7 Common Brewing Methods, Which is the best for you?


What does it take to make a good cup of coffee? The first and obvious choice is a good quality coffee, but that coffee is only as good as the method used to brew it. There are several methods that are commonly used to brew coffee, and they all have their best use cases. Whether you are looking for maximum convenience, maximum flavor, or something in between, there is likely a method that will suit your needs.

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Automatic drip coffee maker

Coffee quality: Okay to good, varies based on machine
Brew time: Under 5min
Price: $20 - $200+
Complexity: Simple

For better or worse, most people think of the drip coffee maker when they are looking for a cup of coffee. At face value you can’t blame them; they are cheap, they aren’t complicated, and they can produce somewhat consistent results each time you use them. There are countless brands and variations, but they all operate pretty much the same. The maker heats up the water, which is then mechanically dripped over ground coffee. With all that in mind, there are some things to consider when looking at a drip coffee maker. The temperature, brew time, and capacity are the major factors that come into play with a drip coffee maker. Temperature can make or break your coffee; too cold and you end up with weak coffee, but too hot you’ll end up with a bitter cup of disappointment. The same can be said for the brew time. There are two parts to consider; the time it takes from start to finish, and the amount of time it takes for the water to travel through the grounds and out to the cup. The first consideration is solely a matter of convenience. Some pots take seconds to begin brewing while others take several minutes to heat up. A slow coffee pot can make or break a morning routine, or worse cause you to miss your coffee altogether. The second consideration comes from the pot design and the filter. For maximum flavor extraction it is vitally important for all the grounds to be saturated with the hot water. Because of this, the design of the drip mechanism determines how much coverage the grounds get. Picture a garden hose, and then picture a rain shower head. Clearly, the rain shower head will provide more uniform coverage of the grounds resulting in a more flavorful cup of coffee. Next is the filter, the filter design and material. The finer the filter the slower it drains. Filters come as disposable paper filters, or reusable metal filters. Both have their pros and cons, but it really comes down to preference.

Having personally tried many drip coffee makers over the years, I must say my favorite so far is the Ninja coffee maker. It makes an incredibly flavorful cup of coffee (for a drip maker), and it has numerous settings that allow you to customize your brew strength and size.

ninja coffee maker

Check out the Ninja coffee maker on Amazon


French Press

Coffee quality: Really good to Great
Brew time: ~4 minutes
Price: $20 - $40
Complexity: Intermediate

The french press is another iconic method used to brew a great cup of coffee. French press coffee has been a personal favorite of mine for many years thanks to the richness this technique brings out. The process of making coffee in a french press is simple, but does require more attention as you are in complete control of the brew process. There are two important factors to take into account when using a french press; the grind and the time. In contrast to drip coffee, the coffee grounds are in contact with the water the entire time, which lends to a richer taste, but using too fine of a grind will leave your coffee silty and bitter. Likewise, leaving the coffee steeping too long will also result in a very unpleasant cup of coffee. It's recommended that you pick a course grind about the consistency of sea salt. This will help prevent over extraction, and reduce the amount of insoluble residue that settles to the bottom of your cup. From my experience, about 4 mins seems to be the magic number when it comes to brew time. I prefer my coffee to be richer and bolder, so your mileage may vary.

Check out the french press on Amazon




Coffee quality: Great
Brew time: ~2 minutes
Price: $30 - $40
Complexity: Simple

At first glance you may not be able to tell what the AeroPress is supposed to be. However, if you look closely you can see some similarities to the french press and a nod at the pour over dripper. The AeroPress is the result of months of research by the inventor Alan Adler who wanted to brew a great cup of coffee. The AeroPress is designed to take the guesswork out of coffee brewing, and provide barista quality coffee to the masses. The design is very simple; a syringe style body with a plunger, and filter assembly at the bottom. With this device you can make up to 3 cups of coffee in about 1 - 2 minutes depending on your preferences. With a little bit of experimenting you can master the perfect cup of coffee in your own kitchen. Though not as popular as some other methods, the AeroPress has its fair share of devoted users who have developed numerous varieties of coffee from this handy device. This simple device really is a great way to make a great cup of coffee. It's simple to use, lightweight, portable, and consistent. If you are in the market for a simple way to make a great cup of hot (or cold) coffee, the AeroPress should be on your shortlist.


 Check out the AeroPress on Amazon


 Pour Over

Coffee quality: Superior
Brew time: ~4 minutes
Price: $20 - $60
Complexity: Intermediate/advanced

Any time you see a decanter, you know someone means business. The pour over method is a sure fire way to produce an exceptional cup of coffee. Producing world-class results is a mix of science and art, and the end result does not disappoint. The pour over method is another hands on method that can produce consistent results time after time, after you master the process. If you watch a dedicated pour over aficionado, at a minimum you'll see a grinder, a scale, a timer, and a goose neck kettle in addition to the pour over apparatus. This is because they know that precision coffee brewing should be done by weight, not by volume to produce consistently perfect results. This is another method that I have come to love, but I don't always have the time or the desire to break out my Walter White science kit to make a cup of coffee. As with the other manual methods, timing is everything. A timer is essential to consistent results; as is your technique. While there is a learning curve, once you get the hang of it you can really fine tune the process to match your exact taste. To me, this method is not only the most consistent, but it's also the most satisfying. There is nothing quite like pouring the first few ounces of water into fresh ground coffee. Watching the bloom form as the gases are released, and getting that first strong whiff of fresh coffee is worth the hassle of measuring out 21 grams of coffee. With enough practice there is nothing quite like a good cup of pour over coffee. There are two main styles of pour over systems; single-serve and multi-cup. The process is the same for both, it simply comes down to how much you want to drink.


The Chemex  on Amazon                          Single-serve Hario V60 on Amazon



 Cold Brew

Coffee quality: Great
Brew time: 14 - 24 hours
Price: $15 - $40
Complexity: Simple

Cold brew coffee was a very welcome surprise the first time I tried it. When done correctly cold brew is an ultra rich and smooth coffee. If you have never had cold brew, you owe it to yourself to try it. The taste is nothing like that of "cold" coffee that was brewed hot and sat in your cup for hours. You won't need any special equipment to make cold brew, but you will need time. It's not a matter of minutes, its hours. Cold brew can take anywhere between 14 to 24 hours depending on your method, so don't expect to enjoy it right away. I made my first batch using a pitcher, cheesecloth, and a bottle. The results where fantastic, and well worth the wait. I will caution you though; this method was cheap and required nothing that I didn't already have, but it was messy. After dealing with the hassle of straining the grounds with the cheese cloth, I put my french press to work. The french press works great for cold brew, and though I have not tried it yet I have heard the AeroPress makes a great cold brew as well. Gotta love the flexibility of those devices. If you are really into cold brew, you will likely be best suited to get yourself a cold brew maker. They are specifically designed to streamline the process while reducing the mess. Not to mention it doesn't tie up your AeroPress for your morning cup of coffee.

cold brewer

Check out this cold brew maker on Amazon


Iced Coffee

Coffee quality: Good to really good
Brew time: varies on method
Price: $15 - $200
Complexity: varies on method

If you don't already know, there is a big difference between cold brew and iced coffee. Cold brew is brewed at room temperature or refrigerated for hours; whereas iced coffee is brewed hot over ice. Because of this, iced coffee can be made with any of the previous methods of hot brewing. This method does not have the same smoothness as cold brew, but it is wildly popular. Nearly every coffee shop makes some sort of iced frappo-mocha-latte-double-caramel-venti-blah-blah-blah. Iced coffee goes really well with flavors and sweeteners like french vanilla or caramel. Not to mention that it is much more refreshing to have an iced coffee by the pool, regardless of how difficult it is to pronounce. I never really got into iced coffee much, but we did get the Mr. Coffee Iced Coffee maker which has led to me experimenting with it more. So far I have been very impressed with it's ease of use and the overall quality it produces. It is a drip coffee maker, but it is specifically designed to make iced coffee. All things considered I think it is a nice to have item for any coffee enthusiast.

iced coffee

Check out the Mr. Coffee Iced Coffee Maker on Amazon



Moka Pot

Coffee quality: Really good to great
Brew time: ~3 minutes
Price: $20 - $40
Complexity: Intermediate

The Moka pot is another personal favorite of mine. In my opinion it provides the closest resemblance to a shot of espresso without the espresso machine. I love a strong shot of espresso, but I can't justify the high cost of a dedicated espresso machine. This is where the Moka pot shines. At a fraction of the cost you can get a very strong shot of espresso like coffee in just a few minutes. It is a bit tricky to get it right; it's easy to overdo it and end up with undrinkable coffee. It also takes some experimenting to get the right grind, which is somewhere between drip and fine grind. But once you get it, it is a great alternative to expensive espresso. Even though it takes some experimenting it is simple to use. You fill the filter with coffee, and the bottom with water. Set it on your stove and the water vapor is forced through the coffee and up to the top where it

condenses to the rich espresso-like shot. If you enjoy espresso or very strong coffee, this is well worth the investment.

moka pot

The Bialetti Moka Pot



This is by no means the final authority on the best ways to make your coffee. I do hope that this sheds more light on a few of the more popular methods commonly used to make coffee. I intentionally did not rank these from best to worst as that would be purely opinion-based, and would be making the assumption that everyone likes coffee the same. I do believe there are differences in quality and taste based on the method used, but again my definition of good vs. great coffee is likely not the same as yours. I have tried most of these methods, and I still use each (some more than others) for specific use cases. Because of this, I think anyone with an interest in coffee would benefit from trying out new methods and experimenting with new techniques. You never know what you may be missing.