These days, coffee is about more than taking breaks or boosting energy. Increasingly, it’s considered a complete experience unto itself. There are even gourmet coffee tastings – called “cuppings.”
No surprise, then, that we’ve become determined to brew the best cups possible at home. Partly, that means trying new brewing methods. Which is best? That depends on your needs and tastes.
Our beginner’s guide to at-home coffee brewing:
First off, there’s nothing wrong with traditional drip coffee makers. We’ll always love ’em. But for now, we’ll assume they don’t require much explanation.
The traditional gold standard for quality coffee, an espresso maker uses heat and extreme pressure to extract crema and concentrate coffee into potent one-ounce shots.
These, along with hot water and steamed milk, can become the basis for americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, and many other drinks. Of course, some prefer to drink espresso straight. Others with just a touch of cream, which is called caffe macchiato.
Some find espresso too strong, though. And there’s the issue of where to put the machines, which tend to be bulky, a little messy, and sometimes costly. One thing is certain, however: coffee culture will always include espresso.
Despite the name, the French press was invented in Italy. Go figure. In Canada, the method has enjoyed surging popularity for almost a decade.
How does it work? Boiling water is poured into a glass beaker already containing the coffee grounds. The mixture brews for several minutes, before a plunger presses the grounds to the bottom, keeping the coffee on top.
Since the ingredients are fully mixed, it’s known as an immersion method. This allows precise control over the strength of the brew, while the lack of a cloth filter means the coffee retains its natural oils. Some argue they are tough to clean, but press lovers know it’s well worth it.
For convenience and efficiency, these modern, automated wonders simply can’t be beat. It’s a bit like having your very own robot barista at home.
So if you’re interested in rolling out of bed and holding a hot double latte within minutes, or if you’ve just always wanted to ‘live in the future’ and are still waiting patiently for your jetpack, the pod method could be for you. They’re also great for dinner parties when everyone wants to drink something different.
The leader in this market is also the original pod brewer, Keurig. They sell their famous K-Cups in nearly endless varieties and even a reusable pod accessory you can fill with your own favourite grind.
This method has only recently caught on in Canada, arguably since about 2015. But cold brew is already a favourite among many serious coffee drinkers, especially during the summer months.
Another immersion method, the main difference is that the coffee grounds never contact hot water during the brewing process. Instead, the coffee steeps in cold water for hours, typically overnight.
The main advantage is cold brew contains about one-third the acidity of hot coffee. So it has less of the bitterness that some dislike, which also makes it easier on your teeth and digestive system. If you love to chill out with a frosty iced coffee, then cold might be the brew for you.
Another method recently gaining popularity is the pour over. It’s a combination of a traditional drip coffee maker and an immersion method. It is generally used to make just one cup at a time, though not always.
The coffee grounds are placed in a special pour over coffee container and hot water is then slowly and carefully added bit by bit, by hand. It filters through the grounds and drips into the container after passing through a filter.
This method requires the most active involvement by the brewer, and that’s part of the appeal. It is, perhaps, the ultimate in human-bean connection.
Good luck and happy brewing from London Drugs.