a few times, wait for 20s
6) Brew - add the remaining water (125g total, or to the middle of the "2" marker on the Aeropress if you don't have a scale). Stir a few times, then quickly insert the plunger slightly into the Aeropress and gently pull back slightly, making a suction seal. Let brew for 1:30 total
7) Press - press firmly but with control until all water is passed through (15-20s). The result will be between 3-4oz of concentrated coffee
8) Enjoy every sip!
- I found that adding two paper filters increased the plunge resistance, resulting in more body in the coffee.
- The VSSL Java Grinder has an enormous range of grind sizes - experiment a few clicks at a time. I found that anything under 7 clicks from the finest setting was difficult to grind due to the small burr size.
- Brewing longer increased the perceived strength of the coffee shot but also the bitterness - this will be coffee dependent. Experiment with a 1:45-2min total brew time and see what you like.
- Steamed milk hack: add warm milk to a French Press, then vigorously plunge up and down to create textured mil.
- Add ice, about 4oz of milk and enjoy an iced latte!
Brandon Litun is the founder and head roaster of Smoking Gun Coffee Roasters based in the Fraser Valley, BC. Brandon has been in the coffee industry for many years, working as a barista in cafés around western Canada, consulting with some of the best roasters and coffee leaders in the Pacific Northwest, and competing in several local festivals and events.
Brandon discovered roasting coffee to be an incredibly dynamic, sensory, and therapeutic process, and recklessly threw himself at it, eventually founding SG out of his garage as a side hustle in 2015. In winter 2019, SG partnered with a local brewery and launched its first production roastery with a focus on wholesale. This was quickly impacted by the pandemic that closed many businesses in spring 2020.
In an effort to pivot, SG quickly launched a "curbside café" which was warmly received by the community and provided an opportunity to develop the service side of the business. This momentum also resulted in SG signing a lease on a new brick and mortar café/roastery in Chilliwack BC (launching summer 2021). SG's goal is to craft exceptional coffee experiences, and to make the dynamic world of specialty coffee accessible to everyone. SG works hard to offer a range of coffees - from light and bright to dark and classic, including dope decaf!