Common Coffee Brewing Methods
There’s more than one way to brew a great cup of coffee. From the old days when cowboys threw a handful of grounds into the bottom of the pot, added water, and placed it over the campfire to today’s vacuum brewers, espresso machines, and toddy makers, your options for making your perfect cup of coffee are limited only by your knowledge regarding those brewing methods.
We don’t expect you to make your coffee the cowboy way, but coffee lovers today tend to prefer specific brewing methods. It’s an individual preference. When finding that perfect match for you and your coffee, dare to experiment.
The most common methods for brewing coffee today include the French press, the coffeemaker, the drip grind method (with paper or permanent filters), and vacuum brewer coffeemakers. However, whichever your method, we know that your ultimate goal is to that perfect cup of coffee that provides not only full bodied aroma, but great taste and flavor.
Coffee brewing methods are individualized, depending on your preferences. You’ll find over 20 different methods for making coffee today, but we’ll stick with the most popular in the U.S. You may be interested to know that drip brewing coffee methods have been around for home coffee brewers since about 1905. The French press coffee brewing method dates back to the 1850s, and espresso coffee machine at brewing methods have been around since 1901.
Whether you’re looking for that perfect cappuccino or just a good, strong cup of coffee to wake you up in the morning, it pays to research the different types of brewing methods in order to know which you prefer, based on not only taste preferences, but expense, time, and results.
Coffee preferences are as varied as the people brewing and drinking the coffee, so it pays to learn the difference between a French press and a drip coffeemaker, or whether drip grind coffee brewing methods work better for you than a vacuum brewer. It’s not just about expense, but your palate and your preferences. In addition, the amount of coffee you’re brewing; whether for large crowd or for that single cup of coffee as you head out the door may also play a role in the coffee brewing method you choose.
The French press is one of the most common coffee brewing methods used today, although people have been using the French press since the mid-1850s. Decades later, the French press is still very affordable and easy to use. The French press comes in a variety of designs, styles and sizes, depending on the manufacturer. In order to create the perfect cup of coffee with a French press, you’ll not only need your fresh roasted and whole coffee beans, but a burr grinder, which will give you the texture of coffee grounds that work best with the French press.
When brewing coffee using a French press, you’ll first grind your beans (usually two tablespoons for every 6 ounces of water, or based on coffee strength preferences) while your water comes to a boil.
- Next, place your freshly ground coffee into the press and start your timer. Start with four minutes and adjust from there depending on your preferences for coffee strength.
- Slowly add the boiling water to the press pot using a circular motion in order to ensure equal saturation of your coffee grounds. You’ll continue to add water to the press until the coffee just starts to rise into the pour spout.
You’ll notice that the coffee grinds rise to the top of the French press brewer and form a crust or layer. To enjoy the fullest flavor of your coffee, gently submerge the crust back into the brewer. Then, taking a spoon, skim as many coffee grounds from the top of the pot as you can, much as you would with a loose leaf tea. Then, place the lid onto the top of your French press pot and depress the plunger.
For that perfect cup of French press coffee, resist the urge to stir your coffee while it’s brewing, and always remember to skim the coffee grounds from the top of the coffee pot not only to ensure that the plunger depresses as it should, but because pressing the grounds to the bottom of the pot creates less sludgy coffee.
The French press coffee brewing method is much like brewing a pot of tea using whole tea leaves. Allow the concoction to steep, and then skim the grounds from the top before inserting the plunger.
Most coffee aficionados know about the different methods for brewing coffee. In addition to the French press, the vacuum brewer method is one of the most common for those interested in a brewing flavorful, aromatic coffee at home. Vacuum brewers today offer a variety of sizes, designs, and shapes, depending on the manufacturer.
Unlike the French press, which utilizes a separate container for boiling the water, the vacuum brewer takes care of blending coffee with water in the same machine component. The vacuum brewer is composed of both an upper and a lower container. The upper and lower chambers are joined together by a narrow tube that’s fitted with a small filter. When using the vacuum brewer, you place the coffee grounds in the upper chamber, while your water is placed in the lower chamber. As the water heats in the lower chamber, it rises up and mixes with the coffee in the upper chamber.
After the coffee is brewed, cooling temperatures allow the coffee to literally seep back down into the lower chamber. The saturated coffee grinds remain in the upper chamber, which can then be removed and discarded. The lower chamber or section of the vacuum brewer now becomes your coffee pot or decanter.
Vacuum brewers can be used on a variety of heating mechanisms including your stovetop, an electric range, and even on a Coleman stove if you’re out camping. You see, you don’t have to leave that perfect morning cup of coffee behind just because you’re not home!
While the vacuum brewer is certainly not as popular as drip or French press coffee brewing, the technique produces a rich, full-bodied, aromatic, and great tasting cup of coffee. Some are put off by the complicated look of a vacuum brewer, but they’re actually quite simple to use. In some areas of the world, the vacuum style or siphoned style brewer as it is commonly called elsewhere, is the only reliable way to make a good cup of coffee. While the vacuum brewers are more commonly used in Asia and Europe, they’re still quite popular in the United States, and can be fun to watch.
Vacuum brewers produce very satisfying cups of coffee, but they can he expensive at the higher end. More economical versions range well under $100, so if you’re willing to experiment with different coffee brewing methods, give the vacuum brewer a try. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised.
The Toddy Maker
What the heck is a toddy maker? It happens to be one of the most common coffee brewing methods use today, but it is different! When you use a toddy maker, you brew coffee differently than you would ever have imagined, using a cold brewing method that creates a coffee concentrate. We don’t recommend drinking the actual coffee concentrate, as the concoction is strong enough to float a horseshoe, but it is perfect for mixing with hot water to make your perfect cup and strength of coffee whenever you want it without having to prove a fresh pot.
The coffee concentrate that your toddy maker brews is stored in the refrigerator. You use the concentrate as a base of sorts when preparing 1 or 2 cups of coffee at a time. The toddy maker creates a low acidic coffee, which is especially beneficial to coffee lovers who unfortunately have some type of a stomach condition, as this coffee is a bit easier on the digestive system.
The cold brewing method utilized by toddy makers is different and not that common in the United States, although they are catching on. The only downside to the toddy maker method of brewing coffee is that it takes time. The best solution is to start your cold brewing toddy maker during the night, and allowing it to seep through the night while you sleep. After you’ve brewed your concentrate, you’ll have enough to make more than your next pot of coffee, so it’s not like you have to do it every night.
Toddy makers come in a variety of options, and are inexpensive methods for cold brew coffee. Of course, you can go fancy or simple, but most of the versions available on the market today look like a water filtering style container that doesn’t take up much room on your countertop. They’re easy to use. Simply fill, then brew, and then serve. You can fill your toddy maker by pouring approximately 1 pound of your preferred brand of regular ground coffee into the maker. Then, you simply fill the toddy maker to the top with cold water.
For superb taste, we would suggest using bottled water. Then, let the mixture sit in the decanter, undisturbed, for between 10 to 12 hours. Then, remove the stopper and allow the concentrate to slowly filter into the glass or storage decanter until it’s full. You can store your coffee concentrate easily in the refrigerator. For the best coffee, we recommend adding three parts boiling water to one part coffee concentrate to make that perfect cup, or follow the same recipe for up to 30 cups of great tasting coffee.
Drip Grind with a Permanent Filter
Drip brewed coffee is one of the most common methods of brewing coffee in the United States today. While most countertop style drip grind coffee machines utilize replaceable and disposable paper filters, drip grind coffee brewers with permanent filters are also popular. Permanent drip coffee filters are typically shaped like a cone, and are made of a fine metal mesh that slides into a compartment in the coffee machine.
Those wishing to reduce their environmental footprint often opt for permanent filters, which are reusable, washable, and reduce paper waste. The permanent filter is used in the same way as a paper filter, except you throw the coffee grounds out, or use them for other purposes around your house, and then wash the filter before replacing it in its appropriate compartment.
Most drip brewing coffee machines produce relatively light bodied coffees, regardless of the brand or whether you’re using a medium or dark roast. Your drip coffee machine with permanent or paper filter is designed to be easy, simple to use, and even simpler to clean. You won’t find much of a difference in taste or aroma using either permanent or paper filter.
Many coffee aficionados claim that drip grind coffee brewing methods produce the full flavors and aromas of coffee similar to a vacuum brewer, French press, or even toddy maker. Still, most of us are perfectly happy with the variety of light, medium, and dark roast coffee as well as coffee beans available at our local supermarkets.
Basically, there’s nothing different between the permanent filter and paper filter drip grind coffee brewing method other than the form of the filter. You can go either way and brew a perfectly yummy cup of coffee to kick start your day.
Drip Grind with a Paper Filter
You might find it interesting that the most popular and common method for brewing coffee is also the method that produces the least aroma and flavor, regardless of the type of coffee you purchase. Most of us are more than familiar with our countertop coffee machines that utilize the replaceable paper filter. Our countertop drip coffee machines are easy to use and ideal for presetting brew time. We want to wake up to the gentle bubbling of our machine, ready to pour that first cup of coffee while getting ready for work or to meet our challenging day. It’s quick, easy, and best of all, inexpensive.
This method of making coffee has been around since the turn of the 20th century, invented in Germany. One of the perks – no pun intended – that come with this method of brewing coffee is its simplicity. All you have to do to clean up is remove the paper filter with the saturated coffee grounds and the used filter into the trash. Then, you simply replace the used paper filter with a new one, and you’re ready for brewing that next pot of coffee.
Paper filters catch the majority of coffee grounds, which very rarely make their way into your cup of coffee. You don’t have to clean the filter as you do with a permanent filter drip machine, since it’s removable and disposable. Your coffee maker has basic settings and you don’t need to worry about controlling valves or components like other types of machines. Nope, your drip coffee maker is one of the easiest to use, which is just the way you like it.
Most drip style coffee brewers offer light bodied coffees, even when you’re using medium or dark roasts. One of the downsides to this type of machine is that coffee aficionados who have tried other methods of coffee brewing state that the coffee produced with this method lacks a number of essences and oils that get trapped in the paper filter. That being said, most of us want a good, strong, cup of coffee in the morning, and aren’t that concerned with essences and oils. For a quick, simple, and decent coffee, most home brewers still go to the inexpensive drip grind coffee brewer with paper filters.