Ten brew methods to suit your taste and lifestyle

Ten brew methods to suit your taste and lifestyle

While there is no universal “perfect way” to brew coffee, there is most certainly a method that would best suit your taste and lifestyle.  Here I break down some of the pros and cons of various methods to help you select the one most suitable to you.  Personally, I use them all depending on the amount of time I have, where I am, and how I’m feeling at the time.  I suggest trying a few to find your favorites.

  • Pour Over
  • Chemex™
  • French Press
  • AeroPress™
  • Siphon
  • Espresso Machine
  • Moka Pot
  • Turkish
  • Automatic Drip
  • Cold Brew

Under each of the sections I placed Amazon affiliate links to some of my favorite products in each category.  I chose them based on quality, value, customer ratings and reviews.  Although there are many other great choices I would encourage you to check them out when making your decision on new brewing equipment.

Pour Over 

Although originally invented by a German female entrepreneur in 1908, the pour-over technique has gained significant popularity from the Japanese company “Hario” which literally translates to “King of Glass.”  These conical ceramic or glass vessels can produce a very tasty cup of coffee in just a few minutes with very little effort.  However, technique is important for best results.

  • Profile:           Smooth, balanced, less bitter, preserves the bean’s integrity
  • Simplicity:     ☆☆☆★★       Requires a little technique, but that’s half the fun
  • Brew Speed: ☆☆☆★★      Typically 4 minutes, but don’t rush the pour
  • Strength:       ☆☆☆★★       Light to medium body
  • Style:               ☆☆☆☆★       Lots of choices, technique mastery gives bragging rights

Consider:       Hario V60 


Chemex™ was invented by a German chemist in 1941 (hence the name).  While technically a pour-over brewing method, this design claims better precision, using a special filter to regulate the flow so that the user can achieve better consistency with less skill.  Due to its attractive wood and glass design it is often a favorite amongst hipsters and minimalists.

  • Profile:             Bright, clean taste with less body but more nuanced flavor notes
  • Simplicity:      ☆☆☆☆★       Semi self-regulating, a simpler, more predictable pour-over
  • Brew Speed:  ☆☆☆★★        About 4 minutes for optimal extraction
  • Strength:        ☆☆☆★★        Smooth, light and refreshing
  • Style:                ☆☆☆☆★      Simple, timeless, utilitarian design
  • Consider:       Chemex Classic Series (Wood & Glass)

French Press

Despite its name, this process is not French and was, in fact, invented in 1929 by Italian designers.  Unlike the filter-based brewing solutions above, this system fully immerses the coffee thereby extracting more solubles for a thicker, heavier mouthfeel.  Popular for its simplicity, low cost and ease-of-use for those who prefer a stronger more intense cup of coffee.

  • Profile:            Strong, heavy, full-bodied brew, rich and flavorful
  • Simplicity:      ☆☆☆☆☆       super simple to use, hard to mess up
  • Brew Speed:  ☆☆☆☆★       About 4-5 minutes of waiting, one minute of activity
  • Strength:        ☆☆☆☆★       Heavy extraction of bold flavors for a more intense brew
  • Style:                ☆☆☆☆★       both on the go and around the house, campus or office
  • Consider:    French Press Set


Invented in 2005 by an American toymaker previously best known for record-winning frisbee flying disc designs.  While often confused for a French press, it is really more like an espresso machine in that it uses pressure from manual compression for extraction rather than simply pass-through filtration. This results in a more full-bodied extraction that sits somewhere between French-press and espresso machines.  This clever design has become increasingly popular with people looking for a quality, portable brewing solution. A HUGE bonus to the Aeropress is all the cool attachments available, check out our blog post about Aeropress and some of the unique gadgents available. 

  • Profile:           Rich, mellow and rounded
  • Difficulty:      ☆☆★★★      Hard to mess up, if you follow the instructions
  • Brew Speed: ☆☆☆☆☆      One of the fastest methods at about 2 minutes
  • Strength:       ☆☆☆☆★      Bold, packed with flavor, almost espresso-like
  • Style:               ☆☆☆☆★      On-the-go styling for camping, campus or the office
  • Consider:       AeroPress


One of the coolest looking brewing devices ever, first patented in Berlin in 1830s, it looks more at home in a laboratory than a kitchen.  Between a French press and a pour over in that it is full-immersion but uses filtration to remove undissolved coffee grounds.  Balance-type units are especially cool in that they have steampunk type operation that makes them a conversation piece for your guests.

  • Profile:           Smooth, balanced, rich but with clarity
  • Simplicity:     ☆☆★★★       Requires more technique, but is fun to watch
  • Brew Speed: ☆☆☆★★       Requires patience, but is almost hypnotic
  • Strength:       ☆☆☆★★       Think French press full immersion with pour-over filter clarity
  • Style:               ☆☆☆☆☆       Looks like a mad-scientist gadget.  Wow your friends

Consider:      Belgian/Belgium Luxury Royal Family Balance Siphon

Espresso Machine

Commercial brewing was never the same after the espresso machine was granted a patent in 1884. This pressurized extraction method can provide the high levels of caffeine in the shortest time, but what truly sets it apart is the thick, rich crema layer not found in other brewing methods.  Todays semi-automatic and even fully automatic home espresso machines can brew cups that rival or exceed that of the most popular coffee shops and chains without requiring the skill of a barista.

  • Profile:            Creamy, bold, intensely rich
  • Simplicity:     ☆☆★★★      Requires technique on manual machines, but very rewarding
  • Brew Speed: ☆☆☆☆☆        Only seconds to produce shots for lattes and specialty drinks
  • Strength:       ☆☆☆☆☆        Potent, rich, intense concentrate of deliciousness 
  • Style:               ☆☆☆☆☆        Some machines are literally works-of-art

Consider:       Breville™ Barista Express

Moka Pots

Can’t afford an espresso machine or you prefer not to eat up your counter space?  This staple of virtually all Italian homes has been a favorite since 1933 when Alfonso Bialetti invented it.  This stove top “espresso” maker draws boiling water into a pseudo-portafilter filled with lightly packed coffee grounds.  The result is an espresso-like extraction albeit less intensity and crema.

  • Profile:            Intense, strong, respectably heavy extraction for a non-espresso machine
  • Simplicity:     ☆☆★★★      Challenging to perfect, but rewarding
  • Brew Speed: ☆☆☆★★      Fairly quick for small servings, but you better pay attention
  • Strength:       ☆☆☆☆★      Sits between espresso and an over-extracted French press
  • Style:               ☆☆☆☆★      Traditional, simple, affordable, fun
  • Consider:       Bialetti

Turkish Cezve Ibrik Briki


First appearing during the Ottoman Empire, this thick brew has achieved almost mythical status as some of the most intense coffee.  It requires ultra-fine grounds that are served as heavy sediment in an ornately carved pot called a Cezve, Ibrik or Briki.  Everyone should try this at least once in their lifetime, but only a few will make it their morning ritual.

  • Profile:           Gritty, heavy, exotic, intense and kind of awesome                                    
  • Simplicity:     ☆☆★★★       Almost ritualistic preparation is required if done correctly
  • Brew Speed: ☆☆☆★★       3-4 minutes, constant attention required
  • Strength:       ☆☆☆☆☆       Almost tar-like consistency
  • Style:               ☆☆☆☆☆       The incredible, ornately carved pots are just too cool
  • Consider:       Turkish Coffee Maker

Automatic Drip

By far the most common brew method in the US since Mr. Coffee released their first home version of the automatic drip machine.  Its popularity is most likely due to its simplicity and ability to brew large quantities of coffee while unattended without any real skills to master.  Still a respectable means of brewing, but less popular amongst most coffee aficionados.  Nonetheless, clever new designs, like the MoccaMaster™, have reenergized this market as well.

  • Profile:           Properly configured it approaches a pour over consistency
  • Simplicity:     ☆☆☆☆☆       Requires a little technique, but that’s half the fun
  • Brew Speed: ☆☆★★★       Slow, but don’t need tending and can brew large batches
  • Strength:       ☆☆☆★★       Light to medium body mostly, but can be configured to taste
  • Style:               ☆☆☆☆★       Cool, but only if you select one of the newer styles
  • Consider:       MoccaMaster™

Cold Brew

Believed to be invented in Kyoto, Japan in the 1600s.  This no-heat method results in a heavily caffeinated concentrate that is commonly diluted before served.  Tower drip systems are some of the wildest looking pieces of functional art you can put in your kitchen.  Increasing in popularity significantly over the past ten years, with no slowdown in site.  Nothing is better on a hot summer day.

  • Profile:           Smooth, rich, bold, balanced, and refreshing
  • Simplicity:     ☆☆☆☆☆        Hard to mess up, just use a good timer
  • Brew Speed: ☆★★★★        SLOW, this takes 12 to 24 hours but keeps well in the fridge
  • Strength:       ☆☆☆☆☆        Very strong, but typically diluted to taste
  • Style:               ☆☆☆☆☆        Epic if you choose a tower drip system
  • Consider:       Yama Glass Tower
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