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Coffee Making: Explore the Difference between Brewing Styles

by Elvira Di Gesu - Iarusso April 11, 2018

Coffee Making:  Explore the Difference between Brewing Styles

Do you love coffee? Is your morning cup of Joe the best part of your day?

Coffee is usually the first thing you drink in the morning and it powers you through your whole day. You probably have been using the same brewing system for many years. Have you outgrown your coffee brewing style?  With the expansion of coffee culture, more knowledge and equipment is readily available to help us explore new coffee tastes.

There are so many different coffee makers and brewing techniques. It can be difficult to be sure you're making the ultimate cup of coffee to satisfy your palette.

Life's too short not to live up to your coffee potential. This article will compare and contrast - different techniques to coffee making so you can choose the one that's right for you.

Cowboy Coffee

This is one of the easiest ways of brewing coffee.  Water is boiled with coffee grounds in a pot for a few minutes to make a crude brew.  Ideally this brewing method is suited to camping or backpacking.

With this method, there is no need to measure the coffee accurately.  In the worst case scenario, you can buy freshly roasted beans and coarsely grind them before you venture out.

Drip or Filter Coffee Maker

There are a number of drip or filter coffee-making methods including automatic drip,  pour-over and single cup drip filters.

The automatic drip coffee maker is likely the one you're most familiar with. It's probably housed in your kitchen right now.

For a drip coffee maker, you need ground coffee beans, water, and paper filters.

You place the filter into the coffee maker then add your coffee and water. The water slowly drips through the coffee and down into the pot.

Drip coffee makers are conventional, and some produce a better quality cup than others. It is by far the most popular brewing method in the United States.


Coffee percolators give us a retro feel.  Many of these have largely been replaced by drip filters although some people still use them to brew a simple cup of coffee at home. 

Electric or stovetop, they work by spraying hot water over coffee beans with the extracted coffee then collecting in the bottom of the percolator, ready to serve.

Siphon /Vacuum

This coffeemaker uses the expansion and contraction of water vapor caused by alternating temperatures to draw hot water through coffee grounds. 

It requires more effort than other brewing methods but those who take the time swear it produces a clear, crisp cup.

Macchinetta Espresso

In Italy in particular, using a macchinetta, also known as a moka is still perhaps the most popular method of brewing espresso at home. 

It relies on pressurized steam to pass boiling water through the ground coffee.  Be sure to have your coffee ground precisely for this method of brewing otherwise your espresso will be extremely watery and weak (coarse coffee) or so thick it won’t even brew properly (happens when coffee is ground too fine).

Espresso Machine

Espresso machines are growing in popularity at a rapid rate as espresso coffee is one of the most popular coffee extraction methods.  The fact that espresso serves as the base of many popular coffees such as cappuccino and latte is another reason this brewing method is becoming well known.

Espresso machines produce small shots of coffee very quickly. The coffee produced from an espresso machine is often stronger and creamier than that produced in the drip coffee maker.

Espresso machines fall into two categories manual and superautomatic. Each has its benefits.

French Press

A French press is a great choice if you're planning a trip where you'll be without electricity.

As long as you have access to water, heat, and coffee you'll be able to use your French press.

French presses produce bolder coffee. Since the  coffee grounds are directly immersed in water the flavor is able to come out stronger.


This coffee maker uses the steeping method of brewing along with a plunger and fine filters to extract the coffee. 

Keurig Brewer

Keurig coffee makers are sometimes considered the lazy man's coffee maker.

However, while some say lazy, others say efficient. Keurig coffee makers produce one cup of coffee per brew.

Keurig coffee makers use K-cups which are small individual coffee pods. The Keurig pierces holes in the K-cup in order to allow hot water access to the coffee.

The coffee is then delivered straight to your mug. Voila. It may be quick, but it is very expensive. Additionally, more and more concerns are arising not only about the waste the K cups are creating but also health risks.  Some believe the elements used to seal the cups may be harmful.

Steps to Brewing a Great Cup of Coffee

Now that you know about various of coffee making methods, you might be wondering how you can brew the best cup of coffee possible.

1) Use Good Tasting Water

Your coffee can only be as good as your water. When you consider coffee is only made with two ingredients, water and coffee, both need to be of superior quality.

Even the highest quality coffee bean can be ruined by bad water.

2)  Choose Good Quality Beans and the Right Roast

Each brewing is enhanced with the right beans and more importantly the right roast.

A light roast for example may be ideal for an automatic drip maker but it is absolutely not suitable for making an espresso.

Check out this coffee guide to help you better understand coffee roasts.

3) Grind Your Beans Yourself

If you want super fresh coffee, then it's best to grind your own beans. It may require investing in a coffee grinder, but you will be rewarded with a superior cup of coffee.  

Superautomatic espresso machines appreciate the importance of freshly ground beans that is why they have built in grinders.  

3) Use the Right Ratio

While making coffee might just seem like combining water and coffee grounds, it is so much more. It's important you use the right ratio of water to coffee or else your cup will be off balance.

Too much water and your coffee will be weak. Too much coffee grounds and your coffee will be so strong you won't be able to enjoy it. The right cup of coffee should taste amazing without any cream or sugar.

4) Store Your Coffee Well

It's important to store your coffee carefully.

Coffee beans whether whole or ground, should be stored in an airtight bag or container.

5) Experiment With Technique

Having the perfect cup of coffee is both a science and an art.

It will take some experimenting to find a cup of coffee that's right for you. Begin to experiment with various brewing methods, try various coffee roasts and explore the endless possibilities available to you.

6) Ween off Extras

Coffee is far healthier when it is consumed on it's own. If at all possible, try not to add cream or sugar to your coffee.

Black coffee is full of antioxidants and is good for your metabolism. When you add cream and sugar you not only compromise the true taste of the coffee, and the extras can contribute to weight gain and other health issues.

Follow These Coffee Making Tips

Follow these coffees making tips and be patient in order to craft the perfect cup of coffee.

This article has given you a list of brewing styles and coffee making tips. What brewing method you choose will depend on your lifestyle and coffee tastes.

Got more coffee questions? Please  contact us here.

Elvira Di Gesu - Iarusso
Elvira Di Gesu - Iarusso

2 Responses

Charles Willey
Charles Willey

January 03, 2019

Which makes a better cup of coffee, a coffee maker that drips over the grounds or one that sprays over the grounds?
Thank you


April 12, 2018

Great article!

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