Brewing Methods Compared - How to Make Great Coffee at Home
Different methods bring out distinct qualities of the coffee being brewed
Whether you’re looking to master your barista skills or want to try something new, we’re here to help. These step-by-step guides will help you perfect your own process at home by matching the best brewing methods with coffee roast types.
There’s artistry in the ritual of brewing coffee. It’s simple, yet subtle, and that bit of attention not only results in spectacular cups, it gives us a small moment of joy, pause, and ceremony. These step-by-step guides will help you perfect your own practice at home, so you can enjoy the making as much as you savor each sip. It’s not one size fits all, though, when it comes to techniques.
THE POUR OVER
THE PRESS POT, AKA THE FRENCH PRESS
Each brewing technique speaks to the qualities in the coffee the drinker is looking to enhance. The press pot, or French Press, offers direct infusion for full extraction. It's an ideal companion for dark roasts, bringing out rich, complex flavors and luscious body. The beauty of the press pot method is its unadulterated coffee flavor: no filter papers to trap the heavy oils and, next to the cupping method used to evaluate coffee for purchase, some consider it the purest form of tasting coffee.
THE CHEMEX BREWER
An iconic brewer with a timeless design, we like to say that the Chemex is easy to use and easy on the eyes. But it’s not all just looks. Coffee brewed with a Chemex is a clean, smooth cup. Chemex filters, with their equally simple-yet-brilliant design, are made from bonded paper that removes even the finest particles. The result—and why we love it—is perfect extraction without bitterness or sediment.
There’s an art to pouring a great Chemex cup, and we’re here for it, starting with the grind. For those grinding at home, coarser grind means faster flow; finer grind means slower flow. Find the extraction that tastes good to you, keeping all the aromatic notes and yielding a satisfying body. Even still, the act is simple, only taking a few minutes with delicious results. The Chemex is particularly suited to beans with bright notes, as well as medium and light roasts, like Costa Rica or Café Domingo.
Chemex fun fact: these coffeemakers can be placed directly over the gas heat on your stove, should you need to keep things warm. (Low heat, please.)
With its smooth boldness—and lower acidity than coffee that’s been brewed hot and then iced—cold brew has an almost cult-like following. And while it doesn’t require quite the level of precision as some other brewing techniques, there are a few critical elements to making a worthy cold brew: type of coffee, grind, and time.
When choosing beans for making cold brew, look to coffees so aromatic that, even without heat, their volatile oils are front and center—like Kenya Auction Lot, Ethiopian Fancy, or bright blends like Big Bang. And to make the most of the refreshing, crisp notes, we recommend leaving extra-coarsely ground coffee in contact with water for 12 hours. More contact time for this brew method means maximum extraction, for flavorful cups with clean finishes.
Now that you know the difference between these brewing methods and how they can be paired with coffees from different growing regions around the world, as well as roast types, you're ready to start to play. Experiment and see which combination of coffee, roast, and brewing method tastes great to you. And, in six months, do it again to see if, and how, your tastes have changed.