Standard Vs Inverted Aeropress

Inverted vs. Standard Aeropress Method – Which Makes Better Coffee?

If you’re reading this article, you already know that there are two main ways of brewing coffee on the Aeropress: the standard and inverted methods.

Essentially, the difference between these two methods is what position the Aeropress is in when you steep your coffee grinds in hot water: upright (standard) or upside-down (inverted).

But there is much more to it.

Let’s go into the details of each method, their pros and cons, and how each affects your final cup of coffee.

Standard vs. Inverted Aeropress Method Differences

Both methods produce a great cup of coffee, but some subtle differences exist.

Brewing technique differences

The original way of brewing coffee with the Aeropress, as invented by Alan Adler, is the standard method.

Here is a delicious recipe I use for the standard method. I’ve tweaked it from the original recipe.

To brew in the standard method, screw the moist filter into the brewing chamber, add your ground coffee, hot water, and stir a bit. After a 30-120 second brew time, you press the plunger down to push the coffee into your mug.

Upright

The inverted method is a newer way to brew with an Aeropress.

Here are detailed instructions for this method (also called upside-down) as well, but this is how it works in short.

To brew in the inverted method, you put the plunger into the brewing chamber, so they overlap by 1-2 cm. Add your coffee grounds and hot water, stir, and brew for as long as you like. In the end, you screw the filter onto the brewing chamber, flip the Aeropress over and press the plunger down.

Inverted

So, what’s the difference in brewing technique between the two methods? 

The main difference is in which position you let your coffee bloom and steep. With the standard method, the filter is at the bottom; conversely, the grinds and water steep on the plunger with the inverted method.

Dripping

One thing is not ideal with the original Aeropress recipe: “coffee” starts dripping into your cup, since the moist paper filter allows the coffee to pass through way sooner than it should.

The problem with dripping is this:

  • These drips aren’t real coffee yet, since the water has not been in contact with the coffee grinds long enough. It is still under-extracted.
  • This adversely affects your coffee-to-water ratio, since some of your brewing water drips away.
Coffee Dripping On Cup

Can you stop the dripping with the standard method?

Yes, but not entirely if you’re using a paper filter.

After you stop stirring the coffee, you should quickly place the plunger into the brewing chamber, thereby hermetically sealing it. This creates negative pressure against the coffee that would otherwise be drawn through the filter by gravity.

The dripping will instantly stop, but this is not a 100% solution, since you still had some dripping while you were stirring.

Coffee Driping 1

To completely stop dripping with the standard method, you need to use 3rd party metal filters, such as:

  • Joepresso
  • Fellow Prismo

With the inverted method, there is no dripping at all, since you are not steeping on the filter.

Extraction differences

The different brewing methods result in differing extraction:

  • The drips of coffee that pass through the filter with the upright method are under-extracted since they have not been in contact with the hot water long enough.
  • However, when you use the inverted method, the coffee and water are in full contact during brewing, ensuring even extraction.
  • You have more control over the extraction process as there is no dripping. You can be sure that the exact coffee-to-water ratio you meticulously measured will stay constant.
  • Additionally, when you flip the Aeropress, the coffee oils that otherwise rise to the top are mixed back into the brew. These oils are not really present in the resulting coffee of the standard method, since the oils stay on top where the plunger touches the coffee grounds as you push down.

Sinking of coffee grounds

As you steep your coffee with the regular method after stirring, the coffee grounds will sink to the bottom of the brewing chamber.

They will collect on the filter and become packed by the time you push down on the plunger. 

This creates a natural self-filtering layer, more pressure, and a slightly stronger cup of coffee.

The inverted method is exactly the opposite. It resembles the French press’s immersion brewing, since the grounds are mixed into the liquid when you flip the Aeropress over. 

Flexibility to experiment

This upside-down method of brewing coffee with the Aeropress solves the standard method’s dripping problem, which results in some definite advantages:

  • You can stir, bloom, and steep your coffee for as long as you want without any dripping at all, which results in even extraction and a full-bodied cup.
  • You can use coarser grinds or lower-temperature water, and adjust your brew time as you wish.
  • You can even make cold brew with the Aeropress because you can go coarser and let it steep longer.

The traditional method does not allow for extended steep times, making it somewhat limited in this regard. 

Taste differences

Both methods produce great coffee. I do feel a difference in taste, but I’m not sure people who are not as involved with coffee would notice.

I’ve compared the 2 methods with exactly the same recipes side by side, and noticed that:

  • The inverted method produces a lighter, fruitier coffee.
  • The standard method produces a bolder, heavier cup.

You should definitely test both yourself and see if you can taste the subtle differences.

Pros and Cons of each method

If you’ve read everything up till now, you’ll already have a pretty good idea of the benefits and disadvantages of each Aeropress brewing method.

Here is a summary.

Standard method

Pros

  • Simpler to carry out
  • Results in bolder coffee
  • Extra pressure from packed coffee grounds after steeping

Cons

  • Dripping
  • Inconsistent coffee-water ratio

Inverted method

Pros

  • Complete saturation of all coffee grinds
  • Exact control of the coffee-water ratio
  • Room to experiment with variables (coarser grinds, grams of coffee, water volume & temperature, brewing time)

Cons

  • It is slightly harder to carry out.
  • If the plunger is not placed far enough into the chamber, the pressure from the releasing gases might blow the plunger off when you flip it over. This can create serious burns and a huge mess.

Which method is ultimately better?

There are a lot of online discussions about which method people like better, such as this Reddit thread.

It’s also interesting to note that many 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place recipes at the yearly Aeropress championships call for the inverted method.

This topic has no real answer. The resulting coffee is not the same, and the techniques differ. Most people will not notice any major taste differences, but I prefer the standard method. I like the taste of the coffee a bit more.

Which one do you like better, and why? Please let me know in a comment!

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