Coffee Snob Series III. Different Brewing Methods

After two posts of trying to convert you from drinking espresso at home into filter coffee, I am finally going to tell you more about it. Thanks for sticking around.

I get it, filter coffee can be a little bit intimidating. You’re trying to order one at a cafe and you get hit by questions you don’t know the answers to.

‘Would you like a pour over, batch or Aeropress?’
‘Today we have Columbia or Costa Rica. Which one do you prefer?’

‘You know what, I’ll just get a Cappuccino.’

Filter coffee is full of this niche knowledge that isn’t that common among the regular coffee drinking population. And it seems like a different world, a world that seems too complicated to get into. That’s why I’m here to educate you. On a mission to make it a little bit more accessible, a little bit easier to understand the basics.

The first thing that you need to understand is that you have different brewing methods. In this article, I’ll summarise what do they mean, what’s the main differences, pros and cons and which ones are appropriate for your caffeine needs.

French press

What is it?
This is probably one of the most common brewers, also known as ‘cafeteria’.
Widely used by those who are not that knowledgable or interested in coffee. That’s why it’s also often misused by using the wrong grind, basic beans and over-extracting the coffee, which causes that French press in not considered a very good brewing method. But if you use a suitable grind and time the extraction, it’s not that bad.

Pros
– very easy to use
– cheap
– scratches the surface

Cons
– the taste is not so “clean”
– it’s quite prone to over-extraction

Who is it for? / Verdict
– it is a good option as a temporary brewing method at your parent’s house or something, haha
– it may be a good way of getting into filter coffee, when someone is not that bothered or interested in investing more time/ effort/ equipment/ difficulty into the process (just yet)

Aeropress

What is it?
AeroPress is a brewing method where coffee is steeped for 10ā€“50 seconds (depending on grind and preferred strength) and then forced through a filter by pressing the plunger through the tube. The filters used are either the AeroPress paper filters or disc shaped thin metal filters. The maker describes the result as an espresso strength concentration of coffee, but its most frequent use is more in the filter brew strength.

Pros
– this is the fastest brewing method, the whole process takes only one minute (in contrast to V60 which can take around 5 minutes)
– the most versatile – this is the biggest advantage of AeroPress over the other methods, in my opinion. Depending on how much water you use, you can adjust the desired cup and while you can make a black brewed coffee, you can also make something close to an espresso and then, if you steam the milk, you can also make a latte this way
– very portable, popular camping brewing method
– clean and fast process

Cons
– it’s not cheap and you need to buy the whole kit, which will cost you around 50 dollars
– because the extraction time is shorter than V60, the result is a coffee that is cleaner and a little bit closer to an espresso, this also means that the coffee has less “body” and less developed flavours

Who is it for? / Verdict
– I think it’s good for espresso lovers who want to step outside of their comfort zone
– it’s good, it’s versatile, it’s quick
– it depends entirely on your preference, but for me, since I’m used to V60 and have been drinking it for years, the AeroPress coffee didn’t have enough body and the coffee flavours were not as developed… so I used AeroPress for a few months and then I bought a V60 again
– at the same time, I know people who swear by it
– before investing in the whole kit, I would recommend you to try it at a cafe to see which one you prefer

Pour over / V60

What is it?
V60 is made by Hario. The name stems from the shape of the device. It is ā€œVā€ shaped with angles of 60 degrees. The internal sides also have interior ridges which help with air flow during the brewing method. Filter paper is inserted into the V shape and coffee grounds placed within the filter paper. The brewed coffee then drips into your cup.

The shape, design and materials used to create the Hario V60 have been utilised to help offer optimum extraction. They come in ceramic, plastic, glass and metal styles, offering a solution for any budget or purpose.

Pros
great value for money, you can get the plastic V60 for only 15 dollars
– different versions can suit different needs, the plastic one is easy for travelling, the ceramic/glass one great for retaining water temperature at home
– it’s really easy to clean and doesn’t take up much space
– comes in two sizes, ’01’ model for one cup or ’02’ for two cup version (note, you can make just one cup in 02 model too)
– gives you a lot of control over the brewing process
– the filter papers and the V60 itself is sold at a lot of places these days
– you can place the V60 right on top of your cup and make it straight into it or you can buy a coffee server and make more at the same time
– it allows you to get really geeky about coffee and discover the whole new world, diverse flavours of different single origins and so on… also, did you know each coffee comes with a specific “recipe”?

Cons
– requires quite a lot of attention to detail / educated brewing, because you can really taste the difference if you don’t follow the steps correctly
– the brewing takes more time (up to 5 minutes), but the good things come to those who wait, ya know

Who is it for? / Verdict
– the real coffee snobs, the coffee connoisseurs, people who are serious about coffee and are keen to experience different tastes and enlarge their coffee horizons
– for me, this is a clear winner and the method I would recommend to anyone, I get that it might be a little intimidating and requires a bit of education and practise to get it right but the result is worth it
you know when you buy a single origin coffee beans and the label says: orange, lemon, dark chocolate, high acidity, then you drink it but can’t taste that very much? Well, I guarantee you that if you made the coffee with your V60, you definitely would

Chemex

What is it?
The Chemex is an elegant, one-piece, hourglass shaped vessel made of high quality, heat resistant glass. The traditional model comes to you with a polished wood collar and leather tie. The collar serves as an insulated handle around the middle.

Its visual elegance has earned it a place in the permanent collection of New York’s Corning Museum of Glass. The Chemex coffeemaker was also selected by the Illinois Institute of Technology as one of the 100 best designed products of modern times.

Pros
– I think the biggest advantage is visual, it looks good, it’s a nice piece to have at home and makes the process more pleasurable, therefore if you’re settled, it might be worth investing into
– the shape and the filters “catch” more residue than a V60 while still maintaining the full body of your cup, tastes ‘cleaner’ but still flavourful
– you can buy bigger ones that can make multiple cups at once

Cons
– it’s a bit overpriced, in my opinion, the resulting taste is pretty similar to V60, but the Chemex will cost you around 70-100 dollars
– it’s not very portable and not at all travel-friendly
– bit of a hassle to store, clean and put away

Who is it for? / Verdict
– people experienced with V60 who want to take their coffee game further
– those who are settled and don’t mind investing in storing such a bigger piece of equipment
– great addition to your home
– I’m all up for it and used to own one as well as a V60 and will probably buy one again when I’m more settled

Did I sell you on filter coffee yet?

Do you feel like you have a slightly better idea of what all that means?

Keen to learn how to make a perfect V60?

I’ll tell you in the next coffee post.

Until then,

keep caffeinated,

Suz

xx

Shameless Instagram plug: https://www.instagram.com/sunshine__susan/

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