AeroPress vs Pour Over - Which One Makes Better Coffee?
There are countless ways to brew coffee manually. These various methods are some of the hottest trends in coffee today.
So, it might be overwhelming to walk into a shop and see the "brew bar" fully stocked with what appears to be the tool collection of a mad scientist or something you saw in Breaking Bad.
But, those are - indeed - tools for making coffee by hand.
AeroPress vs Pour Over
A couple of the devices you may see on a brew bar at your local coffee place are the AeroPress or a variety of pour over devices.
AeroPress brewing is, basically, pressurized French press brewing. Put the coffee in the device, add water, wait and press the plunger down. Voila! Coffee!
Pour over coffee utilizes the same basic principles of automatic drip, except you do it by hand - thus controlling the process more exactly. Usually, these techniques utilize a cone, a paper filter, and a mug or decanter.
Differences in taste
You can expect a full-bodied coffee which showcases some of the fruit, but a fair amount of mouthfeel and weight in the cup and on the tongue.
Flavors like nuts, must, dark fruits, figs, etc may be much more likely to manifest themselves in this sort of method.
Also, have fun with the variables. You are pretty much guaranteed to make something drinkable. This particular aspect of the brewing, its flexibility, makes it one of the best methods when you need good coffee fast or are first breaking into manual brewing.
You can plan on a coffee that highlights the origin and what makes the coffee you are drinking unique. You can expect limited body, but tons of fruits and floral notes.
Be strict with your technique, it is important with these methods.
Find a process that works for you and learn it well. Learn to replicate it and you will be on the road to the best coffee you have ever had.
Many people find that pour over coffee can display the flaws in your brewing technique obviously. But, once this method is perfected, off flavors will be few and far between.
Differences in brew time
AeroPress brewing shines when it comes to the time to brew. While you can experiment with a number of variables that may slightly affect the time required, you will pretty much have drinkable coffee in 2 minutes.
Of course, the AeroPress process is highly configurable, so this range could actually be more like 1-4 minutes for AeroPress coffee. But, on average, you are looking at 2 minutes.
As I have mentioned, pour over coffee operates on the same principles as automatic drip coffee. Given this fact, you can expect that a pour over brew will require about as much time as your automatic dripper at a maximum.
In fact, most pour over drip cones call for about a 3:30 - 4:00 minute brew time if all variables are dialed in properly.
And that really is the kicker - if your variables are not properly set, you will experience wildly variated brew times. That is, if your grind is too fine the brew will take longer - too coarse? The opposite. If your water is too hard, you could experience longer extraction time as well.
Differences in ease of use
Not much is easier than pressing down a plunger.
Add to that the fact that the variables can be manipulated within a massive range and you have a pretty easy-to-use brewing solution.
AeroPress, once you learn the systems, is fairly easy to replicate even for a beginner. But, that does not mean that - as previously discussed - the format is without means of expansion.
All of that is to say, if you can give a half an hour to learn the brew method - you will be good to go.
I have touched on this a little bit already but, pour-over coffee is definitely a learned skill.
To adopt an old adage, "practice makes perfect".
Unlike the AeroPress, you will not be able to fake it when you are doing pour-over coffee. There are, I kid you not, videos about how to pour the water onto the coffee.
What's even more unbelievable? It actually makes a discernible difference.
All of this is to say, pour-over coffee is much more difficult to perfect and you probably won't love the experience of drinking coffee made by a pour-over beginner.
Differences in portability
The AeroPress, given its fairly compact size, is my brewer of choice for short road trips. Furthermore, with a bit of experimentation, you can pretty much use whatever coffee at whatever (within reason) coarseness is available to you.
For portability, I am not sure it gets much better than an AeroPress.
I cannot recommend pour-over coffee as your travel set-up.
Typically, a number of different pieces of equipment are required. Those include:
If you cannot have all of this equipment and don't have perfect muscle memory - I do not think you will be best served by pour-over on the road.
Differences in ease of clean up
AeroPress brewing demands very little clean up.
Of course, you should always thoroughly clean your brewing equipment when you are finished. That should go without saying.
But, what process could be simpler than dumping the leftover puck and rinsing out the pieces?
Again, cleaning up is fairly simple. Rinse everything off and you should be golden.
There are a few things to remember when considering which of these methods to choose from.
First, if portability and ease are something you are after, strongly consider getting or using an AeroPress. It is unbeatable for ease and portability. On top of that, there is such a high level of flexibility for experimentation that you can fine tune your coffee to get the exact flavor profile you want.
Second, the flavor produced by each brewing method considered here is merely different. Neither the coffee produced by an AeroPress or a pour over is any “better” objectively. It is all about preference.
Finally, in summary, here's a few points to remember: