The best way to brew coffee? There isn’t one. There are many great ways to brew coffee!

Want to know the secret to brewing the best cup of coffee? Experiment and find out what pleases your taste buds most! We would love to say there is one perfect way to brew or a best way to brew a particular bean but last we checked, our opinion was just that – an opinion, not a fact. There are many time-tested, wonderful methods you can use to brew a magnificent cup of coffee. Below is a summary of the most common brew methods broken down into brew type:  filtration, immersion, and pressure.

FILTRATION BREWING, also known as drip method, involves pouring hot water over freshly ground beans and allowing gravity to pull the water through the grounds into a capture vessel or pot. Filtration coffee produces a medium bodied, clean, nuanced brew.

Drip machines are most likely what come to mind if someone says ‘coffee machine’. Drip machines are automated brewers that consist of a filter that holds coffee grounds positioned over a vessel or pot that captures the brewed coffee and a water tank that heats and distributes the hot water over the coffee grounds. Drip machines are the most common method of brewing due to their ease of use, consistency, and volume capacity. A quality drip machine produces a pure, clean cup of coffee – similar to a pour over but generally with a lighter mouthfeel.

  • Brew time:  Varies with machine
  • Grind:  Medium
  • Taste:  Rich, clean, flavorful
  • Skill:  None required

Pour-over brewers consist of either a single vessel with two distinct sections – 1) a bottom chamber for capturing brewed coffee below a filter-shaped top, or 2) a pot / cup and free standing filter that fits on top of the pot / cup. The most common types of pour over brewers are Chemex, Beehouse, Kalita Wave, Clever Dripper, and Hairo V60. While the nuances of each pour over are unique, the brewing method and principles are undeniably similar. Coffee grounds are placed into a filter, hot water is slowly poured – by hand – over the grounds, travels through the grounds, and drips into the pot below as brewed coffee. Properly brewed pour over coffee produces a rich, clean cup with moderate mouthfeel. Pour-overs beautifully preserve the bean’s natural flavors and vibrancy. Click here to learn how to brew the perfect pour-over.

  • Brew time:  2.5 – 4 minutes
  • Grind:  Medium to medium / coarse
  • Taste:  Rich, clean, flavorful
  • Skill:  Moderate

Tip:  Hairo V60s are great for those new to the pour over. The Hairo’s cone filter has holes at the bottom that control the water’s run through speed, preventing against rapid / over extraction.

IMMERSION BREWING allows coffee grounds to steep in hot water for long periods of time, creating a thick, creamy brew. The most familiar steeping method is the French Press, though there are other steeping methods, summarized below, rapidly gaining traction.

French Press, also known as a cafetière or coffee press, consists of a beaker and a hand plunger with a mesh piston at the end. Coffee grounds are placed into the bottom of the beaker and hot water is poured over them. The grounds then steep in the hot water for 4-6 minutes. Once the desired steep time is met, the plunger is pressed over the water, trapping the grounds beneath the piston and leaving the brewed coffee above. The French Press creates a very thick, creamy brew. This creaminess is created in part by the lack of a filter – without a filter, the beans’ natural oils are retained in the brewed coffee. These oils create a wonderful, heavy mouthfeel but we would caution anyone with high cholesterol against regular use of a French Press. Click here to learn how to brew the prefect french press.

  • Brew time:  4-6 minutes
    Grind:  Coarse
  • Taste:  Thick, smooth, textured
  • Skill:  Moderate
  • Bonus:  This method also works wonderfully for cold brewed coffee

SoftBrew, a relative new comer to the coffee scene, is an infusion method similar to brewing tea. The SoftBrew method requires a Snowden SoftBrew brewer – a porcelain or ceramic pot with stainless steel micro etched filter. Coffee grounds are placed into the filter, which is then placed in the pot and hot water is poured into the pot, immersing the grounds through the filter. This method is similar to a French Press in mouthfeel and produces a clean, light, nuanced brew.

  • Brew time:  4-8 minutes
  • Grind:  To your preference – we prefer a standard medium grind but you can grind finer or coarser depending on your mouthfeel preference.
  • Taste:  Light, smooth, delicate, nuanced
  • Skill:  Easy

Cold brew  coffee is the only brew method that relies on cold water. Any vessel or chamber works as a brewer for cold brewing. In cold brew, cold water is poured over coarse grounds and allowed to steep for 10+ hours. Once brewed, the grounds out filtered out of the water leaving a thick, chocolaty coffee. Click here to learn how to brew the perfect cold brew.

  • Brew time:  10+ hours
  • Grind:  Coarse
  • Taste:  Heavy, rich, chocolaty. If you love the nuances – the spice, bitter, and citric notes of coffee, you won’t find them in a cold brew. Cold brew, due to the lack of extraction, really focuses on beans’ base notes, the most common of which is cocoa.
  • Skill:  Easy

PRESSURE BREWING involves using intense pressure to push water threw coffee grounds to create coffee. The most common form of pressure brewing is espresso though there are other, equally wonderful forms of pressure brewing such as AeroPress, Moka Pots, and Vacuum / Syphon brewers.

Espresso, often confused with being a type of coffee, is actually a drink. Espresso machines create espresso by forcing pressurized hot water through a chamber of finely ground coffee. Espresso has a very strong, intense flavor due to the rapid extraction.

  • Brew time:  20-30 seconds
  • Grind:  Fine, consistent grind
  • Taste:  Strong, sharp, intensely flavorful
  • Skill:  Moderate

Moka Pot is a stovetop espresso maker with three chambers. The bottom chamber holds water, the middle chamber holds coffee grounds, and the top chamber captures brewed coffee. Moka Pot coffee tends to be rich, smooth, and pure due to the brew process. First, hot water boils, creating steam in the bottom chamber. This steam and pressure then force the water up through the grounds and into the top chamber which captures the brewed coffee. Click here to learn how to make the perfect Moka Pot coffee.

  • Brew time:  Approximately 5 minutes
  • Grind:  On the coarser side of fine. As a general rule of thumb if your coffee is weak, make the grind finer; if your coffee is bitter, make the grind coarser.
  • Taste:  Rich, smooth, clean
  • Skill:  Moderate to hard

AeroPress is a wonderful, compact single cup pressure brewer. This lightweight little devise consists of a plunger, chamber, and filter. Coffee grounds are placed into the chamber, hot water is poured on top of the grounds, and then the plunger is pressed down into the chamber forcing the water through the grounds, past the filter, and into your cup. This wonderful travel companion produces a smooth, flavorful cup with a lighter texture than other pressure methods. Click here to learn how to make the perfect Aeropress cup.

  • Brew time:  Approximately 1 minute
  • Grind:  Medium but the AreoPress can handle any grind
  • Taste:  Smooth, flavorful, lighter mouthfeel
  • Skill:  Easy

Vacuum brewer, also known as a siphon, is a pressure brewer quite different from those mentioned above. The vacuum brewer consists of two stacked chambers. The bottom chamber holds water; the top chamber holds coffee grounds. As the water in the bottom chamber heats up, the pressure difference between the top and bottom chambers forces the water up into the top chamber, infusing the grounds. When all of the water from the bottom chamber has been forced up to the top chamber, the heat will turn off, allowing the bottom chamber to cool and the pressure between both bowls to find equilibrium. At this point, gravity will pull the water (now coffee) threw a filter and back to the bottom chamber. The vacuum brew is not only beautiful to watch, it also creates a wonderful, balanced, aromatic cup.

  • Brew time:  10 minutes
  • Grind:  Medium / coarse
  • Taste:  Clean, flavorful, pure
  • Skill:  Easy

The brewing methods mentioned above are the most common used by Queen Bean Coffee Company customers but there are other equally wonderful methods out there should you wish to continue exploring, including the ibrik, percolator, and Neapolitan flip brewer. At QB, we love to brew the same coffee a few different ways to better understand the bean’s characteristics. As a result (just when you thought this couldn’t get more confusing), we’ve found we prefer certain coffees, such as French and Vienna roasts, brewed in a French Press and others, such as Sumatrans in a Pour Over while Mills Blend tastes consistently great across all brew methods. The bottom line with brewing:  there is no one way to make a great cup of coffee but there are many ways to make an exceptional cup. Happy brewing!

 

Sources:


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