Coffee Brewing Methods: Is Your Coffee Brewer Just a Drip?

For most of us, brewing up our morning cup of coffee is more than just a necessity, it is a matter of convenience. Each night, millions of us coffee lovers pile heaping tablespoons of our favorite gourmet coffees into those paper filters, fill the tank of our coffee makers with water and set the timer so that our coffee is ready and waiting first thing in the morning.

But why would anyone spend good money on the finest gourmet coffee beans or fresh ground gourmet coffees and use just any home coffee maker.

So if you are like me and you enjoy the finest gourmet and specialty coffees available, then you must also believe that they deserve the best and most reliable coffee brewing equipment available.

Here is a quick list of the most popular coffee brewing methods & equipment starting from the best:

French Press
The French press coffee maker (or press pot) is universally recognized as the best brewing method, allowing for the truest coffee taste and aroma. This method actually brews the coffee in the hot water (as opposed to drip machines which only pass the water through the coffee and a filter). After a few minutes of brewing, a metal filter is pressed through the brew catching the coffee grinds and then trapping them at the bottom of the carafe. What is left over is full-bodied coffee with all its aroma and essences.

One of the main advantages to using a French press, other than great coffee taste, is the amount of control you have. You can control the water temperature (which incidentally should be around 190 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that drip makers do not achieve), you can control the amount of coffee you want to add, and you can control the brew time. Four minutes of brew time and 30 seconds of “plunging” time is considered best.

Another great feature about the French press is that it is extremely portable and only requires hot water. You can take it camping or use it in places with limited kitchen space, like a boat or an RV. Some press pots can also be used to brew loose leaf teas in the same manner.

As an aside, you shouldn’t leave your brewed coffee in the press-pot with the grounds after you brew it! Either consume it or transfer it to a carafe, preferably a thermal carafe.

Vacuum Brewer
Vacuum brewers aren’t very common, but they make coffee just about as well as a French press since the coffee and water are brewing together. A vacuum brewer has an upper and a lower chamber connected by a tube with a small filter inside. Coffee grounds are placed in the upper chamber, and water is placed in the lower chamber. As the lower chamber is heated, the water rises up to meet the coffee in the upper chamber where the brewing begins. After brewing, the water (now coffee) cools and seeps back down into the lower chamber leaving the used coffee grinds behind in the upper chamber. Ideally, the upper chamber is removed and the lower chamber is used as a decanter for the finished coffee.

Vacuum brewers can be electric, stovetop, or even used over a sterno can for dramatic tabletop brewing!

The Toddy Maker
The toddy maker or Cold-Brew Coffee Maker uses an unusual cold-brewing method that creates a coffee concentrate. This concentrate is then mixed with hot water to make coffee. The concentrate can be stored in a refrigerator and used to make one cup at a time if you so desire. This method produces a low-acid coffee, which is doctor recommended for coffee drinkers with stomach conditions.

Although this method of coffee brewing is sounds a bit odd, the result in taste is pleasantly surprising. One drawback is the amount of time it takes to brew. A good idea is to brew the coffee overnight. Once brewed, the concentrate can produce more than just one pot of coffee, so it’s not a nightly event for a great cup of morning coffee!

Drip Grind Coffee Makers
Drip Grind coffee makers are the most common and usual coffee brewing method that we are familiar with.

In this method, water is dripped over and passes through the coffee grinds and a filter and is caught by the coffee pot below. Despite being the most common brew method it also happens to be the one which produces a coffee brew with the least amount of flavor and aroma.

There are generally 2 filter options for the drip grind coffee makers.

Permanent filters: are just what they say, permanent. They are usually gold-plated so they don’t add any unwanted metallic taste to your coffee, resistant to corrosion so they are dishwasher safe and economical because they don’t need replacing. Permanent filters are preferred because they allow for better coffee taste as opposed to the second filter option, paper filters.

Paper filters are the most common filter choice for the drip grind coffee makers. Unfortunately, paper filters can filter out more than just coffee grinds. Flavorful oils can be left behind in the filter and not make it to the finished coffee brew resulting in less coffee flavor and aroma. Since permanent filters allow for more liquid to pass through, the end result is a more flavorful cup.

As you can see, the most common brew method happens to be the one which produces the least amount of coffee flavor and aroma. Since, mornings usually need to be made quick and simple, most people have never had their coffee brewed any other way. If you are one of these people, don’t just splurge on gourmet coffee’s, get a small French press maker, start experimenting and experience the truest coffee flavor & aroma in each cup.

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