To invert or not to invert? That is the question for users of the AeroPress, the manual brewer invented by the Stanford University lecturer who also invented the Aerobie flying ring -- two tubes of plastic respectively outfitted with a plunger and a filter for making what many pros consider an excellent cup of coffee.
If the winning method at the 2013 U.S. AeroPress Championship this weekend at the Specialty Coffee Assn. of America Symposium is any indication, then invert. Well, it's a little more complicated than that. Andy Sprenger, former head roaster at Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis, Md., won this year's competition not only by upending the brewer but by pre-brewing 8 grams of grinds through a Hario V60 conical filter fitted for the AeroPress. That coffee drips into the chamber, which holds additional grinds (10 more grams) that then go through the standard AeroPress filter. Kind of shocking. It won most innovative method. (The coffee news site Sprudge created a video tutorial, embedded above.)
The inverted method of using the AeroPress has always been fairly popular. Instead of placing grinds in the filter end of one tube and then plunging with the other tube, the brewer is assembled so that you can pour the coffee over the plunger, add water, screw on the filter, then flip and plunge. But many coffee experts say it's unnecessary. Tim Wendelboe, of the eponymous Norwegian roastery, said in a Times article about the AeroPress that he prefers to use it "the traditional way" ("with a properly rinsed filter and preheated AeroPress," of course). "If you put the plunger on while extracting, there is very little coffee that drains from the press due to the vacuum effect it creates," he said.
But the great thing about the AeroPress is its versatility, and coffee-making recipes for it seem endless. A recently available app called AeroPress Timer walks users through various popular methods, including one called the Charlene, named after 2012 World AeroPress Championship winner Belgian barista Charlene De Buysere, who used it right side up.
Sprenger will be flown to Melbourne, Australia, to represent the U.S. in the 2013 World AeroPress Championship held during the World Barista Championship May 23 to 25.