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Ultimate Guide to Coffee Brewing Methods

Updated: Jul 13, 2023


If you're a coffee lover like us, you know that there's an art to brewing the perfect cup. From the selection of beans to the brewing technique, every step plays a crucial role in determining the flavor, aroma, and overall coffee experience. Whether you're a coffee connoisseur looking to find out more about the different brewing methods, or just starting your caffeine journey, our guide to coffee brewing methods is here to help.


We'll delve into the most popular brewing methods, including pour-over, French press, espresso, AeroPress, cold brew, and more. Each method has its unique characteristics, equipment requirements, and brewing parameters that contribute to the distinct flavors and aromas in your cup. We even have some tips and tricks to help you achieve optimal results with each method.


We'll also look at other factors that influence coffee flavor, such as bean selection, roast level, coffee to water ratio and brewing time. Understanding these elements will help you to make informed choices and fine-tune your brewing process to suit your personal preferences.


Whether you prefer a rich espresso or a delicate pour-over, it's time to grab your digital scale and prepare to embark on a caffeinated adventure!


Quick List: Coffee Brewing Methods

  • Espresso

  • Hand Drip (overpour)

  • AeroPress

  • Automated Pour Over

  • French Press

  • Stovetop Espresso

  • Cold Brew

  • Nitro Cold Brew

Espresso

This method of brewing uses an espresso machine which forces pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee. Executed correctly this produces an amazing intense flavor with a creamy texture and thick crema on top.


To make espresso you will need an espresso machine, a portafilter, and a tamper. You will also need a digital scale and, if your machine does not have one, a digital timer. To make espresso you will need to grind your espresso beans into the portafilter. We recommend starting with 18g of espresso beans for 60ml of espresso. In general you will want your 60ml of espresso to pull in between 25 and 30 seconds. The shot time and thus the flavor is adjusted by adjusting grind size. If your shots pull too fast then your grind size is too coarse and your shot will be under extracted and sour. If your shots pull too slow then your grind size is too fine and your shot will be over extracted and bitter.

You also want to make sure that the water temperature is between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.


History of Espresso

Espresso was invented in Italy in the late 19th century. Since then, it has been popularized across Europe and North America. Today, you can find espresso bars in almost every city.

Tips and Tricks

1. Pull your shot in the correct time – typically you're aiming for between 25-30 seconds. Pull too quickly and your shot will be sour. Anything longer will likely result in a bitter flavor.

2. Any high quality coffee can make good espresso however coffee roasted for espresso is usually preferred

3. Adjust your weight and grind size in order to get your shots to pull in the correct time for your espresso machine.

4. Use filtered water with some mineral content and make sure the temperature of the water is set correctly.

5. Experiment with different blends to find the flavor profile that you like best.

6. To make drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes, you'll need to use an espresso machine that has a milk steaming wand.


Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced barista, the espresso brewing method is easy to master with a bit of practice!

Pros and Cons

The main benefit of espresso is that one gets to experience the flavors available in a coffee in a very unique and intense way. It’s also a great way to get your coffee in a hurry. However, this method often requires specialized equipment, so it may not be the best option for everyone. Additionally, espresso can have a strong and intense flavor that some may not enjoy.


Hand Drip (Pourover)

Hand drip, or pour over, is one of the simplest and most hands-on methods for brewing coffee. To use this method, you’ll need a hand dripper with filter, ground coffee, hot water and digital scale. You simply add your weighed grounds to the hand dripper, pulse pour some water, wait for it to pass through the grounds, and voila! You’ve got yourself a delicious cup of coffee.


This method is preferred by many coffee enthusiasts due to the level of control it offers. You can adjust the grind size, water temperature, coffee to water ratio, and timing used to find the perfect flavor profile for your taste buds. Plus, you don’t need any specialized equipment beyond a hand dripper and coffee filter.


History of Hand Drip

This method of coffee brewing originated in Germany in the late 19th century. It quickly spread throughout Europe before gaining popularity in the United States and other parts of the world. Today, it’s a popular brewing method among coffee aficionados and professionals alike.


Tips and Tricks

1. Use freshly ground coffee beans for the best flavor.

2. Measure out your coffee grounds using a digital scale for accuracy.

3. Use your digital scale to weigh the amount of water used for ratio accuracy.

4. Pour the water over the grounds in a slow, circular motion in pulses.

5. Make sure that the water temperature is between 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Allow the coffee to bloom (expand) after your first pour of water.

7. Allow the coffee to fully drain before removing the filter cone.

8. Experiment with different grind sizes to find the flavor profile you like best.


The hand drip method is a great way to enjoy nuanced and delicious coffee without any fancy or expensive equipment. It takes a bit of practice to perfect the technique, but once you do, you’ll be able to enjoy barista-level coffee in the comfort of your own home.


Pros and Cons

The main benefit of hand drip is that it allows you to control all aspects of the brewing process. It gives you the ability to tailor your coffee to your own preferences. However, this method can be a bit time consuming and it requires some skill and practice to get the perfect cup.


AeroPress

The AeroPress is a relatively new type of coffee brewing method. It involves pressing hot water through fine coffee grounds using an AeroPress device. This method is quick and easy to use, so it’s a great option for those who want their coffee relatively quickly. There are literally thousands of aeropress recipes so the variations are fairly endless. The Aeropress device can be used with either paper or a stainless steel mesh filter depending on preference.


History of AeroPress

The AeroPress was invented in 2005 by Alan Adler, an inventor from California. Since then, it has become a popular choice among coffee aficionados and professionals alike. It’s a great option for those who are just getting started with home brewing.


Tips and Tricks

1. Use freshly ground coffee beans for the best flavor.

2. Measure out your coffee grounds using a digital scale for accuracy.

3. Pre-wet the filter if you are using the paper filter option.

4. Make sure that the water temperature is accurate for your recipe.

5. Allow the brewed coffee to steep for about 30 seconds before pressing down the plunger.

6. Use a gentle but steady pressure to push the hot water through the grounds.

7. Experiment with different recipes to find the flavor profile you like best.


The AeroPress method is a great way to enjoy rich and flavorful coffee without having to spend a lot of time or money. It’s also easy to use and can be done in just a few minutes and there are endless recipe variations.


Pros and Cons

The main benefit of the AeroPress is that it’s fast and easy to use. It also produces a flavorful cup of coffee with a smooth finish. Additionally, the device is relatively inexpensive and easy to clean. The main downside is that it can be a bit tricky to perfect the technique, so it may take some practice to get the perfect cup. Additionally, the AeroPress only produces one cup at a time, so it’s not the best option for large groups.


Automated Pour Over

The automated pour-over method is the most popular type of coffee brewing. It involves a machine pulse pouring hot water through a bed of ground coffee. Using a preset water temperature the machine will bloom the grounds then complete the brewing in pulses of water with completion of brew in a set time. This method is great for those who want to enjoy barista-level coffee while minimizing the time invested.


For this method, you'll need an automatic pour over coffee maker. We recommend machines that are endorsed by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). They're available in various sizes to accommodate how many cups you want to make at once, and some are programmable so you can automate your brewing and make the process as simple as possible.


History of Automated Pour Over

The automated pour over method has been around since the 1960s and has become increasingly popular in recent years. The devices used for this method have also been improved over the years with the contemporary models offering very consistent results.


Tips and Tricks

1. Use freshly ground coffee beans for the best flavor.

2. Measure out your coffee grounds using a kitchen scale for accuracy.

3. Measure your water to be sure to have the water to coffee ratio that you desire.

4. Check the presets on your respective coffee maker and push brew

7. Experiment with different grind sizes and ratios to find the flavor profile you like best.


Pros and Cons

The main benefit of the automated pour-over method is that it can produce an amazing cup of coffee with very little effort. Typically the machines are relatively easy to use and clean. The main downside is that these machines can be somewhat expensive depending on your choice of machine.


French Press

The French press method is one of the oldest and most popular methods of brewing coffee. It involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in hot water before pressing down a plunger with a screen at the bottom to stop the brewing process. This method produces a rich and full-bodied cup of coffee that is sure to satisfy even the most discerning coffee lover.


Most French Presses are glass or plastic, although some are metal. You won't need any extra filters, and cleanup is easy. The built-in filter can, however, wear out, so be sure yours has replaceable parts.


History of French Press

The French press method has been around since the 1850s and was originally patented by Jacques-Victor Delforge and Henri-Otto Mayer in 1852. It has since become the go-to method for coffee aficionados around the world who appreciate its unique flavor and aroma.


Tips and Tricks

1. Use freshly ground coffee beans for the best flavor.

2. Measure out your coffee grounds using a digital scale for accuracy.

4. Make sure that the water temperature is to your desired temperature.

5. Stir the grounds and water for about 20- 30 seconds to ensure even extraction.

6. Allow the brewed coffee to steep for about 4 minutes before stopping the brewing process.

7. Slowly press down the plunger to stop brewing and avoid over-extracting the coffee.

8. Experiment with different grind sizes and ratios to find the flavor profile you like best.


Pros and Cons

The main benefit of the French press method is that it can produce a flavorful cup of coffee with a full body and complex flavor. Additionally, it’s relatively easy to use and clean. The main downside is that due to the coarse grind necessary for French press there are limitations to the extraction process and it is easy to over extract.


Stovetop Espresso Maker

The stovetop espresso maker, or Moka pot, was originally manufactured in Italy in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti. It involves using a special device made traditionally of aluminum to heat water and force it through finely ground coffee. This method produces a rich and robust cup of espresso with inexpensive and easily portable gear.


You can spend less than $20 on a stovetop espresso maker though many are in the $40- $50 range. The filter is built in and made of metal also.


History of the Moka Pot

The stovetop espresso maker was originally designed by Luigi di Ponti and manufactured by Bialetti in Italy in 1933 where it became popular in the Piedmont region. It was named after the city of Mocha in Yemen. After WWII Italy had an abundance of factories and skilled labor which led to increased production and popularity throughout Italy. It’s an economical way of making an espresso-like coffee that requires minimal equipment and produces great results.


Tips and Tricks

1. Use fresh coffee ground to the consistency of sea salt for the best flavor.

2. Heat water nearly to a boil before adding to the bottom chamber of the Moka Pot.

3. Add coffee to the coffee flavor leveling gently without compressing..

4. Place Moka Pot over medium heat with the lid open.

5. Water will push through the coffee and into the upper chamber.

6. When you begin to hear gurgling immediately remove from heat.

7. Also run cold water over the lower chamber to reduce pressure and stop brewing.

Pros and Cons

The main benefit of the stovetop espresso maker is that it produces a flavorful cup of espresso with a strong, intense flavor. The device is also relatively small and inexpensive. The main downside is that the process can be time-consuming and requires some skill to master. Additionally, if the Moka Pot isn’t removed from heat immediately upon hearing the gurgling sound, steam will push through the coffee and into the upper chamber creating over extraction and bitterness.


Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee is a surprisingly simple but delicious way to make coffee. This method involves steeping freshly ground coffee beans in cold water for an extended period of time. The result is a coffee that is smooth, balanced, and features subtly sweet flavors.


History of Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee has been around since the 1600s. It evolved from Japan's cold brew method for tea and fire-free brewing method Dutch traders used to avoid burning down their ships. The Japanese turned this into the Kyoto-style brewing method. Over time, the method has spread to other parts of the world and become popular due to its smooth flavor profile.


You'll need a cold brew coffee maker, or even a mason jar with a cold brew filter. The brewing process takes hours, but the payoff is worth it.


Tips and Tricks

1. Use fresh beans and a very coarse grind for the best flavor.

2. Measure out your coffee grounds using a digital scale for accuracy.

3. Use cold, filtered water measured for your desired ratio for optimal extraction.

4. Place the grounds and water in a jar with a lid or your favorite cold brew maker and let steep for 12-24 hours.

5. Once the steeping process is complete, strain the coffee through a filter to remove any grounds.

6. Experiment with different coffee to water ratios and brew times to find the flavor profile you like best.

7. Store the cold brew coffee in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Pros and Cons

The main benefit of cold brew coffee is that it produces a smooth and balanced cup of coffee. Additionally, the brewing process requires minimal effort and can be done ahead of time, making it perfect for those busy mornings. The main downside is that cold brew coffee takes much longer to make than other brewing methods, and the flavor can become muted if not properly extracted. Overall, cold brew coffee is an excellent option for those looking for a smooth and delicious cup of joe!


Nitro Cold Brew

Nitro coffee is a type of cold brew infused with nitrogen gas. The nitrogen produces a creamy, velvety texture and gives the coffee a sweet, smooth flavor. The nitrogen also gives the coffee a signature cascading effect when poured, just like Guinness beer, which is how you can tell if it’s truly nitro coffee.


To make your own at home, you'll either need a nitro cold brew coffee maker, which costs around $300, or a cream whipper and nitrogen cartridges — a much less expensive option.


History of Nitro Cold Brew

The invention of nitro cold brew coffee is usually attributed to Nate Armbrust while he was working at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon. He wanted to make a more frothy coffee and Guinness proved to be the perfect model. Nitro cold brew was on the menu at Stumptown starting in 2013. Since then, it has gained in popularity and is now served in coffee shops around the world.


Tips and Tricks

1. Make your regular cold brew coffee.

5. Add the cold brew to a nitro coffee maker or corny keg.

6. Infuse with nitrogen with either nitrogen cartridges or a nitrogen tank with a regulator depending on your container.

7. Serve from the keg through a stout or nitro tap.

8. Enjoy the cascading nitrogen bubbles immediately without ice or cream.


Pros and Cons

The main benefit of nitro coffee is its smooth, creamy texture and sweet flavor profile. The downside is that the gear necessary for nitrogen infusion and dispensing can be pricey.


Choosing Your Coffee Brewing Method

When it comes to choosing the right coffee brewing method, what works for some people doesn't work for others. Trying different methods lets you experience a wide range of flavors and experiences.


Remember, brewing coffee is an art that allows you to experiment, explore, and develop your own unique taste preferences. Don't be afraid to try new methods, adjust variables, and discover the flavors that truly captivate your palate. The world of specialty coffee is vast and ever-evolving, offering endless possibilities for delightful concoctions and aromatic experiences.


Whether you choose the slow, meticulous pour-over process or the bold and intense shot of espresso, the joy of brewing your coffee at home lies in the ability to tailor every cup to your exact liking. The more you learn and practice, the more you'll appreciate the nuanced flavors, the fragrant aromas, and the sheer pleasure of enjoying a well-crafted cup of coffee.


And you don't have to commit to buying new equipment just to experiment. Your favorite local coffee shop can make you a cup from a wide range of brewing styles so you can find out which flavor types work for you. Feel free to drop by our coffee shop in Galena. We’re happy to help you.


Armed with the knowledge gained from this guide, we encourage you to embark on your own coffee brewing adventure. Explore different origins, experiment with brewing ratios, and perhaps even create your signature blend. The possibilities are only limited by your curiosity and willingness to explore. Now, go forth, brew with confidence, and savor every sip of your perfectly crafted cup of coffee.


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