Like most coffee geeks – at The Coffee Bazaar we are massive fans of both cold brew and Aeropress coffee. So we were very intrigued when the PuckPuck cold brew coffee dripper attachment for the Aeropress landed on our desk.
The PuckPuck gizmo is a compact filter designed to turn your Aeropress into a portable cold drip filter coffee machine.
The attachment has been designed by London’s trendy Two at Six studio. It was first launched via a Kickstarter campaign last year, but is now available on the open market and destined for big things.
How the PuckPuck hardware works
The PuckPuck is essentially an adjustable plastic valve which fits over the top part of the lower chamber of an Aeropress filter.
All you have to do is fill the lower chamber with some ground coffee and a standard Aeropress filter. Then drop a piece of plastic dubbed the “splash filter” on top of the grounds. This fits neatly over the coffee and will make sure it gets an even soaking during the brew and stop the weight of the falling water from shifting the grounds in the chamber below.
Then you add the PuckPuck itself. This is essentially an adjustable plastic valve which fits over the bottom an Aeropress – you know, where the syringe pump attachment thingy normally goes.
The top of the valve has a screw in attachment to which you can attach a chamber of water – or even a mineral water bottle turned upside down. The included cahmber is designed to accommodate 400ml of water and 100ml of ice. The puck-shaped valve is designed in two stacked disks which are twisted to slow or speed up the rate at which water falls into the lower chamber of the Aeropress below.
Using nothing but gravity the dripper will yield around 500 ml of slow-drip cold brew coffee in two and a half to three hours. Adjusting the valve allows you to control the speed of your brew in line with your taste preferences and urgency.
PuckPuck’s brewing guide states that you should aim for a drip rate of around 50 drops per minute in order to get the best results – this will take a three hour run time. But How will you know if you are hitting 50 drops per minute? Enter the PuckPuck app.
How the software works
In a move which takes coffee geekery to the next level – PuckPuck comes with an app that allows you to easily calculate your drip rate.
The app is available on Android and iOS and is basically a large touch tap button. As you set up your cold brew station you twist the lower and upper parts of the PuckPuck to increase or decrease the flow rate.
Looking into the Aeropress chamber you tap the large button each time you see a drop fall and the app calculates what the tap speed translates to in drips per minute while text on the screen shouts “OOFT” “OOH” and “YES” at you, to really get you excited about the whole process.
The kit comes with a set of paper instructions but these are replicated in digital format on the app, which will no doubt come in handy when the originals get lost, or too dog-eared to read.
Is the coffee any good?
Ooft!, Oh!, Yes! It has all the hallmarks of a classic cold brew – high sweetness and low acidity. It also has the distinctive smooth mouthfeel of Aeropress coffee and the broad flavour profile of drip filters.
Is it easy to use?
It’s fairly straightforward. The nifty brew guide and app help you along the process. PuckPuck recommends using 38 grams of coarse ground coffee to brew and say filtered water (and ice made from filtered/mineral water is better – it is sound advice.
People with older Aeropress machines made from darker plastic will however struggle to see the drips falling unless they hold the machine against a strong light, which can be annoying – but even if that proves difficult a bit of trial and error will help you along the way.
The temperature and humidiy of your brew environment will affect the drip rate so it is best to check in on how the process is going and adjust the filter accordingly.
The freshness of your beans will also affect the brew. Older roasted will contain less CO2 and PuckPuck recommends that you pre-wet your grounds with 30-40ml of cold water that you let drain off before brewing when using anything more than 60 days out of the oven.
This will ensure an even extraction and flow rate through your grounds. We found pre-wetting super freshly roasted beans to help them de-gas in advance of brewing also worked well for us when trying to get a steady flow rate – but each to their own.
If this level of trial and error leaves you cold and you want something that is ‘plug in and play’ – in all likelihood PuckPuck is not for you.
What we liked about the PuckPuck
First and foremost it made really great cold brew. While a 2.5 hour brew time may on the face of things seem slow – most cold brew methods take around 18-25 hours to make. Granted, they can make substantially more than the 500ml you get from a PuckPuck, but it is fair to say that this is a good way to fast-track a cup of icy joe on a hot day.
The little gadget looks really great and the app is easy to use, helpful and fun. Mercifully it only takes up 4.5MB of space and doesn’t bother pinging you notifications every five minutes.
The instruction booklet and app brew guide were helpful, to the point and well presented with a strong focus on graphic design.
Getting to grips with the gizmo is nowhere near as arduous as it could have been if reading from a poorly translated text on a flimsy sheet of low-grade paper. It seems an obvious point, yet is sadly all to often the case with coffee hardware guides.
What we were less keen on
As mentioned above – older versions of the Aeropress are too dark to effectively calculate the drip rate which is fairly annoying, if easily solved through trial and error.
The PuckPuck comes with a water chamber attachment which works great. The marketing also says that you can use the system in “travel mode” when on the go by swapping out the water chamber for a 500ml water bottle which you then need to turn upside down, cut the end off and then fill with water or ice.
Given that you will still need to pack scissors, the PuckPuck, an Aeropress, filters, coffee…and a freezer – we really are not sure what is gained by having this option open. The valve attachment can also only hold water bottles from market-leading brands in the UK such as Evian and Volvic, so is less useful when travelling round foreign countries where these brands may not be available.
You also need to check in on the process to see how it is going. Are the grounds draining okay? Is the drip rate still at the right level? It is hardly a hands-off process.
This is an innovative, well-designed piece of kit that makes delicious coffee. The addition of an app – even if not essential – is fun and feels groundbreaking. It requires a bit of experimentation and know-how to get the best results from it and is a massively fun toy to play with if you are a coffee geek that already has an Aeropress.
Granted that means it will leave a lot of coffee drinkers cold ( no pun intended ) but the quality of the final cup means it is no gimmick. It is destined to win over a cadre of true fans – us at The Coffee Bazaar included.
4.5 Stars out of 5