The Best Methods Of Brewing Coffee

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If you are like the majority of Americans, a good cup of hot coffee is on your list of daily necessities. According to the American Coffee Association, 54% of Americans drink coffee daily, consuming an average of three cups each. You might have slipped into the habit of stopping by your local coffee shop on the way to work each morning to buy your cup of brew, but you can easily make excellent coffee at home, adding up to quite a savings over the course of the year.

Though the drip coffee maker probably leaps to mind when you think of brewing coffee, there are actually several methods of brewing coffee that cater to different tastes and styles. The method chosen strongly influences the taste of the resulting beverage, so personal opinion plays the biggest part in deciding which way is best for you. Convenience and speed are the two other important factors. Whatever method you choose, start with filtered water and good quality beans ground to the texture most appropriate for your coffee pot. For the very best cup of coffee, buy fresh, whole beans and grind them yourself right before brewing.

Drip Coffee Maker: This is the most popular style of coffee maker in the US. Fill the reservoir with water, and add medium ground coffee beans to the filtered chamber. Set the machine to your preferred settings, and let it do the rest. The water will slowly drip through the beans, then filter into a glass carafe on a warming tray. For the best taste, use gold-plated, reusable filters instead of paper.

Pros:

  • Very convenient and easy to use
  • Quality machines produce a good cup of coffee
  • Good for an office, or other situation where a large pot of coffee is desirable
  • Many drip makers are programmable, making it possible to wake up to your coffee waiting for you

Cons:

  • Coffee can get bitter sitting on the hot plate for too long
  • Many machines do not heat water sufficiently
  • Coffee maker must be cleaned thoroughly to avoid buildup that causes bad taste
  • Coffee will be weak if machine drips water through the beans before it’s hot enough
  • Coffee will be too strong or too weak if the water drips through too slowly or too quickly

The Best Methods Of Brewing Coffee

French Press: Also called a plunger pot, the French press is the second most popular way to brew coffee in the US. Place coarsely ground coffee into the bottom of the carafe. Pour hot water (not boiling) over the grounds, and then briefly stir. Let the coffee steep for 3 to 4 minutes; then push the French press’s plunger down, trapping the grinds at the bottom of the carafe. Pour the fresh coffee into your mug and add sugar or cream if you like.

Pros:

  • Produces a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee
  • Requires no electricity, perfect for travel or camping
  • Gives you control over the strength of your coffee
  • Coffee is ready in just a few minutes
  • Good if you only want one or two cups of coffee
  • Small and easy to store

Cons:

  • Coffee will become bitter if left sitting in the carafe
  • You may find sediment from coffee beans in your cup
  • You need to monitor water temperature
  • Variation from cup to cup
  • Not suitable for making coffee for a group

Chemex: This is a manually controlled drip method of making coffee. Place a moistened heavy paper filter in the upper cone of the Chemex pot, which looks something like a laboratory beaker with a wooden center, then top with medium ground coffee beans. Boil water on the stove, then remove from the heat and allow to cool for 30 seconds. Pour a little bit of water over the coffee beans to let the flavor bloom, then slowly pour water over the beans in a circular motion. The brewed coffee drips into the bottom section of the carafe. Once you have your desired amount of coffee, dispose of the filter and used grounds, pour your coffee into a mug and enjoy.

Pros:

  • The Chemex pot is so attractive and well designed, it is on display in the Smithsonian Museum of Art
  • No plastic to harbor germs, oils or buildup that could impair coffee flavor
  • Delicious cup of coffee that is close to French press in terms of taste
  • No sediment in your cup
  • You control the strength of your brew

Cons:

  • Heavy paper filter can leave a taste in the coffee
  • Requires close attention to water temperature and pouring speed
  • Glass construction is easily broken

Turkish: This centuries-old method of making coffee is popular throughout the Middle East. It requires coffee ground to a powder-fine consistency. Fill the long-handled, small metal pot called an ibrik 2/3 way with water. Add sugar, then top with ground coffee. Heat the ibrik over a stove or fire until the coffee boils and foams. Remove from heat, let the foam settle, then again place the ibrik over heat until it foams. Repeat the process for a total of three times. Pour the coffee into a small cup and enjoy immediately.

Pros:

  • Ibriks can be very exotic and beautiful, often made of hammered copper
  • It’s a fun, unusual way to make coffee
  • Coffee is very strong, muddy and delicious

Cons:

  • If you don’t like very thick, strong coffee, you won’t like this method
  • You must pay close attention while coffee is heating
  • Time consuming
  • Many coffee grinders do not produce a fine enough grind

Whichever way you prefer to make coffee, the three critical elements are:

  • Your chosen style of coffee pot
  • Filtered or bottled water free of fluoride or other chemicals, and heated to between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Good quality, fresh coffee beans ground to the right coarseness for your coffee maker

Select the best method of brewing coffee for your preferred taste and available time, ensuring each cup is well worth the effort and adds up your savings.

Last Updated: June 14, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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