Your Coffee Crash Course: Be in the Know

What if that first cup of coffee you drink in the morning can taste even better? You need the best if you’re going to make the best out of each day, right?

And all it takes is picking the right coffee brew.

Yes, the baristas at your favorite coffee shop have very important jobs. Their skills are important.

But do you know how important their equipment is too? And if you don’t take that into consideration when making your own coffee, you’ll miss out on many perfect brews.

So let’s help you find your ideal type of coffee. In our list below you’ll quickly recognize which one will satisfy your palate.

Types of Coffee Brews

There’s no perfect, right method. All these brews are—and will stay—part of coffee culture because each person likes something different. Each of these brews brings out something different from coffee grounds.

Which one is your favorite?

Espresso

This is the drink you try when you need a caffeine boost and you love your coffee extra strong.

A shot of espresso is only a small amount of coffee—only 1 fl oz/30ml--, full of flavor, that you enjoy without adding milk or even sugar.

The ideal espresso temperature Celsius is 90.5-96 degrees (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit).

Main Characteristics

  • Made with about 8g of coffee
  • When made correctly it has a layer of crema on top

PROS

  • Strong coffee
  • The process brings out most of the flavor of coffee grounds
  • You don’t waste coffee because you brew one shot at a time
  • Quick brewing process, so ideal if you’re in a hurry

CONS

  • You need a professional machine to make an ideal espresso
  • Too acid (bitter) for some; this is an acquired taste
  • Expensive type of brew

Drip/Filter Coffee

This is one of the oldest, classic ways of coffee brewing. You’re probably used to it since many households have been using it for years. 

You can place any type or flavor coffee in one of the machines, so you can always make exactly what your taste buds desire. You can also cater for a large group of people at one time.

Main Characteristics

  • It takes about four minutes to brew
  • You can customize the coarseness of the grounds to your coffee preferences, so use fine or medium according to your taste preferences
  • Will be high in caffeine
  • Because the machine has a consistent way of brewing, all your cups of coffee can taste the same

PROS

  • Oils get absorbed by the filter so your cholesterol won’t be affected negatively
  • Make large amounts of coffee at once
  • It’s an easy process
  • You can use any roast type you love

CONS

  • Easy to waste coffee since it may not all be used by the time it becomes stale
  • The taste is easily affected by plastic parts, metal of the machine or by standing in the carafe for a long time
  • You have no control over the water temperature so quality coffee beans’ flavor may not be optimized

French Press

This is the brew you pick if you love strong coffee. Because the water and grounds can stay in contact for a long time—depending on the brewing time you pick—all possible flavor is extracted.

Main Characteristics

  • The coffee will be rich in flavor
  • This is a fuller type of coffee brew
  • A method you can easily do yourself which requires no skill

PROS

  • You get better flavor because there aren’t filters that block the chemicals that give coffee aroma
  • Simple procedure that any coffee lover can use
  • You determine the strength of your brew
  • Hygienic process since the unit is washed after each use
  • You can cater for more than one person at a time

CONS

  • Very high Cafestol levels can boost cholesterol levels
  • Some grounds may end up in your cup
  • It takes trial and error to determine the perfect brewing time
  • Coffee can become bitter if left in the press too long

Single Serve Brewing

This is your quick answer in the morning and you can pick any flavor you want. A single serve brew comes from water run through a coffee pod, into your cup.

Each pod caters for one person, so you don’t have to settle for what someone else just had. Pick your favorite.

Main Characteristics

  • Many coffee makers are designed for K-Cups, which are available in many flavors, even tea and hot chocolate
  • The strength of the brew is determined by the water temperature and how long the water stays in contact with the grounds in the pod
  • Some machines allow you to customize the temperature and strength of your brew

PROS

  • Pick any flavor coffee you’re in the mood for
  • Fast process because you only wait for one cup to brew
  • On high end machines you can pick how strong you want your coffee to be
  • Can get many antioxidants when you drink dark roasts
  • You don’t have to measure coffee, because the pod contains the right amount
  • You don’t waste coffee because only enough for one cup is produced at a time

CONS

  • Can taste of metal if the pod is made of steel or aluminium
  • Weak coffee compared to other brews
  • Long, tedious process to cater for large groups of people
  • Expensive coffee brew method because the pods can be quite costly
  • Most machines don’t allow you to use your favorite beans or grounds

Stovetop Brewing

Here’s how you make your favorite brew for a large group of people. On the stove top you’ll add water and coffee grounds together. After boiling and stepping you can then filter it when pouring it into your cups.

A Moka pot uses a similar process but will filter the coffee on your behalf.

In both cases, what you’ll be left with is flavorful coffee and because it’s easy to make it’s accessible to all coffee lovers.

Main Characteristics

  • check
    You can make any type of coffee as long as you have grounds
  • check
    Beware of grounds ending up in your coffee even after filtering

PROS

  • Make large amounts of coffee for big groups
  • Keep coffee hot without burning it and ruining the taste
  • Affordable coffee brewing

CONS

  • You may waste coffee if everything isn’t used

Aeropress

Here’s how you get an espresso-like coffee without having to purchase a costly machine.

With an Aeropress you can have an espresso at any time, since the device can easily travel wherever you go. By using water at the right temperature and steeping it correctly all the flavors you love will come out.

Main Characteristics

  • Easy to brew and easy to clean afterwards

PROS

  • Strong coffee
  • Make it wherever you are
  • Can decide how long you want to brew, according to your taste preferences
  • You don’t waste coffee because you make one or maximum two cups at a time

CONS

  • Not ideal for catering to large groups

Coffee Makers

Why so many coffee makers on the market? Much of it has to do with modern society’s search for faster methods and more variety.

While classic brewing methods stay popular, during the late 20th century coffee aficionados prompted manufacturers to find more effective brewing machines. And that’s why you can now take your pick from this list below.

Espresso Machine

The espresso machine pushes nearly boiling water through coffee grounds.

If you’re a true coffee lover an espresso machine should be on your shopping list. Though it’s a more expensive device, the strong flavors of the coffee you get is worth it.

All the espresso making process takes is:

  • Placing water in the machine
  • Put coffee grounds in the portafilter
  • Tamp the coffee grounds firmly in place
  • Screw the portafilter into its slot
  • Place your espresso cup under the spout and switch the machine on
  • Water will run through the grounds and into your cup

The strength of your espresso will be determined by how fine your grounds are and how quickly the machine pushes water through them.

You can alter these aspects to create the perfect espresso.

Espresso is also often served with water on the side.

Characteristics

  • Coffee is usually extracted at 9 bar pressure
  • Machine pushes an espresso’s amount of hot water through coffee grounds
  • Most high end machines have features that allow you to make other drinks such as cappuccinos or lattes.
  • You may need a grinder to get the grounds fine enough

PROS

  • Delivers higher quality coffee than most coffee makers
  • Striking appliances that complement your kitchen
  • Machine does the work so it doesn’t require skill on your behalf

CONS

  • You only produce a shot or two at a time so you can’t quickly serve a whole group of people
  • Machines need servicing and troubleshooting and seals need replacing
  • More expensive coffee maker than most
  • Tedious to clean

Drip Coffee Maker

Water is heated up and then runs through the grounds & a filter. The hot water brings out the flavor of the coffee while the grounds stay behind as they can’t move through the filter.

With this brewing method you get exceptional flavor when the machine can heat up water to very high temperatures. You can usually customize the strength and taste according to your preferences.

Characteristics

  • A ten minute process, though this is determined by how much coffee you make at a time
  • It’s a longer process than some other brewing options
  • Water and grounds stay in contact for a considerable time
  • Can have many extras such as:
  • Coffee grinder
  • Timer and programmable options
  • Flavor and strength settings

French Press

Here’s a brewing process you can do in your home and customize your coffee to your specific taste. All you need is a French press, filters, grounds and boiling water.

You place the grounds and water in the press & let it brew for a few minutes. You then press the grounds to the bottom of the container and you can pour your brew.

Here’s a handy tip: Don’t leave the coffee in the press but rather drink it immediately or pour it into another container. If you leave it inside your brew is still in contact with the moist grounds which will affect your brew. As coffee becomes stronger it contains more and more acid, which gives you that bitter taste most of us hate.

When it comes to coffee, timing is everything.

Characteristics

  • It’s a 10 minute process
  • Coffee steeps for around five minutes
  • The longer it steeps, the stronger your coffee will be
  • Grounds can’t be too fine as they’ll pass through the filter and ruin your brew

PROS

  • This is a clean and healthy coffee making method:
  • Because you’re using glass—instead of filters or plastic—there’s less chance of unwanted chemicals getting into the coffee during brewing
  • When coffee is boiled antioxidants get preserved which means you get a healthier drink
  • You’re in control: You can adjust the strength of a French Press brew according to your preferences
  • Almost anyone can make this brew because a French Press is available in most stores and doesn’t require a huge capital investment
  • Easy to clean

CONS

  • It’s not an automatic process and requires your attention throughout
  • The press can’t keep the coffee warm, so you need to drink it immediately if you don’t want to waste coffee
  • Needs cleaning after each brew

Single Serve Coffee Maker

If you want that perfect cup of coffee in the morning, this is an ideal machine to place in your kitchen.

Purchase a programmable one so you can set it to have your brew ready when you get up in the morning.

You use a pod for each cup of coffee and there are many available on the market, so find your favorite flavors.

Characteristics

  • Use pods such as K-Cups
  • The machine pushes hot water through the pod’s contents
  • Adjust strength by customizing temperature
  • Pick the amount of brew to match the size cup you want to drink from

PROS

  • You can find one that meets your budget and feature requirements
  • No waste of coffee since you make one cup at a time
  • Some machines allow you to make other drinks too, such as tea

CONS

  • More expensive per cup than some other methods, because you must purchase pods
  • Creates a lot of waste and litter in the form of used K-Cups
  • Some units require you to refill the water reservoir after each brew

Stovetop Brewing / Moka Pot

Here’s what some call the ‘stove top espresso’. This Moka Pot comes all the way from Italy where Alfonso Bialetti patented it in 1933.

Why did this unique design reach the far corners of the earth? Because it was much used in the Italian armed forces during the Second World War.

With Italian soldiers stationed across Europe or moving elsewhere after the war, this coffee maker gained global popularity.

Today you’ll find many types of Moka pots so you can pick one that fits your requirements in terms of size and even décor style.

It’s what you can use to cater for large groups of people. You simply have to get a Moka pot large enough to hold coffee for everyone.

During the brewing process water in the bottom chamber is heated up to boiling point. The steam creates pressure in the chamber that pushes the boiling water through a funnel into an upper chamber. On its way to the top the water passes through a filter with coffee, creating your brew. We have an entire post on how to brew an espresso with the moka if you are interesting in this specific brew

Characteristics

  • Seals need regular replacement
  • Different sized Moka pots are available
  • Coffee is extracted at a pressure of  1 or 2 bar
  • Taste and aroma is dependent on:
  • Temperature of the heat source
  • How fine the grounds are
  • The bean used
  • Type of water used

PROS

  • When done right the process automatically produces crema
  • You can use this brewer even if you have no electric power source, since it works on a stove or fire too
  • You can keep coffee hot inside without the brew getting a burnt taste

CONS

  • Must clean after each brew
  • You may need a grinder too so you can get grounds that are fine enough
  • Tricky to sustain the same flavor and strength across different brews

Aeropress Coffee Maker

This coffee making idea is barely a decade old and already a favorite method of many coffee aficionados.

One of the huge benefits is how quickly you can enjoy a strong cup of coffee because it takes under a minute to steep.

Best of all is you can enjoy strong, flavorful coffee without purchasing expensive, electrical appliances.

The Aeropress was invented in 2005 and made of polycarbonate.

But don’t worry. Because of concerns regarding BPA in plastic ware, the company—Aerobie—later switched to using copolyester, making sure only BPA-free materials are used.

Two plastic tubes fit into each other. You place water and grounds inside, let it steep and then place it over your cup.

It’s like using a syringe. You press down on the one plastic tube, forcing the brew into the cup.

Characteristics

  • The water you use must be hot, but just below boiling point so your coffee doesn’t turn out bitter
  • Use fine grounds to optimize flavor
  • There are two ways of using the Aeropress:
  • A normal method
  • An inverted method that allows the coffee to steep a bit longer
  • The Aeropress set includes accessories to help optimize the process:
  • A paddle to stir the brew to optimize flavor extraction
  • A scoop to get the right amount of grounds each time
  • Filters
  • A cap that can fit over a cup to limit wastage and spatter
  • A funnel used to neatly pour grounds into the tube

Conclusion

We hope you’ve recognized that coffee making can be much more than you’ve experienced thus far.

Your next cup can match your palate’s particular preferences if you make a few adjustments to your coffee making habits.

And now you’ve seen that it doesn’t have to cost you much—or take up much of your time—to customize your brew. Which method will you try out first?

References