How to use an AeroPress: 6 steps to coffee-making success

how to use an aeropress | aeropress xl on kitchen countertop
(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

From drip to pour over, and French press to espresso, there are various types of coffee machine to choose from. Yet one has established itself as the almost perfect blend (excuse the pun) of each – the AeroPress.

Promising the ease of a French press, the precision of pour-over, the full-bodied coffee of an espresso and the clarity of drip, the AeroPress uses a 3-in-1 brewing process – immersion, aeration, and pressure. 

It's a combination which has seen the AeroPress become one of the best coffee makers on the market. And all for the starting price of $39.95. 

Tools & requirements

- AeroPress

- Filters

- Coffee grounds

- Water

In this guide, we'll provide step-by-step instructions on how to use an AeroPress using the Original method. You can also use the Inverted method which I detail in the FAQs. 

The model I used is the AeroPress XL but the techniques also apply to the original AeroPress and AeroPress Clear

Quick steps: How to use an AeroPress

  1. Screw cap and filter onto chamber
  2. Pour coffee grounds into chamber and cover with water
  3. Stir and leave to infuse (timing depends on taste)
  4. Slowly push plunger into chamber
  5. Remove chamber and dispose of puck
  6. Prepare your drink and enjoy

Step by step guide: How to use an AeroPress

1. Screw cap and filter onto chamber

(Image: © Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Place your filter of choice into the plastic AeroPress cap, screw the cap onto the chamber and balance the chamber on top of the carafe with the cap at the bottom. You can buy white, and unbleached paper filters, or a reusable stainless steel filter . Just make sure you get the correct size for the AeroPress you're using. The original AeroPress and AeroPress Clear use the regular sized Micro-Filters, the XL uses XL Micro-Filters. 

2. Pour coffee grounds into chamber on top of carafe

(Image: © Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Fill the AeroPress scoop with the coffee grounds of your choice and pour the grounds into the chamber. Keep adding coffee grounds until you reach the desired amount before covering them in water. 

The amount, and temperature of the water will depend on what drink you're making. The numbers on the side of the chamber relate to the number of scoops being used, which in turn correlates to the number of drinks. For example, if you're making two drinks and you're using two scoops, you'll fill the water to the number "2" on the chamber, and so on.

Tweaking the coffee-to-water ratio will produce different results and this is where the experimentation and versatility comes in. 

3. Stir and leave to infuse/steep

(Image: © Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Using the long plastic stirrer, mix the coffee grounds and water together inside the chamber. Don't worry if a small amount of liquid escapes through the filter, this is normal. As long as the coffee isn't pouring through, it's fine. 

You can then either move on to the next step immediately, or leave the coffee to steep in the chamber for a few minutes. As a rule, the finer your grind, the shorter the brew time and while it's recommend that you steep for two-three minutes, this depends on your personal taste. 

4. Slowly push plunger into chamber

(Image: © Future / Victoria Woollaston)

When you're ready, push the plunger into the chamber. This creates an air-tight seal and starts to create the pressure needed to push the coffee through the filter into the carafe. As you slowly push the plunger into the chamber, the pressure builds and the coffee is aerated and extracted into the carafe below. 

5. Remove chamber and dispose of puck

(Image: © Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Once the brewing is complete, remove the chamber and cap and (while it's positioned over a bin or composter) continue to push the plunger through the chamber until you hear a small pop. This sound is the coffee puck and filter being removed. 

6. Prepare your drink and enjoy

(Image: © Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Once you've brewed your coffee, you can then prepare it how you like it. The instructions come with four AeroPress coffees to try to get you started: Americano, latte, cold brew, and espresso.

To make an americano, you follow the method above before adding more water. To make a latte, cappuccino or flat white, you mix your AeroPress coffee with varying amounts of warm, frothy milk. You can also add ice cubes for for iced versions of your favorite drinks, or drink the coffee as it comes. 

How to use an AeroPress: FAQs

What is the Inverted method? 

The Inverted AeroPress method is similar to the Original but instead of placing the grounds and water on top of the filter and cap in the chamber, you connect the plunger and turn the chamber upside down. 

From here you pour the grounds and water into the chamber so they sit on the silicone seal and let them steep for the desired time before flipping it over. 

The Inverted method is popular because you avoid any of the initial water leaking through the filter until the coffee has had time to steep. However, it takes a bit of practice, and confidence, to flip over a chamber full of hot water. Especially on the AeroPress XL. 

Do you use boiling water for AeroPress? 

AeroPress recommends heating the water to 175°F / 80°C for hot drinks, or using room temperature water for cold brews. These are considered to be the ideal temperatures for extracting coffee. It's not advisable to use boiling water as it can burn the coffee and make it taste bitter. 

Final thoughts

AeroPress machines are great for both newbies and aficionados because they offer as much nuance as you need or want. It can be difficult to achieve consistency, unless you're precisely weighing and measuring, but I've yet to have a bad coffee from the AeroPress, just good and less good. 

Victoria Woollaston
TTR Contributing Editor

Victoria Woollaston is a freelance lifestyle and technology journalist with almost two decades of experience reviewing gadgets, beauty tech and household appliances for the likes of WIRED, TechRadar, Expert Reviews, Alphr and more.