We are often asked,” What is the best way to brew coffee?”
Coffee brewing is all about extraction. Most consumers don’t realize that there are both good flavors and bad flavors in coffee beans. The art of coffee brewing is getting the good flavors out of the beans and leaving the bad flavors.
There are several ways to brew coffee, and each method has its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to extracting the maximum flavor from the beans. Some popular methods include drip coffee, French press, pour-over, siphon and cold brew.
Automatic drip coffee is the most common and convenient method. It works by passing hot water through ground coffee beans in a filter. This leaves some of the grounds over extracted and some under extracted. This extracts most of the good flavors from the beans, but it also extracts some of the bad flavors, especially if the water temperature is too low. However, it is fast and easy.
French press brewing involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in 200° F water for four minutes, then pressing the grounds down with a plunger. This method produces a rich and full-bodied coffee, but it can also extract some of the bitter flavors if the brewing time is too long.
Manual pour-over brewing involves pulsing hot water over coffee grounds in a filter, which then drips into a container below. This method allows for precise control over the brewing time and temperature, resulting in a clean and balanced cup of coffee. However, like drip brewing some of the grounds will be over extracted and some under extracted. There are also automatic drip coffee brewers that mimic manual pour over brewing.
Siphon coffee is made by locking two glass bulbs one on top of the other, connected through a metal or cloth filter. Water is paced in the lower bulb and ground coffee in the top bulb. As the water heats the pressure in the lower bulb forces the water into the top bulb with the grounds. The movement of the water agitates the grounds resulting in an even extraction. After about 4 minutes the heat is removed, and a vacuum is created that pulls the coffee through the filter into the lower bulb. Siphon coffee produces a rich full-bodied coffee with maximum flavor.
Cold brew involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for several hours or days. This method produces a smooth and sweet coffee with lower flavor and acidity, but it requires more time and patience than other methods.
Ultimately, coffee brewing is always a tradeoff of effort vs. quality. Sometimes effort wins and sometimes quality wins.