We love our coffee and find few joys in life more exciting than trying a new brewing method. Luckily for us, every year we get more and more brewing devices that allow us to experience the same coffees in new and unexpected ways. From variety of ceramic cones to Cemex to aeropress and siphon, the consumer has never had so much choice!
We group coffee brewing methods into the following categories and describe its primary pros and cons:
1) espresso method: near-boiling water is forced by significant pressure to go through the coffee grounds.
- pros: produces a small highly concentrated thick cup of coffee; extracts oils (in crema) for a very strong coffee shot; easy to mix with microfoam to create delicious milk drinks.
- cons: requires specialized expensive equipment that demands significant training and long time to prepare; produces a small shot only; usually bitter intense taste without milk or sugar. (Nespresso and other single-serve machines solve some of the problems).
2) drip / pour over method: near-boiling water is poured over coffee grounds
- pros: milder flavor with less bitterness than espresso; doesn’t require expensive equipment (countertop drip, cone drippers, cemex are normally priced $20-$50), easy to make, using manual process gives a lot of control (caffeine concentration, extraction, cup size).
- cons: requires more ground coffee; filters and equipment may leave after-taste, so need to be chosen and washed carefully.
3) french press: near-boiling water is poured on coarsely ground coffee beans to brew for several minutes before filtering the coffee with a plunger
- pros: milder flavor; doesn’t require expensive equipment; allows control over brewing time and cup size.
- cons: a bit more time consuming for making and cleaning up; coffee sludge gets in coffee cup.
4) percolator: stream from boiling water goes through the coffee grounds.
- pros: hotter coffee; easy to make without expensive equipment; pleasant aroma during brewing
- cons: over-extracted coffee, hotter than optimal brewing temperature. Siphons solve some of these problems, but they are very complex to use.
5) aeropress: hot water added to finely ground coffee to brew and then forced through filter by significant pressure.
- pros: more concentrated coffee flavor (almost espresso), more portable equipment, doesn’t require expensive equipment.
- cons: takes some training, a bit messy.
For more information about which particular device to pick, we recommend Tim Cartman’s article in Washington Post.