Best Coffee Brewing Methods

The best method for making coffee depends on individual taste, but the list definitely does not include the common drip brewer. The flavor ingredient of coffee is the oil that lies within the bean, and drippers burn it off quickly in the name of keeping the coffee hot, resulting in sawdust juice. If you must buy a dripper, get one that brews into a thermos. Oh, and also avoid the Tassimo and Senseo single-cuppers — pure garbage.

Now that we’ve got the bad actors out of the way, let’s review the good methods.

Multicup Methods

French Press: This method retains the most oils, and provides a stronger extraction without over-concentration. I use this method the most since it doesn’t involve a paper filter. Some folks complain of sludge at the bottom, but if you decant carefully it shouldn’t appear in your cup. You can brew the widest range of coffee in it.

Vacuum Brewers: Another excellent system for brewing coffee, with a touch of spectacle built in. You add the coffee to the top pot and the water to the bottom pot. Then you place it on the stovetop. When the water boils it rushes up the pipe, flows through the coffee and comes back down.

Toddy Brewer: For those that avoid coffee because of the acidity, the toddy/cold brewer is a great solution. You brew a really strong pot of dark roast coffee in this instrument, and then add water to taste. Manufacturers claim you can reduce acid by 67% with this brewing method. Seattle’s Best/Borders uses this technique for their coldbrewed line of drinks.

Single-serve

Nespresso: For a well-prepared espresso without all the hard work of dosing and tamping, Nespresso is a decent solution. It pumps too much crema for my taste, but many people like it. With convenience comes expense, however, and the pods aren’t biodegradable — yet.

Keurig: A proven shot-heat brewing system that mostly delivers a good cup. It heats just enough water to fill a K-cup. The K-cup is a prefabricated coffee container-cum-filter, filled with enough nitrogen-flushed ground coffee for a single cup. It definitely tastes better than a dripper-brew, but the blends available as K-cups leave something to be desired. I wrote a little review about the Keurig when it first came out. Here it is.

Aeropress: If you like your coffee somewhat strong, this is a great device to use. Made by the company that brought you the Frisbee, the Aeropress uses circular filters and brews one cup at a time. You mix hot water and coffee in the chamber, place above the cup and press down gently but firmly on the plunger to extract the coffee.

Clever Coffee Dripper: Another smart device that is simple to operate. Put in a filter, add coffee, add hot water, wait for 2 minutes, release the stopper to drip into the cup.



2 Responses to “ “Best Coffee Brewing Methods”

  1. I’m glad I finally checked out this wonderful site. So much information and news. Really nice.

    And very nice review of brewing methods. I agree with just about everything. Here’s my own two cents….for what they’re worth 🙂

    French Press. Yeah…it remains the king of brewing methods. I prefer a slightly finer (very slightly) than recommended. I’ll live with/not drink the sludge. I just like the extraction more with more surface area.

    Vacuum Brewer. I know that this is supposed to be a superior method, but I just don’t get it. When it works perfectly, it’s great. You get a wonderful cup. However, the rate of cooling and, hence, the rate of final extraction, is based on too many factors beyond your control. Air temperature, temperature of the surface the pot sits on, etc…. I’ve had the most success when I move it to a cutting board (porcelain) so I can at least try to standardize that factor.

    Haven’t tried the Toddy Brewer but I don’t think it would be a method of choice for me. A concentrate….should just use Nescafe 🙂

    Nespresso. Haven’t tried it but, again, anything that cuts for convenience just isn’t going to give the high quality that time, effort and care can give. I would bet the increased crema signifies that there is Robusta included…which is not a bad thing necessarily. Lots of espresso blends have Robusta up to 15-17 %…..but…………

    Keurig – Again….convenience over quality. Not a bad cup, but not a great cup either.

    Clever Dripper. My brewing method of choice every morning. I guess I do like the convenience of the paper filter even though I know I’m giving up just a wee bit of quality vs. the French Press as some of the oils are being trapped. But I’ll make that choice at 5:00 in the morning. It’s still just about a perfect cup.

    Thanks for this site. I look forward to visiting often.

    Michael

  2. arka says:

    Thank you Michael! I’m thrilled you like the site!

    I’m a French press guy as well, but lately my loyalty is torn between the Clever and the Aeropress (inverted brew). I use one of the goldtone permafilters with my Clever, and it’s easy to clean and store — no more paper! Also, with a permafilter, more of the caffeols drain into the cup. I find the crucial thing is water temperature (gotta be between 200 and 206 degrees) and the grind (slightly coarser than French press). I stir once around 1:30 and drain close to 3:45.

    As for the vac brewers I’ve played around with the Bodum Santos electric (broken and gone, I’m sad to say 🙁 ) and an old stovetop double-balloon. When it works it’s fabulous, retaining a lot of flavor especially with darker roasts, but the trouble is that the coffee boils when it hits the hot bottom again. That can kill off the brightness quickly. And then there’s always the glass cracking…things can get fiddly. Definitely a weekend venture for me.

    Michael, you _must_ try toddy brewing! It’s way, way better than Nescafe, especially for cold coffee. I have had a wonderful time with toddy brewing, and what they say about the acidity is true. I did mine in a $12 Ronco Coffeetime bucket (a few may still be available at the Tuesday Morning on Maple Ave, back room, shelf 3 to your right, with the pots and pans). It comes with two polyester filters that do the job perfectly. I put in about 8 scoops of French-press grind dark roast Columbia/Tanzania mix in a filter in the bucket, filled it with room temperature water, and as per the instructions, did not stir at all. I let that sit for about 12 hours on the kitchen counter, removed the plug from under the bucket and let drain into an airtight plastic container and put that in the refrigerator. The result was silky smooth, with negligible acidity and a big body. I froze some to make coffee ice cubes, and used the rest for cold coffee. It was so refreshing on a hot summer day, and was a humongous hit at the office. Not all coffees can stand up to this process, however. You need something like your splendid Badlands Blend, or something with a major bite and body.

    I’ve tried the Nespresso. Maybe it was just a bad day, or I picked the wrong capsules, but I did not like the flavor at all. I’ve had better results with ESE pods on a cheap DeLonghi. You must be right — it’s probably the bad robusta.

    Keurig can be good or bad depending on the kind of coffee you’re using. Most of the crud put out by the big licensees — you know who they are — just exacerbates the problem.

    I must admit that I’m in love with the Aeropress! Ken Davids was on to something when he heaped high praise on this contraption. It does make excellent coffee that’s a little on the stronger side. In an office or travel environment, an Aeropress teamed with a Hario hand grinder is a Godsend. In fact, that’s my roadkit, and I love it! They ship with about 350 paper microfilters, but you can always use the permanent filter from Coava. For those that complain about the short extraction time, the inverted brew method is just the ticket. It can also produce a killer cold coffee that way. And the best part is the cleanup. One strategically placed whack and you’re done! And, with the grinding and pressing, it’s quite a upper body workout 🙂

    Love your feedback! Please come back often!

    Yours in coffee,

    Arka