Coffee & You: What’s Your Brew?


Coffee, as any consumable, is intensely personal. From the beans you use, to the grind of your coffee beans and your chosen brew method; each step is colored by personal preference.

Controlling variables such as convenience, volume, and caffeine content can help you maximize your desired results.

There’s a wonderful world of brew methods out there. Some are quick and easy while others are for the methodical and exact at-home-barista. So, let’s start the journey of finding which suits you best.

The ways of the world: Four Mainstays of Brewing

Once upon a time, the question of how to prepare your coffee was met with an answer like “with cream and sugar.” Now, as specialty coffee and third-wave coffee have brought sophistication; we’re greeted by pressure, steep, filtration, and boiling as the Ninja Turtles of the coffee brewing world. Each method has their own idiosyncrasies that contribute to their unique results.

Pressure Brewing

An accessible and customizable brewing method, coffee extracted through pressure takes some technique, but that same technique allows for great personalization. These methods all tend to be accessible & quick with a result of strong coffee. The most famous of pressure brewing methods is the ubiquitous espresso machine. However, the AeroPress is quickly gaining ground for its ease of use. Let’s get into it!

Espresso Machine

Keeping humans caffeinated since 1901, the now ubiquitous espresso machine responsible for creating espresso shots through blasting coffee grounds with hot water has found its way into all of our lives. With options ranging from automatic machines to more controllable ones, this is a product for all the sleepy-heads and caffeine addicts out there.

The machines come in much variety between shape, size, and price, but here is a handy dandy guide to illuminate your decision. From the lever based option for your inner barista to the automatic machine for your quick fix, there’s a home here for everyone.

What a fantastic piece of coffee engineering.

What a fantastic piece of coffee engineering.

  • Bean to Brew: ~30 once warmed

  • Grind: Fine & tightly packed

  • Skill Level: Beginner to barista

  • Results: A strong & sharp tasting shot of espresso

  • Watch Out For: The clean-up, these machines are a pain to clean.

The Moka Pot

Without the need for an espresso machine, the Moka Pot (AKA The Stovetop Espresso Maker) brings espresso making into the stone-age. Resulting in a somewhat off-brand espresso shot, the Moka Pot allows for a quick and plentiful brew that is also easy to transport. It’s a three chambered pot that relies on steam to create pressure in the base to push water into the second chamber.

Such an angular device.

Such an angular device.

  • Bean to Brew: 5-7 minutes

  • Grind: Medium. Too coarse and you’ll get a watery brew. Too fine and it’ll be bitter.

  • Skill Level: Beginner

  • Results: A rudimentary tasting espresso shot

  • Watch Out For: The variability in caffeine levels & taste.

The AeroPress

A relatively new method in the world of coffee brewing (invented in 2005), this newcomer is a fan favorite for its portability, ease of use, and quality results. As simple as placing coffee and water into the device and pressing, the AeroPress is a new standard for coffee brewing. With a few rounds of practice—fine-tuning your coffee grind, water temperature, and steep time—you’ll soon be making Michelin star rated cups of coffee with your eyes closed.

There are infinitely many ways to brew a cup of AeroPress coffee. We recommend heading over to YouTube and Google to start researching some awesome recipes. There’s even an AeroPress World Championship!

Can’t get much simpler.

Can’t get much simpler.

  • Bean to Brew: 2 to 5 minutes

  • Grind: Your preference

  • Skill Level: Beginner to barista

  • Results: A quality cup of coffee created to personal taste

  • Watch Out For: Not owning one

Steep Brewing

Most well known in this family is the automatic drip coffee machine, a truly time-tested method of coffee brewing. However, that is not what we are here for, that would be the same as eating at Applebee’s in a food court populated by Michelin rated restaurants.

The French Press

A brewing technique of antiquity, the French Press shines in its low cost, ease of use, and hearty (robust?) cup of coffee. Requiring only four steps, The French Press is an essential piece to own for any coffee lover. However, when using the French Press make sure to use coarse grounds and quality beans as these components are fundamental to a successful brew.

Elegant & sleek.

Elegant & sleek.

  • Bean to Brew: ~10 Minutes

  • Grind: Coarse

  • Skill Level: Easy to learn; difficult to master

  • Results: A signature rich & full-bodied brew with plenty of flavor

  • Watch Out For: The grind (to avoid coffee ground sentiment in your brew)

The soft brew

A newcomer to the game circa 2010, the Soft Brew is the closest thing to a teapot that the coffee world has. Sporting a kettle-esque design, you place your coffee grounds within the internal filter followed by your hot water. From there, you let everything steep and get to know each other before serving! Just like tea.

The cutting edge of coffee.

The cutting edge of coffee.

  • Bean to Brew: 5-8 minutes

  • Grind: Any grind

  • Skill Level: Beginner

  • Results: A rich and full-bodied brew

  • Watch Out For: The grind (to avoid coffee ground sentiment in your brew)

The Vacuum Pot

The Vacuum Pot is one of, if not the most, intricate brewing techniques. It looks a piece of chemistry lab equipment, and it’s best explained by a youtube video. However, for all the hard work and learning involved, the results are a delicious cup of coffee that is sworn on by Vacuum Pot disciples.

It’s high school chemistry all over again.

It’s high school chemistry all over again.

  • Bean to Brew: ~10 minutes

  • Grind: Coarse

  • Skill Level: Barista

  • Results: Clean & Flavorful

  • Watch Out For: Practice makes perfect applies here, so be ready and willing to make mistakes

Filtration Brewing

AKA pour-over brewing, is the current trend in coffee culture. Straightforward, it’s a method in which you place your freshly ground beans on top of a filter and pour over hot water to create your cup of coffee. Quick & easy, your rewards are in the form of a smooth & light-bodied brew.

Technique Tips:

  • Pour water over the filter for saturation prior to placing your grounds in (to get rid of the paper taste).

  • When pouring, do so at a constant rate. The choice of fast or slow is left up to you, but do so at a constant rate.

  • As you cover your grounds in water, do so in a circular motion from inside to outside to inside. The goal is to cover all grounds equally.

The Electric Percolator

The phrase “have respect for what you are cooking” comes to mind here. While more than likely you’ve been subjected to an electric percolator’s brew, that still does not mean much. This coffee is often over-extracted, due to repeated boiling, and you’re left with a bitter, poor-tasting mess.

Old (un)faithful.

Old (un)faithful.

  • Bean to Brew: ~10 minutes, but you’ll just ruin your coffee doing such.

  • Grind: Coarse

  • Skill Level: None

  • Results: Coffee-flavored garbage

  • Watch Out For: Someone trying to pass off an electric percolator brew as a cup of coffee.

The Chemex

A large capacity brewing method with a unique look for a specific purpose, the Chemex makes as good a cup of coffee as most other methods. You form your filter into a cone, place it onto the hole of the Chemex, and place your grounds into it. Following this, you pour-over your boiling water which then creates your coffee drip!

  • Bean to Brew: ~4 Minutes

  • Grind: Your choice; depends

  • Skill Level: Beginner, but some practice is needed

  • Results: Full flavored, rich, and clean

  • Watch Out For: Practice makes perfect; there are some factors to master in grind, water temp, and brew volume.

The Hario V60 Dripper

A well-engineered product, the Hario V60 Dripper is much different than the Chemex on the surface, except for key details. A key feature of the Hario V60 is that you place the paper filter in a ridged funnel which encourages air flow.

  • Bean to Brew: ~5 Minutes

  • Grind: Fine

  • Skill Level: Beginner, but some practice is needed

  • Results: Full flavored, rich, and clean

  • Watch Out For: Practice makes perfect; there are some factors to master in grind, water temp, and brew volume.

Boil Brewing

During our time as cave-people in some cave-society there was the cave people’s version of Starbucks. They brewed their coffee by boiling it. It’s as simple as boiling water in a kettle, placing grounds in it, and waiting for the magic to happen. Boil brewing is as time-tested as any method.