In this day and age, coffee is no longer just a drink, it’s part of an international culture. America was introduced to coffee in the 1700s. Specifically, it became a huge part of our culture after 1773 (which the historians among us will recognize as the year of the Boston Tea Party) and clearly, we never looked back.
Over the years, we’ve developed many ways to brew coffee, and even the average consumer tends to have a very refined sense of taste now, especially when it comes to coffee. Most people have their preferred coffee bean or coffee brewing method. Both are factors that will ultimately determine what your coffee experience is like.
Finding your favorite bean is easy enough, as that process consists mostly of trial and error (and maybe a little bit of web searching here and there.) If you ask the average person, many will already have a favorite coffee bean, but very few have a favorite brewing method.
The brewing method has a large impact on the overall taste of the coffee. Temperature, pressure, and many other variables will define the strength and acidity of your coffee. In order to help you determine your ideal brewing method, we’ve compiled a list of all the brewing methods at your disposal and will talk briefly about how the brewing methods will affect the overall taste.
We’ve given you over 13 completely different ways of making coffee.
Espresso is known for the stronger taste and higher caffeine content it possesses due to the fact that espresso machines use pressure produced by steam to push hot water through finely ground coffee beans, rather than the drip method used by a standard coffee maker. It has an intense, robust taste that many people love, and may even prefer over standard coffee. To make espresso at home, all you’ll need is an espresso machine and a tamp (which will most likely be included with your machine.)
There are many different espresso machines with various designs, but in general they all work the same. Water is brought to extremely high temperatures that cause it to make steam. The steam can’t be contained in the limited space it’s produced in, and is pushed through a tube where it’s exposed to the coffee grounds. It’s pushed through the coffee grounds where it exits through the spout and into a mug or small espresso cup.
There are a couple of different kinds of espresso machines: non-pump espresso machines, and pump espresso machines. A pump espresso machine uses a pump to provide more constant pressure that is greater than that produced by steam alone. It’ll ultimately give you better results, but they’re significantly more expensive. Which is best for you really depends on your priorities, but typically you get what you pay for.
You can further break down categories of espresso machines into Semi Automatic and Super Automatic Espresso Machines.
Semi Automatic vs Super Automatic Machines
Semi Automatic have a boiler (the water is heated) and an automatic pump. The ‘semi’ part comes in with a switch where you activate the pump (the extraction of coffee from the grinds) and control how long the pump is activated. Some models have specific intervals times you can set to automate the process a bit. Semi-Automatics also require you to put the fresh grinds into the filter (the tamp) and also remove the used grinds from the tamp after the espresso is made. Most semi-automatics do NOT come with a built-in coffee grinder.
The advantage with a semi-automatic is you can make an amazing espresso (you control all the variables). However, it takes more time than a super automatic to make your espresso and there is SKILL required. You’ll need to learn how to brew a good espresso first.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machines are the one button, do everything. They often come with a grinder, a boiler, and a pump. You simply adjust a couple settings, hit a button, and your espresso is ready in 30-60 seconds. You don’t even need to clean the machine. Convenience is the main benefit and consistency. Super Automatics make decent espresso’s over and over — far better than your drip coffee and superior to Starbucks. However, you’ll never get anything better than the default espresso. A semi-automatic can, with your own skill, make a superior espresso.
Before we move on to the next method, here are a couple of tips and tricks to get the most out of your espresso with a semi automatic.
- Make sure that your beans are finely ground. Whether you get it ground at your favorite coffee shop, grind it yourself, or buy it ground, espresso will not brew correctly with beans that have been ground for regular coffee.
- Tamp your grounds correctly, if using a semi-automatic. Tamping is the process of packing your grounds into the bowl. You don’t want it to be too tight or too loose. The trick is to make sure the chamber is totally dry, make sure the grounds are distributed evenly, and apply light pressure with your tamp.
French Press Method
The French Press Brew is known for its rich, full-bodied taste. If you like your coffee strong, this is the method for you. It isn’t for everyone though, as it tends to be much murkier than your standard cup of joe. All you need for this method is a French press coffee maker.
If you’re thinking about buying one, be sure to check out the SterlingPro French Press. It’s our favorite because of its timeless design, high quality materials, sturdy build, and genius dual screen design that ensures absolutely no grounds in your coffee.
If you’re as particular about your coffee as I am, you probably don’t want it to come in contact with any plastic or metal, as it compromises the taste. With a SterlingPro your coffee only comes in contact with glass. There are a lot of great French press coffee maker’s out there, but we’re positive that everyone will be happy with this one.
The process involved with French press coffee makers is a pretty simple one. A large container is filled first with coffee grounds, and then hot water. Stir it gently. The lid of the coffee maker has a press, which is a metal or glass filter that serves the same purpose as the paper filters used in standard drip machines.
After three to five minutes (depending on a few variables such as preference and altitude) you begin the plunge. The press descends through the water, trapping the grounds at the bottom of the coffee maker, but allowing the coffee to slip through. What was once water is now ground free coffee!
A few tips and tricks:
- A medium grind is preferable. If it’s ground too finely, it has a greater chance of slipping past the press and finding it’s way into your cup. If it isn’t fine enough, you’ll have weak coffee.
- To reach the perfect water temperature, a good rule of thumb is to bring it to a boil for a couple of seconds, remove it from the heat, and wait about fifteen seconds.
- Don’t leave your coffee in the coffee maker unless you want it to be even stronger, because it will continue to brew even after it’s removed from the source of heat.
- Don’t go for the last drop unless you’re using a good French press, because in many cases there will be grinds in the bottom of your cup.
Make sure you read our guide how to brew great French Press Coffee.
Drip Coffee Method
Drip coffee (especially from an automatic drip machine) is what most consider to be the “standard” brewing method. It consists of running hot water through a filter filled with coffee grounds, and what was once water will then escape through the filter as coffee, filling a glass pot to be poured into a cup. All you need to make drip coffee is a standard coffee maker, filters, and the beans of your choice.
There are so many drip coffee makers on the market, and it won’t be hard to find one that meets your needs. A good place to start for any connoisseur is the Bonavita BV 1900TS. It’s not the cheapest coffee maker on the market, but it makes coffee that matches that of machines that are much pricier. You don’t need to be an expert to use this coffee maker, however, as it has a very intuitive design that’s easy even for beginners.
Typically, you have either a single serve coffee brewer — perfect for a single cup of coffee (and much faster to brew) — and the standard drip pot coffee maker.
The process behind drip coffee is probably the most effective in terms of both ease of use and performance, which is why it’s so popular. There’s very little involvement, and the only nuance left to the user is making sure that the bean to water ratio is to their liking.
To make drip coffee, simply fill the reservoir with the amount of water you want, place a filter in the coffee ground chamber, and add the amount of grounds you prefer. A good rule of thumb is to add one rounded tablespoon per five ounces of water.
Drip coffee is the basic method of making coffee. However, it’s also, arguably the least flavorful of the coffee brewing methods. If you’ve only been exposed to coffee by the standard drip method, a vast world of better tasting coffee awaits you.
Keep reading do see 12 other unique ways to make coffee.
Cold Brew Method
Cold Brew is a favorite among many coffee drinkers because of its bold, sweet taste. Some argue that cold brew makes the best tasting coffee (heat can add bitter notes to coffee).Because no heat is involved in this brewing method, there’s no chemical alteration within the coffee, resulting in a very sweet cup of coffee with very low acidity. To make cold brew coffee, all you’ll need is a cold brew coffee maker and the beans of your choice.
Because no heat is involved in this brewing method, there’s no chemical alteration within the coffee, resulting in a very sweet cup of coffee with very low acidity. To make cold brew coffee, all you’ll need is a cold brew coffee maker and the beans of your choice.
Our favorite cold brew coffee maker is simply called “The Cold Brew Coffee Maker” by Willow and Everett. It utilizes a dual filter system that will keep your coffee ground free! The design behind all cold brew coffee makers is simplistic, but this one won us over because of its low price, stylish design, and glass body (as opposed to plastic.)
We find products like this to be the most convenient way to make cold brew coffee, but if you’re on a budget, there are numerous ways to make cold brew at home utilizing what you have.
Cold brew coffee makers are very simple in design. It’s really just a pitcher with a central chamber that acts as a filter. You put your coffee grounds in the central chamber, pour water through it, and wait 18-24 hours for best results.
If you’re thrifty, here’s a great alternative method. Cut a large square from an old t-shirt, put your grounds on top of it, and wrap the grounds up in the cloth using a rubber band to keep it closed. You then place your pouch of coffee in a container filled with water, and wait the previously stated amount of time.
Technically, there are a couple different ways to do a cold brew:
Cold Drip Coffee Brew Method
This requires a special brewing device that ever-so-slowly drips water over the ground. It can take anywhere from 12 hours to 24 hours. Some brewers prefer this method. It produces a similiar brew to the cold press method, but with less grittiness since the coffee is passed through the filter.
Cold Press Coffee Brew Method
This is the simplest way. You simply use a French Press but instead of five minutes, you’ll let the coffee steep for over 12 hours. That means if you want it in the morning, do it the night before!
Here’s a few tips and tricks:
- A good ratio of coffee to water is 1:8. Some prefer 1:4, so remember that this varies depending on your personal preference.
- If you’re going the DIY route, make sure your rubber band is nice and tight. If it’s not, you could end up with grounds floating in your coffee, and you’d have to strain all of your coffee. It won’t change the taste, but it’s a lot of unnecessary work.
Pour Over Coffee
Pour over coffee is an old method that’s recently reentered the public eye. It’s one of the more simplistic methods on this list, but it can make a fantastic cup of coffee if you know what you’re doing. You simply pour hot water through your grounds, held by a device that sits above your cup. It’s easy, and it’s also the most economically viable method of brewing coffee you’ll find, next to the DIY cold brew we talked about.
There are a couple of devices that can aid you in making a great cup of pour over coffee. The first is simply referred to by most as a cone. A cone sits on top of, or sometimes even attaches to, the top of your cup, and it holds your coffee filter in place. These cones can be found on Amazon for as low as four dollars.
The second is a pour over coffee maker, and it works in almost the exact same way. You’re still pouring hot water through grounds, only this time, rather than having a cone and a cup, it’s all one unit. A pour over coffee maker is typically a glass container with a cone shaped top that holds your grounds in place. You can buy a cheap pour over cone for less than 10 bucks on Amazon usually.
Our favorite pour over coffee maker is easily the Chemex. The pour over method typically requires some amount of skill and technique to get the best out of it, but the Chemex makes the entire process foolproof. The thick filter (also made by Chemex) and glass walls fit flush against one another. This causes the water to flow more slowly, resulting in a far more flavorful cup of coffee.
Here are a few tips and tricks that will apply to both cones and the Chemex.
- Before adding your ground coffee, rinse the filter. This will eliminate the papery taste, making your coffee experience a purer one.
- When you begin pouring your hot water through your grounds, get all of your coffee wet, wait 30 seconds, and pour the rest of your water in slowly, being careful not to cause any overflow.
- We recommend a medium-course ground for this particular brewing method, as it will allow the water to flow more steadily.
Turkish coffee, also referred to as Greek Coffee, is known to be very strong and very thick. It’s most popular in the Middle East, and you’ll very rarely find it in America. It definitely has a unique taste, but it isn’t for everyone. Still, we recommend you give it a try. All you’ll need to make Turkish coffee is a good grinder, a cezve (a copper or brass pot), and the beans of your choosing.
The process of making Turkish coffee is quite simple. You simply bring water to a boil, remove it from the source of heat, and stir in extremely finely ground coffee. If it isn’t as fine as you can possibly get it, the brewing method will be compromised.
The idea is for most of the coffee granules to actually dissolve into the liquid, so the granules have to be miniscule. Regardless of how finely ground your beans are, you’ll have some grounds in your coffee when using this method, but the fewer the better.
After you’ve stirred in your coffee, bring your coffee to a boil once more, and immediately remove it from the source of the heat. Stir it a few more times, and you’re ready to serve!
Here are a few tips and tricks:
- Traditionally Turkish coffee is served in a very small glass, and there’s a good reason for it. Because the entire bean is dissolved into this beverage, it has a very high caffeine content. If you ever try it, do your heart a favor, and stick to one cup.
- If you want your coffee to be sweet, be sure to add it before the first boil! You aren’t supposed to stir after the coffee has been served, as there’s a layer of grounds at the bottom of most cups.
- Don’t drink the last bit! Like we said before, it will be ridden with coffee grinds, and it’s best to leave it be.
The Cowboy Method
The Cowboy Method is a method used mostly by hikers and campers because of the fact that all you need to get this brew going is a metal container and coffee beans! It may not produce the best results, but if you’re trying to travel light, or if you just happened to forget your coffee maker, this method could be just what you need.
Place your ground coffee and water alike in a can, metal pitcher, or even a saucepan. You would then hold it over a campfire. If you have a saucepan, a handle is provided, but if you’re using a can or pitcher, we recommend using a metal clothes hanger. Just before it boils, remove it from the flame, cool it down with just a sprinkle of cool water, and serve immediately.
Like Turkish coffee, cowboy coffee will have a layer of grinds at the bottom, so you’ll probably want to avoid drinking those last few drops. This is a great method if you’re camping want to have an authentic experience, but it isn’t our most highly recommended brewing method. Everyone is different, however, so we recommend you give it a try! You never know, it could end up being your favorite!
We only have one tip for this method, and that is to be careful! You’re dealing with an open flame, so when you’re heating your coffee, take it slow and take precautions to prevent burning yourself or someone near you.
The percolator brewing method provides one of the strongest cups of coffee. It has a rich, bold taste that you often can’t get with a standard drip machine, although it may lack the subtle flavors that you get with a drip machine. You get something unique out of it, but you lose a little bit of quality. It’s purely preferential.
Another great benefit is its consistency. With a drip machine, you get a more accurate taste, meaning you’re tasting what the bean tastes like. With a percolator however, you’re getting an intense cup of coffee every time, and it’s consistently good.
A drip machine will ultimately provide you with more potential, but if you never want to taste a bad cup of coffee, you might be better off with a percolator, provided you brew it correctly and actually like the taste. Again, it’s all preferential.
Our favorite percolator is the Presto 12-Cup Stainless Steel Coffee Maker. Most percolators are pretty similar, so the quality of the product usually comes down to how well it performs in terms of basics. This percolator is well built, and it’ll last you years without any noticeable decrease in quality.
A standard percolator machine has a top chamber and a bottom chamber with a tube connecting them. The bottom chamber is filled with water, while the top chamber holds your ground coffee beans. When heat is applied to the bottom chamber, the water travels through the tube where it’s exposed to the grounds. The water will then fall back into the bottom chamber where it will repeat the cycle.
Here are a few tips and tricks:
- Don’t let the percolating cycle go on too long! The ideal time for a good cup of coffee from a percolator is 3-6 minutes.
- Don’t allow the water to boil. If the water boils, it’s too hot, and it’ll alter you’re the taste of your coffee.
- Use low acidity beans when using a percolator.
- Use coarsely ground beans.
Moka Pot Brew Method
Moka pot coffee is brewed in a similar way to a percolator in that both methods require a specialized ‘pot’ that’s placed on the stove.
The difference is in the brewing.
Percolators boil water at the bottom of the pot with the steam rising up and soaking into the coffee above; the nascent coffee dribbles down the sides back into the pot. This process keeps repeating with the coffee become stronger and stronger in time. The percolator method has been around since the 1700’s and produces a distinctive flavor. However, you’ll need to make sure the coffee is not ‘brewed’ too long as the flavor is unpalatable.
Moka Pot boils water (usually via electricity or by direct heat on top of the stove) and the steam pushes through the filter into another chamber creating the coffee. It’s a more subtle coffee flavor than the percolator method and is often compared to an espresso. In fact, Moka Pots are often called stove top espresso machines. The difference though is a real espresso machine uses a pump to force hot water through the grounds which strips more oils and caffeine from the beans while a steam-based method (such as the Moka Pot) lacks this pressure. As such, espresso’s have that ‘crema’ while a stove top espresso brew will not.
Vacuum Brew Method
The vacuum brewing method is a very interesting, and even more so, entertaining way to make coffee. Not only is it theatrical, but many coffee connoisseurs swear that this new take on an old classic produces the best cup of coffee they’ve had. The coffee produced by the vacuum method is described as clean, smooth, and strong, which for many really is the definition of the perfect cup of coffee.
If you’re intrigued by this brewing method, we recommend you check out the Bodum Pebo Vacuum Coffee Maker. The design of vacuum coffee makers is really similar across the board, but this one is made very well and always gives us great results.
The first appearance of this brewing method actually popped up in the 1850s, and was called a siphon coffee maker. The siphon coffee maker had two glass containers that connected to one another, forming kind of a rounded hourglass structure.
Water was placed in the bottom container, and ground coffee beans were placed in the top. The bottom of the device was heated, and the pressure that came from the evaporation forced the nearly boiling water into the top chamber, where it was exposed to the grounds.
You would then remove it from the heat source, and the steam in the bottom chamber would slowly condensate. As steam became water once again, the pressure decreased, and the water in the top chamber fell back into the bottom chamber. The grounds were trapped in the top chamber, leaving the bottom chamber with a full pot of coffee!
More recently these machine’s have been dubbed “Vacuum Coffee Makers,” and although they’re modernized and slightly more convenient now, the process is exactly the same.
So why is this coffee so highly praised? Well, this particular coffee maker is honestly a feat of engineering genius, and you’re about to see why. The water pushed through the funnel and into the grounds does so just before it’s boiling point, which just so happens to be the ideal temperature for coffee brewing: not quite boiling, but almost.
You could simply bring water to this temperature using any method, but the magic here is that it isn’t exposed to the coffee grounds until it’s at its ideal temperature. Many other methods expose the two to one another long before, which leads to over-extraction. The timing, the temperature, all of it just works ideally. Not to mention the fact that it’s extremely entertaining to watch.
Here are a couple of tips and tricks:
- Use finely ground beans when using the vacuum brewing method.
- Don’t remove the vacuum coffee maker from the heat source until the tube in the bottom chamber is no longer in contact with water.
Aeropress Brew Method
The Aeropress is all about getting the best coffee possible out of the most convenient and portable machine, and boy did they nail it. A simple, intuitive, and highly effective design make the Aeropress a coffee maker worthy of your attention.
The design of the Aeropress is very similar to a syringe. You have a hollow tube, and a cylinder that fits perfectly within it in a way that is flush and airtight. The only difference is that instead of a needle on the end, you have a filter.
You start by putting your ground beans in the tube. Next, add your hot water. Stir the water and grounds for ten seconds and screw on your filter. Be aware that the filter consists of both a paper and plastic components. If you forget either, you’ll probably end up with a big mess.
Next, place it over your cup with the filter facing the cup. Begin to press down on the cylinder that should now be facing you. This pushes the coffee through the filter while the grounds are trapped inside the device. That’s all there is to it! Like I said, it’s simple. It’s so simple, in fact, that the quality of the coffee almost comes as a surprise. Nevertheless, the coffee is indeed, fantastic.
Aeropress vs Frenchpress
The Aeropress method is similar to the French Press method in that both utilize a press to force hot water through a filter holding the grounds. Aeropress has a paper filter while French Press has a metal filter, which allows the coffee oils and sometimes sediment through. French Press typically has more of a rich full flavor while Aeropress a more clean flavor. Aeropress, due to the various ways you can adjust the brewing method (inverse or standard) allows more for experimentation. It’s also more portable and convenient. But you can only brew one good cup of coffee. French Press gives a fuller flavor coffee, but you can sometimes get a more muddied taste, due to the sediment and coffee oils.
Here are a couple of tips to get the best out of your Aeropress:
- The slower you press down on the Aeropress, the cleaner your coffee will be. If you prefer a murkier cup with more oils, apply more pressure.
- Make sure your grounds are even and level before beginning.
Pod Coffee Maker
Pod or capsule coffee makers are a new type of coffee maker that’s become popular the past couple years. The trends was started by Nespresso, which has become synonymous with pod coffee. This is basically a coffee machine which consists of a boiler and a tiny pump. You place little plastic capsules of pre-packed coffee into a slot, hit a button, and your coffee is made on the spot.
Some of the capsule machines can make fancier pod coffee like espressos and cappuccinos, though these are not the real thing when compared to what an actual espresso machine can make. Coffee pods also come in various flavors. To use these machines, you will need to buy the coffee pods. Depending on the machine you buy, you may or may not be locked into buying a certain brand of coffee pod. It’s possible to use generic ‘pack your own’ coffee pods, depending on the model as well.
In general, Coffee Pod machines are sort of a cross between a drip coffee maker and an espresso machine. While they don’t make coffee anywhere near as good as a real espresso machine, you can get a good cup of coffee. Where they win though is convenience, rivaling the super automatic espresso machines in this regard while being 5 to 10 times cheaper.
Instant Coffee Method
There’s not much to say here. Instant Coffee is the worst tasting coffee by far. It’s essentially just a coffee extract that’s freeze dried or spray dried. While you get something technically related to coffee, the result lacks the rich flavor from real coffee. There’s studies that do show instant coffee contains some of the antioxidant benefits of real coffee, however.
The only reason, we feel, you should drink Instant Coffee is when you can’t get the regular stuff. It wins for convenience, and little else, however.
The Final Word
There you have it: the complete list of brewing methods. Surely, you found one that seems ideal for you. Our personal favorites are the Aeropress, vacuum brew, and standard drip machine. All are rather easy to use, and guarantee a pretty great, consistent cup of coffee that almost everyone will love. If you liked this article, keep checking in here for the best coffee-related content.