Coffee Basics: Brewing Methods – Which way is best for you?

Maialino Partnership

For this week’s Coffee Basics post, we’re guiding you through some of the most common brewing methods you can use to make coffee. Here at Counter Culture, we believe that any coffee can be used with any brew method to create a delicious cup. #anycoffeeanybrew!

Read on to find your optimum way to make coffee and follow the links for our Quick + Easy Brewing Guide videos! For a quick rundown on the ratios to make perfect coffee, go to our post here.

Pour over

Manual pour overs like this one are great for brewing one to two cups at a time

The pour over is a great way to tease out the subtle flavors of a particular coffee, and allows for easy experimentation to calibrate to exactly what you want in a coffee. Using a cone and a filter, you can control each brewing variable to get optimal flavor out of the grounds. Manual brewers like the Beehouse or the Kalita Wave result in sweet, clean coffees while the larger format pour overs like the Chemex are perfect for brewing for a larger group.

Fine grind recommended for smaller pour-over cones—like table salt. Medium-fine grind for larger brewers like the Chemex—like kosher salt.

French press

The French press is an easy way to make full-bodied coffee

This tried-and-true brew method is an easy way to make delicious, full-bodied coffee. Made by letting grounds soak in water for four to five minutes and then plunging a filter to “press” down the grounds, French presses are an easy way to make more than a cup of coffee at a time. Because the grounds come into direct contact with the water—and remain in contact through the duration of the brew time—this method often results in the perception of a stronger flavor because of insoluble material that remains in the final cup.

Coarse grind recommended—like sea salt.

Espresso

Espresso is more concentrated than other brew methods

Espresso is a great way to amplify the characteristics of your favorite coffee. Using pressure to force hot water through finely ground, compacted coffee, espresso is more concentrated than coffee brewed using other methods. While espresso has more caffeine per-unit volume than most other coffee drinks, because of its smaller serving size, the total caffeine content is actually lower than a standard cup of coffee.

Very fine grind recommended.

Aeropress

The aeropress is a great brewing method for those on the go

The Aeropress is a go-to brew method for those who love delicious coffee on the go. Low profile, easy-to-transport equipment make it a great way to have tasty coffee while traveling for one or two. Unlike the French press which often results in grit at the bottom of your cup, the aeropress results in a clean, full-flavored experience because of its paper microfilter.

Fine-to-medium grind recommended.

Auto-Drip Brewer

Ease of use and convenience make auto-drip brewers one of the most popular forms of brewing

The auto-drip is probably the most well-known and most-popular way to make coffee. With the ease of making coffee quickly for a larger group of people, an auto-drip brewer is convenience at its best. A quality brewer, like the Bonavita 8-Cup Brewer we tested, can be an excellent way to brew better coffee at home: It features an easy-to-use design, powerful heating element, and wide showerhead design—for better saturation and more-even extraction.

Medium-fine grind recommended—like kosher salt.

Some frequently asked questions about brewing methods:

Which type of brewing method is best?
Selecting a brewing method ultimately comes down to preference. This is one reason we provide recommendations for multiple brew methods—to help you make the best coffee possible with the method of your choice! If convenience is what you’re after, we would recommend the auto-drip. If you only drink coffee on weekends and have time spare, maybe the pour over or the French press would work for you. Do you travel a lot? Try the aeropress. Or try them all!

Are there certain coffees that are better with certain brew methods?
While some coffees may shine in a particular brew method, we still stand by the idea of #anycoffeeanybrew. That said, we generally suggest looking to our year-round coffees for use as espresso, as they will have a consistent flavor profile throughout the year. Big Trouble and Hologram are our most popular coffees for espresso.

Regardless of the brew method you choose, make sure you’re using the appropriate grind size for your brew method of choice, that your water is clean, and that you’re using water that is at an appropriate temperature—in most cases starting at 200º should be good. For three simple steps to making better coffee, follow our guide here.

Where can I buy brewing equipment?
We offer a curated selection of brewing equipment, including some of the items listed here, in our online shop.

We hope this guide helps you pick the perfect method to make your favorite coffee.