by Sean Quinn
I have gathered some links and written a little bit about my favorite brew methods, beginning with the easiest/simplest (in my opinion), and finishing with the most complex. Included are mostly YouTube videos from James Hoffman, but I may sprinkle in some guides from Verve as well.
I will be referring to how much coffee one should use in grams. Generally it is best to weigh coffee because there is a decent amount of variation between bean varieties and even grind size if you are trying to measure with a scoop. Generally speaking, with medium-grind coffee, 1 level Tbsp = 5 grams.
Immersion (French Press, Clever Dripper, Tea Bag)
Immersion brewing is the most fool-proof way to get a great cup of coffee, thanks to guaranteed water-coffee contact time and a forgiving effect from grind size. Yes, one can totally use tea bags to brew coffee! I used to use this method for fool-proof single cup coffee, I think of them as a better alternative to K-Cups: you can buy T-Sac branded bags (Size #2 or #3, #1 are too small) on Amazon.
Here are my general tips for immersion brewing:
- Boil good water! Make sure your water is of good quality and at a full boil before brewing. This is the most common mistake, using hot water instead of fully boiling water.
- 4 minutes is the rule of thumb for steeping time, but exceptions apply (see French Press video below).
The Clever Coffee Dripper is also a fantastic product if you like the bold body of french press, but prefer a cleaner mouthfeel & easier cleanup. They are super simple and produce one of my favorite cups of coffee, even up against a perfect pourover.
James Hoffman's (Somewhat fiddly, definitely slow) French Press Technique
- Weigh 30 grams of coffee into the French press
- Boil good water, and pour 500mL over the coffee. 500mL = 2.1 cups
- Wait 4 minutes
- Gently stir the crust
- Gently scoop and remove the remaining foam with teaspoons
- Wait 5 more minutes for the silt to settle within the carafe
- Gently plunge to just above the surface of the coffee bed
- Gently pour your super clean, silt-free coffee!
Automatic dripper brewers get a bad rap thanks to years of mediocre design and engineering. Mr. Coffee brewers and the like have been putting coffee into mugs around the world for decades, but the quality of their coffee has been limited by the consistency of the temperature of the water with which they brew.
Some of you may have heard of Technivorm and their Moccamaster brewer, these have been the Dutch-made luxury coffee brewer to beat since 1969. Only recently have other manufacturers recognized the demand for high-quality auto-drippers, opening up options in more approachable price ranges.
In general, I highly recommend shopping using the SCA Home Brewer Guide if you find yourself in the market for a new brewer. The SCA is extremely rigorous with their testing, and they guarantee these brewers will use 195-205* brew water throughout the brew process, which is the issue with non-SCA brewers.
My Mom and I both rock brewers from Bonavita, hers is larger and older, but they are both going strong after consistent use. There's not a lot to go wrong with these Technivorm style machines, so if you are worried about the price tag, know that they are unlikely to break (especially in a way that won't be an easy repair).
So you want to dip your toes into the kooky world of single-cup brewing, and you fancy something less finnicky than a pourover, or maybe you just like your coffee FAST. Regardless your reason for picking one, the Aeropress is a fantastic piece of kit that can make much more than just a simple cup of coffee. I use mine exclusively for "aeropresso" using the Fellow Prismo, which allows me to approximate espresso so that I can profile it well for all my "high-pressure" customers!
For straight brews, I follow James Hoffman's Aeropress Recipe
For Aeropresso, I follow the instructions for the Fellow Prismo, but one can use those same instructions with a standard filter as well, it is just more likely to have some bypass occur with slightly lower extraction overall. Hoffman did a video on the Prismo, and it's only moderately effective at increasing extraction, so don't expect a perfect espresso analog.
Chemex, V60, Kalita Wave, all fantastic choices. If you are reading this section, I highly suggest you dive into the rabbit hole of research yourself, as I can only tell you so much! Hoffman is a fantastic resource, and I only have experience with Hario V60 and Chemex (both of which are great), and I have read great things about the Kalita Wave and Mugen V60.