Whether you prefer an automatic drip coffee maker or the meditation of a perfect...
How do you brew your coffee? If you’re like most people, you probably have an electric drip coffee maker. It may be fancied up with a thermal carafe to keep the coffee warm, or it may have a timer to start the coffee for you before you get up in the morning, but in general, it makes coffee the same way. There are many other ways to brew coffee, some of them as old as the hills and others relatively new – at least in the course of human events. Here’s the lowdown on three different ways to brew coffee and how they differ from each other.
An automatic drip coffee maker brews coffee by heating water in a chamber, then pumping it through a tube to drip over a filter basket holding ground coffee.
There are many brands and styles of drip coffee makers, each of them with its own advantages. For instance, Mr. Coffee coffee makers typically have flat-bottom filter baskets. Melitta and several other manufacturers make coffee makers with cone-shaped filter baskets. The advantage, they say, is that in a cone-shaped basket, the hot water comes in contact with more of the ground coffee than in a flat basket, and stays in contact with the grounds longer. This results in stronger, more flavorful coffee.
French presses are among the best-loved coffee makers in the world. They consist of two pieces – a pot, and a cover with a plunger. To use a French press, you pour hot water into the pot, stir it with a spoon, then cover. All the coffee to steep for 3 minutes, then push the plunger to the bottom of the pot, forcing all the coffee grounds ahead of it. That leaves you with a thick, strong, almost gritty brew with a solid mouth feel. When using a French press, use a coarser coffee grind than the typical drip coffee grind.
Moka pots are very common in Italy and Italian households. A moka pot is a three piece metal pot that brews coffee via steam pressure. Cheap moka pots are often made of aluminum and cost under $20. Higher quality moka pots of stainless steel will last much longer and not impart any off flavors to your coffee. To use a moka pot, you simply unscrew the top of the moka pot from the bottom and remove the filter basket. Fill the bottom half of the pot with water. Replace the filter basket and fill with finely ground coffee. Screw the top back on and place the moka pot over the fire. The water in the bottom will boil and turn to steam, which is forced through the ground coffee into the upper chamber. Moka pots make strong, rich coffee that can be a little bitter if you let it boil too long. Typically, moka pots are used to make espresso, though most coffee purists will tell you that moka pots can’t make “real” espresso because the steam pressure can reach the same bars as a pump.