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Brewing Methods

There are probably thousands for coffee brewing methods and millions of coffee brewing devices. Here again, it boils down to your preference both in the brew flavor, budget and what amount of processing time you’re willing to take.

Collage of four different coffee makers - percolator, Chemex, French press and auotmatic drip maker.
Collage of two pictures of a percolator. Left is outside view, right is view of internal parts.

The Percolator

Purists denigrate the “lowly percolator” - unfairly I might add. It has a reputation of producing poor coffee- burned and acidic. If that is happening then you’re doing it wrong.

If used correctly percolators produce lovely coffee. Use the right amount of coffee and monitor the brew process for when the brew is done. If you use an electric percolator, transfer the coffee from the pot to an insulated carafe (or thermos)  to prevent the heating elements from over cooking the coffee turning it bitter and burnt. Or simply unplug it.

Stove top models or camping percolators require careful observation to make sure the coffee doesn’t over extract, boil over or burn if left on the heat too long. Electric models generally have one brew cycle so if you like your coffee lighter or darker, you don’t really have a choice. Stove top models you can stop it any time you wish, but it does require observation.

An electric simple automatic drip coffee maker.

Automatic Drip Coffee

Mr. Coffee invented the automatic drip coffee maker. You can get a knock off for $10. Prices go up from there... way up. Two things thing about automatic drip makers are mineral build up, and the carafe heater.

Daily use will cause minerals to cook-out onto the heated water delivery tubes and boiler surfaces. So you will need to clean your auto drip maker to remove the minerals - vinegar and water (1 part water, 1 part white vinegar) solution will do, just rinse really well before making your next cup. Yes it is necessary or your maker will meet its... maker. Okay it just won’t work as well anymore (slow, not hot enough, not work at all). There are coffee pot cleaning solutions and I do think they work better than just vinegar. Especially if you live in areas with high mineral content in the water (hello Albuquerque). Sometimes vinegar alone can’t do the job.

The heating element under the carafe will cook your coffee to death (bitter, acidic and bruned flavor) if you let it sit too long. Pour it into a thermos or just drink it really fast before it gets old, or like the percolator just turn the heating element off.

Collage of a Chemex at various points in the brewing process.

Pour Over Coffee

Melitta was the original drip coffee maker. You put a cone filter in the cone, put your ground coffee in, put the cone over a cup or carafe, pour boiling water into the coffee filled cone and coffee comes out the bottom.  It is simple, inexpensive and makes a fine cup of coffee. Use a medium grind - not too fine or too coarse. Add the water to the coffee slowly - pour and let it seep, pour and let it seep until you have added all the water.

There are many brands of pour over coffee makers. Chemex. Looks like some crazy glass flask from a chemistry research lab and it is meant to. It is really worth it if you can swing the $50+ for the Chemex (pictured) and the $20 for 100 filters. It really does make the best coffee I’ve ever had. It is elegant, beautiful and simple.

Make sure to get a good kettle, one with a gooseneck is best but really the water just needs to be hot - microwave or a sauce pan on hot plate does the job without fail. Electric kettles are great especially if you are absentminded (like me) and might forget that it is on the stove! You can get a good one for around $20.

A collage of French press pictures showing the steps in the brewing process.

French Press

French presses are elegant and fun to use... but not fun to clean up. French presses use a carafe with a mesh plunger.

To use, remove the plunger dome the carafe. Put coarse ground coffee into the carafe. Do not use medium of fine ground coffee! You’ll just plug use the strainer before you finish straining.

Fill the carafe with hot water. Let it steep for about 4 minutes.

Then put in the strainer plunger and push down slowly, too fast and the coffee ground blow by the edges. The plunger strains the coffee grounds to the bottom as it is pressed into the carafe. Leaving grounds sequestered at the bottom and the precious liquid of morning bliss above.

Carafes can be insulated or not and come in all kinds of materials: glass, plastic, metal ceramic etc. They can be plain or ornate depending on your taste and budget.

Cleanup though can be a pain. The plunger needs to be disassembled and strainers rinsed thoroughly after each use.

A collage of Keurig single cup coffee maker showing how to insert a resuable K-cup.

Single-Cup Coffee Makers

These have a small coffee basket where water is pushed under pressure through the coffee similar to espresso but not at nearly as high of pressure.

Since aurora-s cup Coffee does not sell coffee in single-use k-cups, you will need to use need a reusable k-cup. I like the disposable filters that make clean up easy but are not necessary. To use the reusable k-cups take out the puncture basket, and replace with the reusable k-cup (pictured).

Single cup brewers are very sensitive to the amount of coffee and brew temperature.  A little too much coffee can make your cup of coffee undrinkable. Use a measuring spoon and be consistent.

Too hot of a temperature or using the “strong” feature can turn your brew bitter. Just find a recipe that works for you and stick with it

What Coffee Makers Do I Use?

Single cup Melitta from OXO

I have an inexpensive single cup Melitta from OXO. Not my daily driver but when I want a single cup of coffee it is great!

Philips 5400 

Okay, okay this is my expensive coffee snob coming out in me. It does everything - grind and brew as well as make lattes and espressos as well as drip-style coffee (think of Keurig but without the plastic cups). It's Wonderfull, fast and I love it. However, I have to admit, the Chemex makes a better cup but who always has the time?

Chemex

Chemex pour over makes about 4 cups and it is by far the best coffee gadget I have.

French Press

It was the cheapest insulated stainless steel one on Amazon ($25). Since I go through a lot of coffee during the week I tend to pull this one out on the weekends or for after dinner coffee on holidays. Makes lovely coffee and looks fancy.