Best Coffee Brew Method -Choosing your perfect cup

Most people like coffee, and many of us LOVE coffee, it is much more than just a caffeine boost in the morning, we all want our perfect cup without having to go to the local coffee shop.

But what does a perfect cup mean to you? Does it mean strong? Does it mean fast and convenient? Do you enjoy a strong coffee, or do you prefer savoring more of the different components stored in the beans? Whichever the preference is this post will serve you as a guideline to know what to expect and choose the best coffee brew method.

Whole Beans

There is only one thing I ALLWAYS recommend and it is to buy whole beans and grind them yourself. Pre-ground beans lose a lot of their freshness and the coffee will not taste as good. So for this you need to buy a grinder. Now there are different types of grinders for all budgets, but no matter which you choose it is always better to grind the beans yourself than buying pre-ground coffee. More about grinders later, for now lets talk a some about how brewing works.

How Coffee Is extracted

Extraction is nothing more than the flavor compounds in the bean getting dissolved in the water. It starts the moment that the water makes contact with the coffee grounds. The different methods will do this in different ways, some will do it faster, some will give you more of a certain flavor etc… Later I will be uploading a post with more detail on how extraction works, but for now lets keep it simple.

Now, lets get into topic… There are many options on how to brew the coffee, but I have narrowed the list to 5 “general” methods based on how they do it, these are…

  • Immersion brewing
  • Pour over brewing
  • Pressure brewing
  • Cold brew
  • Turkish Coffee

Of course for each one there are several options with differences between them.

Immersion

Also called steeping, this is probably one of the oldest ways of brewing coffee out there, and there are several forms and coffee makers to make coffee via immersion.

Basically what you are doing is mixing the coffee grinds with hot water and let it steep for a while before separating the two and keeping the delicious coffee. Making a good cup of coffee is nothing too complicated with immersion brewers, once you have the correct grind, and your preferred coffee-water ratio, it is fairly simple to repeat that good cup over and over again.

One of the most common immersion brewer is the french press, but there are other options such as…French Press

  • Soft Brew
  • Clever
  • Vacuum pot (or siphon)

Type of grind needed:

For immersion brewers, you will want to go with a medium-coarse to coarse grind, this should look like sea salt.

What to expect:

Immersion brewing will give you a cup that is strong and full of flavor. Since the water and the coffee are sitting still for a some time it gives the water the time to extract much flavor and get concentrated with it. And in most immersion brewers since a paper filter is not used you will have a some sediments in the cup.

Why yes?

Immersion brewers can be a good option for you if you like a strong flavor and a good caffeine kick. Also, if you like it simple since there is not a great level of skill required. Unlike pour over, it doesn’t require you doing anything during the brew time other than keeping an eye on the timer.

Why not?

If you like a cleaner coffee, this is probably not the best way to go, except probably for the clever (which uses a paper filter), the will get sediments. Also, if you don’t like it too strong or like to savor more of the different flavor compounds it’s also not the best option, since the water gets saturated with solubles, and this limits certain parts of extraction.

Pour Over Methods

Pour over is one of the most widely used methods, some options of pour over brewers are…

  • Hario V60 dripper
  • Chemex
  • The Kalita wave
  • JavaPresse brewer

Pour over brewing is pretty straight forward, you put a paper filter in a cone shaped brewer that is sitting on top of a cup or a carafe, put the coffee grinds in the filter and pour water on it. Unlike the immersion brewers water keeps running through the coffee and the filter taking the flavors with it and new water is being added during the brewing time to take more of the flavor compounds inside the coffee.

Many coffee purists prefer this method because since the grinds are constantly making contact with “new” unsaturated water, then its easier to effectively extract the different flavor compounds that round up the flavor in the coffee.

Type of grind needed:

For these type of brewers you will need a medium-fine to medium grind.

What to expect:

Pour over drippers give you a very clean and rich cup, you can actually get to taste all there is in the beans. It will also result in a less strong coffee, because the water is not sitting there waiting to get filled with the beans’ flavors.

There is a greater level of skill needed to brew pour over coffee, there are many more things to take care of. The main things are the same, time, grind and coffee to water ratio. But since the water is running through the coffee all the time, adjusting one thing will have an effect on the others as well. For example if you make a finer grind the water will take more time to go through and the time will go up which could result in over brewed coffee.

Don’t get scared, this only means that there is a bit more fine-tuning to be made before knowing how to make the perfect cup.

Why Yes?

This is a great brew type for you if you like coffee that is clean and you really appreciate having the complete flavor of the beans in the coffee.

Also, if you, like me, enjoy the morning ritual of preparing the coffee (brew is very slow), and like to experiment around until you get it right, then pour over will be a fun thing to use.

Why Not?

If you like it fast and straight forward, and you want a stronger coffee, then this is probably not the best option. Also, I could call it an artisans’ method because you have to be there brewing all the time, so if you like reading the newspaper while you wait for the coffee, that’s and other reason why this could not be very suited for you.

Pressure BrewingEspresso

Here you have espresso, for which you can find fully automatic machines, semi-automatic and even manuals, other options are the Aeropress, and the moka pot. Pressure brewing consists in having the grinds packed together in a small space and making water pas through them and a filter using pressure, which accelerates extraction. Allowing the coffee to have more concentration in a smaller cup.

Type of grind needed:

For pressure brewing you will need a fine grind.

What to expect:

Pressure brewed coffee will have a very strong flavor and will have crema, this is the brown foam that forms on top of the coffee. It will be a coffee with great body and extremely tasteful.

In fact pressure brewing is a whole world on its own and different type of brewers will definitely give you different results, and are also very different in their ease of use and on total time. Brew time will always be very short but for example you can have a fully automatic which brews with the press of a button or a manual espresso machine which need quite a bit of prior preparation. I will soon be making a post going into more detail on pressure brewers.

Why Yes?

This is definitely for you if you like the kick of a very strong coffee in the morning. I also like to have a nice shot of espresso after a meal. It keeps me from dozing off.

Why not?

If you prefer lighter flavors you should definitely go with one of the other options. I am not going into how simple it is, because as I said before there are many ways to brew with pressure.

Cold Brew

No it’s not the same as iced coffee, iced coffee is when you brew coffee and add ice to make it cold. Cold brewing is when you use cold water to brew instead of hot water. This is a brewing style that is getting more and more popular because of the great taste it delivers.

Brew time is a looooot longer, between 24 and 48 hours, this is because cold water is much slower at extracting coffee, so when cold brewing you usually make batches of concentrate that you can then mix with hot water, ( I usually prefer a 1 to 2 coffee to water ratio), or you can mix it with ice or whatever you want.

Type of grind needed:

Cold brewers need an extra coarse grind, even coarser than the one used for immersion brewers.

What to expect:

It turns out that the acid oils in the coffee beans only get dissolved in hot water, so when brewing cold, you get much of the sweeter flavors out. And because the grind is coarse it is very rare to over brew so you won’t get almost any bitterness in the cup. It’s really hard to screw up cold brewing.

Why Yes?

For starters, it is great for people who have a sensitive stomach, because of its lack of acidity. And about the flavor if you prefer more of a sweet coffee, this is the best option. It also eliminates mos of the “ritual” part of making coffee, while brewing you just let it sit for one or two days, and once you have the concentrate, all you have to do is to heat up some water to mix it up with.

It is also a good choice if you like having the coffee with milk, I’m not a great fan of that but if the are, I can tell you that this is the best brew to mix with milk.

Why not?

I don’t recommend it to you if you enjoy the acidity of coffee, or if you like the coffee extremely hot. When you mix it with hot water it will be hot, but if you are one of those people who like to drink at almost boiling temperature, then you will have a hard time. I don’t recommend heating up the concentrate because it can alter the flavor.

Turkish CoffeeTurkish Coffee

There is only one way to make Turkish coffee but I decided to enlist it as a different method because there really isn’t anything that tastes like it. Turkish coffee is made mixing the grind directly into the water inside a Turkish pot and heating it close to its boiling point. I will also upload a tutorial for Turkish coffee.

Type of grind needed:

Extra Fine, this is a grind that looks like powder and you won’t be able to distinguish the particles with the eyes. In fact most home grinders won’t be able to give you a grind this fine. You will need a Turkish grinder.

What to expect:

Turkish coffee is as strong as an espresso but on top of that has an extremely creamy flavor and a muddy cup, this is because there is no part in the process where you separate the grinds from the water, you just let them fall to the bottom of the pot and serve the coffee.

Why Yes?

There is no other way to say this… This is for you if you love Turkish coffee, if you haven’t tried it, then go ahead and decide for yourself.

Why not?

Brewing is slow and requires all the attention, it is a long ritual, so if you want it fast, then this might not be a great option.

What do you prefer?

All methods have advantages and disadvantages, but it all comes down to what you like the most. Once we go into detail on these methods, you’ll see that within them different brewers can give you different results. Fore example a clever can give you something similar to immersion but clean as pour over giving you some goodness of both worlds. But generally speaking you can use this as an initial guide to decide what to look for.

Remember, there are no rights and wrongs, it is all a question of taste, (Although I must say there are some brewers out there that I will never recommend because I consider them an insult to coffee). But which ever way you like to brew the coffee will give you a great cup once you master it, choose the best coffee brew method according to YOUR preference.

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Best Coffee Brew Method -Choosing your perfect cup”

  1. I liked your article, you broke things done into simple steps and gave great pros and cons for each. I did not know that there were so many different ways to brew coffee, as I am not a fan of it.

  2. I prefer immersion brewers as I like a really strong flavor. I wonder do you have healthy cream option to use for these coffees? I am a complete a beginner and sorry if this question does not make any sense.

    • It does make sense. If you like milk I would just recommend to look for low sugar and low calorie creamers. But also there are a lot of Almond milk creamers on the market which I personally don’t like for taste, but are deffinately a great option if you are looking for healthy

  3. Wow, I’ve always tried to find a way to enjoy coffee, but I never found anything that worked. Now that I’ve found an article that outlines a method to perfect coffee, this might be worth a shot. Both of my parents are also major coffee drinkers in the am, so I’d love to share this article and see if it’s something they’re willing to try, too.

    • It’s good that you are willing to give it a shot. Glad you liked the article. If you are looking for something different in taste I would reccomend you to try cold brewing.

  4. I love coffee and so I had to read your post. I just purchased an Aeropress for myself ( 🙂 ) for Christmas and had no idea it was considered pressured brewing..it makes sense but.. now I know!
    I absolutely love it! I wanted to get away from using K-cups mainly because of how bad they are for the environment. I’ve used a french press in the past but with my busy schedule I found the k-cups so convenient. Now, I just grind my coffee the night before, get up a few minutes earlier, and then use my aeropress. It is literally the best tasting coffee I’ve ever had-and made in my kitchen! I’ll have to try the Turkish coffee you mentioned. It sounds pretty cool, with the exception of the “muddy” part. lol. Great post!

    • HI Jennifer!! Of course the pressure will not be as high as with an espresso maker but it is still a pressure method. If you want to experiment more with your aeropress there is also a way to use it as an immersion method. You put it upside down with the plunger on its possition and pour the grinds and watter from the “bottom” part, and let it sit. Then you put the filter, flipp it and plunge. I’ll be making a post soon on this, I’ll let you know 🙂

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