If you ask my household, I prefer coffee via a pour over, and my husband likes his French Press. Thankfully, this is about as bad as our disagreements get! But we’re like many households - now that so many more people are invested in the specialty coffee industry, people have preferences in brew methods. It’s no longer only your Mr. Coffee pot. Here’s an overview of some of the most popular methods.
The easiest, and still most prevalent option, is certainly the drip coffee method. This is where your basic coffeepot plays its role. Here you’ll want a middle-of-the-road grind size, since your method isn’t using anything extreme.
French Press has become another very common method, and part of the reason is because it’s so user friendly. You need to work with a much coarser grind setting, and fill your French Press with the coffee and water. It sits and essentially brews for a few minutes, and then you push down on the lid, which has a plunger built in, to force the liquid above and keep the grounds below. As long as the grind size is correct, it’s very hard to make a mistake here. One main drawback though is that the built-in metal filter isn’t perfect, so a few grinds often make it into your mug.
My personal favorite method, pour overs have risen in popularity and are showing up in more coffeeshops. It’s something we plan to soon be able to offer at Birch & Banyan on occasion. Pour over methods have slight deviances among brands, but they all have the same idea. There’s still a paper filter, similar to the drip method, but you’re manually controlling other variables. This method requires more skill, because the brewer is pouring hot water directly over the grounds, and there will be a taste difference if done too quickly, too slowly, unevenly, etc. The pros of this outweigh the cons though, because at the end of the day you have an incredibly fresh cup of coffee where the flavors are brighter than in the drip method.
An Aeropress is fairly similar to a French Press, except for a few variables. The grind doesn’t need to be quite as coarse, since there will be a paper filter for the liquid to flow through, instead of using a metal filter to physically hold back pieces, like a colander in cooking. It’s also much more portable, and therefore has developed a following from campers. Also different is that French Presses come in a variety of sizes, so it’s great to use a large one to make multiple cups, whereas an Aeropress is meant for a single serving.
Brewing your own espresso at home isn’t as common, since it often makes sense to let your neighborhood coffeeshops pay for the expensive equipment and barista training to perfect this method. If you do want to take it on, though, investing in a nice grinder becomes incredibly important, and you’ll be looking for a very fine grind. Extracting an espresso shot can only be done with an espresso machine, and the process will be forcing the hot water through the coffee grounds with much higher pressure and a much quicker time than any other method.
Each method involves different equipment, and therefore a different investment. Our favorite method, of course, is to have you come into the shop where we can whip you up a wonderful drink. But there’s definitely a place for coffee at home. Start experimenting to find your favorite style!