Your Guide To the Perfect Brew Method
Coffee beans often travel across the world. They’re grown and nurtured somewhere along the bean belt just to get their lives uprooted. After being sent thousands of miles away from home, they’re roasted, ground, brewed, and served. But constantly being on the move isn’t easy. Each step along the way can potentially ruin the bean if treated incorrectly. That’s why we encourage people to start acquiring green beans. It ensures that every cup of coffee was realized with intention, compassion, and know-how. Every bean deserves to reach its full potential, and everyone deserves to enjoy a magical cup every day.
For most people, control over their coffee only starts at the brewing stage of a bean’s life cycle. But it’s not too late, we can still make good coffee. There are numerous brewing methods with vastly different yields. Some that bear significance to a culture/region, some are imbued with modern knowledge, and a few unconventional ones too. The mid-1900s mark an important point in our journey with coffee. Time, effort, and money were actively diverted to researching different extraction methods.
Not taking enough from the grounds or ‘under extraction’ typically results in a sharp, sour, and weak cup of coffee. Conversely, ‘over extraction’ gives a bitter and harsh experience, much like life. But good coffee makes a great day. As one of life’s very few genuine pleasures, the different ways to truly indulge in coffee must be acknowledged.
Pretty much everyone has one of these at home. This underrated method of brewing coffee is simple, repeatable, and easy on the pocket too. Ironically enough, one of the first iterations of a French press was commonly known to have been invented by an Italian. But as the name suggests, the French got there first. While most brewing methods would require warm water to pass through the grounds, the French press calls for them to be steeped together. Another unique aspect of a French press is how the grounds are filtered/separated; using a metal mesh.
Once the coffee has been steeped, the mesh is pushed down to separate the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee. The relatively large mesh holes let some of the non-soluble matter into the mixture. The addition in texture is a welcome sensation for some, and for others, it’s a dealbreaker. The consensus for the resulting brew, however, is a rich-bodied cup of coffee with just enough texture to warrant immense loyalty. Alternatively, the French pull method is one where the grounds are scooped out instead which bypasses all concerns about texture.
Don’t forget to check out our guide to making the best cup of french press you’ve ever had.
Several brewing techniques use the pour-over method. Filter-brew, Chem-ex, and Hario drip are the most popular. The shared principle is extracting flavor as water passes through a bed of coffee grounds, also called percolation. The filter isolates the grounds and keeps them from getting into the coffee. The universal filter for this method is paper, but it’s very common to find cloth and fine metal mesh variants too. Paper filters have done a fine job of shifting the spotlight from electric percolators. Drip coffee or electric coffee machines that are used in several commercial settings do a bang-up job of brewing an extremely bitter cup.
While making pour-over coffee, a small amount of water is added at first to allow the coffee to bloom. For the standard pour-over coffee technique, there are only a few codependent factors to be tracked. The grind of the coffee, the contact time, and the amount of ground coffee. It takes longer for water to pass through fine coffee ground coffee because of an increase in surface area. An increase in added water or ground coffee contributes to contact time too. This affects the flavor and strength of the coffee. Precise measurements and pouring kettles help create a consistent experience. These days, there are a lot of automated pour-over machines as well, however, quality and precision cannot be guaranteed.
To make the perfect pour over, click here.
You’ve heard of espresso. Being one of the most popular ways to brew strong coffee, it gets its name from Italian cafés that were making regular strength coffee at a much quicker pace. For this method of brewing, the grind size plays a major role. Finer beans allow for easy extraction with barely any water. That’s why the resulting cup is a small amount of efficiently brewed strong coffee. Making an espresso means putting in work, it needs precision, patience, and a love for coffee prep that runs deep.
An espresso is accompanied by crema. It’s the head of dense foam that’s formed on top of the coffee during the brewing process, sort of like the foam atop a pint of stout. Water can dissolve more carbon dioxide when it’s under high pressure, and it escapes once the pressure’s released. Once brewed, the carbon dioxide fizz slowly dissipates and settles at the top as stable foam. Americanos, Caffe Lattes, Cappuccinos, and Macchiatos are popular espresso-based drinks.
Looking for an espresso machine? Here are our recommendations.
Also referred to as a Bialetti, this seemingly complicated contraption is not the most user-friendly of brewing techniques out there. The real reason why people tend to shy away from the Moka pot is its affinity to brewing bitter coffee. Water in the pot reaches very high temperatures, and it tends to extract bitter compounds from the coffee. For some, bitterness is the selling point. But for those that aren’t accustomed to the flavor, light roasts & beans that were grown at lower altitudes can combat the likelihood of brewing a bitter cup of coffee.
This device is loved. It’s one of the more unconventional ways to brew coffee, but its practicality, durability, and portability speak volumes. It’s a combination of brewing methods. The water and the coffee are steeped together like that of a french press, and once they’re done steeping, the mixture is pushed through a paper filter similar to filter-brews. The Inverted Aeropress method requires the device to be upside down. This makes it difficult for the brewing liquid to escape. Once the coffee is brewed, the device is placed right side up and the plunger is pushed down. The coffee passes through a paper filter removing non-soluble matter, and collected at the bottom is a cup of coffee ready for consumption.
Vacuum Pot / Siphon
This device could quite possibly end up becoming a display in your house. While it’s fun to play around and experiment with, it can also be a hassle. Vacuum pots make coffee using the immersion technique. It has two chambers, the lower which houses water, and the upper chamber contains the coffee grounds. Before placing the upper chamber upon the lower, the water in the lower chamber is brought to a boil. Once the seal between both chambers is formed, the trapped steam pushes water from the bottom chamber (or carafe) into the upper chamber through a tube. After the brew is steeped, the siphon is removed from its heat source. Steam in the lower carafe condenses back into the water creating a vacuum that pulls the brewed coffee through a filter into the lower chamber.
The main ingredient for cold-brew is time. A mixture of water and ground coffee is left to cool overnight. Extracting coffee through heat (every other brewing method) brings out the oil-carrying acids resulting in a cup with high acidity. With cold-brew, these oils aren’t extracted, generating a cup of coffee with up to 65% less acid content. The brewing process sometimes takes 24 hours to finish, after which the mixture is filtered to create a cup full of pure coffee flavor. Once brewed, cold brews last much longer than other methods.
The Brewtal Truth
Brewing represents a major step in the journey from bean to cup. It has the potential to bring out different characteristics and produce unique flavors and textures. With proper technique, it can be replicated for every cup you make. With a simple guide to brewing methods (much like this one), there’s no longer a reason to feel overwhelmed. While precise measurement isn’t an absolute necessity, it comes highly recommended. At Bunafr, we take it upon ourselves to highlight the tools & knowledge required to figuring out your perfect cup. Identifying the kind of coffee you’re after and the associated effort will be key to zeroing in on your preferred brewing method.