Are you looking for the best brewing method ever ? You're in luck, since I'm going to compare to go through a whole list of coffee brewing methods, and pick out which is the best for each need.
Are you a very busy mom in the morning ? Do you need your coffee to be extra flavorful ? Do you have a lot of time on your hands and are willing to wait a few hours ?
Not all brewing methods are created equal. Where one shines another might fall flat on its face. Only to get up and shine again when another, different method comes along.
So keep in mind there isn't one, true, best coffee brewing method to beat them all. But there are best methods for specific needs. And there is one that fits most of the bill, if you're willing to compromise.
Let's go through all of them a bit, so we know what we're dealing with here.
A quick run-down of all the brewing methods, ever
There are many ways to brew coffee, and each of them have their up and downs.
This means that some are better geared towards giving you a quick cup of coffee, some are better for extracting all the possible flavor out of your coffee beans, and some are the precursor of modern day brewing.
Now let's take a quick look at each, so we know what we're dealing with when comparing all of them to find the best for each scenario.
Filter coffee, either drip or pour over
One of the two most common brewing methods, this and espresso.
Filter coffee, whether you use an drip machine, or take the time to personally pour the water over your ground coffee, is essentially the same. You add ground coffee to a filter (usually paper), water will run through that filter, and drip into an awaiting pot or large cup that sits under the filter.
And there you go, filtered coffee. Convenient, not the fastest, easy to use.
Possibly the most flavorful cup of coffee you'll ever have. This means that you might sacrifice on speed and ease of use or cleaning time, but you're getting a great cup of coffee.
The way a French press works is that in a glass beaker, you add the ground coffee (always coarse), add hot water, and you insert a plunger that contains a metal filter at the lower end.
Once the coffee is done brewing (about 4 minutes) you push the plunger down to separate the ground coffee from the liquid.
And you're ready to serve.
Turkish coffee/ cowboy coffee/ no filter coffee
I think this was the first kind of coffee to be made, or at least widely used by the people.
It's the kind of coffee you make when you're out on a camping trip and there's no espresso machine in sight, or when you want to go old school.
Now, you might wonder why I lumped all of them together. After all, Turkish coffee sounds like it's very different from cowboy coffee.
Well, it's not. They're both a method of heating water over a fire (or hot sand), adding ground coffee of whatever size you can find (usually fine), and stirring the pot .
You can either alternate between placing the pot over the fire and taking it off but the end result is the same.
You're left with a strong, sometimes harsh coffee that will make you want to round up everyone and go hiking. Or round up the cattle. Or both.
The precursor to the espresso machine, the Moka pot is an old friend of the older generation.
It operates on the same principle as an espresso machine, though in a much simpler and slower fashion.
You've got 3 chambers inside a Moka pot.
The bottom is where you add the water. It has a nice little spout that goes into the middle chamber.
In the middle chamber you'll add ground coffee, which is going to sit between some filters that you have to add in place.
And in the top chamber, which has a spout that feeds into it from the filter, is where you actual, brewed coffee collects. The pressure in the water, when it gets heated, will push it through the filtered coffee, and the drink will end up in the top chamber.
As long as you've got a stove or some way to heat the bottom of the Moka pot, you can brew coffee.
The rival of filter coffee. Espressos are common and have become part of everyday life. They're an upgrade from the Moka pot, in that everything automated and you only need to press a button.
Unless you get a manual espresso press, where you pull the shot yourself.
The way an espresso works is that hot water gets pushed with ridiculous pressure through a small filter basket. That is where you add the fine ground coffee, and from there the coffee drips into your awaiting cup.
It's the pressure that produces that crema on top of the espresso, and you'll sometimes find a thin layer even in Moka coffee.
An espresso is always a quick and easy job, and it's great for office places where lots of people want lots of coffee all day long.
Cold brew coffee
Cold brewing is a fairly new way of making coffee. Of course, cold brewing has been around for ages but has only become popular in the last decade or so.
Still, you're going to get very interesting and different flavors from a cup of coffee if you brew it in cold water for several hours.
Where a Robusta bean is terrible if you brew it on its own in hot water, it will give you a nice cup if you cold brew it.
The only downside of cold brewing is that you have to wait 12-20 hours for it to be ready, and have a good way of filtering it.
Now that we know each brewing method, let's get to figuring out which is best for which scenario.
1. Best coffee brewing method for flavor
If you're looking to get lots of flavor from your cup of coffee, you have two options, depending on how much time you've got on your hands.
The quickest way to get a flavorful cup of coffee is to use a French press. Why ?
Because with a french press you control everything. Water temp, brew time, quantity, anything. It becomes a very personal and involved process, and it's going to take 4 to 10 minutes of your time.
10 minutes accounting for heating the water to the right temperature (93 C/200 F) and setting up the rest of the operation.
4 minute is how long it takes to brew a cup of French press coffee.
Now, you're going to get a flavorful cup because you're allowing the coffee o extract at its own pace, without rushing it (as opposed to an espresso).
And it's also flavorful because you're using coarse ground coffee, which is going to give you the most complete, rounded flavor possible.
So if you've got a few extra minutes and aren't rushing anywhere, a French press is for you. It does an especially good job of making Arabica beans shine.
However, if you've got ever more time or are willing to wait until tomorrow for your coffee, then you can go with cold brewing. Or if it's the height of summer and you need an iced coffee.
Why am I recommending cold brewing over French press ? Mostly because your get an ever sweeter, less acidic cup of coffee than French press. Which isn't very acidic to start with anyway.
And because cold brewed coffee is just wonderful on its own.
And because making iced coffee of any sort is just plain better when the coffee was extracted at a low temp. This is what helps give it that signature sweet flavor that people love.
But I also know not everyone has the patience to wait 12-20 hours for their cold brew coffee. So you're either going to plan it ahead, or stick with French press.
Both give you a flavorful cup of coffee, and I think you'll definitely be happy with them.
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2. Best coffee brewing method for a caffeine kick
If you're looking for a caffeine kick, then you're going to want a cold brew, again.
This is because of the steep time, which is much longer than most brew methods.
In a cold brew caffeine takes up to 8 hours to fully extract, which is plenty when you compare it with any other brewing method available. This also means that you're going to have to wait for your coffee to be done.
It also means that you'll be able to enjoy Robusta-heavy coffee blends, since a cold brew will make a Robusta really shine and give you a less harsh flavor.
Which in turn will mean your coffee will be high in caffeine, as Robusta has double the caffeine of Arabica.
Now, if waiting is not a problem for you, then you're going to love the cold brew because of the amount of flavor and caffeine it can extract from your drink.
Of course, there are times when a cold brew might not be appropriate, like the middle of winter.
Which means you're going to need an alternative, or a second-best option.
So, for such occasions I recommend you go with a French press, if you're looking for a hot brew.
A longer brew time in hot water means all the extractable (is this a word ?) caffeine will be... extracted from your ground coffee.
And a French press will be able to give you the caffeine you're looking for, along with the nice flavor I described above, since it does have a long steep time (for a hot brew).
3. Best coffee brewing method for making coffee drinks
Alright, what if you don't care about making a very flavorful or caffeinated coffee drink ?
What if you just want to make your own latte at home, or a frappuccino with all the whipped cream and sprinkles your heart wants ?
You'll be needing an espresso, then.
Espresso is the only drink that will give you that nice layer of crema on top of the drink, and it's the only way to make a latte, or cappuccino, or pretty much any of the 12 basic coffee drinks.
Now, not all espressos are the same. The best will be a machine that grinds the coffee beans on the spot, and those are fairly expensive.
Best to just grind your own coffee at home, with either a blade or burr grinder.
Which grinder you use matters in how well you grind your coffee, what size you want, and how uniform it ends up.
So an espresso is going to let you follow pretty much all the coffee drink recipes out there, since most of them call for espressos.
If you're making an iced drink (and I don't mean iced latte) you're probably going to need a cold brewed coffee. But drinks based on that are usually very simple and only contain a bit of milk and ice.
If fancy is more your style, and espresso will be the canvas you're working with. Literally, since you can make latte art with the crema and foamed milk.
4. Best coffee brewing method for busy mornings
Alright, what if you're a very, very busy mom and you need to be up and out the door in 20 minutes to get the kids to school ?
Well, this one can go one of two ways.
If you're looking for the quickest, fastest, done-in-30-seconds brew, you'll want an espresso machine.
Brew a shot, down it in one gulp, and you're good to go. Or you could get an espresso machine that can fit a travel mug under the drip, and you can brew several shots of espresso and take it with you.
How's that for convenience ?
Of course, you'd be needing the kind of machine that will grind the coffee on the spot, so you don't have to change and clean up the ground coffee until you come back home.
The drawback here is that one shot of espresso has about 63 mg of caffeine per ounce. And a shot of espresso is just one ounce.
If you brew several shots, then you get more caffeine.
This also means that you can add some milk or whatever you like to the travel mug and have the espresso drip right into the milk, and boom, latte macchiato. Sort of. More like a backwards latte.
Alright, what if your budget doesn't allow you a fancy espresso machine that grinds coffee on the spot ? Then you've got an espresso that needs the ground coffee changed after each shot.
Better than that, you'd get along best with a drip filter. Why ? Because you can load a large amount of ground coffee and as much water as you will need for that coffee, push a button, and go about your morning.
When the coffee is done brewing (you'll hear it sputtering) you can simply take the coffee pot and pour the contents into a travel mug.
There you go, high caffeine coffee, done in 3 minutes. For the record, 8 fl oz of filter coffee has 150-210 mg of caffeine, depending on what kind of coffee you use.
The overall best coffee brewing method
Now, I did say that there is no brewing method that will beat all the others.
But there is one that will check most of your boxes, if you want a compromise. This is assuming most people would just want a nice cup of coffee; flavorful, very caffeinated, and hot.
Whatever else you add to your coffee, like milk or sugar or whatever you like, you're bound to get the best results with a French press.
Why is this the winner ? Because in most cases, flavor and caffeine outweigh lattes. I've had foamed milk added to French press coffee before, and it goes well enough with anything you can imagine.
It does lose out to filter coffee and espresso in terms of speed, which might make this not the winner for you personally.
If you'd like a good recommendation for a French press, you can check out this one by KONA.
It's fairly large, can fit 34 oz of water. That's counting the ground coffee and what is left at the bottom of the beaker.
This French press is sturdy enough, and will give you the coffee you need, any time you ask of it.
You will need coarse ground coffee for French press, otherwise the grounds will slip right through the filter holes.
And you can also brew tea, if that's something you'd like to try one time.
You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.
Finding the best brewing method isn't an easy task, since there is no single 'greatest brewing method ever'.
We all have our preferences, but more importantly we have different needs. Which means that even if the French press is an overall great brew method, you might just need something faster.
If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?