In this introduction to brew methods, we highlight six common methods for making coffee at home. Narrowed down from a much larger list, these are six of our favorites. With this overview, we hope to assist on your journey to level up the coffee you make at home.
There is no "best" method, only the best method for you. Enjoy!
What it is: Our preferred method of making coffee each morning, the pour-over, works by manually pouring hot water over coarsely ground coffee in a filter, allowing gravity to draw the water through the coffee grounds and into a receptacle below, such as a mug or carafe. This process extracts and highlights delicate flavors from the coffee grounds, and by controlling variables like water flow, temperature, and brew time, you can create a customized cup of coffee with a specific flavor profile to suit your preferences.
Grind Setting: The ideal grind setting for pour-over coffee is typically in the medium-coarse range, although it can vary depending on your specific pour-over method and personal preferences. From first pour to the final drip, the process should take around 2.5 - 4 minutes. If your brew is happening too quickly, make your grind setting more fine. If your brew is very slow and stalling, try making your grind setting more coarse!
Who is this for: Pour over isn't a "set it and forget it" type of brewing method; heating up the kettle, setting up the dripper, and manually making pours. However, with this level of involvement comes a deeply satisfying ritual, and a large amount of control over how your brew tastes. This method is for someone who enjoys the little things in life, and can slow down for a moment as they brew a cup.
2. French Press (Press Pot or Plunger Pot):
What it is: The French press is a manual method where coarsely ground coffee is steeped in hot water. After steeping, a metal or mesh plunger is pressed down to separate the grounds from the liquid. It's known for producing a rich and full-bodied cup of coffee.
Grind setting: The coffee grounds for a French press should have a coarse texture, similar to breadcrumbs or oats. This grind setting will be coarser than what you will use for almost any other method, aside from cold brew! Coarse grounds are important in a French press because they allow the coffee to be steeped for an extended period without over-extracting, resulting in a full-bodied and less bitter brew. The coarse grind also helps minimize the amount of fine coffee particles that pass through the metal or mesh filter of the French press, which can make your coffee gritty!
Who is this for: The french press is great for making multiple cups all at once, and once you make your initial pour, you can set a timer for 4-6 minutes and go about your business. Once that timer goes off, plunge slowly and pour your coffee into a serving carafe, and you're good to go. This method is great for someone who wants to make multiple cups, and enjoys a bit of a manual element to the process, but doesn't want to commit to making a pour over.
3. Drip Coffee (Mr. Coffee & similar):
What it is: Drip brewing is a popular and convenient method for brewing coffee at home. It involves placing ground coffee in a paper or metal filter within a drip coffee maker (think of the classic Mr. Coffee machine) and then hot water is drawn up through the machine and poured automatically over the grounds. The water passes through the coffee and drips into a pot or carafe. Drip coffee is known for its simplicity and ability to produce larger quantities of coffee, making it suitable for households where multiple cups are needed, or if you like to set it and forget it!
Grind Setting: Medium grind is similar in texture to sea salt. It's coarser than what you would use for espresso but finer than what's ideal for French press or pour-over methods. A medium grind size works well with most automatic drip coffee makers and ensures a balanced extraction - you can always tinker around with your grind setting and overall coffee/water ratio to customize the end result.
Who is this for: The drip brewer is for the busy bees, parents, and people who care a bit more about convenience than ritual. This isn't good, bad, better or worse; it is just a different way to take your coffee. With the drip brewer, you can brew multiple cups, sometimes up to 8-12 cups per batch, making it a great option for families, parties, or when you have guests.
Grind setting: The ideal grind setting for an Aeropress is on the finer side, similar to table salt or a bit coarser. A medium-fine grind works well for most recipes. A slightly finer grind will yield a stronger and more concentrated cup of coffee, while a coarser grind will result in a milder cup.
Who is this for: The coffee geeks and the travelers who hate to leave home without their favorite brews. Given that the Aeropress is a bit of a science experiment, it takes a certain type of coffee drinker to own and get comfortable using one. This brewing method is for our experimental drinkers and people who love to have fun with their coffee adventure.
5. Moka Pot:
What it is: A Moka pot, also known as the "stovetop espresso maker", is a classic device designed for making strong and concentrated coffee. It consists of three main parts: a bottom chamber for water, a middle funnel-shaped filter basket for ground coffee, and an upper chamber to collect the brewed coffee. As the water in the bottom chamber heats up, steam pressure builds, forcing hot water through the coffee grounds and up into the upper chamber. The result is a coffee that's rich and intense. Moka pots are known for their iconic design and their ability to produce a flavorful and aromatic coffee with a unique character.
Grind setting: For a Moka pot, the ideal grind setting falls between medium and medium-fine, slightly coarser than what you would use for espresso. This grind size helps ensure the proper flow of water through the coffee grounds during the brewing process. If your grinds are too fine, they can clog the filter screen and create a dangerous amount of pressure build up.
Who is this for: The Moka Pot for us is a party essential and something almost every home should have on hand. The traditional, rich, aromatic brews that come from this pot are loved far and wide. This brew method is for anyone looking to tap into the rich history of coffee brewing, and allows you to create (arguably) the closest thing to "espresso" at home aside from buying a home espresso machine.
What it is: Brewing espresso is an intricate process that produces a concentrated and robust coffee shot. It involves forcing hot water through finely ground coffee at high pressure. The machine pumps pressurized water through the compacted coffee grounds, extracting flavors in a short time (usually 25-30 seconds) to create a small, intense shot of coffee. Espresso forms the base for various drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and cortados, and its preparation requires precision and consistency!
Grind setting: The ideal grind setting for espresso is finer than most other brewing methods and resembles a powder-like consistency, similar to confectioner's sugar. The fine grind ensures a higher surface area for water to interact with the coffee grounds, allowing for the quick extraction of flavors and aromas. Achieving a consistent and uniform grind is crucial to producing a balanced, flavorful espresso shot.
Who is this for: The at home espresso setup is for people who are all in on coffee and stand to be away from espresso for long. Home espresso setups are a deep rabbit hole. Often, there is no end to the buying of new equipment and trinkets, whether they be grinders, puck prep tools, or tamp mats. All of this in pursuit of the "god shot" - the perfect shot of espresso. This brew method is for people who are willing to sell their soul to the coffee gods. Kidding. This brew method is for people who want to bring near cafe-quality espresso and milk drinks into their home to enjoy or share with guests.