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S / Sustainability


During wet processing the cherry skin, pulp and sticky mucilage is removed from the bean and becomes a bulky by-product that is around 60% of the wet weight of the fresh fruit. Normally these by-products are disposed of into arable land and surface water creating a significant environmental pollution problem. 

Costa Rican cooperatives, specifically Coope-Agri are proactive in recycling and utilizing this by-product in the form of nutritious compost. From the processing plant, the husk and pulp is transported by a screw type conveyor system (saving water) to the composting sheds. Here it is treated by adding various minerals and composting for a period of time before being packed into sacks and supplied to the members of the cooperative to be used on their coffee plantations as an organic conditioner of soils. This reduces some of the cost of coffee production when compared to chemical fertilization and negates the otherwise negative environmental effect of by-products of coffee production-the cherry and pulp. 


M / Micro-Mill



While in Costa Rica in February we explored the up and coming micro-mill revolution. A micro-mill is a small, low-volume processing plant often owned by a coffee farming family. This means that medium size farmers can now gain complete control over the milling process, enjoy greater flexibility and produce small batches of specially processed coffees. This opens the door to the production of microlots of varied and complex flavour. While experimentation with small lots of pulp-natural or honey-processed coffees is not practically possible within the large commercial processing plants and cooperatives, micro-mills are able to retain traceability for specific lots, (varietal and/or altitudes of coffee plants) as well as explore progressive processing methods to Nths degree. The results continue to be outstanding and overthrow previous expectations of flavour profiles from specific origins.


P / Process


Think of the various processes as recipes to achieve desired flavour outcomes — difficult to define because each country and even each area has developed different terminology to describe their ever evolving methodologies. But listening to Sebastian (The main exporter of the Asoproaaa association coffee at the Asoproaaa micro-mill) the methods, approaches and theories in processing coffee suddenly started to become clearer.

What is jaw droopingly stunning is that, using the same lots of coffee, each process yields very different results, some have more sweetness, some with complex black tea notes, some super clean with citrus acidity. This is the most interesting and exciting part of micro-lot coffee, gaging how the processing plays a part in the cup. The nuances of the speciality processes are best discovered in filter brewed coffee but also new age filter roasted espresso is engaging customers in a completely new espresso culture. Our passion at Z is to continue to keep discovering the unique flavour combinations and understanding, palatably, the progressive and explorative work done by micro-mills in their selection of coffee beans and processing techniques.



This is when the cherries go right through the wet mill process. First they go through the pulping machine where all the skin and flesh of the cherry is removed. Then they go through the demucilager. Mucilage or honey is the sticky syrupy substance that clings to the bean. After this the beans are washed with water until they are clean — it is all mechanised now (only La Cadelaria mentioned above are still using fermentation tanks). Washed coffees can be patio dried in the sun or mechanically dried in large rotating heaters. Patio drying is labour intensive because the beans must be turned every hour for even drying and moisture levels.


With the yellow honey we remove the skin and flesh from the cherry in the mill and then we put the sticky beans into sacks where we rest them for about six hours. During this time quite a lot of the moisture and mucilage drains off the beans. Then we spread them on the patio to dry. We turn them frequently.


This is different because instead of putting the newly processed beans into sacks, we put them straight onto the patio. They have more mucilage left on them than the yellow honey beans. We spread them about 3cm thick and then we leave them. We don’t turn them until the right point in the fermentation cycle.


This is more complicated again. Black honey is a mix of natural process and honey process beans. Natural process beans still have the skin on them — they are berries that have been dried out through ripening on the tree and if they went through the normal wet process they would be “floaters” and be discarded for a low quality grade. So we mix them in with honey processed beans and put them out on the patio to dry akin to the natural drying method.


C / Co-Operative


With many years of experience in the crafting of speciality coffees, Hacienda Candelaria head up has an amazing operation. Greeted with a beautiful property adorned with huge European trees blossoming with orange flowers and neat drive-ways and lawns, we arrived at this unique processing plant. A large system of water channels indicated that the traditional wet process was the predominant method here but the difference was the German engineering influence where clever automatic systems that had replaced the manual labour needed in order to wash the coffee in wet processing. The drying patios also resonated of thought and experience, shaded to just the right degree with large awnings and good air flow. What was more intriguing was the series of large wooden storage silos reminiscent of massive wine or whisky casks where the processed beans were rested until ready for shipping. We quickly realised that the amazing quality produced by Haceinda Candelaria was due to the upmost care and investigative knowledge which was sewn like a thread through the estates entire operation. Even after tasting countless micro-lots throughout our Costa Rican adventure, La Candelaria’s SHB was an eye opening reminder about how outstanding a well-cared for estate coffee can be, and we should pay very close attention to the cup profiles of batches coming out of La Candelaria’s Estate this season. 




W / Water


Everyone knows that an espresso shot is around 90% water.So it’s not surprising that having good water allows you to brew great espresso! But what do you do when your water quality is bad, and you’re extracting lousy tasting shots?  How does water make such a difference to coffee extraction?

Well, the first point to note is that bad water, that is hard water, doesn’t necessarily taste awful. Water is not just an ingredient in coffee that brings its own taste, water acts predominantly as a solvent in coffee extraction.  The problem with hard water is that it lowers your coffee extraction by not having the capacity to draw and transport all of those delicious sugars, acid and minerals from the dry ground coffee into the cup. It is common for roasters to try and overcome this problem by utilising different roasting profiles usually resulting in longer and darker coffee roasts.” The product of this style of roasting, (even if it does improve coffee solubility), is flavours that are harsh, bitter, pungent and ashy - retaining very little sweetness, complexity and balance.

Part of Z’s commitment to maintain the upmost sweetness and flavour complexity in our carefully sourced coffee beans is to progressively explore the complex concept of water as a solvent for coffee extraction. The includes in-depth analysis of the role of dissolved solids in our coffee extraction as well as research and development into leading water filtration and re-mineralising systems for cafes both big and small. This makes up an important part of our ZXT coffee methodology.  


E / EK Espresso Extraction



FILTER ROASTS: Due to the progressive nature of world barista competitions a new approach to brewing espresso has started to creep its way into Australian cafes. This approach is due to the use of deli style grinders such as the Mahlkonig ‘EK-43’ or ‘Tanzania’ due to their ability to produce a more consistent grind particle size, allowing for an overall finer grind size (because of the lack of micro grind particles) and thus the use of a lighter roast profile. 

Around 28% of the coffee bean is soluble matter meaning a maximum of 28% of your ground coffee can end up as liquid in your cup. However, traditional espresso roasts and espresso grinders have negative taste impacts if the extraction is to reach above 22%, forcing the barista to restrict the extractions to escape unpalatable flavours, predominantly bitterness.  

In the Green Room at Z we are experimenting far and wide using the Ek-43 and filter roasted micro-lots. This has enabled us to come up with various recipes which extract up to 26% with undeniably exciting and delicious flavour implications.

The art of using a lighter roasted coffee whether it be in a filter (pour-over etc) situation or as in the above described EK-43 style espresso comes down to being extremely particular with your dial in (discussed above). Each coffee needs to be appreciated in its own right, with its own specific recipe otherwise your delicious extraction may quickly and completely derail. 

However, as a guide we suggest using around 20g of finely ground filter roast, around 150 microns on the EK-43 or Tanzania and extracting 50-60 grams of espresso in around 25 seconds. This methodology comes as quite a shock to the barista who is used to traditional extraction techniques as it is common to not have even a drop of coffee before the 10 second mark and receive a whopping 60 grams in the remaining 15 seconds of extraction time (which strongly undermines theories to do with watching the pour). Regardless of what it looks like the results of this style of extraction are endlessly impressive, revealing flavour elements in coffee which previously have never see the light of day!  


B / Blend Building


Roasting is a skill and an art, but there is also art to building extraordinary blends out of well roasted coffee. What we are looking for are lots and origins that sing harmoniously together. Our zealous research crew will not only cup sample after sample to find origins and microlots that reflect the taste profile they’re looking for — they will spend hour after hour finding those perfect bean matches by creating a mock café environment and seeing how the beans ‘stand up’ as black or with varying amounts of textured milk, carefully  analysing the flavours and solubility. The fruit of their labours is a blend with perfect, even extraction that makes music in your mouth.

Of course, all our blends are post blended — not pre-blended. This means that the green beans of each origin are roasted separately to a perfect climax because every origin and every batch is different — different batches of beans have different densities, size, and moisture content so we can’t just lump them all together and expect a good result. Pre-blending causes some beans to be undercooked and others to roll out very burnt. Our longer and more labour intensive post-blending method means we achieve the desired flavour sweetness and complexity out of of every bean and blend them together for a sum that is greater than its parts.


D / Dial In


Dialling-in is an integral ingredient to a café’s high quality and consistency of coffee and for that reason plays a substantial role in our ZXT Methodology. As well as bringing a high degree of professionalism to a café environment, developing a culture of ‘dialling-in’ a coffee enables a barista team to really understand and use a coffee to the best of their ability. It also encourages an active participation of all the employees to be tasting, tweaking and adjusting the coffee machinery and their technical skills in a continual and educational ascent to further refining the art of coffee brewing.

In short, the dial-in entails an awareness of how your grind particle size as well as your coffee dose affects your flow rate (in brewing espresso) and hence your overall time of extraction and yield (brewed coffee). 

Dialing-in can also act as a link to a cafes patrons, building a relationship of trust and appreciation by exhibiting some of the technical skills of the barista. In this way the customers see, in short, what that a barista is doing and thinking and helps them first understand why their coffee tastes the way it does and lastly appreciate to the uniqueness of your cafe establishment. 


R / Roast Profile



Roasting is the critical element to achieving sweetness, complexity and balance in coffee. The characteristics of each batch of coffee including its origin, processing method and altitude needs to be taken into consideration when tailoring a new roast profile. We also must constantly keep a check on the variables of weather, moisture and batch size to maintain a consistent quality of outstanding tasting flavours. One of our upmost fears is losing flavour personality of a particular bean as a compromise to achieving higher solubility. But what really gets our roasters fired up is finding the perfect roast profile for a new coffee. Great coffee does not sustain a “one size fits all” approach and at Z we have a clear objective, to find the “sweet spot” for that particular batch of beans.


R / Roast Profile


Our ZXT methodology entails a procedure for the modern cafe that extends from our roaster to your grinder and beyond into the cup. The type of grinder and the methods of grinding, weighing, dosing and tamping are all critically important to achieving outstanding quality of coffee brews and to reducing senseless over-dosing wastage and workstation cleaning times. If we had to pick one element of our ZXT methodology that was more essential than any other it would be implementing the use of VST baskets. However, this includes insight into which roast profile, for which grinder at what grind setting and within how much time and yield to ensure your extraction oozes with all the best flavour from your ground coffee. So will ZXT methodology cost you both time and money? Quite to the contrary, our ZXT procedures are streamlined, fast  and cost effective. We will work with you to discover the extraction parameters that allow you achieve outstanding coffee results whilst extracting outstanding espresso as well as significantly cutting down on any overdosing saving you countless kilos by the end of the month. 


R / Roya: Coffee Rust Fungus


A plant-choking fungus is devastating the coffee growing areas of Central America bringing lower yields and resultant economic hardship to coffee communities. Four million people rely on coffee for their living and the rust outbreak has pushed many coffee farming families to the edge of survival. We visited farms in Costa Rica to learn more about this threat to our industry. Roberto of the Dota Tarrazu Coope explained the disease simply as we examined leaves disfigured with the ominous reddish-orange spots. “What happens is that these rust spots spread across the leaf draining the plant of its energy and nutrients, then the leaves die and fall down, followed by the coffee cherries and eventually the entire coffee plant dies.” Rust defoliates the tree, the tree loses energy and it can no longer carry the fruit. The cherries don’t develop normally — they don’t sweeten which results in a really grassy cup character. Roberto’s plantations, which are less susceptible to rust because their high altitude, has found that the best way to fight off Roya is make sure the tree is well fertilised and as healthy as it can be leading up to the fruit yielding season. “Healthy trees are more resistant to attack by this disease”. Infected trees are treated quickly with fungicide and those too badly affected are ripped out.

Z is committed to providing financial support to research organisations who are helping farmers in the battle against Roya. Solutions lie in learning more about growing conditions and ecosystems, developing resistant varietals, educating farmers in best practices, and enforcing quarantine where necessary. We must tackle this outbreak to ensure that farmers and labourers don’t lose hope as they see their livelihoods threatened by this aggressive disease. 


P / Pruning



Did you know that coffee cherries never grow on the same part of a branch twice? Coffee flowers form on the season’s new growth and develop into cherries in the next season. Pruning promotes strong new growth therefore boosting yields in the following season. Pruning is therefore an essential technique to maintain a healthy tree and to keep fruit quality and quantity at its maximum. It is amazing to see the increased length of new growth of a coffee branch after pruning as the coffee tree concentrates its energy into growing productive nodes.  Each node can produce twenty five to forty-five floral buds which develop into the beautiful white coffee flowers and then fruits. So, the following year this new growth hangs heavy with a bumper crop of healthy red berries significantly boosting the production of that tree. There is strategy and discipline required on the part of the coffee farmer as he has to sacrifice this year’s crop to boost next year’s crop so pruning is normally done on a three year rotation. 

Every fifth year a tree will be pruned drastically with old growth verticals being cut off right near the ground (stumping).     This removal causes the tree to put out a number of shoots below the cut. The farmer then selects one or more of these new shoots based on size and location and removes the rest. The retained shoots become the newest of the verticals that will bear future coffee.

After about twenty years old trees are removed to make way for younger trees which have been inter-planted to allow for sustainable harvests. 


C / Costa Rican Co-Ops



It may be a common perception that the co-op principle in the coffee industry stifles prosperity for individual farmers and that the direct to farm buying concept is of greater benefit. We had our eyes opened to the realities of the reliance of the coffee communities on the co-op system during our recent trip to origin.

The co-ops in Costa Rica buy their cherries from thousands of co-op small farmers who each work their own farms in the mountainous coffee growing regions. A system of strict price equality regulated by the governmental organisation ‘ICAFE’ ensures that all farmers get the same, fair price for all the coffee they can produce. They are paid immediately by the truck driver by the half Fanega (a volumetric unit of measurement) who collects their freshly-picked coffee crop on a daily basis from collection stations. Farmers are happy because they know they always have a predictable sale for their coffee and they can concentrate on just what they do best — growing great coffee.

But it doesn’t stop there. The cooperative model in Costa Rica funds and supports just about the whole town — the hardware store, the supermarket, the school and the hospital, providing essential and sustainable infrastructure and service to the whole coffee community. It also runs support and research programs such as providing cheap fertiliser to boost yields and educating and mentoring farmers in programs to tackle diseases such as the fearsome coffee rust.

If a farmer breaks away from this long established micro-economy by selling his cherries directly to a micro-mill or in a direct trade relationship with an overseas buyer, he/she will lose the benefits and support of the Co-op and are financially unprotected in the case of bad weather or a low yielding season; both of which can send a small un-supported farmer bankrupt very quickly.

At Z, while we are always searching for outstanding, complex and interesting coffees we also seek to work in with the sound local mechanisms of the social coffee structure of origins which facilitate a strong, sustainable coffee growing industry providing cares for its members and the community.


Alternative Brewing


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B / Brew Bar


Yes, brew bars are truly in vogue in our leading cafes and coffee bars. Filter techniques are experiencing a remarkable rebirth. Hand filtered coffees open up more than 1000 aromas and flavours, taste subtleties that surprise and delight. Light roasted microlots through a V60 or Aeropress release the most tasteful and aromatic experiences. Let Z’s alternative brewing recipes and techniques provide a whole new level of coffee appreciation for your patrons. 

The V60 dripper enables you to extract the true deliciousness of coffee beans simply and directly. The V60 owes its success to three special features. One, the cone shape of the apparatus provides the perfect vessel for maximum extraction from a thick bed of ground coffee. Two, the large single hole enables the user to manage the strength of coffee extraction through manually altering brew times. Three, the inner spiral ribs of the V60 are cleverly designed to create enough space between the dripper and the filter paper to aid smooth and consistent water flow.

The Gooseneck Hario kettle is an integral part of the V60 extraction. The narrow spout produces a thin, precise stream, and the handle brings your hand into a naturally balanced position — instead of flooding the filter and letting it drip, you deliver a measured amount of water over a period of several minutes. This might sound tedious, but the control is enthralling. The coffee tastes different. The flavours can be distinctive bright, and very sweet. The V60 is for coffee-lovers and coffee purists who really must savour every delightful and discernible flavour a coffee bean has to offer.

The Aeropress is another fantastic brewing tool allowing the extraction of amazing flavour from speciality coffees in a short time, without expensive equipment and with great hands-on enjoyment. 

Using the ideal water temperature and gentle air pressure, Aeropress brewing yields rich, sweet and fruit-like flavours with great acidity and balance. The total immersion of the coffee grinds results in uniform extraction of all of those delicious flavours. The micro filter paper produces clean grit free coffee and the best part is that it’s quick and easy — less than 2 minutes from start to finish which means that we can now enjoy a wonderful tasting coffee in the hectic morning rush before work!

And don’t overlook the Cold Drip! This classic brewing system brings out coffee’s flavour and aroma by slowly dripping cold water through finely ground beans. The slowly dripping cold water produces coffee low in acidity, bitterness and astringency while extracting the best aroma. Brewing your coffee with cold water preserves delicate flavor compounds, while eliminating the bitter oils and acids that would be extracted at higher temperatures. Although the tower looks like something out of a science experiment, the cold drip coffee brewer is actually easy-to-use. Just pour ice and cold water into the top chamber, set the valve to drip, and put ground coffee in the middle chamber. Below this the brewed coffee slowly curves around a curly tube and finally drips into a round bottom beaker at the base of the tower. The 8-hour brewing process produces a unique flavor that you won’t find in regular brewed coffee, and the smooth and rich coffee will keep for a few days in a sealed, refrigerated container.


R / Roasting for Filter



The re-emergence of filter brewing techniques have encouraged micro-roasters to experiment with roast profiles in order to get the full flavour potential out of their coffees. Because filter brews have the potential to reveal the full kaleidoscope of taste nuances in speciality coffees, the spotlight has fallen more than ever on the skills of our roast craftsmen to find the roast profile that best exhibits these flavours.

The fact is that medium to dark roasted coffees lack brightness, sweetness and often have cardboard, paper-like flavours. In contrast, lighter roast colours generally offer a much more complex cup profile. By following a light roasting protocol, we ensure that we don’t mask the flavour personality of each speciality microlot. We search for roast profiles that allow the complete development of complex and balanced brews, full of sweetness and salivating flavours. At Z we produce an armful of lightly roasted, vibrant tasting microlot coffees that reveal the intrinsic taste of their origins, processing methods and regions/farms of growth. Sweet and syrupy, complex and fruity, hot or iced — this is truly experiencing and appreciating the humble bean at its finest moments!


C / Copper Series by Hario



Z loves the warm luxurious ambience that the new Copper Series from Hario brings to the brew bench! But it is not only the stunning visual addition of the gleaming V60 and the copper kettle. It is the functionality and improved flavour outcomes that is of the highest importance to us.


Copper’s excellent thermal conductivity and even distribution of heat, is the science behind the benefit that this range offers making it our preferred option for manual brewing. [Characteristics of Copper]

Copper conducts heat very well and distributes it evenly. Due to the antibacterial property of the copper, it is used widely for kitchenware.


The well-calculated shape of the spout allows for perfect drip work. Hario has designed this spout to give the barista the control over the pour rate that is needed to deliver a slow and constant stream of hot water over the grinds to prevent the fines from settling and guaranteeing an amazing flavourful extraction.


The slim and long spout that allows hot water to be poured into the centre of the coffee grinds. It is shaped to reach the centre even when changing the angle of the kettle to adjust the speed of pour. Pouring closer to the coffee grinds allows the temperature of the hot water to be maintained throughout the brewing period. 

P.S We love the hand crafted olive wood handle on the
decanter too


I / Iced V60 Pour Over


Using ice to cool hot brewed coffee can have astounding results. There are just two elements in using ice when brewing coffee you need to be aware of. Firstly ice very quickly melts and becomes water when added to hot hot coffee. This can easily dilute a well brewed filter and water-down all those deliciously prepared flavours. Secondly drinking ice cold coffee is an entirely different gustatory experience to drinking hot coffee. The flavour receptors of the tongue work very differently and the viscosity of the coffee is hidden by the cold. Through our own experimentations at Z we found that the concept of brewing an Iced V60 pour over required some serious consideration and that we would have to adapt a tradition V60 recipe quite drastically. 

The main consideration was   by adding ice into the mix we had to either reduce our brew water or increase our coffee dose. This was so we could still achieve a full V-60 extraction in a traditional brew time (3-4min) all without needing to adjust the grind size. We decided to compromise and both increase the dose as well as decrease the brew water allowing the ice to quickly cool the brew as well as being a key component in the coffee dilution. 

In theory everything was going to plan except we were still struggling to achieve standout flavours and viscosity once the brew was ice cold (the taste receptors don’t pick up anywhere near the intensity of flavours at 0-5 degree temperatures). 

Our answer was to dial in the brew so to achieve a high 25% extraction (out 28% possible dissolvable solids in coffee) as well as aim for a 2% (instead of a tradition 1.5%) water to coffee ratio. The result was an ice cold but full bodied and syrupy V60 brew bursting with fruity sweetness and flavour complexity and ending with a long and lingering finish. 

Here is copy of recipe of the Iced V-60 using the honey processed Lourdes Naranjo microlot from Costa Rica. 


• 24 grams of Lourdes Naranjo — Filter Roast
• Grind 2.75 — 3.25 (Dial-in needed)
• 200 grams of water at 94 degrees
• 150 grams of Ice


  1. Rinse 2-cup V-60 paper with hot water
  2. Fill glass ranger with ice and place with V-60 on top
    of scales
  3. Prepare goose neck kettle (94 degree water in kettle)
  4. Grind and add ground coffee to center of V-60
  5. Tare scales, start timer and pour (the bloom) 48 grams
    of 94 degree water quickly finishing witH a gentle stir         (total 45 seconds)
  6. At 45 seconds do a controlled-restricted spiral pour outwards until the stream reaches the filter-paper         (rinse the paper where the coffee touches)
  7. Continue a restricted and controlled pour in the middle
    of the V-60 until 200 grams.

Total brew time — 3–3.45 minutes


A / Aeropress — New Age Home Brewing


We find it quite surprising that the Aeropress is only celebrating its 10th Birthday this year, it really makes you wonder — what did we ever do without it? There are many elements that contribute to the Aeropress’s popularity outside of the fact it brews a world class cup of ‘joe’, taking into consideration you know how to use it. It is inexpensive, almost unbreakable, fast brewing, requires little clean up time and basically anyone with a kettle (or a camp stove as was originally intended) can get a reasonable and sometimes quite remarkable brew happening in the comfort of the their own home.

One element that must be touched upon in relation to the home brewer is the need for freshly ground coffee. Freshly ground coffee contributes such a substantial difference to coffee’s flavour qualities that we strongly recommend making a small investment in a good quality ceramic hand grinder like the Hario Mini Mill or the Porlex Ceramic Burr (you will have to experiment with grind size adjustments). And while we are on the subject, the type of roast profile and the quality of bean choice will also play a large role in how and whether your Aeropress will live up to your world class brew expectations. 

At Z, we most often recommend a light or filter roasted micro lot for the Aeropress drinker. We go as far to say any home brewer whether they are using the Moka pot (stove top or Bialetti) or the French Press (coffee plunder) should give a Micro-lot filter roast a serious trial in their home in the hope of reaping the rewards of the intensified sweetness and vibrancy that the light roast draws out of our carefully selected Micro-lots.

Now there are numerous, possibly thousands of Aeropress instructional brewing videos online but we recommend something quite simple and fast for our home brewers. The total brewing time should take just over a one minute yielding delicious results every morning. 


• 14 grams — Filter Roast
• Grind 8 clicks from fully closed (Hario Mini Mill)
• 230 grams of water just under boiling temp 


  1. Turn on the Kettle and get grinding with a handful (roughly 14 grams) of coffee
  2. When you hear the kettle reaching a rolling boil turn
    it off (you should hit between 90 and 95 degrees)
  3. Place the Aeropress (non-inverted) with a fresh paper filter above your favourite mug and rinse through with
    a little hot water 
  4. Now add your hand ground 14 grams of coffee and fill the AeroPress to about 3/4 or 230 grams
  5. Quickly give the whole mix a couple of circular stirs and slide the top of the Aeropress into its vacuum position (suspending the whole brew from emptying into your cup). 
  6. After one minute from adding your water, ‘un-plug’ the top section of the Aeropress and again give the brew another
    2 quick stirs. 
  7. Finally ‘re-plug’ the Aeropress and press out the whole brew through the paper filter (firm pressure) until you hear the hiss sound of any remaining air.