Did you know that the chemical make-up of coffee is very similar to adenosine – the molecule produced in our brain when we experience fatigue. This adenosine attaches itself to receptors in the brain and signal the brain that the body needs to slow down. Now, thanks to the similar chemical make-up, these receptors in the brain cannot differentiate between adenosine and caffeine. So, when you drink coffee or tea or eat chocolate or Red Bull or anything that has caffeine, the caffeine binds to these adenosine receptors. However, instead of slowing us down (like adenosine would cause us to), the body perks up. The body becomes more alert as adrenaline gets released into the bloodstream. Interestingly, caffeine stimulates (though in much lesser form) the same areas of the brain as those stimulated by drugs like cocaine, speed, and heroin.
Coffee is full of flavors. If you ever felt, coffee is well, just bitter, then you need to open your mind and try again. There are so many flavor notes in coffee that the Specialty Coffee Association has a whole flavor wheel to help identify the notes. This flavor is affected by so many factors. And one of the important factors is the way the coffee is brewed.
Brewing maybe the last step in the journey of coffee from the plantation where it was grown to your cup, but it has a considerable effect on how the coffee will taste. A typical cup of coffee contains over a thousand chemical substances naturally present in it so the different brewing techniques, each with its different temperature, pressure, technique, etc. have a profound effect on the flavor of the coffee.
If you buy good coffee and want to prepare it well you have to choose a method that lets you express your dedication, skill, and enthusiasm.
Let’s look at some of the popular coffee brewing methods and how it affects the coffee –
Drip Coffee Maker
In a drip coffee maker, the ground coffee is filled into the filter and loaded into the coffee maker, and the water reservoir is filled with water. You hit the right buttons, and the water starts getting heated up, going up a shower head and dripping onto the ground coffee. From there, brewed coffee flows out into a carafe. The grind size for a drip coffee maker is generally fine to medium. Proportionately, the brewing time is quite short. The general thumb rule says finer the grind, shorter the brewing times. For people who enjoy the process of brewing coffee, and like to be involved at every step, I agree, the drip coffee maker is quite a turn off. And well, the coffee often tastes watered down and is much thinner. It also lacks the flavor and freshness that most coffee lovers love in their cup. Drip maker will give you a lighter coffee cup. It might make for a good choice for busy people or for offices, but this sure isn’t my chosen coffee brewing method.
Check out this drip coffee maker from Havell’s for making drip coffee:
I was re-watching Grey’s Anatomy during this lockdown, and though Dr. Meredith Grey wins all our hearts at all times, my heart really goes out for Dr. Christina Yang. I thoroughly believe it when she says, “Screw beautiful, I am brilliant, if you want to appease me, complement my brain!” And, guess what do I find Dr. Yang using to make her coffee while she lives at Dr. Burke’s place? Right there on that shiny kitchen counter, there is a FRENCH PRESS! I almost screamed in delight when I saw that!
Though considered to be quite a basic and maybe even a beginner-level brewing gear, a French Press has its own loyal followers and fans. I think I am one of them too. It will take you 4 to 5 minutes to make coffee using a French Press provided you have ground coffee and hot water ready at hand. You need coarsely ground coffee for brewing coffee in a French Press. You add the ground coffee to the carafe and pour in the hot water, then let it sit for three to five minutes. After that, you push the grounds down with the strainer rod and pour out your coffee. If you look carefully, you will find a small amount of the coffee oils floating on the top. A French Press does not involve any paper of cloth filters, so the coffee oils make their way to the cup and do not get left behind on a filter paper like in some of the other brewing methods. A French Press is an immersive brewing method so it does not allow you to miss any grounds. So, when you use a French Press to brew your coffee it gives you a complete saturation of the coffee and the oils. This gives you a fuller cup of coffee with intense flavor as all the oils and flavor components make their way to the cup. The color and aroma of the coffee would be lighter than what you would get when using a pour over method. French Press coffee is smooth, enjoyable, and noticeably less bitter.
You can use a standard French Press, such as the one at the link below:
My personal favorite is this Small U French Press which is elegant, classy, compact, and easy to carry –
The Bialetti Moka Pot is an iconic metal two-story hexagonal stovetop coffee maker. It uses pressure extraction, similar to an espresso maker, to brew your coffee. The base holds the water. Once the moka pot is put on the stove and the water starts boiling, steam gets generated which pushes the water up through the coffee basket where you would have put the ground coffee, and onwards into the top chamber. For a Moka Pot, you need finely ground coffee, almost close to a table salt texture. A tip – never pack the coffee grounds too tightly in the basket, it blocks the flow of steam and water. Some people swear by using a moka pot without the lid when put on the stove, and then as soon as the coffee starts pouring out of the spout, they take it off the heat, close the lid and wrap the base with a chilled towel to stop the extraction process faster. Instead of a chilled towel, some people prefer to run it under cool water. This not only stops the extraction, it also prevents the coffee from getting too bitter.
The entire process of using Moka Pot is quite neat and the cleanup is really easy too. Moka Pot gives you a steamy, thick, robust, and dark brown coffee. There is a slight bitterness to the coffee but it is not overpowering. Also, the metal filter in the Moka Pot might leave out some sediment in your coffee cup but it is not so unpleasant, and if it bothers you, you can use a chhani to filter the cup before drinking.
“Coffee isn’t just a wake-me-up beverage to me but a huge part of my morning routine. I usually start my day with a Pour Over as I love the entire process. The process over time becomes quite meditative and helps center me. And the resulting cup is brilliantly clean and emphasizes the nuances of the coffee. I personally prefer coffees that are fruity and experimental, and a Pour Over lends itself beautifully to extract these coffees.”– Lenold Vaz, Founder of renowned coffee marketplace – BeanDeck
Check out the amazing coffees and coffee gear on Beandeck here –
Pour Over brewing commonly uses paper filters. If you are conscious of all the paper you are throwing away, you can switch to the eco-friendly alternative of reusable filters, or you can compost the filters. For the pour over method, you need to grind the coffee to a medium-fine grind. Pour over coffee is very flavorful and brings out the delicate fruity notes in coffee beautifully. The brewing process yields a very vibrant cup of coffee that is clean and nuanced. Pour over coffee is tasty, strong, bold, well-bodied, simple, and savory. Pour over method has a slightly longer brewing time than say drip coffee, which gives the hot water more time to pull in the flavors and oils out from the grounds, which eventually affects the body and flavor of coffee.
“Pour over is my go-to method. Not only does it bring out the nuances of the coffee in the cup, it is fun to brew too. A cup in the morning rejuvenates me and lets me have a flavorful beginning to the day”– Baninder Kochar, Founder, Savorworks Coffee Roasters
Check out the outstanding coffees from Savorworks here –
In the pour over coffee brewing method coffee grounds are placed in the conical component of the device over a filter paper (or reusable filter). The grounds are wet and left to sit for a little while before more water is poured. The filter causes the added water to soak through the grounds in a circular motion. The method eliminates the element of constant contact and there is practically no immersion involved either. The final coffee obtained by pour over brewing is lighter, smoother, and grit-free. Pour over coffee is clean and less intense (compared to say a French Press). If you are into strong, full-bodied coffee, pour over is not the brewing method for you, generally. But if you like lighter coffee with nuanced delicate fruity notes, pour over is definitely for you. Pour over will give you a dark, thick brew with rich, robust flavor. The oils will be captured by the filter and will not go into the cup, making for a lighter coffee. You can use a clever dripper, a Hario V60, a Chemex or similar pour over devices to brew coffee using this method.
“I love my coffee on a pour over. The pouring of water in concentric circles over freshly ground coffee is quite therapeutic and it allows me enough time to savor the brewing process of my coffee. The most important reason why I love a pour over is that it makes for a very clean cup highlighting the intricacies of the coffee!”– Manvi Gupta, Founder, El Bueno Coffee Roasters
Manvi Gupta is one of the very few female coffee roasters in the country and has founded the El Bueno Coffee Roasters. You can check out El Bueno Coffee here –
You can check out the Hario V60 ceramic coffee dripper here –
You can also check out the clever dripper here –
AeroPress was originally designed by a Stanford University lecturer and inventor – Alan Adler. He has also designed instrumentation systems or military aircraft, nuclear reactors, and submarines, paraboloid lens for telescopes, and much more. AeroPress requires a finely ground coffee, and has a short brewing time. It gives you rich, smooth coffee with very low bitterness and remarkably low acidity.
AeroPress uses microfilters (filter paper) which prevents any grit from getting into the coffee cup. It is easy to clean and can help you brew American and espresso-style coffee. It can also brew cold brews. When using AeroPress, you can brew coffee using the standard method or the inverted method. With the AeroPress, you get coffee with a soft, flavor profile. To get a clearer, fruiter cup, you can use a shorter immersion time or a coarser coffee grind in the AeroPress. You can also control the acidity in your cup with an AeroPress by varying the brewing temperature – hotter the water, more the acidity. You can make only one cup of coffee at a time using the AeroPress. Brewing in an AeroPress is really quick and there’s no time for any undesired elements to be extracted! What’s more, an AeroPress is easy to carry around everywhere.
You can check out the AeroPress gear here –
There are so many devices that can be used for cold brewing coffee. And if you have no device, just a jar will also work. The biggest factor in cold brewing coffee is the time. You need coarsely ground coffee to make a cold brew, and it could take up to 24 hours to get a good balanced taste. This is a full immersion method of brewing coffee. As there is no heating involved, cold brewed coffee will have about 67% less acidity than hot brewed coffee. Plus, the cold brewing process brings out good flavors, as there is little degradation and oxidation of flavor components in the absence of heat, making it less harsh.
To know more about cold brew coffee, you can check out my blog –
I generally make my cold brew without any gear, but you can check out these great cold brew coffee making bottles –
These are the most common brewing methods used by most people. I have not included instant coffee here because that would take up a whole post on its own. Moreover, instant coffee does not involve the specific brewing method like ground or filter coffee does. Instant coffee is as its name says it is – instant, just mix it all together and you’re done.
Each coffee brewing method is good, and you can choose your own preferred method based on how you like your coffee. I’ve given links to purchasing the gear with each method, so you can explore and purchase.