Specialty coffee can easily be understood, prepared, and consumed one cup at a time, as a crafted product with a limited shelf life. The specialty coffee difference is best appreciated when the coffee is brewed correctly. There are very simple and affordable ways to get into specialty coffee home brewing.
There is something super interesting about brewing your coffee manually and making it taste better. Also one reason behind the better taste is that with manual brewing the process is much more precise and controllable.
There are many different types of coffee brewing devices out on the market. Today with all the new and progressive coffee brewing methods available, you may have a tough time deciding on just one method as your go-to. You may swear by the French press brewer, but unless you’ve tried them all, how do you know what you're missing? We’ve summarized the differences between the main brewing devices, along with some handy tips.
Before we start with the brewing methods, here are some helpful brewing tips:
- Measure: pour coffee and water on a scale for accurate measurement.
- Brew Recipe: start with 1 part coffee to 18 parts water. Adjust the ratio to suit your preferences.
- Timer: start your timer as soon as the water hits the coffee grounds.
- Water Temperature: ideal brewing temperature is between 195° and 205°F. If you are not using a thermometer, we recommend letting the water sit for 30 seconds after it comes off the boil.
- Grind Size: adjust the grind based on your results. If your grind size is too coarse, the coffee could filter too fast resulting in weak flavor. If it is too fine, the coffee could be become over extracted and bitter.
- Filter: be sure to use the proper filter for your brewing method.
One of the easiest and most efficient methods of brewing coffee, the pour over preparation produces a cup with a mouthfeel between a French press and auto-drip. It offers consistency and a delightfully clean flavour profile.
There are three critical things that make the v60 a unique dripper method:
- The 60-degree angle; the coffee puck is shaped so that water and coffee have longer contact time.
- The large hole; you are able to alter speed of your dripper technique and get different flavors.
- The spiral ribs; these allow the air to escape from the dripper which enables the coffee grounds to expand.
How to pour:
- Set the Hario onto a cup, open the paper filter and place it inside the cone. Pour a small amount of hot water through the empty filter. This reduces paper taste and pre-heats the V60 and cup.
- Prepare ground coffee.
- Empty water from cup and place cup with cone onto scale. Add coffee grounds.
- Start your timer and pour a small amount of hot water (195°-205°F) to dampen the bed of grounds. Wait 30 seconds, allowing coffee to bloom.
- Continue pouring water in several short, circular pours, keeping the height of slurry consistent as it drains through. Try not to pour water directly onto the filter. Stop when you reach the total weight of water.
The Kalita wave has a flat bottom which makes the coffee taste a bit different compared to the v60. The flat bottom makes even extraction easier and the three extraction holes prevent channeling in the coffee bed. These factors make the cup taste extra clean and crisp.
Brew it like you would a V60.
The Chemex is a manual pour-over style glass container coffeemaker. The primary benefit of using a Chemex over other drippers is capacity, unlike many other pour over devices you can brew up to six cups at a time.
Chemex filters are roughly 30% thicker than the filters used by other drippers, that means keeping lots of oil out of the final cup, so you’ll get a richer tasting cup of coffee.
How to brew:
- Fold filter and place into the top of the Chemex.
- Pour a small amount of hot water through the empty filter. This reduces paper taste and pre-heats the Chemex. When ready, empty water out into the sink.
- Prepare appropriate amount of ground coffee and pour it into the filter, shaking gently to flatten the bed of grounds.
- Pour enough hot water (195°-205°F) to dampen the bed of grounds. Stir 3 times. Wait 30-45 seconds, allowing coffee to bloom.
- Starting in the center, pour water consistently in a circular motion to saturate the bed of grounds. Pour enough water to maintain the height of the slurry at about ½" below the lip of the Chemex. Avoid pouring down the sides of the filter. Stop when you reach the total weight of water.
- Stir gently 2-3 times and wait for coffee to drain.
Grind: medium Time: 4.5-5 minutes
Automatic drip brewer
Without a doubt, the most popular brewing method used today in the U.S. is the automatic drip brewer. Due primarily to its convenience rather than brew quality, the ease of use afforded by an automatic drip brewer is second to none.
How to brew:
- Measure your beans based on a ratio of 1 to 1.5 tbsp per cup. If you're brewing a 12 cup pot, 12 tbsp are all that's going to fit in your funnel anyway. If you're brewing 4 to 6 cups stick with 1.5 tbsp per cup.
- Grind your beans based on your filter type. For a flat-bottom filter use a medium grind, for a cone shaped filter use a fine grind.
- Try not to store coffee on the burner in its glass decanter. The long term direct heat will completely destroy the flavor.
The biggest complaint we hear about this brewing method is the tendency for their coffee to taste bitter. Usually, the problem is the contact time the water has with the grounds is too long. Coffee should brew for no more than 5-6 minutes in a drip brewer.
Grind: fine-medium Time: 5-6 minutes
Let’s talk about immersion
The familiar French press coffee pot may not have the same coffee cred as pour-over coffee, but that glass carafe cradled in chrome is one of the best ways to brew coffee at home, if you do it right.
Brewing with a French press is different from a pour over method. With pour overs the water passes through a filter, but with the French press the ground coffee actually steeps in the water. It enables a more intimate experience with the flavour of the beans. Low-tech and time-honoured, just grind, pour and plunge.
How to brew:
- Fill empty french press with hot water so that it pre-heats while you prepare ground coffee.
- Empty out the water and add appropriate amount of ground coffee.
- Pour a small amount of hot water (195°-205°F) into the french press to dampen the bed of grounds.
- Wait 30 seconds, allowing coffee to bloom. Keep covered with plunger lid during bloom to hold in heat.
- Continue pouring water over the grounds until the total weight of water is reached.
- Gently stir the slurry, then place filter and plunger onto the french press and push down just enough to saturate ground coffee, about half an inch below the surface.
- At 3:30, remove lid and give slurry 3 small stirs. Replace lid.
- At 5:00, push plunger down slowly, stopping and waiting if there is resistance. Now you’re ready to enjoy your coffee.
Grind: medium Time: 5 minutes
The AeroPress is loved by people who make coffee on the go, is great for travel and single mug use because it’s lightweight, portable, and durable. AeroPress is a brilliant device because it is so versatile to use. You are able to play around with grind size, water temperature, agitation and get a full-bodied brew.
AeroPress is a pressurized brewing method, using your own downward force to extract coffee.
How to brew:
- Add the ground coffee to the inverted AeroPress .
- Start your timer and pour a small amount of hot water (195°-205°F) into the Aeropress to dampen the bed of grounds. Wait 30 seconds, allowing coffee to bloom.
- Continue pouring hot water slowly into AeroPress until you reach 235g, or as much as fits.
- Gently stir the slurry (coffee and water mixture) 2-3 times. Allow to steep until 2:00.
- Meanwhile, put the paper filter into the small black filter cap and wet with hot water. Then carefully twist the filter basket onto the top of inverted Aeropress.
- Flip the AeroPress back upright onto a sturdy empty mug. Push down to plunge.
- When finished, remove filter basket. Empty grounds and filter into a compost bin by pushing down on the plunger.
Grind: medium fine Time: 2 minutes
Anyone who knows anything about coffee knows what an espresso machine is, they’ve been keeping us caffeinated for more than 100 years.
If you like a milky brew like a latte or a cappuccino; or if you’re the type that likes a quick and sharp hit of caffeine this is your best option. Espressos are unique; no other machine can replicate a nice espresso shot.
Brewing espresso coffee is completely different from pour over or immersion: you’re talking extra fine ground coffee that you tamp before placing in the portafilter; a short and sweet brew time; and great opportunities for recipe manipulation.
How to brew:
- Warm the cup before using it. Rinse it with hot water so that the porcelain or glass won’t cool down your beverage on impact.
- Add the ground coffee into your portafilter.
- Tap the portafilter handle gently on the tamp mat to distribute the ground coffee evenly, or – if you have one – use a distribution tool.
- Tamp, take your tamper and press it down onto the ground coffee, making sure you both tamp straight and use sufficient pressure.
- Using the tamper, polish the surface of the ground coffee. To do this, place the tamper on top of the puck and spin. This will smooth out any small ridges, ensuring the surface of the coffee really is smooth and flat.
- Make sure to clean any excess dry coffee off the top, ears, and spouts of your portafilter.
- Insert the portafilter handle into the group head and start brewing. Make sure to begin brewing immediately, otherwise the heat might cause the surface of the coffee to burn.
- Once the machine stops, remove the cup from the machine tray. You can now either serve the espresso or start steaming milk for a latte or cappuccino.
- Remove the portafilter and knock the coffee puck out into the knock box, than clean and rinse your handle ready for the next shot.
Grind: fine Time: 20-30 seconds (extraction)
Who said cold brew?
Hario Mizudashi cold brewing maker
Hario has succeeded in making the simplest and practical cold brew coffee maker available. It can be used for both beginners and pro cold brew fans alike. The Mizudashi is a cold brew method in which water is used from the beginning instead of hot water, as the brewing takes place over time, the flavor intrinsic to coffee beans comes out.
Includes a simple metal mesh filter that is reusable and replaces the paper filter limiting waste. It has a very practical all in-one-design, which is perfect to fit in the fridge. Since it’s very easy to use you don’t need prior experience to start making your favorite coffee.
How to brew:
Grind your coffee, the grind should be course otherwise you will end up with sediment in your brew.
Pour in the filtered water allowing time for the water to soak the grinds, just keep adding until the water level reaches the top band where the handle attaches to the carafe. Then put the lid on the carafe.
Remove the basket and pour the cold brew into a cup. As it’s a coffee concentrate, you can mix it with milk or water at a radio 1:1 and pour over some ice cubes.
Grind: course time: 12-16 hours ratio:
There are many more brewing methods than we have mentioned here, you can keep trying and experimenting to find the one that works for you. No matter which one you choose, you can experiment with different recipes, grinds and more. Specialty coffee allows you to make the perfect coffee for your preferences, so keep looking for that perfect cup of coffee!