Alton Brown's Go-To Gadget For The Perfect Cup Of Coffee

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Since the pilot episode of "Good Eats" aired in 1998 on Chicago's WTTW, Alton Brown has become a beloved figure for millions of home chefs across America. Despite possessing a laid-back demeanor and easygoing humor reminiscent of a game show host (which he later became on Iron Chef America), it's evident that he's a whiz in the kitchen, as evidenced by his meticulous approach to cooking and the countless nuggets of cookery wisdom he had dispensed over the years. But beyond his culinary expertise, Brown, a self-proclaimed coffee addict, is also renowned for his coffee brewing tips. In an interview with Men's Journal, he shared one secret he believes is the key to a perfect morning brew: the AeroPress!


It may sound strange that a plastic tube selling for less than $40 gets such high praise from a celebrity chef than a pricey espresso machine. Of course, Brown has his reasons: "It makes the perfect blend between a drip coffee and an espresso!"

An AeroPress is super versatile

He's talking about one of the best things about the AeroPress: its versatility. Although, initially, it has a steeper learning curve than other equipment, the control it offers over the brewing process means that with the right volumetric balance and grind size, you can tailor your brew to suit your taste perfectly. An AeroPress can be used to make a cup that is light and smooth by using a coffee ground with a medium grain size and a longer steeping time. Or, if you prefer your morning coffee with the strength and robustness of espresso, you can use finer ground and a quicker, firmer extraction.


Sure, it's not quite identical to either — AeroPress coffee tends to be bolder than filter coffee but milder than espresso — but if you seek a brew that balances smoothness and boldness, sweetness and acidity, the AeroPress is up to the task; Brown's a fan of this fine balance in flavor, too!

Brewing coffee with an AeroPress

If you've ever used a French press before, you'll get the hang of it very quickly. After all, the AeroPress is more or less the 21st-century version of the French press. You also fill its filters with coffee grounds, soak it with hot water, and press down on the AeroPress to force the coffee "juice" out of the wet grounds.


For a smooth, filter coffee-like cup, use a medium grind (think table salt consistency) and water just off the boil. Preheat the AeroPress, add the ground coffee, then pour in the hot water and stir. Place the plunger on top to create a seal, and let it steep for about a minute. After steeping, give it another quick stir, and gently press down with steady pressure until you hear a hissing sound. This process yields a clean, smooth brew.

If you prefer a bolder, espresso-like coffee, use a finer grind and slightly cooler water around 195 degrees Fahrenheit (the lower temperature prevents over-extraction.) Follow the same brewing steps as above, but without the full minute steep – just a quick 25-second stew in the hot water will do for your coffee ground. Then, plunge forcefully until all the coffee has been pushed out. Enjoy your "espresso" straight up, or mix it with milk for a mellower drink ... your choice!