Guide to Brewing Coffee: From the Traditional Drip to More Modern Methods

While dozing off early one morning, I got the idea for this coffee maker manual. I was feeling a little peckish, so I yearnedly glanced at my coffee maker across the room. (I have a one-room apartment, so my bed and coffee maker are technically in the same space. I pondered how I could automate the brewing process to save myself the trouble of getting out of bed. Not that you'd learn how to do that from this article. It explains how to make every kind of coffee imaginable, from the most basic drip to the most elaborate French press.

Believe me, I'm no coffee connoisseur. Ideally, I'd take the time to use a gooseneck kettle to slowly pour hot water over coffee grounds, releasing the aroma as the water cools and releasing the subtle notes of orange and marzipan to energize me. I'd love it if my specialty beans had hints of dulce le leche, green apple, and tobacco. I'd love to learn to distinguish between beans from Italy and Ecuador and become a coffee sommelier. However, I am not that type of person.

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My father would buy the largest container of coffee grounds he could find for the best price and use a Mr. Coffee 12-cup drip machine to make coffee for the whole family every morning. My sister and I used to gently suggest that he try something new, like better beans, as a way of getting him to broaden his horizons. He'd say things like, "I don't drink it for the taste," and we'd agree. Just like you, we drank it first thing in the morning to help us get up and going. On Father's Day and Christmas, we'd give him a bag of single-origin beans from a local roaster, and he'd be grateful, but he'd quickly revert to a tub of Folgers or Maxwell House. Just look at this, he proclaimed, "30 ounces for seven bucks." When he said this, we would roll our eyes and laugh, but the next morning we would drink it happily because he was right and we weren't drinking it for the taste anyway and we were half asleep.

My father not only showed me the ropes when it came to brewing coffee at home, but he also taught me an important lesson about how to make drip coffee quickly and effectively: always set everything up the night before. If the coffee beans aren't already ground and stored in a red plastic bucket, they must be ground before being added to the filter basket. So that all you have to do before sunrise is "just press play," add the water. Would someone who drinks expensive coffee do this? No But this is the only method I've found to brew coffee without actually drinking any.

Let's get something straight: freshness of the ground beans is just as important as high-quality beans for making delicious coffee. Grinding your beans right before using them will release their full flavor and aroma. I know this goes against what I just said about getting the coffee beans ready the night before, but I'm trying to show you the best way to do things, not the fastest way.

Both blade grinders (like the kind you'd find at a supermarket for ten dollars) and burr grinders (which are more expensive but produce a finer grind) are available for use with coffee. But why do people generally consider burr grinders to be the best option? Burr grinders have a more even crushing action on the roasted coffee beans, leading to a more consistent grind. On the other hand, according to Partners Coffee's resident coffee expert Cary Wong, traditional blade grinders "basically chop up the coffee beans," leading to an inconsistent grind that weakens the coffee's flavor and finish. Burr grinders are much more expensive and bulky (you'll be hard-pressed to find one that's under and under 15 inches), but the payoff is worth it if you're serious about having great-tasting coffee.

We will discuss how coarse a grind is best suited for each technique shortly. But as a general rule, "the shorter the contact time with water, the finer the grounds should be." Wong explains that "coarser grounds are preferable because they spend more time in contact with water." For example, consider espresso: a single or double shot of espresso can be brewed in under 15 seconds, so the grounds must be very fine. Medium-coarse grounds work best for coffee brewed with a drip coffee maker or French press because they only have to swim in the hot water for a few minutes; very coarse grounds are best for the longest brewing methods, such as cold brew coffee, which takes several hours.

Various preparations of coffee are detailed here for your convenience. For each brewing technique, I will detail the optimal grind size, water temperature, and water-to-grounds ratio, as recommended by coffee professionals. To become a true coffee connoisseur, it takes months of trial and error to figure out exactly which coffees you like best. You'll drop hundreds of dollars on exotic coffee beans and cut off all human contact in search of eternal love, which turns out to be an Escali kitchen scale (just kidding).

However, in reality, these are merely suggestions. Congratulations if you prefer your AeroPress coffee made with water at 190 degrees Fahrenheit rather than the recommended 175 degrees! Good for you if you've come to the conclusion that cold brew coffee is too pricey and that an old batch of refrigerated drip coffee tastes just as good. For me, a good cup of coffee begins with the freshest beans and the most reliable machinery. And yet, I'm aware that without it, I'd never remember to put on my socks, locate the remote, or get ready for my 9 a.m. class. m because I have to use a machine regardless of whether I have a dentist appointment or not. Experiment until you find a strategy that works for you, then refine it.

What Is It

Small and portable, the AeroPress makes coffee that tastes like espresso. Even though it doesn't make true espresso, it does make a very concentrated cup of coffee that most people would consider espresso. That's a friendly reminder that the AeroPress can do much more than produce a standard cup of excellent coffee. Much more potent than usual If you want to use it as a replacement for drip coffee, you'll need to dilute it. While the coffee made in an AeroPress is similar to espresso, any kind of beans can be used.

Making It in Life

Coffee beans should be finely ground or espresso ground before being brewed in an AeroPress. Put in the chamber the equivalent of three tablespoons of finely ground coffee (about 14 grams). Make sure the AeroPress is on level ground by giving it a little jiggle. Carefully pour hot water over the coffee grounds; for dark-roast coffee, use water at 175 °F, and for medium-roast coffee, use water at 185 °F, as recommended by the brand. The recommended preparation time is 10 seconds of stirring the water and grounds together. The next step is to put in the plunger and slowly press down on it to get the coffee out. When you reach the point where you feel resistance, you know you've gotten all the coffee out of the grounds. Indulge in it espresso-style or dilute it to make an Americano.

For what reason Aeropress

Coffee connoisseurs will find the AeroPress to be an ideal portable brewing method for making delicious coffee anywhere. Wong says, "It's great for camping and is easy to clean."

What Is It

A Chemex resembles a wooden and leather corset wrapped around the waist of a flower vase. So stylish Instead of referring to a specific type of coffee, the term "Chemex" is more commonly associated with a specific type of coffee maker.

Tips for Success

The standard brewing ratio is 1 part coffee grounds to 17 parts water. So if we’re talking about brewing 2 cups of coffee, you should measure out 30 grams of coffee and 510 grams of hot water Add the specialty filter to the Chemex before pouring coffee into it. To remove the papery taste, gently pour hot water over the filter. Throw away the water and start over with the coffee grounds. Pour the hot water in a clockwise motion over the grounds as you add them to the wet filter, letting them "bloom" for a few minutes. When the soil is barely saturated, you can stop. After one minute, the remaining water should be poured over the grass. Do not disturb the brewing process after all the water has been used.

Why Chemex

A Chemex is one of the best options for preparing pour over coffee for a large group. Wong claims that brewing coffee with a Chemex or a pour over results in "more complex flavors than other methods." It's available in a range of sizes, from 3-cup to 10-cup. Besides being inexpensive (less than fifty dollars) and taking up as much room as a vase of flowers, those are two more reasons we adore it.

What Is It

You need time and a lot of coffee grounds to make cold brew coffee, a special kind of iced coffee. In order to make a concentrate (meaning extremely potent iced coffee), coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

Guidelines for Success

You can make cold brew with regular coffee grounds or with pre-measured specialty cold brew pouches, but the process is otherwise identical. Our preferred method of preparing coffee with grounds is as follows: coarsely grind (very coarsely grind) 3/4 cup of beans for every 4 cups of cold water. Put everything into a large mason jar or other sealable container and shake vigorously to combine. This will ensure that the grounds are thoroughly moistened. Place the lid on the container and let it sit out at room temperature for a full day.

After steeping, strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a large bowl or pitcher. Extraction of maximum coffee flavor requires pressing the grounds against the sieve during pouring. Don't forget to dump or recycle your used coffee grounds. Cold brew coffee can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days after being poured into a glass, watered down to taste, and then stored.

Reasons to Drink Cold Brew

It's an improved form of iced coffee because it lacks the bitterness and acidity you'd get from simply cooling down brewed hot drip coffee. Because of the high quantity of coffee grounds required and the low volume of iced coffee produced, cold brew coffee can be quite pricey.

What Is It

If you're here after searching Google for "how to make coffee," I'm guessing that you were hoping to learn the basics of making a pot of drip coffee with a $15 machine and whatever beans you happened to have lying around. Moreover, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, I adore it when you say that! When I set out on my quest for caffeine-infused knowledge, I had a hard time tracking down advice on how to brew a perfect cup of drip coffee. You can find FAQs and tutorials for any of the high-end pour over machines you can imagine. However, brewed coffee is served via a drip machine. Nada Therefore, we must work together

Those who consider themselves "coffee people" tend to dislike drip coffee because, in their opinion, the water never gets hot enough, making it impossible to experience the full range of caramelized, woody, and floral notes in your beans. Yes, that could be the case. Likely, that is correct. Also of great value is the fact that 12 cups of hot coffee can be brewed in under 10 minutes using this method, which is the most common and cheapest option.

Tips for Success

Counter Culture Coffee's instructors frown upon drip coffee makers. They are aware that this is how many coffee lovers would rather prepare their beverage. For better or worse, in health or in sickness, here's the advice they give for brewing palatable drip coffee: Use medium-coarse grounds; on a scale from 1 to 10, your grounds for drip coffee should be around a 6.

You should use 20 grams of coffee beans per cup of coffee (measured out before grinding) and 320 milliliters of cold-filtered water. If you want to brew enough coffee for four cups, you'll need 80 grams of coffee beans and 1,280 grams of cold, filtered water. But I'll just refer to it as water, because if you're a drip coffee drinker like myself, you don't give a hoot about using filtered water.

You know what to do from here: put the beans in the filter, fill the back reservoir with water, turn on the machine, and get to work on your daily tasks while the coffee brews.

What's the Deal with Drip Coffee?

It's affordable, accessible, and popular; you can even brush your teeth, do the dishes, and vacuum the floor while it brews. Do I even need to continue?

What Is It

French press coffee is brewed by letting coarse coffee grounds and hot water sit in the same container for an extended period of time, a process known as "full immersion brewing." With this method, you can enjoy a cup of coffee with a rich, robust flavor. Wong explains that French press is best for those who prefer their coffee to have more body and coffee oil because of this method. For those who don't have five minutes to spare while pouring hot water over coffee grounds, this is the best "set it and forget it" option.

Tips for Success

The first high-end coffee maker I was given was a French press. My aunt and uncle gave me a copper one as a high school graduation present, and I remember how hip I felt wearing it. I've always wanted to make it taste good, but I'm going to try really hard this time. An ideal coffee-to-water ratio is 1:15, say the alert folks at Partners Coffee. What does that even mean, though? Making one to two cups of coffee from their French press recipe requires 34 grams of coarse grounds to 500 grams of water heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Start the French press for 4 minutes and pour in the coarsely ground coffee. Let the coffee bloom for 45 seconds after pouring 100 ml of hot water over it. The final 400 grams of hot water should be poured into the press and stirred to combine. Coffee should be pressed after 4 minutes.

Which begs the question:

For me, French press coffee marks an intermediate step between the world of drip coffee and the world of all these fancy, fussy machines. This is due to the fact that it requires slightly more maintenance than a standard drip machine. Oh, and depending on the size of your beaker, a French press can produce anywhere from 2 to 4 cups of coffee.

What Is It

Could I interest you in pour over coffee if you're the kind of person who's willing to set aside at least five minutes to brew a cup? Using this method, you can brew coffee that is flavored but has a lighter body and better clarity. You're probably using a Hario V60 or a Chemex to brew your coffee, but I know you're looking at this and thinking, "I need to get one of those." This easy-to-use device, which mimics a cup and saucer, is meant to be used in conjunction with a regular mug and saucer. This is the equipment you'll need if you're the type of person who likes to make one cup of coffee at a time in the wee hours of the morning as a sort of ritualized meditation. Coffee brewed with this method is slightly more acidic than that brewed with a Chemex or Moccamaster.

Making It in Life

Before brewing coffee with a Hario V60, bring water to a temperature between 200 and 210 degrees Fahrenheit (just below boiling) in a kettle with a gooseneck spout. About 3 tablespoons of ground coffee (or about 20 grams) is needed for 1 cup of brewed coffee. To eliminate the taste of paper or dust, place the filter in the pour over and slowly drizzle hot water over it to wet it. Get rid of this water and reset the machine. To "bloom" your grounds, add them to the wet filter and slowly pour hot water over them in a circular motion. At the end of the minute, slowly pour the remaining water over the soil. Allow the water to trickle slowly through the grounds; after about 3 minutes, you should have excellent pour over coffee.

As to Why You Shouldn't Pour Over

The choice is yours. A delicious, subtle cup of coffee can be made in any coffee maker, from the single-serve Hario V60 to the group-serve Chemex and Moccamaster.

What Is It

If you need to brew coffee for a large group, the Moccamaster is a specialized machine similar to the Chemex. The Moccamaster, on the other hand, is as hands-free as a drip coffee maker, producing coffee in the same style as pour over with the push of a button. The Moccamaster's two copper heating elements allow for the water to be heated to the proper temperature for brewing without overheating the brewed coffee, preventing a burnt, bitter taste that can occur in other drip coffee makers.

Tips for Success

Using a Moccamaster is most like using a drip coffee maker; you fill the reservoir with water, add your coffee grounds to a coffee-filter-lined basket, and turn on the machine. Coffee grounds in the amount of 73 grams are a good place to start for a pot of water holding 5 cups. Just make a batch and drink it to see if it's potent enough for your tastes. ) and modify for the next time It won't take more than 5 minutes for your coffee to brew and be ready to drink (and hey, maybe you even washed the dishes in that time)!

What's the deal with Moccamaster

The Moccamaster is perfect for those who simply cannot give up the convenience (read: laziness) of a drip coffee machine but who also value the nuanced nuances of a well-made cup of joe. Unfortunately, their signature 10-cup machine costs around $350, which is about the same as a quality espresso machine.

Which coffee preparation method do you enjoy the most? Leave your thoughts in the section below. Our editors and writers have chosen (and adored) these products on their own. When you buy a product through one of our links and we both end up with a commission, Food52 benefits.
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