Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages on the planet. It is in every country on every continent across the globe. There are countless bean origins, roast level, and preparation methods. But not all coffee is created equal. Below, you’ll find our list—in no particular order—of the best ways to brew coffee.
1. Pour over
Pour over is a classic method that you’ve probably seen in your favorite coffee shop. It’s highly regarded in the coffee community as a great way to consistently make a delicious cup of coffee.
If you’re looking to get started with pour over coffee, there are lots of different options to explore. Some of the more popular choices for equipment include the Chemex (which we cover below), the Hario V60, and the Bee House.
The key to making great pour over is being in control of your water temperature, grind size, and timing. Tweaking each of these variables to find your perfect brew can challenging and fun. It’s a good idea to invest in a gooseneck electric kettle with temperature control, as this allows you to control both the temperature (duh) and where the water hits the grounds.
2. French press
Almost everyone has heard of or seen a French press. It’s a quintessential way to brew coffee dating back all the way to 1929.
The basics of French press involve adding coarsely ground coffee and water directly into the press and letting it brew for few minutes. Splitting up the addition of water into steps allows the coffee to bloom early on in the brew. Once the brewing time is up, the loose grounds can be compressed and held down while the coffee is transferred into your cup or another serving container.
A huge benefit of French press is that it’s an easy way to make multiple servings of coffee at once. However, you don’t want to leave your brew sitting in the press while you enjoy the first cup. Doing so can result in over-extraction and bitter coffee. Yuck! A serving carafe can be a good solution if you’re drinking your French press over a longer period of time.
The AeroPress is a newer brewing method which draws inspiration from both espresso and French press coffee. With a relatively low price point, it serves as a great entry into alternative brewing methods.
We find the AeroPress to be one of the most straightforward ways to make a single serving of coffee.
The AeroPress was invented in 2005 by the inventor of the popular Aerobie flying disk and almost immediately caught on with the coffee community.
The AeroPress utilizes small circular filters that are inserted into the plastic cap which secures the filter into place and supports the ground coffee. You then put the device directly on top of your coffee mug. Once your water is up to temp, you can begin to pour up to the desired fill line (I usually fill to number two). After a few quick stirs—lasting somewhere in the range of 10 to 15 seconds—you’re ready to begin pressing.
Take the plunger and slowly press until it has reached and compressed your coffee grounds. If you’re finding this to be a real struggle, you’re probably grinding too finely. The grind for the AeroPress should be slightly coarser than what you would use for espresso.
Once your done pressing, take off the plastic end cap, pop your grounds into the trash bin, and give the whole thing a quick rinse. Now you’re ready to go enjoy your fresh Aeropress coffee! Add cream or more hot water to taste since the brew coming directly out of the AeroPress can be pretty strong.
4. AeroPress + Prismo
Didn’t we already cover the AeroPress? Yup! But the Prismo is a newer device for the AeroPress that’s designed to take things to the next level.
We’ve done an extensive review on the Prismo, but suffice it to say, we think this little add-on is pretty neat.
While you won’t achieve true espresso with the Prismo, it does get you close and saves you from having to buy more paper filters for your AeroPress.
As you might guess, the Turkish brewing method is one that’s steeped in tradition. No filter is used in the Turkish brewing method and the process is done in two stages.
First, very finely ground coffee and water are added to the copper brewing vessel—called a cezve. In many parts of the world, this device is referred to as an ibrik, although that actually means “pitcher” in Turkish and doesn’t necessary denote the coffee brewer. Sugar can also be added directly to the cezve at this stage depending on preference. The solution of coffee grounds and water is brought to a boil wherein a froth, similar to crema in the espresso brewing process, begins to form. At this point, one third of the brew is poured into the cup. The cezve is then placed back onto the heat source to froth again before the remainder of the coffee is poured into the serving cup.
Because of the lack of a filter in the Turkish brewing process, finding some grounds in the bottom of your cup is inevitable. Allowing the grounds to settle somewhat before pouring the coffee can help avoid this coffee sediment.
When you’re done drinking your Turkish brew, don’t forget to flip your cup upside-down on the saucer to let it cool and dry. In Turkey, it’s believed that the pattern of the dried grounds left in the cup can be used to tell your fortune. How’s that for a heavy cup of coffee?
6. Semi-automatic Espresso
Nothing says to the world “I take coffee seriously” like having an espresso machine on your counter. And for good reason too: around the world, espresso and espresso-based drinks are some of the most popular ways to consume coffee.
While the initial investment is a lot higher than with other brewing methods, it turns out that with the right equipment, making good espresso isn’t all that difficult. The key to great espresso is getting your grind right. And for that, you’re going to want a solid burr grinder. Once you have an espresso machine and grinder, you’re off to the races!
Contrary to what many people believe, there is no “espresso bean” but there are some coffees and roast levels that make for objectively better espresso. You’ll need to experiment to see what suits you, but we recommend taking a trip down to your local coffee shop or specialty roaster and asking for their recommended “espresso blend”. This will be their handmade blend of various coffee origins that is guaranteed to delight your palate.
After you’ve made an investment in an espresso machine, you’ll want to make sure you take good care of it. Most of the maintenance and cleaning isn’t difficult or time consuming, but doing it ensures that you’ll be able to enjoy great coffee for years to come.
The siphon coffee brewer, also known as the vacuum brewer, is a coffee brewing method that looks more suited to a chemistry lab than a kitchen counter. The way it works is pretty simple, and it’s based purely on concepts from Physics 101.
As the water in the bottom bowl boils, it begins to let off steam. When the top bowl is inserted into the bottom bowl, a rubber gasket seals the entire unit so the steam has nowhere to go. This steam takes up more space than the water, so it begins to displace the water. Since the system is sealed, the water has nowhere to go but up the tube and into the top bowl where the coffee grounds are. As the water boils and expands into steam, the bottom bowl empties until there is nothing left.
Once all the water is in the top bowl with the coffee grounds, you stir the grounds and water to mix the solution. After some time, you remove the heat source from underneath the bottom and the reverse reaction happens.
The water cools causing it to go from a vapor to a liquid. This means that all the vapor in the bottom bowl condenses, leaving room for the liquid in the top bowl to travel back down the glass tube into the bottom bowl. As it is pulled into the bottom bowl, it passes through a cloth filter so that the coffee grounds stay in the top and the fresh coffee ends up in the bottom.
The siphon method is definitely one of the best ways to show off your coffee prowess. It’s full of gravity-defying reactions and creates a smooth, rich brew if done properly.
Chemex is one of the most iconic craft coffee brewing methods. In fact, Chemex brewing apparatuses can be found on permanent display in the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The Chemex brewer was invented in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, a chemist by trade. Schlumbohm focused on transforming everyday products, such as pour-over coffee makers, into functional works of art.
The Chemex uses a patented double-bonded paper filter to ensure you have a cup that is free of nearly any sediment. Fines that are produced during grinding won’t make it into your brew, resulting in an incredibly smooth and clean cup of coffee.
Even if you don’t use it regularly, the Chemex definitely deserves some space on your coffee shelf. If it’s good enough for three museums…
9. Toddy Cold Brew
Cold brewed coffee evokes a lot of imagery for us at Triple Bar Coffee. Warm summer afternoons. Gentle breezes at sunset. A delicious cold brewed coffee in a condensation-coated tumbler.
This coffee brewing method isn’t only for the dog days of summer. Cold brew creates an incredibly concentrated coffee that can be used to make everything from iced coffee to milkshakes.
Cold brew coffee, sometimes called Toddy coffee or cold press, is made by saturating the coffee grounds with with cold water for many hours. Some recipes only call for 12 hours of brewing, while others call for at least 24 hours. It’s important to note that cold brew gets its name from the fact that it is brewed in cold water, rather than that it is used to make iced coffee, though that is often the case.
After brewing is complete, the resultant coffee is incredibly smooth and highly concentrated (read: highly caffeinated) with less acidity than other methods. Cold brew coffee is great for those in a time crunch (after it’s made of course), as it makes a good amount of concentrated coffee that can be kept fresh in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Cold brew systems, like the Toddy Cold Brew System, tend to be pretty bulky, so if you don’t plan to make it very often, it may be best to delegate the task to your local café or keep it simple with the jar and cheesecloth method.
10. Vietnamese Drip Filter
In Vietnam, many cafes use a device known as a Vietnamese Drip Filter to make a concentrated coffee. This concentrate is poured over ice with sweetened condensed milk to create cà phê đá (pronounced café da). The resulting beverage is very similar to Cuban espresso. You’ll find this brewing method outside of Vietnam in restaurants that serve Vietnamese cuisine.
This is an uncommon brewing method here in the US, but we found it to be a fun and eclectic way to change things up. It’s also similar to pour-over in that you can place the device directly on your cup without the need for a serving vessel. You can find these drip filters online for less than $10. We definitely recommend it for the coffee lover in your life who has everything, because they likely don’t have this brewing apparatus.
11. Moka Pot
The moka pot has its origins—not surprisingly—in Italy. A man named Alfonso Bialetti first began producing the device in 1933. He branded it the Moka Express and they’re still sold today by the same company.
Physically, the moka pot works in a similar manner to the siphon brewer, except that the water only flows upward in the moka pot. As the water in the bottom of the pot boils, steam is created that displaces the water, pushing it up a small tube, through a chamber with ground coffee, until it spouts out the other end of the tube into the reservoir for brewed coffee.
You can even achieve a small amount of crema using the moka pot. The high pressure in brewing is what leads to crema creation, making this brewing method similar to espresso.
The Bialetti Moka Express is a very affordable way to improve your home coffee routine. Coming in a variety of sizes and colors, there is a perfect moka pot for everyone. Also, the moka pot can work on a flame or electric range.
Our favorite method is definitely espresso. Our reasoning is that espresso is an incredibly sophisticated, yet simple brewing method. It produces a concentrated brew capable of turning into a variety of wonderful beverages. While this list recounts the best 11 ways to brew coffee, a single shot of espresso can be turned into more than 11 different types of drinks. This versatility is what makes espresso our favorite brewing method to date.
You may have noticed that we left the drip coffee method off this list. Frankly, drip coffee doesn’t hold a candle to any of the other methods we covered. There are ways to make it better (such as grinding your beans right before brewing), but on the whole, it’s our least favorite method. If you’re going to put the effort into finding and grinding great beans, we think it’s worth finding a better brewing method.