How Should You Brew Coffee at Home?


In The Science of Brewing Coffee, we covered the different brewing variables (time, temperature, grind, turbulence, filter) that contribute to coffee extraction and how each impacts the taste of coffee. The type of equipment or device used to brew coffee will also have a significant impact on the way the coffee will taste. This is due to the shape and size of the brewer, the batch size, and the technique by which the coffee is brewed. Let’s explore the coffee brewing methods

Knowing what you want to get out of a particular coffee and understanding what each method has to offer will help you brew better coffee at home. Below are some of our favorite manual brewing methods and how they influence flavor perception. How do you brew?

French Press

French Press Coffee Brewing Method
French Press Coffee

Cup: Emphasis on body/mouthfeel; full-bodied, rich, textured, creamy.

Recommended coffee: Medium to dark roast blends with chocolate and bold roasty coffee flavors.

Staff Pick: Banner Dark | Sightglass Coffee

Filter type: Mesh

Grind size: Coarse

Brew type: Full immersion

Ease of use: Beginner

Great for brewing: 2-3 cups

Pros: 

  • Easy to use & clean
  • Makes multiple cups
  • Rich & full-bodied profile
  • Doesn’t require any fancy kettles or techniques

Cons: 

  • Takes over 5 minutes to brew
  • Isn’t ideal if you enjoy a clean and sediment-free cup of coffee
  • Full immersion brewing is not as efficient at extracting flavors

The French press makes a great cup of coffee and we’d recommend it to anyone looking to make the transition from automatic drip brewer to manual brewing method. Why? Because it’s the easiest method to brew delicious coffee and the most difficult method to mess up. One other thing to consider is how much coffee you plan to brew at one time. The french press is great because it can brew either a single cup or multiple cups (as opposed to your single cup methods such as the Aeropress or Hario v60 pour over).

How to brew coffee with a french press

AeroPress

Aeropress coffee maker

Cup: Versatile: clean and bright or rich and bold coffee 

Recommended coffee: Medium roast single-origins and blends.

Staff Pick: Southern Weather | Onyx Coffee Lab

Filter type: Paper 

Grind type: Fine to Medium 

Brew type: Combines full immersion and percolation brewing 

Ease of use: Intermediate 

Great for brewing: 1 cup

Pros: 

  • Versatile
  • Easy to pack for travel & is virtually indestructible
  • Efficient 
  • Combines the perks of full immersion and percolation brewing

Cons: 

  • Isn’t ideal if you are looking for more than 6-10 oz of coffee at a time
  • Filter expenses

We recommend the AeroPress if you are looking for versatility. Not only is it one of our go-tos for brewing at home, but it’s the best option for camping or taking on the road to brew a single cup. Nearly indestructible, light, and easy to pack, the AeroPress seems to do it all. It combines the full immersion brewing (grounds are fully immersed in water like a french press) with percolation or pour over brewing (water moves directly through the coffee grounds) and also introduces the variable of pressure which makes it extremely unique. With the AeroPress you can manipulate flavor and the character of a coffee based on how you use it. 

How to brew coffee with an AeroPress

Clever Dripper

Clever Dripper Coffee Brewing Method

Cup: Clean and full-bodied with lots of flavor clarity, balanced 

Recommended coffee: Medium and dark roast single origins and blends

Staff Pick: Equator Blend | Equator Coffees

Filter type: Paper

Grind type: Medium-coarse 

Brew type: Combines full immersion and percolation brewing

Ease of use: Beginner 

Great for brewing: 1-3 cups

Pros: 

  • Easy to use and clean
  • Versatile
  • Combines the perks of full immersion and percolation brewing
  • Doesn’t require any fancy kettles or techniques

Cons: 

  • Filters expenses
  • Full immersion brewing is not as efficient at extracting flavor

The Clever Dripper combines full immersion with pour over brewing and has the ability to function solely as a pour over as well. This low maintenance brewing method combines the full body and mouthfeel you get from a french press with the flavor clarity you get with filter pour over brewing. This is our recommended brewing method for medium-dark roast coffees.

How to brew coffee with a Clever Dripper

Filter Pour Over Methods (Chemex, Hario v60, Kalita Wave)

Pour over coffee method Chemex, Hario v60

Cup: Emphasis on acidity and flavors; clean, bright, crisp, lively, less body, smooth texture, and more nuance

Recommended coffee: Light to medium roast single origins with citrus and fruity flavors

Staff Pick: Colombia Los Gigantes | Ritual Coffee

Filter type: Paper (see Shop Chemex filters)

Grind type: Medium-fine to Medium-coarse

Brew type: Percolation (drip)

Ease of use: Intermediate to Advanced

Great for brewing: 1-3 cups

Pros: 

  • Elegant design
  • Great flavor clarity

Cons: 

  • Difficult to perfect extraction
  • Filter expenses
  • Less durable as glass can break

Filter pour over coffee produces an enjoyable brew that showcases natural features of a coffee best. Whether you’re using the Hario v60, a Chemex or a Kalita Wave, you’ll pour hot water over a bed of coffee grounds and allow the brew to drip through the grounds letting gravity do its thing. The pour over is ideal to use anytime you want to really taste a coffee for what it is, without trying to increase or decrease body, mouthfeel, or acidity. A filter pour over is great for anyone looking for a clean, crisp, lively, or complex cup of coffee. 

How to brew coffee with a Hario

How to brew coffee with a Chemex

Moka pot

Moka Pot Coffee brewing Method

Cup: Emphasis on body/mouthfeel; concentrated (strength), rich, full bodied, resembles espresso in texture and strength

Recommended coffee: Medium to dark roast blends with chocolate and roasty flavors

Staff Pick: Espresso Blend | Sisters Coffee

Filter type: Metal

Grind type: Fine 

Brew type: Pressured percolation, percolator

Ease of use: Intermediate to advanced

Great for brewing: 1 cup

Pros: 

  • Resembles espresso in texture and taste
  • Rich and strong (concentrated)
  • Indestructible 

Cons: 

  • Difficult to perfect extraction
  • Can taste metallic or bitter when poorly extracted
  • Isn’t ideal if you are looking to make multiple cups of coffee

The moka pot percolator is a fun way to make coffee resembling espresso. It can make a rich, strong, and intense brew. In this method, boiling water which is pressurized by steam passes through a bed of coffee grounds from bottom to top. It’s difficult to produce a balanced and evenly-extracted brew, but when done right, it can make for a delicious bittersweet treat.

**Curious to learn more about great at-home espresso machines? Check out the Rocket Appartmento Espresso Machine by Clive Coffee.

Drip coffee maker

Drip Coffee Maker

Cup: Similar to pour over methods, balanced taste profile, rounded body and acidity

Recommended coffee: Medium to dark roast blends with chocolate and roasty flavors

Staff Pick: Driftless Organic Blend | Wonderstate Coffee

Filter type: Paper

Grind type: Medium

Brew type: Percolation (drip)

Ease of use: Beginner

Great for brewing: 3-12 cups

Pros: 

  • Comforting, convenient & easy to use
  • Makes a balanced cup of coffee
  • Makes multiple cups of coffee at one time
  • Doesn’t require any fancy technique or extra equipment

Cons: 

  • Many drip machine’s don’t reach ideal temperatures for brewing and extracting coffee flavors
  • Not ideal for brewing a single cup of coffee
  • Filter expenses

Drip machines can and do make great coffee. They are also the most convenient and easy way to make multiple cups with just the push of a button. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the cheaper machines on the market do not reach high enough temperatures to effectively extract all of the delicious flavor compounds within coffee. This can be an issue especially with lighter roasts that require higher temperatures for brewing which is why you might have coffee taste a bit sour from your drip machine. If you’re looking to upgrade your coffee machine, the SCA has a great list of certified brewers we’ve come to love.

How to brew coffee with a drip coffee maker

Summary

Choosing a particular brewing method ultimately comes down to your preferences. If you have a medium roast or dark roast coffee that is lower in acidity and you are looking for a full bodied and rich brew, the french press will be a great option. If you have a lighter roast with a complex and vibrant quality and want to preserve its acidity, you could gravitate toward a pour over method such as the Chemex or Hario v60. These methods tend to showcase a coffee’s nuanced flavors and makes for a clean, crisp cup of coffee. Looking for a little of that and some body and richness? The AeroPress is our choice when looking for the best of both worlds, and the combination of full immersion brewing with pour over brewing makes it extremely versatile. Hopefully that helps make the case for each brewing method and simplifies your choices in how to get your ideal cup.

Cheat Guide to Perfect Brewing

French press, Aeropress, clever dripper, filter pour over, moka pot

If your coffee tastes too sour, bright, acidic, or weak try the following:

  • using a higher brew ratio (increase the amount of coffee used in relation to water)
  • using a slightly finer grind 
  • agitating (stirring) the grounds while brewing
  • increasing water temperature
  • increasing contact/brew time

If your coffee tastes too bitter, intense, chalky, or bold try the following:

  • using a lower coffee to water brew ratio (decrease the amount of coffee used in relation to water)
  • using a coarser grind 
  • decreasing contact/brew time 
  • decreasing water temperature

For more factors that influence the taste of home brewed coffee check out our article on the science of brewing coffee.

Learn more about coffee and taste with our series and check out our Specialty Coffee article, Guide to Coffee Cupping or Strong vs Rich vs Bold Coffee: What’s the difference? and Understanding Coffee Taste.



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