Coffee is a staple in the diet of many westerners. However, few of us take the time to brew and enjoy a better cup of coffee, much to the dismay of Italians. If you want to experience coffee at its best then, as any coffee connoisseur will profess, you need to brew it fresh.
There are several ways to brew coffee these days; from traditional manual techniques to hi-tech automated processes. The method you use will have an impact on the flavor and quality of your coffee. So, it is a good idea to understand the various techniques and the results they each yield.
That could take a little while, so to shorten your research time we will highlight the five best brewing methods currently in use.
Invented by genius German inventor Peter Schlumbohm in 1941, the Chemex coffee brewer is considered by many to be the “perfect coffee maker.” It is a manual, pour-over drip brewer with special filters that are specifically made by Chemex. This unassuming looking brewer comes up on top of many ‘best brewer’ lists for several key reasons.
Firstly, it can keep the coffee-water mixture at the perfect temperature (195-205 Fahrenheit) from the start of the infusion. A difficult feat for many other top quality auto-drip makers.
A second reason is that the Chemex’s design allows you to have some control over the infusion time. Your pouring technique and coffee grind size will have an influence on the overall infusion time, which in turn varies the flavor and richness of the brew.
And lastly, it is super easy to keep a Chemex coffee brewer clean. Over time, many other similar coffee brewing systems become rancid with a build-up of coffee residue. This will ultimately lead to a decline in the flavor of the brews, which is not ideal. The Chemex has a hassle-free cleaning design to help prevent residue build up.
The Technivorm KBT741 could be mistaken for a standard electric drip brewer. It’s not. Where most drip brewers have an 800-watt heating element, the Technivorm comes with a 1400-watt warmer. This extra wattage enables the brewer to reach the ideal brewing temperature (~199F) fast. Thus reducing the time needed to brew a full carafe.
The Technivorm comes equipped with an insulated metal carafe with a pourable screw cap. This helps to keep the coffee warmer and fresher for a longer period than traditional glass carafes.
And, for those instances where you have to brew while not quite awake, there is a contact switch at the base of the tower where the carafe sits. No carafe, no brew. This feature will reduce mishaps and potentially arduous clean ups.
The Aeropress is a great pour-over coffee brewer. It was invented in 2005 by Alan Adler, president of Aerobie. It is a quick brew option that can produce a single cup in under a minute, depending on the coffee grind size used and how strong you want the flavor to be.
The Aeropress is made up of two copolyester cylinders, one of which has a rubber plunger. This plunger fits inside the slightly larger cylinder similar to a syringe.
To brew the coffee, you place a microfilter at the bottom of the larger cylinder. Place the coffee grinds on the filter, and pour hot water over the grounds. Stir for a few seconds and then use the plunger to force the water through the filter into the waiting mug.
Some of the benefits of using this method include the disposable paper filter that removes most, if not all, of the coffee solids, and, as mentioned before, the brew time is super short.
One downside is the need to heat the water in a separate vessel. It might slow things down a bit, but probably not enough to completely counteract the short brew time.
The French Press is similar to the Aeropress in that it utilizes a plunger-type action. There are a couple of key differences between the devices, though. Where the Aeropress is designed to force the water through the grounds sitting on the filter, the French press works by forcing the grounds to the bottom of the carafe with the plunger acting as the filter.
One of the great things about both the French press and the Aeropress is that the grounds are completely saturated with the water. This allows for full dispersion of all the flavor into each cup of coffee brewed.
Despite the convenience of the compact design, the French press is not without its drawbacks. The biggest one is that it requires a coarser grind as the finer grinds might seep through the filter into the brew.
Coffee cones are fairly self-explanatory. They are a type of filter shaped like a cone. Why does this make a difference? It has more to do with the dispersion of the water through the grounds.
The standard basket filter is a flat-bottomed paper filter. They can be purchased in large quantities at not much cost. The problem with those filters is that when grounds are placed in the filter, they either pile in the center or are spread evenly around the bottom of the filter. Most coffee brewers have a shower arm that puts the water at, or near the center of the filter. With a flat bottomed filter, this may result in a lower saturation of the grounds, with some possibly not being used at all.
With a cone filter, while still made of paper, the coffee grounds are funneled into a point at the bottom of the filter. This allows the water to come in contact with more of the grounds, making them more efficient and resulting in a fuller flavored cup of Joe.
Brewing a fresh cup of coffee is not as difficult as you might think. Not with great little brewing devices such as the ones mentioned here. Everyone deserves a better coffee. Make 2016 the year that you start enjoying this awesome beverage in all its freshly brewed glory. Be warned, though, once you start drinking freshly brewed coffee, you will never be able to go back.