Coffee is currently the world’s most popular beverage and a lot of us simply cannot start our day without it. It perks you up, tastes great, and fills the air with a wonderful aroma. We’ve already talked about the potential health benefits of drinking coffee as well as how to select the right coffee beans but how should you brew your morning cup of Joe? We all search for the perfect cup of coffee that is flavorful and enjoyable to drink… but how do you select the right coffee maker to make this a reality? Drip? Press? Percolate? There are so many options!
No matter what type of coffee maker you decide is best for your home, the basic concept remains the same – ground coffee and water meet, which extracts the flavor held within the beans. While the process itself is simple, different coffee makers can produce very different resulting cups of coffee.
How so? What affects the flavor of the brewed coffee?
- The temperature of the water affects the flavor extracted from the ground beans
- The amount of time the water is in contact with the beans will affect the strength of the brew
- Agitating or stirring the grinds during brewing will change the flavor of the coffee
- And much more
There are actually quite a few factors to consider before buying a new coffee maker (typically cost and convenience being at the top of the list) and, unfortunately, there is no right answer as to which method is “best.” It really boils down to your own personal preference and taste. Either way, we can help! Here is some information on each of the current most popular home coffee brewing methods to help you decide which would be right for your life and home.
Drip coffee makers are, by far, the most popular types of coffee makers on the market. They are easy to use, convenient, and can brew a large amount of coffee at one time. The flavor of the resulting coffee is also consistent from pot to pot. You want to make sure that you get one that heats the water to the proper temperature between 195 and 205°F. This is regulated by and certified by an association – the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) – and very few drip coffee makers meet their exacting standards. You can view their certified list here.
|Set and forget||Less control|
|Stays hot longer||Less aroma|
|Makes a large pot (typically up to 12 cups)|
Pour Over Method
The pour-over method is very similar to drip coffee makers – you simply pour hot water over a filter containing coffee grounds. This method (both hand pour-over or automatic pour-over) gives you a lot more control over the flavor profile of the resulting coffee. Hand pour-over is the most common method for single-cup brewing and is best when done with a medium-ground coffee.
|Beautiful presentation||Coffee will cool off quickly|
|Clean taste with no sediment||Takes time to brew|
|Great for sharing (usually makes between 4 and 8 cups)|
A French Press is a simple manual brewing method where you steep and filter coffee in a similar method to brewing a cup of tea. Much like the pour-over, this manual method tends to take longer to produce a drinkable cup of coffee but produces a powerful and incredibly flavorful cup. This is a perfect method for those who enjoy full-bodied flavor and like to have a bit of control over the brewing. You really need the coffee grounds to be in contact with the water for about 4 minutes before starting to push the plunger down. The water should be between 195 and 205°F. After 4 minutes the coffee will start to become bitter, and more-so as time goes on.
|Rich, full-bodied coffee||Sediment from the ground may end up in your cup|
|Great for sharing (usually makes between 4 and 8 cups)||Easy to over-extract the coffee which can lead to a bitter flavor|
|Takes time to brew|
Cold-brew is NOT iced coffee – it is an entirely different method of brewing coffee grounds that involves steeping the grounds in cold water for long periods of time. This results in a strong coffee concentrate that is lower in acidity which is more smooth than hot-brewed coffee. This is a perfect method for those who enjoy less acidic smoother coffee. It is also incredibly easy to make and requires no special machine. Simply place freshly ground coffee into a glass container and gently add cold water at a ratio of 4-to-1 (meaning something like 4 cups of water to 1 cup of grounds). Gently stir the water and grounds, cover the container, and let it sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours.
|No special equipment needed||Makes cold coffee|
|Consistently excellent flavored coffee||Time-consuming process, needs to steep for at least 12 hours|
Espresso machines force pressurized steam through coffee grounds to brew a small amount of creamy coffee. For a truly amazing espresso you will need a bit of training and a very fancy industrial machine, a stove-top Bialetti type, or a table-top variety that can make a decent one at home. Some home machines also include a built-in bean grinder (which is very handy when making espresso) and frother (for cappuccino and latte drinks). You will want to use a high-quality dark roast coffee bean and the beans need to be finely ground so they do not clump.
|Tasty, rich, and strong in flavor and aroma||Good equipment can be ridiculously expensive|
|Can be difficult to learn to do properly at home|
No matter what brew method or machine you select, the perfect cup of coffee really depends on the quality and freshness of your beans. It also depends on the grind. What do we mean? Coffee grind options range from extra course, course, medium-coarse, medium, medium-fine, fine, and extra fine. Course grounds typically resemble sea salt, medium is a lot like sand, and fine can be anywhere between table salt and flour. If your grounds are too course for your brewing method you will get an under-extracted cup of coffee and thus less flavor and body. Course ground coffee requires more time to brew while fine ground needs less.
Are you a coffee drinker? How do you prefer your ‘cuppa Joe? Which is your go-to method for brewing? Do you use more than one method? Which is your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments below!