When it comes to versatility, few coffee makers—if any—can hold their own against the Aeropress. Looking to brew a filter coffee? Maybe a stronger concentrate like an espresso shot? Or do you want a cold brew for the summer season? Whatever your taste, the Aeropress excels in a simple yet effective manner. In this article, we chose to focus on a novel innovation that allows you to turn your normal Aeropress coffee maker into a mini Dutch/Yama cold brew tower – the Puck Puck. But first, what makes cold brew coffee so good?
An Overview of Cold Brew Coffee
Every time summer approaches, the attention of the coffee world shifts to cold brew coffee. It’s one of the best ways to get a caffeine boost on a hot summer morning. Much of its popularity among coffee enthusiasts is attributed to its unique taste. This unique taste comes from its brewing method.
Brewing coffee is all about extracting particular compounds from the beans. While the outcome of any brewing process depends on numerous factors, two of the most important factors are temperature and time. When you drip brew your average cup of coffee, very hot water passes rapidly through the coffee grounds. This extracts flavors from the beans, but also reacts with other compounds in the grounds, leading to bitterness and acidity.
Cold brew works in almost the exact opposite way that traditional brewing works. The technique relies on low water temperature and long prep time to extract the flavors—but not the acids or oils. Think sous vide cooking! This results in a characteristic mellow, smooth, and sweeter cup. You can make the coffee stronger (by increasing the grounds-to-water ratio) without making the cup too harsh or bitter.
There are multiple ways of preparing cold brew coffee using different apparatuses. One such method is the innovative Puck Puck gadget that turns your good old Aeropress in a cold brew tower. Read for more about the Puck Puck, including our experience using the device.
PS: It’s worth noting that contrary to what many think, cold brew and iced coffee are different beverages. Iced coffee is first brewed with hot water and later chilled—whereas cold brew uses cold water throughout.
What is the Puck Puck?
Fluff aside, the Puck Puck is simply an adjustable plastic disc that is attached directly to an Aeropress. The system features a dispersion screen and a flow restrictor that allows you to control (slow down) the drip rate by twisting a valve. The lower energy extraction process creates a smoother and sweeter flavor—which is great on its own, with milk, or even in a cocktail!
Even cooler (pun intended!), the Puck Puck cold brew gadget allows you to use a standard water bottle for your reservoir. You can either use the issued 500 ml water vessel or impress your colleagues by using a mineral water bottle with a cut-out at the base. The Puck Puck is available for only $35 or 30 British pounds. It does the work of a traditional cold brew tower but for a fraction of the price.
The Puck Puck also comes with a free mobile app for either an iOS or Android device. Essentially, it’s a drip counter that allows you to quickly calibrate the perfect drip rate to produce the best results. While this may initially seem a bit over-engineered, it ends up being very handy for calibrating the appropriate drip rate.
A Hands-On Walk-Through of the Puck Puck
As long-time admirers of the Aeropress, it was only right that we give the Puck Puck a shot. How does it work? Or better yet, how good is its cold brew coffee?
The device catches your attention right off the bat—courtesy of its small, minimalistic packaging design. But we can’t judge a book by its cover, can we? Inside the box we found:
- The valve: This is the actual Puck Puck device. The valve releases water at a controlled (roughly 50-60 drops a minute). It’s fitted with a universal screw system—meaning you can use a compatible mineral water bottle right off the shelf.
- A splash filter: It sits inside your Aeropress and disperses incoming water amongst the coffee grounds.
- Water vessel: Our device came with a 500 ml water vessel that sits on top of the Puck Puck. There’s also a lid that covers the top of the vessel—which is handy if you’re going to leave your coffee to brew for hours. Again, according to the official Puck Puck website, the water vessel is optional and you can use a mineral water bottle in its place—especially while on the go.
- Instruction Guide: This contains the steps, ingredients, cleaning instruction, and tips on using the Puck Puck mobile app.
Assembling these parts is rather straightforward and fool-proof. You basically stack everything on top of one another—starting with the filter, valve, and water vessel, respectively. For the entire setup, add a paper filter to your Aeropress filter cap and fill up the lower chamber with your coffee grounds. Now toss the splash filter on top of the grounds and slide your Puck Puck valve onto the Aeropress, followed by the water vessel.
Tip: Ensure the ‘collecting jug’ is big enough to hold at least 400 ml of water and melted ice that you’re going to pour onto the Aeropress. By using a mug or glass, you run the risk of an overflow—which is messy and a waste of caffeine!
Let’s Get to Brewing!
- Coffee grounds – 38 grams medium-ground coffee. In our demonstration, we used Taylor’s Lazy Sunday. The nice, sweet, and easygoing characteristics of the bag make for a beautiful cup of cold brew. If you’re using slightly older coffee grounds you can pre-wet them—but make sure you deduct the amount of water you use for pre-wetting from the amount you add to the vessel on top.
- Water – 400 ml
- Ice cubes – 100 grams (roughly the content of a standard ice cube tray)
- The Puck Puck
- Mobile App timer
- We assembled the Aeropress and Puck Puck as described above – i.e., Aeropress filter, Aeropress chamber, 38 grams coffee grounds, splash filter, Puck Puck valve, and water vessel (in that order). This setup was then placed on top of our relatively large jug to hold the brew.
- We placed the ice cube in the water vessel, followed by the water.
- Immediately after that, we started turning the valve (the top part) as per the manufacturer’s instructions. The aim is to screw it tight enough to achieve a drip rate of 50-60 drops per minute. Although you can do this manually, we decided to leverage their free mobile app. Due to the dark color of the Aeropress, it might be tricky to see the drops coming through. For this reason, consider holding the apparatus up to a window (or any other light source) and start counting the drops that come off the top.
- After achieving a steady flow, we used the mobile app’s drip counter to find the perfect drip rate. When the app gives you a green light, you’re good to go.
- We left the coffee to brew about 2-3 hours. When the time was up, we took off the Puck Puck and Aeropress and transferred the coffee to a more appropriate drinking vessel.
- Depending on your preferences, you can mix this coffee with milk, add some ice to make it a longer drink, or use it in a cocktail such as an espresso martini. (PS: You can whip up a large batch of fresh cold brew coffee and store it in your refrigerator for up to two weeks).
- Finally, we gave it a whirl!
Tasting Notes – How Amazing (Or Not) Was the Aeropress Cold Brew Coffee?
Our brew had a lovely dark chocolate flavor. The roast was beautiful. It was sweeter than you’d get from using hot water. The smoothness had a few question marks—we didn’t get the nice creamy mouthfeel we expected from the coffee beans, but overall still quite satisfying.
The coffee was crisp, clean, a full of flavor. If you like your coffee strong, then you’ll love this coffee – it’s not too thin or watered down. Simply put, it was full-bodied, flavorful, cool, and refreshing.
For $35, the Puck Puck is a steal! It’s a great accessory for coffee enthusiasts – it’s easy to use, versatile, portable, and relatively easy to clean. As you get ready for summer (i.e., cold brew season), this is a fun accessory that you should have in your inventory. If you experience any setbacks in your brewing process, you can check out troubleshooting tips from the Puck Puck website.