Why Is My AeroPress So Hard to Push? Answered!

By Evelina •  Updated: 04/26/22 •  8 min read

If you are new to the world of AeroPress coffee, you may be wondering why your AeroPress is so hard to push. You tried everything from adding more coffee grounds to using a different filter, but nothing seems to make it easier.

The truth is, there is more than one reason why your AeroPress may be difficult to push. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons and how you can fix them.

Why Is So Hard To Push Your AeroPress

why is my AeroPress so hard to push

The AeroPress was actually made to be difficult to push. The design of the device makes it so that you have to put in a bit of effort to get the coffee out. Sometimes though, even the most experienced users can find their AeroPress hard to push.

It all has to do with the air pressure inside the device. When you add the plunger, it creates a seal that traps all the air inside. This seal is what gives the AeroPress its unique brewing method.

The following are a few reasons why your AeroPress might be hard to push:

1. You Use A Fine Grind Size.

When you brew coffee with an AeroPress coffee maker you want to use a medium-fine grind size. This is a little bit finer than what you would use for pour over.

If your grind is too fine, it will be difficult for the water to push through the coffee grounds and will result in a very slow brew, sometimes even a no-brew. To fix this, try using a slightly coarser grind size.

Ground coffee is one of the most important factors in making a great cup of coffee. If you’re using pre-ground coffee, it’s likely that the grind is too fine. I recommend using a coffee grinder at home so that you can control the grind size.

TIP: You can use a mortar and pestle if you don’t have or can’t afford a coffee grinder. Just make sure to grind the coffee beans until they’re a bit finer than table salt.

2. You Tamped The Coffee Grounds.

AeroPress is a great way to make espresso-style coffee without an espresso machine. One of the things you need to do when making espresso is to tamp, or press, the coffee grounds down. This helps the water extract more coffee and results in a stronger brew.

However, when making AeroPress coffee, you don’t want to tamp the grounds too much. If you do, it will be very hard to push the plunger down. The coffee grounds need to be packed loosely for the water to flow through them easily.

TIP: You can take a small spoon and lightly press the coffee grounds down before adding the water. That way you will create a more even surface for the water to flow over and will make it easier to push the plunger down.

3. You Accidentally Added Two Paper Filters inside the Filter Cap.

AeroPress coffee taste with 2 paper filters

Since the paper filters that come with your coffee maker are super thin, it’s easy to accidentally add two of them (or sometimes even more)! This will create a barrier between the coffee grounds and the plunger, making it very difficult to push down.

Always make sure to check if you’ve added an extra filter before you start brewing. One way to completely avoid this is to buy a metal filter, which you can reuse indefinitely without worrying about adding too many.

4. You Forgot to Water The Paper Filter.

Watering the paper filter not only helps remove the papery taste from your coffee but also prevents the plunger from getting stuck. This will not happen every time, but if you notice that your plunger is becoming increasingly difficult to push down, make sure to check if the paper filter is dry.

TIP: Use hot water to rinse your paper filter. This will help preheat the filter and improve the quality of your brew. If you have filtered water, even better!

5. You Didn’t Wet The Rubber Seal.

The rubber seal is the secret magic ingredient that makes the plunger work. Without it, all you have is a plastic tube and a lot of hot water. So make sure to give it a good soak in water before you start plunging.

Especially for people who have their AeroPress a few years, the rubber seal can get stiff and dry. In this case, you should replace it with a new one (they’re only a few bucks).

Important: If your AeroPress is not sealing properly, you will not be able to create enough pressure to push the water through the coffee grounds. If this is the case, make sure to check the rubber seal and replace it if necessary.

6. If You Use A Metal Filter Make Sure It’s Fully Cleaned.

If you brew AeroPress coffee every day, then you probably went and bought a reusable metal filter. And that’s great! The metal filters make a huge difference in the quality of the coffee.

But they also require a bit more upkeep. If you don’t clean them after each use, the oils from the coffee will start to build up and affect the taste of your brew, or even worse, block the filter entirely. To clean them, just soak them in vinegar for a few minutes and then rinse them off with water.

TIP: Cleaning your AeroPress should be something you do every time you use it. If you forget to clean it once in a while, that’s okay, but try to make it a habit. Also, a deep clean every few weeks with vinegar or baking soda will help keep your AeroPress in tip-top shape.

How Do You Push An AeroPress?

AeroPress Resistance

Pushing the AeroPress correctly is key to brew espresso coffee. It all comes down to the positioning of your hand and the pressure you exert. You need to push gently but firmly in a straight line. The entire process should take about 20 to 30 seconds.

Even Alan Adler, the inventor of AeroPress, admits that pushing is an acquired skill. So don’t worry if it takes you a little bit of practice to get it just right.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to pushing your AeroPress:

1. Place the AeroPress always on a stable surface.

2. Once everything is ready, put both hands on the plunger and start pressing super slow.

3. As the coffee starts coming out, gradually increase the pressure.

4. Push until you hear a hissing noise, then stop.

And that’s it! It’s pretty simple, but that’s the magic behind the AeroPress. The simplicity is what makes it such a great coffee maker.

AeroPress And Resistance

As you already know, the AeroPress is an immersion coffee maker, which means that the coffee grounds are fully submerged in water. This allows you to control how much time the coffee grounds spend in contact with the water, which in turn allows you to control the strength of the brew.

For the resistance now, think of it like this:

Resistance = More Time = More Flavor.

The more time it takes for you to press the plunger down, the more flavor you’ll get in your cup. And that’s the amazing thing about AeroPress. Even if you screw up the grind, the water temperature, or the amount of coffee you use, you can still make a good cup of coffee by adjusting the amount of resistance you apply.

Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be your best brew with a golden crema and all that, but it’ll still be coffee, and it’ll still taste good. And since AeroPress usually has a more sweet and mellow flavor profile, to begin with, even if you make a “mistake”, it’ll still taste pretty good.

So if you combine the immersion and the resistance, you have a very versatile coffee maker that can make a lot of different types of coffee, from light and delicate espresso-style brews to strong and bold French Press-style brews.

How Much Pressure Can AeroPress Produce?

And finally, a question that will come up sooner or later: how much pressure can the AeroPress produce? In other words, is it the same as an espresso machine?

The answer is no, the AeroPress cannot produce as much pressure like an espresso machine. In fact, it can’t even come close. The AeroPress is designed to produce around 0.5 – 0.75 bars of pressure, which is around 4-6% of the pressure a 15-bar espresso machine can produce.

But even though it can’t produce as much pressure, the AeroPress can still make some pretty darn good coffee. So don’t worry about the pressure too much, just focus on the technique and you’ll be making great coffee in no time!

Last Thoughts

So if you find yourself struggling to push your AeroPress, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It takes a little bit of practice to get the technique just right. But once you do, you’ll be making some of the best coffee around.

And if you’re still having trouble, just remember to follow the tips we listed above, and you’ll be pressing like a pro in no time!

If you want to step up your game and learn about the grind sizes for every brewing method, don’t forget to get our free grind size cheat sheet below!

Related Articles

Evelina

Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.