How to Choose the Best Brewing Method for You
This morning, in a hazy state of “where am I,” I floated to the kitchen, one eye closed, one eye on the prize: morning coffee. I filtered through the next few minutes in a certainty I only know with my most familiar routines – a “I could do this with my eyes closed” technique that most closely resembles sleep walking. A scoop, a click, a buzz, a brew, and finally, hot coffee.
During the week, when every morning moment is precious time that could be spent under the covers, I use an automatic pour over machine – one that reliably whips up six cups in roughly eight minutes. But on the weekends, I like something a little slower. Which brings me to the purpose of this post: how to choose a brewing method that works for you.
Ah, the weekend warrior; The "Saturdays in stride" brewing system that requires a few gadgets and a slight knowledge of math.
What's the difference? The pour-over method produces coffee with a delicate texture that resides somewhere between juicy and tea-like. Its clarified mouthfeel is attributed to the dripper’s paper filter, which holds back oils and non-dissolved coffee particles from the final cup.
Welcome to my Monday mornings…
What's the difference? A coffee maker is a pour-over brew method that has been mechanized. Texture tends to be light due to paper filtration and the grind should be medium, like table salt. Coffee makers are “easier” because the technique variable has been eliminated (the machine does the pouring for you), but the coffee produced isn't quite as delicious as the manual pour-over method.
Who's it ideal for? Coffee makers are for everyone. They are a family standard. They are for early risers. They are for anyone for whom coffee is a supplement to a productive morning, not the main event.
What's the difference? French Press is an immersion brew method, meaning coffee grounds are fully immersed in water and then strained using a metal filter. Metal filters allow oils and non-dissolved coffee particles to pass into the cup. As a result, the texture of French Press coffee is heavy, silky, and dense.
Who's it ideal for? Technique is basic, and the only variable to consider is whether or not to stir the grounds. (I typically do.) Otherwise, French Press is accessible to anyone, and is particularly excellent for people who love their coffee with breakfast, as the French Press doubles as a serving carafe and comes in a variety of sizes.
What's the difference? AeroPress is great for its versatility and creativity. It is an immersion brewing style (like French Press) and uses paper filters (like pour over), so the texture of an AeroPress is delicate and silky. The grind size tends to be finer, more powdery, approaching espresso fineness, which often means the brew time is as fast as 1 minute. AeroPress is the Swiss army knife of brew methods.
Who's it ideal for? AeroPress is for the traveler and the broke enthusiast. It is adventurous by nature and is best suited to the intermediate user. In one coffee talk interview, a Blue Bottle manager mentioned bringing his AeroPress on the airplane, making travelers on board very, very jealous (naturally).
What's the difference? Cold brew iced coffee has become a new staple in the cafe scene. Traditional cold brew requires a 12–18 hour total extraction time, and is filtered with a large paper, fabric, or synthetic bag.
Who's it ideal for? There do not seem to be established standards for grind size, brew time, or filtration method. Making it at home can be so easy, anyone can do it, but refining your technique and getting results you love can take time.