The Aeropress is a postable coffee brewer that only brews single cups of strong espresso-like coffee. It usually only takes the coffee a minute or so to brew before you press it through a special filter into your mug.
You may be wondering however if pre-ground coffee is acceptable to use in an Aeropress.
In this article, we’ll look at the differences between pre-ground and whole bean coffee for an Aeropress.
What Happens When you Grind Coffee Beans?
The main differences between pre-ground and whole bean coffee can be summarized by referencing taste, freshness, and smell.
Once coffee beans are ground, they start to lose their flavor and aroma pretty quickly. Even pre-ground coffee in vacuum-sealed packages are still at risk of this.
The reason why coffee grounds tend to lose flavor has to do with oxidation and loss of oils.
The majority of the flavor and aroma from coffee come from volatile oils, which are present inside of the coffee bean. When you grind coffee, it disrupts the shell of the bean, releasing the oils.
Once the oils are released, they mix with oxygen in the air. This oxidation happens quickly, and leads to a reduction in aroma and flavor even within minutes.
Coffee Confidential states that up to 60% of the coffee’s aroma is lost within 15 minutes of grinding!
Due to the majority of the flavor in the coffee coming from its oils, that also means that ground coffee is able to soak up odors that are nearby. This may further reduce or contaminate the flavor of pre-ground coffee.
Can You Uuse Pre-Ground Coffee in an Aeropress?
The short answer is yes, you can use pre-ground coffee in an Aeropress. You can use pre-ground coffee for any method of coffee brewing.
However, it’s possible to make a more flavorful and rich cup of coffee if you are using whole bean coffee that you grind yourself.
Not only will grinding the coffee yourself result in better flavor it will also allow you to dial in the correct grind size for Aeropress which will also give you better coffee in the end.
Benefits of Using Pre-Ground Coffee in an Aeropress
There are some upsides to using pre-ground coffee with your Aeropress. The main benefits are time and convenience.
You can save yourself time by buying pre-ground coffee, since you get to skip the step of grinding the beans yourself.
Many people find pre-ground coffee to be a more convenient way to buy and make coffee.
Downsides to Using Pre-Ground Coffee in an Aeropress
The main downsides to using pre-ground coffee in an Aeropress have to do with flavor, aroma, and richness of the coffee.
As mentioned above, the oils that make up the aroma and taste of the coffee start to break down as soon as the coffee bean is ground. If you want the most flavorful cup of coffee, you may want to purchase whole bean coffee and grind it yourself.
The other main problem with using pre-ground coffee is usually the grind size. Most pre-ground coffees come with a medium particle size.
The Aeropress makes it’s coffee best with a fine particle size.
When you brew with a size that’s bigger than ideal you usually get underextracted coffee that may taste a bit sour or watery.
See this post for a comparison of sour vs bitter coffee to learn more about flavor extraction.
What’s the Best Grind Size for Aeropress Coffee and Why?
If you ask ten people how to make the best Aeropress coffee, it’s likely you’ll get ten different recipes and special techniques for the way they make their own favorite brew. There are even yearly competitions to create the best Aeropress brew.
For your best cup of coffee though it’s best to experiment with your grind size.
Finer grinds may require two paper filters to achieve a clear brew without floating coffee particles.
A finer grind will offer a darker, bolder flavored coffee, more like an espresso.
A medium to coarse grind is the standard choice for the Aeropress and can create a delicious, smooth and bold cup of coffee.
A coarse grind can be useful if you find your coffee is too bold, a lighter and sweeter flavor is able to come through.
Experiment with your morning cup of joe and try using different grind sizes, adjusting for an extra paper filter on finer grinds. You may find that using a little more or less coffee, or a slightly different grind size can significantly alter the taste of your brew!
The other way to experiment with your morning brew is to alternate the temperature you use to brew. A slightly lower temperature will bring fewer bitter flavors, lower acidity and allow for a more mellow cup of coffee. If you use a traditional kettle or boil your water over the stove, you can simply wait 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 8 minutes from removing the heat to experiment with different brewing temperatures.
Different grind sizes are used for different purposes in the Aeropress, providing many different recipes and methods of brewing. Finer grinds produce a cup closer to that of espresso, while coarser grinds provide more opportunities for the natural flavors of your coffee beans to shine.
Lastly, How Much Coffee You Put in an Aeropress Matters
Generally it is recommended to put about 14-16 grams of freshly ground whole bean coffee in the Aeropress. It is best to experiment to find your optimal grind, but the usual choice is a medium-coarse grind about the size of ground sea salt.
Most recipes will then call for an additional 30 to 50 grams of water. After brewing is completed, some people may prefer to add additional water to taste preference.
If you like a stronger flavor in your coffee, you may wish to alter the amount of coffee you put into the Aeropress up to 18-20g. It may also help to use a higher brewing temperature or a finer grind if you are finding the flavor of your brew too light.
For an espresso style brew, you might even want to double this amount again and use 30-50g of finely ground coffee.
The Aeropress measuring cup should not be used as an accurate way of measuring your coffee beans. While a dark roast bean with less oil content may spill over more than two Aeropress measuring cups to meet 15g, a light roast may be a shy Aeropress measuring cup. It’s always best to use a kitchen scale to measure your beans.
An easy way to do this is by placing your mug and Aeropress onto your kitchen scale before taring. You can then easily weigh out your coffee grounds and the water ratio is far more accurate. The small addition of a kitchen scale may be all you need to take your Aeropress brewing to the next level.
If you find you’re not getting the robust flavor your want from your Aeropress beans, it may be that the beans are stale or you are using a grind too coarse for the Aeropress.
Some people prefer to use an inverted brewing method for better immersion and bolder flavor. You may also find that using a hotter water temperature (pouring closer to the boiling point) can significantly increase the flavor of a brew.
Making sure to use freshly ground beans will always help to increase flavor.
So to answer the original question, yes, you can use pre-ground coffee in an Aeropress. A trade-off of saving on time and convenience may result in a less flavorful cup of coffee.
If you are concerned about time, you can use pre-ground coffee.
If you are concerned about having the best tasting coffee, you should grind your coffee beans right before brewing them in the Aeropress as discussed above.