This is a matter of personal choice. For some people and in certain cultures, making coffee is a time-honoured traditional ritual, and the satisfaction is even greater with the knowledge that one is using the same equipment that yielded cups of coffee to past generations. Others delight in acquiring and using the latest trendy coffee equipment.
Whatever the preference, coffee is generally brewed by infusing freshly ground coffee with water and/or steam. The more common brewing methods are:
Coffee Dripper (Filter or Pourover)
The term “filter” (or filter, as the French invented it) is understood by most people to mean some form of drip mechanism. Various types of drip mechanisms are available and these range from manual filter cups to electric drip (filter) machines. Included in these seemingly simple brewing devices are some very elaborate and scientifically developed coffee makers such as the Chemex and the Hario pourover sytems.
With filter the brew is clear and clean and the timing is determined by gravity, once the correct grind is obtained. Generally a fine degree of grind is required for the proper amount of extraction to take place. The ratio of coffee to water should be approx. 55g per 1 liter.
A percolator consists of a metal jug with a central tube topped with a perforated metal brew basket and cover. Fresh cold water in the bottom of the jug is brought to the boil and passes up the central tube and out of the top, overflowing the perforated cover of the brew basket.
It then filters through the dry coffee in the basket and drops back down into the bottom of the jug in the form of liquid coffee. In spite of percolator brewing being basically a filter-drip method, a medium grind coffee is required to avoid over extraction. Importantly, the brewing cycle must occur only once. The ratio of coffee to water should be approx. 55g per 1 liter.
French Press (Plunger)
This method involves the use of a simple cafetiere (press pot or French press) consisting of a jug and a sieve device. Coffee is placed in the jug and water is boiled separately. Water is then poured over the dry coffee when it is almost at boiling point (just before it boils or just after). Once the coffee and water mix has stabilised the coffee forms a crust at the top.
The sieve device is propped inside the jug to the point where the sieve makes contact with the top of the coffee crust (the crust should not be broken). After 4 minutes the sieve device should be pressed down firmly (but not too quickly) to the bottom of the jug. The correct grind of coffee is medium/coarse, depending on taste preference. Should finely ground coffee be used then brewing time should be reduced to 3 minutes. The ratio of coffee to water should be approximately 7 - 9g per 250ml.
In an AeroPress brewer water and ground coffee are mixed together for around 30 seconds before air pressure pushes the mix through a microfilter, a process that takes approximately 20 seconds. This particularly speedy delivery is perfect for a quick fix although the process is more about quality and intensity of extraction.
Because the coffee is totally immersed in water, flavour will be extracted rapidly from the grind, and the gentle air pressure when pressing the plunger down will then squeeze out some extra flavour. Use finely ground coffee and the ratio of coffee to water should be approximately 17g per 225ml.
Manual Espresso Pot (Moka Pot)
This is a stove top 2 chamber coffee pot separated by a filter funnel basket. Water in the lower chamber of the pot is boiled and is forced to steam through the funnel basket of ground coffee, extracting the flavour at high pressure and liquefying as it goes into the upper chamber.
The Coffee should be very finely ground. Ratio of coffee to water is pre-determined based on the size of the pot which should be used to its full capacity (both coffee and water).
Espresso has its origins in Italy where the first espresso coffee brewing machine was invented. The most accurate definition of espresso is “hot water being forced under pressure through very finely ground, dark roasted coffee”. This requires an espresso machine to work. Small variations in grind fineness, timing or water pressure result in significant flavour differences. Normally espresso is served in 30ml (single shot) or 60ml (double shot) amounts.
Espresso tastes distinct from other brewing methods. It is so different that it often benefits from its own blends and roasts. It is also considered the building block for other drinks since most people do not drink straight espresso, but rather drink beverages such as Latte and Cappucino that contain espresso. Use finely ground coffee. The ratio of coffee to water should be approximately 7 - 10g per 30ml (single shot) and 14-20g per 60ml (double shot).
The ibrik method, also called Turkish or Greek, consists of tossing pulverized coffee grounds into a specially designed ibrik pot (made of copper and with a long handle) with water. The water is boiled with the grounds multiple (ideally 3) times. There is no filter. The grounds settle, so carefully pouring the coffee is the only way to reduce the amount of grounds that ends up in cups.
Some people in the coffee industry consider the careful pouring part of ibrik coffee making an art form. To some, ibrik represents coffee brewing at its oldest and most basic form. Use very finely ground (powder grind) coffee. The ratio of coffee to water should be approximately 10g per 90ml