Today I was at one of the Lagani coffee shops in Jogja (which have the best baristas in town!). I ordered me a cup of Siborong-Borong (Sumatra) brewed using the V60 pour-over method. Moments after starting on that cup, the barista came around with a cup of the same coffee (for free!), but made using the Aeropress for me to compare with. What a great opportunity for my first ever side-by-side coffee comparison between brewing methods. Here is what I concluded. (Note: I am by no means an experienced cupper, but rather I am just beginning to understand the subtleties of tasting and describing coffee.)
I will compare the tastes while hot and at room temperature, as I sipped on these coffees over the course of three hours…Yes, you read that write. It took me three hours to drink them. I prefer to call it the art of drinking slow. Plus if it’s quality coffee, the taste doesn’t really diminish as it cools. Jokes on you when you run out of coffee, and I still have half a cup left! Anyways, I digress…Without further ado, here are the results.
Hot and Fresh
There was a very clear and distinguishable difference at this temperature. Visually, the AeroPress seemed to be a bit more cloudy than the V60. The V60 also seemed to have a bit more of a reddish tint.
V60: Very bright and sharp. The high notes were definitely well accented by using the V60, but it did seem to be just a tad bit dry…
AeroPress: Much more mellow. While the same tones could be perceived, they were much more subtle, which led to a much smoother taste. It also had a bit more body.
Winner: Personally, I favored the smoothness of the AeroPress over the pronounced high notes of the V60.
At room temperature, the differences between the two methods almost entirely disappeared.
V60: The flavor mellowed out as it cooled, lending to a much smoother brew like that of the AeroPress. It still seemed to retain a bit more acidity than the AeroPress though.
AeroPress: There was not really any detectable change by my taste. It remained just as smooth as it was at the start, without losing any acidity at the lower temperatures.
Winner: The difference was much more subtle at room temperature. I’m not even really sure I could have told them apart if blind tested…With that said, I still liked the AeroPress a tad more.
The V60 accented the high notes and acidity extremely well, while the AeroPress produced a much smoother, more mellow coffee with a bit more body. I prefer the latter, but at the end of the day just as everyone says, one is not really better than the other. I know, I know…this was yet another competition that ended with no actual winner. I too found this to be a bit frustrating while scouring the Internet for “the best” method to make coffee, but really there just isn’t any way around trying each one for yourself and discovering your own personal preference.
Next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, try your own side-by-side comparison to discover your own favorite, and maybe even take a friend so you don’t have to buy two coffees.