When you’re craving for a coffee shop-quality coffee and the nearest Starbucks is already closed for the day, you’ll find yourself scratching your head and ask: how do baristas make the best coffee for their customers?
Unfortunately, the answer is not as clear as the pure water used in the making of coffee.
The best method for making coffee depends on one’s taste preferences and how much effort one is willing to put into the process.
Your knowledge of the different coffee brewing methods should help you determine the best way to make the finest cup of coffee you’ll ever have.
If you’re after a cup of coffee with a rich and robust taste, then the pour over method is for you. However, it does require an extra bit of effort in allowing the ground coffee to ‘bloom’ first with the first pour of hot water.
This first pour moistens the coffee grounds and allows the coffee bits to release their full aromas and flavors.
If you skip this step, you will not be able to achieve that nice, aromatic, and delicious cup of coffee that comes with all the beautiful flavors and aromas of the coffee beans that you used in the brewing process.
It is also critical to remove the paper taste of the filter paper by rinsing the filter with hot water. Make sure to discard the water before you put your choice coffee grounds.
Slowly pour water over the coffee grounds, starting in the center and moving around towards the periphery.
The temperature of your water should not be hotter than 205OF, but not ‘colder’ than 195OF. Too hot and you risk giving your coffee a burnt taste. Lower than 195 and you will not be able to bring out the natural essences of the coffee grounds.
Watch the lower end of the filter. Stop pouring hot water as soon as you notice a drop of coffee liquid begin forming. Give it about 20 to 30 seconds to ‘bloom’. After that, you can continue pouring the rest of the hot water.
It would be wise to keep the dripper at least half full, but no more than ¾ filled.
The whole process can take about 3 to 4 minutes. Once done, remove the filter very carefully. You don’t want any of the coffee bits to fall into your hot coffee.
The pour over method requires effort on your part. It also needs your undivided attention to detail. Get it right and you’ll reward yourself with the most amazing, richest, and most robust coffee drink you’ll ever have.
This method of making excellent coffee has been around since the mid-19th century. Mayer and Delforge designed and patented the world’s very first French press in 1852. Of course, this device was a far cry from what we use today.
The process of making coffee using a French press is almost similar to using a pour over method. They only differ in the manner in which the coffee drips into your waiting cup.
The pour over method relies on gravity. The French press technique requires you to push a plunger to push the brewed coffee through the filter and into your cup.
The coffee grounds are also coarser than what you would normally use for a pour over. A very important aspect here is the uniformity of the coffee grounds.
This is crucial because you will steep the coffee grounds in hot water (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit) for exactly 4 minutes. It would be wise to use a timer for this.
As soon as the timer alarms, get ready to push the plunger of the French press. Do it in a very purposeful and methodical manner.
Take your time.
Pushing the coffee through the press too fast can also push very fine coffee grounds into your cup. Pushing it too slow will lengthen the steeping process, leaving you with a slightly bitter cup.
The French press technique gives you a cup of coffee that has a lighter aroma and color than pour over coffee. It has a smoother flavor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the punch and depth of a pour over coffee.
Read: How to Use French Press?
Not many people use a Moka pot anymore. For those who still do, they are often rewarded with a cup of coffee that is thick, steamy, and has a very strong pure coffee aroma. Every sip delivers that classic robust and bold flavor of good coffee.
It can be a bit bitter, though, because of the unique process of making coffee.
A Moka pot looks like an ordinary coffee kettle with a built-in stand base, except that there are actually three chambers. The lower chamber is where you put water.
The middle chamber contains the coffee grounds. The upper chamber is a collecting unit that gradually fills up with brewed coffee.
To make coffee, you put coffee grounds and water in their respective chambers in the Moka pot. Place the pot on your gas stove or electric stove and bring the water to a boil.
Steam forms as water boils. Steam pressure forces the boiling water through the bed of coffee grounds and initiates the brewing process. This allows for the extraction of the different flavor and aroma profiles of the coffee grounds.
The continuing rise in steam pressure forces some of the coffee-containing water to move towards the collection chamber. In a way, it is almost similar to having a pour over coffee in a reverse process.
Making a good cup of coffee using a Moka pot can be tricky. This is because you don’t have control of the amount of steam pressure. One way you can ensure a better-tasting coffee is by packing the coffee grounds just right.
This will prevent the grounds from clogging the holes in the chamber, avoiding too much steam pressure.
You can also try initiating the brewing process with the Moka pot open. The moment you see coffee start collecting in the upper chamber, you can remove the Moka pot from the stove and close the pot’s lid.
Get a chilled towel and wrap this around the pot’s base. This will help stop the coffee extraction process and prevent your coffee from tasting very bitter.
Drip machines are perfect for coffee-lovers who want to enjoy a good cup of coffee without any hassle. There are drip machines for every budget.
More expensive machines can even give you very fancy, artisan-like coffee beverages all at a push of a button.
Everything gets done by the machine. From the grinding of the coffee beans to the brewing of the coffee grounds and to the mixing of the right amounts of coffee and milk to give you a nice cappuccino.
There are also machines that allow you to choose the strength of your coffee drink. Want it bold and rich? Press a specific button.
Need something lighter? There’s a button for that, too. There are also advanced features that even your friendly barista may not use.
Do take note that different drip machines will have different features. These features can be substantial factors in the making of a good cup of coffee.
The question now is how does the taste of drip machine coffee compare to that of a pour over or a French press?
Again, this is a matter of personal opinion. In general, the flavor pales somewhat in comparison to the other coffee brewing methods. Everything depends on the capabilities of your drip machine.
And if you dial in the correct settings and use the recommended coffee beans and water, you should still get a cup of Joe that is worth the 8-minute wait on average.
Some machines require you to use pre-ground coffee. Others already have a built-in coffee grinder. There are also systems that require the addition of water into a chamber.
Other products allow users to connect the machine straight to the water line of the house.
The taste can be very variable. One setting can produce a very strong coffee with bold and rich flavors and aromas. Another setting can be lighter, yet still aromatic. And then there are other taste characteristics that appeal to different people.
One should keep in mind that the strength of a drip machine is not so much in the quality of the coffee. It is more in the convenience that the machine provides.
You can have 12 cups for all of your guests served at the same time. Or, you can make 12 different types of coffee to serve to 12 different people with different coffee preferences.
Try making coffee this way using a conventional pour over or French press technique. You’ll be spending half the day in the kitchen just preparing a dozen drinks for different types of coffee drinkers.
So, Which Method Makes the Best Coffee?
The best coffee for one person may not be the best for another. That’s why picking the method that can make the best coffee is a matter of personal taste.
If you like your coffee to be strong, rich, bold, and has all the flavors and aromas of every coffee ground you want, then the pour over technique is for you. Another option is to use a Moka pot.
People who prefer a lighter and equally flavorful cup of coffee should consider using a French press. If you want convenience over the richness of your coffee, then a drip machine should do the trick.