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Aeropress vs V60
Aeropress or V60? It’s a question that we’re often asked here at Small Batch, so we went down to the lab to put it to barista trainer Max.
Hi Max! Let’s start by asking, what is a V60 and what is an Aeropress?
Hi Small Batch! Well, the name V60 is actually a model of pourover made by Hario. There are loads of great pourovers, like Chemex, Kalita or even old drip filters and they all work in essentially the same way – by constantly and gently percolating water all the way through the coffee bed. This is in contrast to an immersion brew (like a cafetiere or Aeropress where the coffee grounds are immersed fully in water before being filtered). This method should usually give our coffee a lighter, brighter, cleaner body and flavour.
Trainer Max examining his V60 in the Small Batch Lab
We tend to use paper filters with the V60 (although you can use metal filters in many pourovers if you want more body). You can choose between bleached and unbleached. I’m a big fan of the bleached papers; I find that unbleached can impart a musty sort of taste to the coffee which is at odds with the light, clean cup that we’re after and can get in the way of the lovely juicy acidity which this brew method really brings out.
Bleached and unbleached V60 filter papers
Ok, that’s a good intro to the V60. What about the Aeropress?
So the Aeropress was invented back in 2005 by Alan Adler who invented the Aerobie (the best Frisbee of all time albeit with a design perfect for getting stuck in trees). He designed the Aeropress as a method to make espresso at home or on the go. Now I would say that the coffee you make in an Aeropress isn’t really like espresso because you simply can’t replicate the 9 bars of pressure that an espresso machine will pull.
The Aerobie. Very easily lost in a tree
However the Aeropress is still an awesome way of making coffee and it’s been an incredible success since it was launched. You can make all kinds of coffees in an Aeropress, from a light delicate, filter-like coffee through to something almost like an espresso. Perhaps more like a long-black.
So it’s very versatile and there’s plenty of scope to play around with brew methods and techniques. As we mentioned before, it’s an immersion brew but then paper filtered so you get the best of both worlds. Or you can get metal filters which allow a bit more of the body, coffee oils and bean fibres through so you get something a bit more akin to a cafetiere.
Ok cool. Let's make some coffee!
So we’ll start with the V60. We’re going to use 20g coffee for 330ml of water which is sticking to the 60g per litre ratio. You want your coffee ground medium fine, like cracked black pepper. We want to rinse the paper with hot water which will do a few things. First it gets rid of any papery taste that the filter might impart and second it heats up the V60 and the mug.
Rinsing the filter
Dump your rinse water and add your coffee to the V60. Now we’re going to add 2-3 times the amount of coffee in water (so 60g of water). This is called the bloom or pre-infusion and it helps to let the coffee release some of its CO2 and also saturate all the grounds evenly.
Pre-infusing the V60
After about 30 seconds we’re going to add the rest of the water (270g) starting in the centre and making our way to the outside in concentric circles. Pour slow and steady, ideally matching the flow of the water going in to the V60 to that which is coming out into the mug, keeping the temperature of the brew constant.
Slow and steady pouring
And just before it finishes I like to give the V60 a little wobble and a tap to settle the bed of coffee at the bottom of the brew. And there we have a delicious mug of Kenyan Filter coffee, ready in 3 minutes!
Delicious Kenyan Filter Coffee
On to the Aeropress. We’re going to use the inverted method which I find gives a more consistent and even brew. We want to use 13-14g of coffee for about 200ml of water which is more like 65-70g coffee per litre of water. Grind your coffee slightly finer than for the V60 and again we want to heat up our equipment and rinse the filter. Add some hot water to the Aeropress, attach the lid with paper filter and press out into your mug.
Pre-heating the Aeropress and mug
Add your coffee to the Aeropress and pour in 40-50g of water, giving the brew a quick stir to pre-infuse those grounds and make sure no coffee gets clumped at the bottom.
Pre-infusing the Aeropress
Then we’re going to add the rest of the water (150-160g). Attach the lid and leave it to brew for about a minute and a half.
Fill her up!
Then stick your cup on top, turn the whole lot over and start to plunge. When you hear a hissing sound, stop pressing and you’ve got yourself a cup of lovely Aeropress brewed coffee
Pressing the Aeropress
Both the Aeropress and the V60 are super easy to clean (as opposed to say, a cafetiere). With the Aeropress, you just pop the puck of coffee out the end into your bin or compost and rinse and grounds off the end of the plunger. And the V60 is even easier, just pop the whole filter paper, grounds and all into the bin or compost
So, which is better then Max?
It really depends on what you’re after. I use them both and like different coffees brewed different ways. For example, say I’ve got a light-bodied coffee with lots of acidity then I’m probably gonna use my V60, whereas if I’ve got a coffee with a bit more body then I’ll use my aeropress. It’s a bit like asking which is better – a shower or a bath? Or would you prefer roast chicken or fried chicken? Both are delicious and better suited to different situations!
Aeropress Coffee on the left vs V60 Coffee on the right. The slightly browner colour of the Aeropress is due to more body and coffee solids being present in the coffee where the cleaner colour of the V60 shows that these have been filtered out
I like to use an Aeropress if I’ve only got two minutes to make a coffee before I run out the door. It uses a smaller amount of coffee (so I can grind it quicker) and then the brew time is pretty swift and in a very short time I’ve got an awesome cup of coffee for my morning brew. However, on a Sunday morning, if I’ve got a bit more time and am making breakfast for me and my wife, I can brew up a whole lot more coffee with the V60. It’s a great one-cup brewer but stick a 2 cup V60 on a coffee pot and you can brew up to a litre of coffee. Also, as a barista and coffee-nerd I really enjoy the process, the ceremony and the aromas of brewing a pourover coffee.
Thanks Max! If people are interested in learning how to brew their coffee at home properly then what should they do?
Well you can book a Home Brew course here in the lab or you can find brew guide videos for the Aeropress, V60 and more on our Youtube channel. Both the V60 and the Aeropress are available in store and online from Small Batch
Great! And below is a little infographic summary of the Aeropress vs V60. Our conclusion - get both!