Filter, Espresso & Capsule Coffee Brewing Methods
Understand Which Coffee Brewing Method Is Best For You
There are seven different types of coffee brewing methods available for making your own coffee drink at home or work, and as recommended, each will give better results by using coffee specifically roasted and ground to your preferred method. Such coffees can be purchased from all our speciality and independent coffee roasters on the GUSTATORY marketplace, or can be available by coffee subscription. The fundamentals of coffee brewing are coffee wholebeans, which, as the term suggests, is coffee beans supplied in their most whole form. Whether you like to grind your own coffee beans or prefer to purchase coffee that has been pre-ground, we want to make sure you are aware of the differences in brewing methods to help you ultimately become your own coffee connoisseur.
The resulting granule size after coffee grinding is the determining factor between grind types, and across the spectrum there are grind sizes better suited for each brewing method. The seven brewing methods are cafetière (French Press), filter (Pour Over and by machine), Aeropress, stovetop, espresso and capsule, and below you can find our useful guidance for each. Enjoy...
Wholebeans. Grinding Your Own Coffee
Purchasing wholebeans is perfect for those looking to keep their options open and do their own thing. As coffee beans react to air contact, buying wholebeans also gives you a longer period during which to use the coffee as it retains its freshness for a longer period.
For those looking to buy wholebeans, there are two types of grinder available: grinders with a blade or grinders with a burr. The former essentially cuts down every bean into smaller sizes, although this method will lead to inconsistencies in the size of the ground particles. The second method has two cutting discs (burrs) and can be set to ground the coffee beans to a specific or required size, resulting in a consistent particle size throughout. For espresso coffee, we recommend using a burr grinder. As there are a number of dual purpose grinders available, finding one that can do espresso and filter is recommended, just be sure to check with your grinders instructions before usage to ensure you get the required grind type.
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Filter Coffee Brewing Methods
The Cafetière (French Press)
Arguably the most common method of converting your ground coffee into a delicious coffee brew, the cafetiere - or French Press - is an inexpensive cylinder with a simple filtering plunger. More precisely known as an 'infusion brewer', the cafetière allows ground coffee particles to infuse with water and in doing so creates a consistent taste. Unbeknown to most, the plunger's metal mesh has holes tactically sized to allow some of the coffee grind to find passage into your cup to give a richer body taste. Its simple design, however, can lead a sludge residue developing at the bottom of the cafetiere and so it is worth bearing that in mind. Oh and hear it from us, it really isn’t worth tasting this, its rather unpleasant.
For this method, we recommend using very fine to medium coffee grinds. To produce your coffee via this method, simply use the ratio of 75g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water, adding both into the cafetière simultaneously. Let the coffee mix with the water for around five minutes to allow the particles to sink to the bottom and then add the mesh plunger onto the cafetière. Do not plunger the coffee at this stage, instead allow the coffee to pour through the mesh into your cup; the plunger is used to keep the sludge at the bottom after your first pour. And finally, enjoy.
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Filter (Pour Over)
As the name suggests, the Pour Over quite literally relates to the process of pouring water over coffee. Brewing by percolation, this method requires a filter to be positioned between the ground coffee and the water, often a detachable and reusable component to your coffee kettle. Popular Pour Over devices and their brands include the Hario V60, Kalita Wave 155 and Chemex (all products), amongst others.
Using this method of brewing, the coffee to water ratio is particularly important, as is the speed at which you introduce water to the coffee. Three variables affect the quality of your coffee: the fineness of the coffee grind, the contact time of water to coffee and the amount of coffee being used. The fineness of the coffee particles affects how the particles move through the water, as well as how slowly the water can percolate itself through the coffee mix. The contact time relates to how slowly you add the water; we advise pouring the water slowly in order to elongate this part of the process. Finally, the amount of coffee used will, of course, affect contact time as the more coffee there is, the longer it will take to mix with the water.
To produce your coffee via this method, simply use a ratio of 60g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water - we recommend using medium coffee grinds. First, lightly rinse your filter and position this within the brewer that you place on top of your cup. Next, add your coffee into the filter; it is common practice to add a little bit of temperate water to the coffee at this stage to get all the particles wet prior to introducing hot water, leaving this in the kettle until required. Such a practice is called 'bloom' and prevents the coffee from becoming sludgy with the hot water. Next, slowly pour the hot water directly over the coffee (not the sides of the filter). Add enough water until there is just 1 centimetre worth of space left unused around the rim of the filter, watch and let the water drip through into the cup. After all the water has been used up, remove the filter and enjoy.
A note on the different types of filter, these are available in either cloth, paper or metallic material, and each has a slightly different effect on the final brew. Paper is undoubtedly the most common material and provides the cleanest of brews possible as it is able to strain all the oils and coffee particles. Cloth is the oldest method, with the fabric's holes' sizes allowing oils to pass through to give a fuller-bodied tasting brew. The re-usage of cloth can sometimes be an issue as the entire process depends on how well you pre-cleaned the cloth during preparation time. Lastly, metal is probably the most reusable, although the least authentic.
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Filter (Electric Machine)
In addition to the above filter method, filter coffee can also be made by electric machine. Whether you simply don't have the time to brew in the morning or if you're looking for a certain consistency with each and every cup, we won't judge you for going electric - all methods have their time and place. Without much complication or hassle, you can have your roasted coffee in no time. However, it is worth noting that for many, electric filter machines are considered inferior to the methods discussed above. This is simply down to the temperatures required to properly brew coffee and the fact that these electric filter machines are generally considered inadequate in terms of brewing functionality.
To produce your coffee via this method, follow the ratio of 60g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water, much like you would if you were manually filtering your coffee using a pour over; medium grinds are also preferable here. Brewing using this method is very simple and as easy as placing the filter paper inside the machine's holder, adding the recommended coffee amount into the filter and adding cold water to the machine's water tank, all before closing the machine's lids, switching the button on and watching as the water heats up and begins to filter through the coffee filter into the cup beneath. Afterwards, be sure to discard the filter as these are only one-time usage, before finally enjoying your coffee.
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Perhaps one of the more unusual methods of coffee brewing, the Aeropress is widely held to be one of the cleanest brewing methods. Often easily transportable, this method is also for the keener coffee makers amongst us who wish to achieve quality coffee outside of the home, wherever they may be. The Aeropress can essentially be considered a combination of a cafetière and a filter brewer. The main advantage of an Aeropress is its ability to produce a vast variety of coffee types, though we’d recommend against trying to make an espresso coffee.
Depending on which coffee type you're intending to make, to produce a short and strong coffee via this method, simply use the ratio of 100g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water. Or, for a more regular cup of coffee, use 75g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water. In general terms, the coarser the coffee particles, the longer you should take in brewing your coffee. First, add your filter paper to the Aeropress filter holder and pass some hot water through, prior to adding any coffee, in order to prepare the brewer. Next add the coffee grind into the filter, followed by hot water straight after. Afterwards, stir the mixture together and begin introducing the pressure-piston into the top of the Aeropress' opening without applying any pressure; this will create a vacuum within the Aeropress to prevent any coffee drippage. Leave the coffee and water to mix for one minute before then placing pressure down on the pressure-piston to force the coffee to drip out of the filter chamber and into your coffee cup. Pushing harder will speed up the brew time as well as also extract more from your coffee due to the additional pressure being applied. Upon completion of one full plunge, we recommend releasing the pressure-piston slightly to recreate a vacuum within to prevent any further coffee drippage. Finally, remove the Aeropress, discard all coffee wastage and enjoy.
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Espresso Coffee Brewing Methods
The stovetop is one of earliest methods of brewing coffee, which really adds an element of authenticity to the experience of home coffee brewing - Bialetti are perhaps the leading stovetop brand. That said, the stovetop isn't known for being the easiest of methods nor the one the provides the most consistency. Perfect for making espresso coffee, the coffee produced by a stovetop is almost always very strong and quite bitter; the latter characteristic is fundamentally due to the extreme heat which you apply to the coffee. One benefit, though, is that due to the coffee to water ratio required, brew time is quite fast.
The stovetop comes in three components: the pot's middle basket (and tube) is used to house the coffee grind, the bottom chamber the hot water, with the top chamber being reserved for your resulting mixture - your consumable coffee. To produce your coffee via this method, simply use the ratio of 200g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water. We recommend that you use either very fine or fine coffee grinds. Begin by adding the hot water to the bottom chamber up to the point of the safety valve. Next, add the coffee grind into the middle basket and then screw this component in place on top of the water chamber, ensuring that the gasket is carefully sealed in place. Next, place the stovetop onto your stove and heat on a medium-ish temperature. The hot water from the lower chamber will begin to rise up through the interconnecting tube as the steam begins create pressure; the hotter the temperature you set, the more pressure that is built up and so the quicker the brewing process. Watch as coffee liquid then begins to creep up through the tube and drip down into the previously-empty top chamber. Should you ever hear the stovetop making a struggling sound, this is the time in which you remove the stovetop from the heat; the water has likely all passed through and nothing remains in the bottom chamber. Finally, run the stovetop under a cold tap, ensuring that the cold water passes over the bottom chamber to re-condense the steam and reduce the built-up pressure within. Then simply enjoy.
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The espresso machine is generally considered the best way to home brew your coffee, reflected by the fact that there is a typically a premium on espresso when compared with the price of other filter coffee types. Leading espresso machine brands include Sage and Gaggia, amongst others.
As previously mentioned, the fineness of a coffee grind affects the easibility of brewing, however, when you use very fine grinds, gravity alone can often not be enough to push the water through the coffee mix, which is why espresso was invented; the name 'espresso' derives from the improved speed which this method can provide. Espresso machines essentially create extreme pressures within their system to better force water through coffee.
Also associated with such a coffee-type is the term 'crema’. This is the additional layer of dense foam that is produced on the top of any espresso coffee. Such a layer exists due to the espresso's pressures forcing the water to dissolve more carbon dioxide. Upon coming out of the machine into room temperature, it becomes a bubbly foam layer. Beyond being aesthetically pleasing on any coffee cup, it actually signifies the freshness of a coffee grind; if the coffee grind wasn't so fresh, there would be less carbon dioxide and therefore this layer wouldn't exist so much. The darkness of the foam layer also reflects the strength of the coffee.
Whilst we can give you a basic understanding of the espresso process, it is a difficult technique to master so getting some first hand guidance from your local roaster is advised. In any case, lets talk through the process. Firstly, add ground coffee to a handled container that contains a super-fine filter on it's base. Next compress the coffee down - this is called 'tamping' - into the container. The combination is then affixed into place in the espresso machine through activation of the machine's pressure system. The machine will then begin to work as it pumps a specific amount of hot water through the coffee container, dripping out into a cup placed beneath. Based on your skill level, some machines will be easy to understand and use, whilst others will allow you to nicely tailor your coffee brew.
Given all the variables which can come into play with this method, as you will find out at any barista school, there can be many ratios of coffee to water to produce all the different types of coffee. In addition to the aforementioned basic technique, we can offer a few other insights into the espresso method. Firstly, proper tamping requires a completely clean container, free of any oils or grind residue. For precise coffee brewing, weighing your coffee is almost always an essential here. In addition, the way in which you see establishments flush steam through the espresso nozzle isn't just for show, it is to help clean this machine component, as well as to ensure that the machine-to-room temperature gradient can be realised for that all-important crema. The critical element to this method is understanding the ratio of water to coffee. Master this and you will be able to make some very delicious espresso coffees.
Due to the fact that espresso is quite different to any of the other methods previously described, it is essential that you purchase coffee beans suitable for espresso brewing; roasters almost always tailor their roasting procedure to create espresso-specific coffee grinds. Be sure to have fun experimenting and we hope it leads to some great results!
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Capsule Coffee Brewing Method
The capsule brewing method requires a capsule machine and instructions will vary depending on which machine you’re using. Therefore, we simply recommend that you refer to the machine-relevant instructions for brewing advice. Typically, to produce your coffee via this method, one capsule creates one coffee and the amount of water necessary will depend on the size of the chamber that your machine can hold. The coffee produced should be consistent each time due to the machine having minimal factors that can cause variance. The capsule method can be a good place to start for novice's just starting out their home coffee brewing experience due to the simplicity that the capsule and machine can provide. The main drawback to such a brewing method, however, is the lack of independent roasters that produce their coffee grinds in capsule format. That being said, we’re forever on the hunt and so can promise to keep you well topped up with our capsule subscription service.
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