When you think about making a coffee, all the terrible machines from the office and conference rooms might come to mind. Some might think about the shiny macchina from the espresso bar. And again, another one about a coffee plunger or a porcelain coffee filter and so on.
Denkt man ans Kaffeekochen, fallen dem einen die schlimmen Maschinen in Büros und Konferenzräumen ein. Dem anderen die chromblitzende Macchina in der Espressobar. Und dem dritten die Druckkolbenkanne, dem vierten der Porzellanhandfilter und so weiter und so fort.
They all have a reason for existence (except maybe the nasty office machines) and they produce different taste experiences. And that is why there is not “the best” method but only individual preferences – as we said: A matter of taste.
Before we dive deeper into the different methods, let’s start with some basic background knowledge.
Another question that can be discussed for hours. Is using the machine better, faster, simpler, more convenient? Why go through the process of measuring, grinding, pouring, when a machine can take care of all of that? Well, because it is worth it. Because it is a ritual, maybe even meditative (just think about the smell of freshly ground coffee), because it takes up less space and consumes less energy. And because brewing a coffee by hand usually creates a more differentiated taste. Except for the portafilter machines, regular coffee machines simply “imitate” the manual brewing process, which of course means compromises. Obviously, coffee freaks like us prefer the manual brewing methods. But even there you find major differences.
With the French press, for example, the coffee is extracted in the water during the entire brewing period. With the pour over method, the extraction only takes places while the water runs through the coffee. The be even more generic: Filter? Or no filter? The direct brewing methods extract more caffeine. Bitter compounds and strong aromas are highlighted. A full immersion coffee is more compact, has a thicker mouthfeel and is a bit “cheeky”. In contrast to the pour over, which makes the coffee lighter, fresher, and fruitier. Of course, always depending on the beans and the roasting.
Of course, you could just try all the different methods yourself – you would be surprised how different your favorite coffee can taste – but before you start piling all the equipment, only to let it oxidize in some corner, we want to give you an overview of the basic results, that you can achieve with the different methods.
A French press (or American press) coffee is direct, a bit “loud” and highlights strong aromas like nuts and chocolate. Perfect for beginners.
The Aeropress I something in between – “Pressure piston with filter paper” – which is perfect for experimenting. But: It takes a trained palate and a good nose, to perceive the fine differences caused by adjustments of grinding degree, amount of coffee and so on.
If you like, have a look at our small series on cupping in the section Aromas & Co. It gives you a better impression of the “nose-business”. Long story short: The Aeropress is the perfect method for a coffee experiment with complex, refined flavors.
Cold extracted coffee – cold brew – is always a strong caffein kick. The long period of contact with the water allows floral-citric-elements, flowery flavors and subtle sweetness to develop. However, only in the aftertaste of cold brew you find the real coffee taste – which again, makes it quite interesting as a basis for cocktails.
The pour over coffee is experiencing a comeback lately because it is an easy way of making a multifaceted, refined coffee. But it takes accuracy and leisure, to get more than a semi-good result. The same applies to the Chemex. With this stylish method you can brew a clear, fine coffee with elegant notes of citrus fruits and flowers.
The Karlsbader Kanne also requires an accurate preparation, but besides that, everything else is different: It does not need filter paper, because it has a permanent porcelain filter. That is why the beans must be ground coarsely – really coarsely (the holes in the porcelain are comparably big). That means, you definitely need a coffee grinder. And you should only use really good beans, because a lousy coffee becomes even more miserable in the Karlsbader Kanne. So, with good beans you will get a “pure and clean” coffee (barista talk). What you won’t really find are delicate nuances.
In this section of our blog, we are going to present to you the different coffee brewing methods in more detail. So, check it out every now and then and if you like, tell us about your experiences with the different methods.