Best Ways To Brew Coffee
No one knows how to prepare coffee as well as a professional barista, but this doesn't mean you need to go to a cafe every time you want a delicious drink.
There are many ways to make your own coffee. Once you know how to make delicious coffee at home, you can enjoy a high-quality drink at any time. All you need is properly roasted coffee, clean water, brewing equipment, and a little skill and patience.
In this article, we'll take a look at the most common coffee brewing methods. You'll learn what kind of equipment you need, how each type of coffee maker works, which grind to choose, and more.
Coffee Brewing Methods
Each brewing method has its own advantages and nuances. Coffee reveals its flavor profiles differently depending on how you brew it and what recipe you use.
All coffee brewing devices are divided into three main types:
Pressure: Water flows through the coffee ground under pressure. Examples of pressure-based coffee machines are Moka pots and espresso machines.
Pour-over: Water pours into ground coffee and flows through the coffee and filter due to gravity. Examples of pour-over devices include the Hario V60, Chemex brewers, and Kalita brewers.
Immersion: The coffee grounds and water are in contact during the entire brewing process. Immersion coffee can be brewed in a French press or Cezve.
Some coffee makers use several types of brewing at once. For example, the Bonavita funnel uses immersion brewing before you open the valve and pour-over brewing after you open the valve. The AeroPress uses immersion brewing before you press and pressure brewing while you press the piston.
Different brew types, grind sizes, and contact times with water will extract substances from the coffee differently, so the taste of the coffee changes based on what brewing method you use.
Before You Start
Before you start brewing with any brewing method, it can be useful to have some of this equipment:
• Long-spout kettle (for pour-over brewing)
• Paper filters (for pour-over and AeroPress brewing)
If you are going to purchase coffee brewing equipment, first consider purchasing a good coffee grinder. The grinder affects the taste of the coffee even more than the coffee maker, so choose the best grinder within your budget.
The main role of the coffee grinder is to grind your coffee as even and uniformly as possible. An uneven grind can lead to over-extracted and/or under-extracted coffee that will taste unbalanced.
The ability to grind evenly is the most important parameter for choosing a coffee grinder. But don't forget about other characteristics: performance, purpose, usability.
For espresso brewing, look for grinders with a micrometric grind adjustment system, grind holder, direct grinding into the holder, and dosing capability.
To prepare other coffee drinks, you need to choose a coffee grinder depending on the expected workload and your skills.
It's best to choose grinders with large-diameter steel burrs and cooling, but these grinders can be expensive.
Weighing your coffee beans is important, as it affects the consistency and taste of the finished drink. Coffee beans have different densities; weighing the beans allows you to use the same amount of coffee grounds in relation to water for the same perfect brew every time.
Some scales have a built-in stopwatch that eliminates the need to use a watch or phone while brewing. This allows you to achieve a stable result.
Smart scales connect to Android and iOS smartphones. Mobile apps provide many useful brewing features:
- Visualization of the brewing process
- Calculation of the required amount of water and beans
- Keeping a record of information about your coffee: date and type of roast, region of origin, flavor characteristics, etc.
Conventional kettles work fine, but if you want more control over the brewing process, you should purchase a kettle with a long, thin, curved spout. This is a must-have for pour-over brewing.
A gooseneck kettle allows for slow, steady, and continuous infusion and allows you to direct the stream of water exactly where you want it. This will give you good, even extraction of the coffee.
If you decide to purchase a gooseneck kettle, an electric one is better than one that must be heated on the stove. For pour-over brewing, you'll need a kettle with a volume of 1-2 liters (33-67 oz).
Most importantly, pay attention to the water flow rate. Not all gooseneck kettles are created equal; some control the pour much better than others. Many teapots can be equipped with special nozzles called flow limiters. This is a good alternative to buying a more expensive kettle.
It's easy to ignore something as simple as a filter, but it can have a significant impact on the final taste and quality of the coffee you brew.
Some coffee makers, such as the Moka pot, French press, and some siphon coffee makers, have built-in filters.
But there are many coffee makers that use paper filters. Some coffee makers are compatible with a range of filter brands, so you can purchase the most affordable option. Others require manufacturer-specific filters.
You can choose from unbleached or bleached filters, or even buy a reusable metal filter that's better for the environment. But keep in mind that metal filters can alter the taste of your coffee.
Of course, this isn't necessarily bad. As an example, many people love stainless steel filters for the Chemex coffee maker. With a stainless steel filter, the coffee is richer and more aromatic than if you use a standard paper filter.
Paper filters have many benefits;
- Convenience—after brewing, you can simply throw the filter away with the used coffee grounds.
- The porous structure allows aromas to pass through well, so the coffee will be completely saturated with the taste and aroma of the beans.
- Professional baristas believe that coffee made using paper filters has a particularly clean and deep taste, as the cellulose in the filter traps oily components.
So, coffee filters are an easy and convenient way to get a delicious drink quickly. It is best to choose environmentally friendly brown filters or white filters treated with oxygen. There are two shapes to choose from: conical, which can be used with most brewing methods, and flat-bottomed, which are used mainly for brewing drip coffee.
If you regularly grab your coffee on your way to work, a homemade espresso machine can be a good investment. But how much time and effort are you willing to spend each day preparing the perfect cup of coffee? This is something to think about.
Espresso is a great way to make coffee. The quality of the drink brewed with an espresso machine is directly related to the quality of the machine. A great machine will cost at least $750, though there are more affordable options. Don't be scared by the price tag; an espresso machine can save you money in the long term since you won't have to buy lattes at your local coffee shop every day.
There are many factors that affect the taste, aroma, and quality of espresso: grind size, pressure, temperature, extraction time, and much more. Some machines allow you to fine-tune these parameters so that you can emphasize acidity, enhance flavor, or hide bean defects.
Difficulty level: Medium, High
Making good espresso is a skill. Even when working on professional equipment, it takes a lot of practice. But some modern machines will prepare excellent espresso almost automatically, without requiring you to have a serious base of skills and knowledge.
Grind size: Fine
Flavor: A properly brewed shot of espresso has a strong, crisp, full flavor and should not be bitter.
This is your choice: If you like espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos or want a quick shot of coffee in the morning to invigorate yourself. Espresso machines are unique—no other automatic equipment can match the taste of an espresso shot.
Another way to make hot coffee quickly is to use a Moka pot. This is a highly popular brewing method in Italy, where coffee has become a kind of cult, and where they know exactly how to brew tasty coffee at home. With skill, you can prepare Moka pot coffee that tastes just as good as what you'd order in a cafe.
Although a Moka pot is sometimes referred to as a stovetop espresso machine, it does not actually brew espresso. However, it works similarly to an espresso machine: water passes through the ground coffee under pressure. But in a Moka pot, the water passes from the bottom of the machine to the top, and under much less pressure.
Moka pot coffee may not exactly be espresso, but it's not that far from it. Making coffee at home with a Moka pot coffee maker is more affordable than visiting fancy espresso bars.
A small metal Moka coffee maker consists of two chambers with a filter basket between them. The lower chamber is for water, and the filter basket holds ground coffee. When the water is heated, steam pressure causes the water to rise through the filter basket, and then the brewed coffee rises into the upper chamber.
Difficulty level: Low
Grind size: Medium, fine
Flavor: Like espresso, but not as rich and expressive. The result is a strong, tart drink.
It's your choice: If you like strong coffee and don't want to spend a lot of time or money to brew coffee.
AeroPress (pressure & immersion brewing)
Thanks to the AeroPress, you don't have to visit a cafe to get a perfectly clean, aromatic drink. You can brew AeroPress coffee at home, in your office, or even outdoors.
The brewing process is quite simple: a filter is placed in the cylinder, freshly ground coffee is poured into the cylinder, the whole structure is placed on top of a cup, hot water is poured into the cylinder, and after the coffee is infused, a piston (or press) is inserted into the main cylinder and presses the brewed coffee into the cup under pressure.
The AeroPress works very much like an espresso machine: pressurized water flows through the coffee, brewing it and drawing out all the extracts.
The AeroPress coffee maker is an unpretentious and simple way of brewing coffee because you do not need expensive machines or equipment. The coffee will be very clean and strong. It will taste very similar to classic espresso.
An AeroPress is usually made of durable plastic that won't bend or scratch, and will last a long time. If you brew a cup of coffee two or three times a day, the AeroPress coffee maker will last five years.
Difficulty level: Low
Grind size: A coarse or fine grind (depends on your preference)
Taste: Very pleasant, soft, and rich; cleaner taste than Moka pot coffee or French press coffee
It's your choice: If you travel a lot or don't want to mess around when making strong coffee in the morning.
Capsule Machine Brewing
Capsule coffee is a small portion (6-9 grams) of compact coffee grounds enclosed in an airtight capsule. Each capsule can prepare one serving of coffee and is disposable.
Capsule coffee machines mainly brew an espresso-like beverage. When purchasing a machine for capsule coffee, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the assortment of capsules that it can use. You should taste-test coffee from several kinds of capsule machines before buying one.
The short preparation time is another serious bonus for those who do not like to spend a lot of time making coffee each morning. There are literally two steps—put the capsule in the machine and press the button.
All capsule machines work similarly: by pouring hot water through a capsule, coffee oils, caffeine, and aromas are extracted from the beans, giving you aromatic, invigorating coffee.
Currently, there are many capsule systems on the market, the most popular of which are Lavazza, Kuerig, Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo, and Squesito. Nespresso is the most popular and has a huge range of capsules that can be used with it.
These single-serve coffee makers have a compact design. They can be conveniently placed at home or in the office. Most don't have additional functions or special settings. However, there are models that allow you to steam and froth milk.
Difficulty level: Low
Grind size: Fine, medium
Taste: Tart, bright, strong. In terms of density, the drink resembles something between espresso and filter coffee.
This is your choice: If you want a strong coffee that is easy to brew at the touch of a button and tastes the same every time.
The Chemex is a filter coffee brewing device consisting of an hourglass-shaped glass vessel and a paper filter.
The first Chemex appeared in the laboratory of Peter Schlubom, an avid chemist and coffee lover. He connected a chemical flask and a funnel to create a device that has been on display at the New York Museum of Modern Art since 1944. Like a siphon coffee maker, a Chemex will be a wonderful decoration for your kitchen.
Today you can buy large and small Chemex brewers (for 3, 6 or 10 cups), with a wooden rim or glass handle, but they all have one thing in common—the bright and clean taste of the finished coffee.
The Chemex is often compared to the Hario V60, but their differences are that the V60 has ribs inside the funnel, which keeps the filter from adhering completely to the funnel and causes the coffee to brew differently. Also, a Chemex allows you to prepare more servings of coffee at once.
A Chemex is used as follows: the paper filter is placed in the preheated funnel and moistened so that it adheres completely to the funnel. Then the cooled water is drained from the flask, ground coffee is poured into the filter, and water is poured over the grounds. Water is poured in several stages: first, the ground coffee is pre-wetted (bloomed), then the rest of the water is slowly poured in a thin stream until all the water has run through the grounds.
The device will require more skill from you than other pour-over devices, and it will take more practice to get a good result.
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Grind size: Medium-coarse
Flavor: Balanced, clean, refined, floral, sweet, and non-acidic notes. Floral, berry, and fruit aromas are also revealed.
This is your choice: If you often make coffee for several people at once. You will be amazed at the quality of the brewed coffee!
This dripper funnel is called a pour-over, a Hario, and a V60—these are all names for the same device. Coffee professionals and coffee lovers alike often choose this coffee device for its experimentation qualities and the ability to brew delicious, balanced coffee.
The device is called a Hario V60 because it's produced by the Japanese company Hario and because the funnel looks like a "V" and has a 60° angle.
The pour-over method became popular only in the late 2000s, after the publication of an article about it in The New York Times, but it was invented almost a hundred years before that. This method can be mastered quite easily and the result will be delicious.
To brew coffee, you need special equipment: the V60 funnel, a filter, a pour-over kettle, a heat-preserving container for the brewed coffee, and a heater that both heats water and maintains its temperature.
The ground coffee is poured into a filter placed in a funnel and then water is poured over the ground coffee in a spiral for about 2 minutes. During brewing, you must carefully monitor the entire process from start to finish: grind size, the flow of water, and brewing time.
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Grind size: Medium
Taste: Smooth, clean and light
It's your choice: If you like to experiment and come up with delicious new coffee recipes.
The Kalita Wave is a pour-over device manufactured since the 1960s by the Japanese company Kalita. The device is very popular among fans of specialty coffee and beautiful design.
Its main features are a flat bottom with three small holes and pleated paper filters. The flat bottom promotes even extraction of the coffee, creating a truly fine, dense coffee.
In addition, the shape of Kalita is tapered, but less sharply than that of the Hario V60, which means longer brewing time and less chance of error.
The original Kalita Wave can be made from ceramic, glass, or stainless steel. And coffee can be brewed into a decanter or directly into a cup.
Difficulty level: Easy
Grind size: Medium-coarse, coarse
Taste: Smooth, bright
It's your choice: If you like to experiment and want to make a delicious, soft, and balanced drink.
Melitta is one of the most convenient pour-over brewing options. It's not as fashionable as other pour-over devices, but it brews quite good coffee, has a convenient design, and is affordable.
You can purchase either a plastic or ceramic version and can find these online or in stores.
If you are just starting to master the pour-over method and don't want to spend a lot to start out, Melitta is a great choice.
How it works is very simple: the funnel is placed on top of a cup or other container, a special filter is placed in the funnel and filled with coffee grounds, water is poured through the grounds, and brewed coffee flows into your cup.
The ribbed inner walls of the funnel provide air circulation; there is one small hole at the bottom of the device. This helps slow the flow of water through the coffee grounds, and this makes it easier for a beginner to handle the device.
Difficulty level: Easy
Grind size: Medium, medium-fine
Taste: Pleasant and light, but not as bright as Chemex coffee
It's your choice: If you are just starting to learn how to make pour-over coffee.
The Bee House is a funnel pour-over device developed on the basis of Melitta's design. However, it differs from Melitta devices in that it has two drain holes instead of one. In addition, the grooves on the funnel walls have a different pattern, and the funnel itself only comes in ceramic, not plastic.
As a pour-over device, the Bee House is certainly more difficult to handle than immersion devices, but among drip devices, it is one of the easiest to learn.
Bee Houses are also good because they don't require special filters. Melitta filters are quite suitable for use with a Bee House, and they can be found in any supermarket.
The Bee House works just like any other pour-over device. However, its design slows the water flow more than in other devices, in particular the V60 and the Chemex, which means it is more suitable for beginners.
Grind is a key factor in determining how fast the water flows through the Bee House, so feel free to experiment with how the grind affects the flavor of your coffee.
Difficulty level: Low
Grind size: Medium-coarse
Taste: Clean, full bodied. Sweet notes with prolonged extraction.
This is your choice: If you are interested in a nice design and want to make delicious coffee without any special skills.
French press is one of the simplest and most popular methods of making coffee; you can take it with you to work or even for a picnic, and it brews good coffee.
The prototype of the modern French press appeared in 1840, and in 1900 the first industrial design, the Cafeolette, appeared on store shelves and began to gain popularity.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a Milanese designer received a patent for a modern French press and started production at a factory owned by a French company. This is how the device got its name.
Since then, the brewing method has not changed: you put ground coffee beans at the bottom of a flask, fill it with hot water, wait a few minutes, then lower the plunger. The grounds are pressed to the bottom and a clean drink remains. You get coffee with a rich and intense flavor profile, but that's also a little oily.
The French press was popular in Europe for decades, but it really gained fame in the United States in the 1990s. However, in most upscale cafes, it has been replaced by electric drip coffee makers for large quantities of coffee and by a pour-over device for individual drinks.
Difficulty level: Low
Grind size: Coarse. Don't use a fine grind, or the coffee will be over-extracted.
Taste: Complex, expressive, rich. In the French press, other coffee notes like chocolate, earthy, or floral can develop, mostly because the essential oils of the beans enter the cup rather than being captured by the filter.
This is your choice: If you prefer multifunctional kitchen appliances. With a French press, you can make great coffee, as well as brew tea and even froth milk for lattes.
Siphon Coffee Maker
The siphon (vacuum) coffee maker is the most visually appealing of all coffee brewing methods.
The siphon was invented in the 1840s almost simultaneously by a French housewife and a Scottish engineer. Around 1910, a pair of sisters from Massachusetts patented a version called the Silex.
Many Americans bought the Silex and subsequent American-designed siphons until about the middle of the century, when simpler and faster methods became more popular.
The design has changed many times, but the basic way it works remains the same.
The siphon consists of two glass vessels—an upper and a lower one—with a rubber gasket and filter in between. Water is poured into the lower vessel and a burner is installed under the siphon. As the water in the lower vessel heats up, it rises into the upper chamber due to the increase in pressure. Add coffee to the upper vessel and mix. Let it brew, then turn off the burner under the siphon.
When the burner is turned off, the temperature drops and the water molecules constrict, which causes the pressure to drop and creates a vacuum, so the water is sucked back into the lower vessel and leaves the coffee grounds in the upper one. The drink tastes very delicate and soft, but at the same time, it is pure and complex.
Surprisingly, the siphon is widely used in Japan, both in cafes and at home. Currently, there are cafes in Japan that serve only siphon coffee and even host the world cup for siphon coffee brewing.
As a result, some of the coolest siphons are produced by Japanese companies such as Hario and Yama. The Danish manufacturer Bodum and the British manufacturer Cona also make popular models.
Difficulty level: High
Grind size: Medium
Taste: Very clean, soft, and delicate—like tea. Highly regarded by brewing experts.
This is your choice: If you are an avid coffee lover and want to try something different or just decorate your kitchen with a fancy decor element.
Developed by the Taiwanese company Absolutely Best Idea Development (ABID), the Clever came into production in the late 2000s.
Unlike other hand-brewed devices, the Clever is made from plastic only and comes in only one size.
The Clever funnel looks like a regular pour-over device—it is conical and you can use paper filters in it. But in fact, the Clever is more like a French press.
The idea behind the device is to make brewing coffee by hand at home very easy. And it really is one of the least time consuming and least troublesome methods.
Despite the fact that the shape of the Clever is similar to other pour-over devices, the principle of its operation is immersion: water and ground coffee are in contact during the entire brewing process.
The base of the device is sealed, and neither water nor coffee pours anywhere until the locking mechanism opens. So the coffee brews by immersion until you place the Clever on top of your cup and open the locking mechanism. Then the finished drink pours into your cup.
It is worth noting an important design flaw: when using a fine grind, the filter sometimes gets clogged with the smallest coffee particles, which increases the preparation time and leads to over-extraction.
Difficulty level: Low
Grind size: Medium-coarse
Taste: Most often chocolate-y; depends on the beans you are using
It's your choice: If you like the lightness of the immersion method, but at the same time prefer a cleaner coffee taste that a paper filter provides.
Turkish coffee, Cypriot coffee, Greek coffee, Egyptian coffee, and Lebanese coffee are basically the same thing. There are, of course, slight regional differences in preparation and serving, but this thick coffee tends to be the same and has been around for centuries.
Turkish coffee is prepared in a small brass or copper container called a Cezve or Ibrik. The container is heated several times on the stove until foam forms, then the contents are poured into a small demitasse (2-3 fl oz) cup.
Turkish coffee is also often brewed with sugar and sometimes ground cardamom or other spices.
You may have never tasted Turkish coffee, but it is actually a really nice alternative to espresso when brewed with high-quality, freshly ground coffee beans.
Grind size: Fine
Taste: Strong, full-bodied, slightly tart, very pleasant aroma
It's your choice: If you like strong coffee and want to try something new.
No brewing method can be called the best or the worst. Each has its own values, and each will give different flavor options, even if you use the same beans for each method. When you try new brewing methods, you'll understand how multifaceted coffee is.
So try new brewing methods, experiment with grind size, find your perfect combination, and discover your new favorite drinks!