Coffee can be prepared many different ways, and each brewing method yields a slightly different result, even when you use the same beans.
While you may already have a go-to method of making coffee, why not try some different ways to make coffee at home?
In this comprehensive guide to coffee brewing methods, we share 13 different ways to brew coffee from the comfort of your own home.
We explain how to make delicious coffee with each brew style and the pros and cons of each method. You’ll expand your coffee knowledge, and you may even discover some new favourite types of coffee brewing.
Comparison of the different ways to make coffee at home
All types of coffee brewing methods seek to extract desirable compounds (e.g. caffeine, acids, etc.) from coffee grounds, but they each do so in a slightly different way.
This creates a slightly different profile depending on what brewing method you use.
The coffee brewing methods comparison table is a quick guide to the different coffee making methods. It includes the various parameters to use for each brew style and what sort of profile you can expect each method to produce.
|Method||Grind||Roast*||Brew Time||Gear Cost||Difficulty||Flavor Profile|
|Espresso||Fine||Light to dark||15 - 45 seconds||$$$||Advanced||Smooth, sweet and complex|
|Moka Pot||Fine||Dark||4 - 5 minutes||$||Average||Intense and dark|
|Aeropress||Medium-Fine||Medium to dark||2 - 3 minutes||$$||Advanced||Clean and smooth|
|Pour over dripper||Medium-Fine to Medium-Coarse||Light to medium||3 - 12 minutes||$||Advanced||Bright and balanced|
|Chemex||Medium-Coarse||Light to medium||3 - 5 minutes||$$||Advanced||Bright and balanced|
|Drip Batch||Medium to Medium-Coarse||Light to dark||3 - 12 minutes||$$||Easy||Balanced|
|French Press||Coarse||Medium to dark||4 - 6 minutes||$||Average||Big and bold|
|Percolator||Coarse||Dark||5 - 10 minutes||$||Easy||Intense and dark|
|Siphon||Medium-Fine||Light||1 - 2 minutes||$$$||Advanced||Bright and clean|
|Cold Brew||Extra-Coarse||Medium to dark||12 - 18 hours||$||Average||Rich and smooth|
|Nitro Brewing||Extra-Coarse||Medium to dark||12 - 18 hours||$$$||Advanced||Rich and smooth|
|Turkish pot||Extra-Fine||Dark||3 - 4 minutes||$||Average||Bold and dark|
|Vietnamese Phin||Medium-Fine||Dark||4 - 6 minutes||$||Easy||Bold and dark|
*Roast – Most brewing methods can be used with any roast level, and experimenting with different roasts can yield unexpected results. The suggested roast levels are only recommendations of what’s often used with the various brewing methods.
Espresso brewing methods
Espresso introduces pressure as an additional variable that most other coffee brewing methods don’t have.
The espresso shot came into being as machines that could apply pressure – first manually and now automatically – were developed.
Brewing coffee at high pressures is what gives the espresso shot its distinctive form of the heart, body and crema.
How to brew espresso
To pull an espresso shot, you’ll need an espresso machine. The process is different depending on whether you have an automatic, semiautomatic or manual machine.
- Simply ensure that coffee beans are in the machine
- Press the appropriate button to pull a single or double shot
- Allow the machine to take care of every aspect until the last drips of the shot enter your cup.
A fully manual espresso machine requires a hands on approach:
- Grinding the coffee into a portafilter
- Tamping the portafilter and loading the portafilter into the machine’s group head
- Pulling the shot (usually by pressing a button, but sometimes by pulling a lever).
You must calibrate the grind – which can take several tries – and watch the shot to determine when it’s finished pulling.
Semiautomatic machines strike a balance between these other two options. You need to perform some of the work but taking care of other aspects. Most semiautomatic machines require the user to:
- Prepare the portafilter
- Take care of pulling the shot.
The exact balance between manual and automatic operations can vary slightly from machine to machine.
Of course, many people enjoy their espresso combined with steamed milk in cappuccinos, lattes or other concoctions. Most espresso machines and even some Nespresso coffee pod machines also have a steam wand to froth milk.
Espresso flavour profile
The reputation that espresso has for being bitter isn’t fully deserved.
It stems from coffea robusta beans that are sometimes used because they produce more crema (the top layer), and from the finicky nature of pulling shots.
A mis-calibrated shot may indeed be bitter, sour or otherwise off-tasting.
A well-calibrated espresso shot from coffea arabica beans should be anything but bitter, however.
The best shots are smooth, sweet and full of flavour – they have a richness that can only be achieved by brewing with pressure.
Advantages of espresso brewing methods
- Creates a flavour profile unlike any other brewing method
- Automatic machines offer convenience, and manual machines provide plenty of control
- Most espresso machines have a steam wand for frothing milk
- Espresso is the base for many coffee-and-milk beverages
- Even a good cheap espresso machine will make a great shot and save you $$.
Disadvantages of espresso brewing methods
- Espresso machines are some of the most expensive coffee makers
- Pulling shots of espresso is complex and requires practice
- Calibrating espresso shots can use up a lot of coffee
- Espresso machines require a significant amount of space
For people who enjoy the rich and complex flavour profile of an espresso shot, there is no other brewing method that’s a good substitute. It is an ideal single cup coffee brewing system and there is no paper or pod waste generated.
Because machines are expensive and pulling shots is complex, though, some people prefer to have their espresso at a café rather than learning how to brew espresso at home.
Moka Pot brewing method
The poor man’s espresso machine, the moka pot is sometimes seen as a cheap device for a complex method – and it attains the corresponding result that you’d expect.
“Espresso” brewed in a moka pot is dark and intense like those less-desirable shots you’ve had. But this brewing process will never produce the multi-layered, sweet and complex profile of an expertly pulled espresso shot.
However, when the moka pot isn’t compared to a machine that costs ten times as much, it proves to be a brewing method that can stand on its own.
How to make good coffee with a Moka Pot
The moka pot works by forcing steam from a lower chamber up through ground coffee. Brewed coffee then flows out of a fountain in the upper chamber.
To brew with a moka pot, use a fine grind (just slightly coarser than an espresso grind).
The brewing process itself is fairly simple:
- Fill the bottom chamber with water
- Fill the middle chamber with grounds
- Screw the three chambers together
- Place on the stove until coffee no longer bubbles up
Top Tip: Make sure you don’t fill the bottom chamber above its pressure release valve, and watch the pot so that it doesn’t stay on the stove once the bottom chamber is dry.
While you should always measure out your coffee and water for optimal quality, most people who use moka pots simply fill the chambers.
Measuring carefully isn’t as critical when using a less precise brewing method like this.
How to make Cafe Cubano with a moka pot
The moka pot is especially popular in Cuba, where it’s commonly used to brew cafe Cubano.
To make Cuban coffee, follow the above steps but add some sugar to the top chamber before brewing.
The sugar will mitigate any bitterness in the brewed coffee. It’ll mix with the hot coffee to create a frothy, sweet and delicious concoction. Drink it as-is, or add cream.
Moka Pot flavour profile
Because moka pots use steam that’s 100°C (212°F) or hotter to extract from coffee grounds, the grounds are actually scalded during brewing.
This creates a darker, more intense flavor that’s sometimes even bitter.
Bitterness can be mitigated by using darker roasts (which stand up to the hot temperatures better) and adding sugar and milk.
Advantages of brewing with a moka pot
- Moka pots are inexpensive and simple to use
- Creates an espresso-like coffee
- Stovetop coffee makers are portable
Disadvantages of brewing with a moka pot
- Steam scalds the coffee grounds during brewing
- Brewing process is less precise
- Coffee can taste bitter
The moka pot is a fun coffee maker to experiment with, and many people enjoy using it regularly. It is a popular choice for travellers and campers too.
When not compared to an expensive espresso machine, this is a brewing process that has a lot to offer people who like dark-roast coffees and add sugar.
Aeropress brewing methods
The Aeropress is one of the new coffee brewing methods that’s designed to mimic espresso.
Rather than using machine-generated pressure, it introduces pressure into the brewing process manually as the user pushes down a plunger.
“Espresso” that’s made with an aeropress won’t stand up to a true espresso shot if they were compared side-by-side.
However the aeropress coffee maker does offer much more control than a moka pot, and it’s quickly become a popular espresso alternative.
How to brew fresh coffee with an Aeropress
The Aeropress works with a multitude of brewing recipes, and users continue to experiment with new methods.
In general, making aeropress coffee involves:
- Pre-wetting the paper filter
- Inserting the grounds and hot water
- Letting the coffee steep
- Pushing the coffee down with the plunger.
Don’t feel compelled to follow the “official” Aeropress method included in the instructions. It is good to experiment with different ways of making coffee at home with recipes that you find online. There’s no shortage to try.
Aeropress flavour profile
The Aeropress’ use of pressure helps bring out nuanced flavors that are found in light- and medium-roast coffees. For this reason it is considered by many to be the best method of brewing coffee.
While it’s not quite a true shot of espresso, this is probably the closest you’ll get to espresso without investing in a full-fledged machine.
Advantages of brewing with the Aeropress
- Brewing process makes an espresso-like coffee
- The Aeropress is much more affordable and smaller than an espresso machine
- Numerous recipes are available to try
- Compact and portable enough to take away with you.
Disadvantages of brewing with the Aeropress
- Brewed coffee isn’t quite a true espresso shot
- Makes only a small amount of coffee at a time
- Complex brewing process
For the coffee aficionado who likes to experiment with variables, the Aeropress offers plenty of opportunities to try different things.
Pour Over brewing method
The pour over brewing method is akin to standard drip coffee, except it gives the user complete control over every aspect of the brewing process.
It is one of the most popular manual brewing methods and there are several well known dripper brands including Hario, Kalita and Melita.
How to brew coffee with a pour over
Brewing with a manual pour over coffee maker is much like brewing with a drip coffee maker, except you must control the rate and pattern of the water.
The steps to brew pour over are to:
- Set up the filter and coffee grounds
- Heat your water
- Pour the water over the coffee grounds in enlarging concentric circles
- Aim to brew all of your measured water in about 4 to 5 minutes for a standard-sized pour-over.
You’ll want a gooseneck kettle for precision and note that larger pour-overs used for entertaining may take longer to brew. See our detailed guide to pour over coffee brewing here.
Pour Over flavour profile
Pour-over coffee makers afford great control over the brewing process, which makes it possible to highlight nuanced flavours in coffees.
In particular, you can adjust the pattern by which water is poured over the grounds. Try different parameters and perfect your technique, until you’re able to get the most subtle complexities out of the grounds.
Lighter roasts have more of these nuances and complexities and are a great choice for the pour over method.
Advantages of brewing with a pour over
- Pour-overs afford great control over many brewing variables
- Light and medium roast coffees’ profiles are showcased well.
Disadvantages of brewing with a pour over
- Complex brewing process that requires practice pouring
- Gooseneck kettle needed for pouring precision.
Chemex brewing method
The Chemex is a specific type of manual pour-over coffee maker that’s been around since the 1940s.
It’s one of the most popular pour-overs, and also one of the best versions of this manual brewing method.
How to brew with a Chemex
Brewing with a Chemex follows the same basic steps as brewing with any other pour-over.
- Set up the filter and coffee grounds
- Heat your water
- Pour the water over the coffee grounds in enlarging concentric circles.
Note the brew time for a 2-cup Chemex should be 3.5 to 4.5 minutes. Larger models will require longer brew times.
Compared to other pour-overs, the Chemex is a particularly elegant one. It highlights the aesthetic of this brewing method, which is certainly part of the method’s attraction.
Chemex flavour profile
The flavor profile that’s produced by a Chemex coffee maker is also much like any other decent pour-over.
Light and medium roasts will be full of aromas and flavors when expertly brewed. The flavour produced with the Chemex is one of the reasons it is considered one of the best ways to brew coffee at home.
Advantages of brewing with the Chemex
- Chemex affords control over brewing variables
- Light and medium roasts’ profiles shine
- Visually elegant brewing process
- Larger pour over brewer for entertaining
Disadvantages of brewing with the Chemex
- Brewing process requires practice pouring
- Gooseneck kettle required for precision
Drip Batch brewing method
The drip coffee maker is ubiquitous in many homes and cafes, thanks largely to its convenient brewing process that delivers a good cup of coffee.
For a balance of ease and quality, few others compete with an automatic drip batch brewer.
How to brew with a drip batch brewer
To brew with a basic drip batch coffee maker:
- Place the filter in the machine and fill with an appropriate amount of grounds
- You can use the carafe to measure out the water, which will go into a heating chamber on the machine
- Turn the machine on once the filter, grounds, carafe and water are all in place – the drip brewer will take care of the rest.
More advanced drip brewers have settings that can be programmed.
Brewing with an advanced brewer is much like using a basic version, except you can adjust more of the parameters before brewing.
Drip batch brewer flavour profile
Drip coffee is known for its balance. The brew method won’t make any specific traits stand out, but it’ll brew any good-quality coffee well.
Advantages of brewing with a drip batch brewer
- Drip brewers are easy to use
- Some models can be pre-programmed to brew at a specific time
- Models come in sizes ranging from one cup to twelve cups.
Disadvantages of brewing with a drip batch brewer
- Most drip brewers allow for minimal control over brewing variables
- Balanced brewing technique won’t highlight any specific qualities.
French Press brewing method
The French press is a classic coffee maker that’s now more than a century old.
Even among today’s technologically advanced brewers, this simple beaker and plunger more than holds its own.
The press has withstood the test of time because it’s an easy way to make coffee and works well.
How to brew with a French press
Making coffee in a French press is a simple three step process:
- Place coarse grounds into the bottom of the press and add hot water.
- Put the top on the press while it steeps for 4 to 5 minutes
- Plunge, pour and enjoy.
French press coffee flavour profile
The French press method makes big and bold coffee, because it leaves fines and oils in the brewed cup.
The little sediment that’s not caught by the press’s metal screen enhances the brew’s body, while oils that aren’t trapped by the screen bring out nuanced flavours.
This makes the press well-suited for bold and flavourful coffees, such as medium and dark roasts and naturally processed selections.
Advantages of brewing with a French press
- Brewing method is simple and easy
- Press requires no electricity or gas to work
- Brewing method creates bold and flavourful coffee
Disadvantages of brewing with a French press
- Fines and sediment is left in the brewed coffee (disadvantage to some)
- Most presses are smaller in size
Siphon Coffee brewing method
Siphon coffee brewers are the only coffee makers that use negative pressure during brewing and are one of the more unique coffee brewing methods.
Water is drawn up via a vacuum, creating a brew method that’s distinctively artistic and yields a delicious cup.
How to brew with a Siphon coffee maker
Siphon coffee makers are specifically prized for their artistic presentation, and many have a somewhat complex apparatus as a result.
Regardless of their peripheral accessories, however, all siphon coffee makers work in essentially the same way.
Vacuum pot coffee brewing steps are:
- Place the grounds and the water in the appropriate chambers
- Heat up the water until it enters the grounds chamber
- Let the grounds steep
- After a short time, turn off the heat source and the brewed coffee will return to the original water chamber.
Siphon coffee maker flavour profile
The siphon brewer was developed specifically to address issues that come from having grounds in a cup of coffee, and this style of coffee is extremely clean as a result.
Light roasts will showcase their terroir (inherent traits from the growing climate) well with this brew method.
Advantages of brewing with a Siphon coffee maker
- Siphon coffee makers have a beautiful aesthetic
- Brewing method offers great control over variables
- Produces clean and flavourful coffee
Disadvantages of brewing with a Siphon coffee maker
- Siphon apparatus is large
- This alternative coffee brewing method is complex
- Siphon coffee makers can be expensive
Percolator brewing method
Coffee percolators were pervasive before the advent of the automatic drip machine, and some people remain loyal to their stovetop or electric percolators.
These machines are easy to use and capable of making large batches, but those advantages come with a significant trade-off in taste.
Most people have moved onto the automatic drip (or another coffee maker), because they offer similar convenience and better brewing control.
How to brew with a Percolator
To brew with a percolator:
- Fill the base with water and the upper grounds container with coarse grounds
- Heat the water until it boils up to the grounds container
- Let the coffee maker percolate for several minutes before turning it off.
Percolator flavour profile
The coffee percolator boils water until it bubbles up to the grounds through a narrow pipe.
The water then drips down through the grounds and into the water chamber, where it will continue to boil and drip down through the grounds until percolation is stopped.
Because percolators brew at high temperatures and rebrew coffee, they’re prone to over-extraction that produces bitter flavours.
Darker roasts will withstand these harsh brewing parameters better than light roasts, but even a dark coffee can be bitter when made in a percolator.
Advantages of brewing with a Percolator
- Brewing method is easy and convenient
- Some models can make large batches
Disadvantages of brewing with a Percolator
- Over-extraction produces bitter coffee
Cold Brew Coffee methods
Cold brewing coffee at home has become popular in recent years, but this brewing method has a rich tradition that extends back to at least the 17th Century.
Often made as a rich concentrate, cold coffee brewing is much more versatile than most people realize.
How to brew cold brew coffee
Making cold brew coffee is quite easy and requires no specialized equipment, although cold brew kits are available.
- Simply combine extra coarse coffee grounds with room-temperature water
- Let the mixture sit for anywhere from 12 to 18 hours.
- Remove the grounds after this time, either by using a cold-brew kit, cheese cloth or fine sieve.
The exact ratios that people use vary, but a general coffee-to-water ratio of 1:4 works well when making a coffee concentrate. See our in-depth guide to cold brew coffee brewing here.
This cold brew concentrate can then be stored for a week or two in the refrigerator, and you can combine it with cold or hot water when you want a cup.
Cold brew refers specifically to the brewing method – and not the drinking temperature – and it makes good warm coffee as well as cool coffee.
Cold Brew flavour profile
Because cold brew coffee is made with much cooler water than normal, the flavour profile is quite distinctive.
You won’t get nuanced flavours with this brewing method, but it instead produces a full-bodied and smooth coffee that goes extremely well with cream and sugar.
The brewing method also will mask undesirable characteristics in coffee, making it a good way to use up old or bad coffee.
Advantages of brewing cold brew coffee
- Brewing method produces rich and smooth coffee that goes well with cream
- Cooler brewing temperature masks undesirable characteristics in coffee
- Concentrate can be pre-made and used on an as-needed basis
Disadvantages of brewing cold-brew coffee
- Cooler brewing temperatures don’t bring out nuanced desirable flavors
- Making concentrate requires a lot of coffee grounds
Nitro Cold Brew brewing method
The beer of coffee, nitro cold brew has a head and goes down smooth.
Although it is popular in cafes, making nitro cold brew at home requires more coffee brewing equipment than most people want to invest in.
But it is increasing in popularity for home brewers as nitro coffee makers become more readily available.
How to brew nitro cold brew coffee
Making nitro cold brew coffee requires a method of infusing nitrogen, which can be done via either a mini-keg or a whipped cream canister.
To make nitro coffee:
- Make cold-brew concentrate (see above)
- Infuse cold brew with nitrogen
- Store in the fridge until needed.
Nitro cold brew coffee flavour profile
Nitrogen infusion enhances the inherent smoothness of cold brew coffee, and produces a creamy, foamy coffee brew unlike any other – it is certainly one of the more different methods of brewing coffee.
It is worth noting that those nitrogen bubbles also increase how quickly caffeine enters the body.
This should be specifically remembered, as cold brew concentrate is already highly caffeinated if not diluted.
Advantages of brewing nitro cold-brew coffee
- Nitrogen infusion enhances the inherent smoothness of cold-brew
- Brewing method creates a creamy texture similar to beer
Disadvantages of brewing nitro cold-brew coffee
- Brewing method requires equipment to infuse nitrogen
- Nitrogen bubbles accelerate caffeine intake
- Home nitro coffee makers can be expensive
Turkish Coffee brewing method
Turkish coffee is strong, sweet and best enjoyed in small quantities.
The inclusion of sugar during the brewing method gives this coffee its frothy appearance and texture.
How to brew Turkish Coffee
The Turkish coffee method traditionally uses a small, wide-bottomed copper pot called a cezve or ibrik.
To make good coffee with a cezve:
- Place extra-fine grounds, water and plenty of sugar into the pot
- Slowly heat the mixture, but do not let it boil
- Continue brewing just below a boil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dark froth begins to breach the small pot.
Turkish Coffee flavour profile
The bitterness that comes with high brew temperatures and over-extraction is effectively mitigated by the inclusion of sugar during brewing.
The result is the rich and sweet, almost dessert-like brew that’s Turkish coffee.
Since the flavour profile of Turkish coffee comes primarily from over-extracting coffee and brewing it with sugar, this is a good way to use up old and low-quality coffee beans.
Advantages of brewing Turkish coffee
- Traditional brewing method is aesthetically pleasing
- Cheap and portable coffee maker
- Brewing process creates a strong and sweet flavor profile
- Sugar mitigates undesirable flavors found in low-quality coffee.
Disadvantages of brewing Turkish coffee
- Sugar and over-extraction mask nuanced flavors in high-quality coffee
- Brewing process requires attention but affords little control over variables.
Vietnamese Phin brewing method
Phin coffee may be considered the traditional Vietnamese way to brew coffee, but all of the components used can be attributed to the French.
The French introduced coffee, the phin and sweetened condensed milk to Vietnam.
How to brew coffee with a Vietnamese Phin
A phin is a French-style drip filter that sits atop a single cup.
To make Vietnamese coffee:
- The phin sits atop your coffee cup, holding medium-fine grounds.
- Once you have the filter set up, add boiling water and let it filter through the coffee.
- Add sweetened condensed milk to taste after brewing for a traditional cup.
This style of coffee can be enjoyed hot or over ice.
Vietnamese Phin coffee flavour profile
Vietnamese phin coffee is traditionally made with coffea robusta beans, which are the only coffee beans that grow in Vietnam but taste quite bitter.
The addition of sweetened condensed milk mitigates the robusta beans’ bitterness.
Brewing Vietnamese phin coffee with high-quality coffea arabica beans will produce a much better coffee. However the finer notes will be lost in the thick sweetness of condensed milk. In this case it can be brewed without the milk.
Advantages of brewing Vietnamese coffee
- Brewing method is simple
- Sweetened condensed milk covers up bitterness from low-quality coffee
Disadvantages of brewing Vietnamese Coffee
- Sweetened condensed milk also covers desirable traits of high-quality coffee
- Brewing process makes only one cup of coffee
Frequently asked questions
What coffee brewing method is best?
All the best coffee making methods offer unique combinations of convenience, control, cost and flavour. Some methods work better with certain types of roasts.
However there isn’t any one method that’s best. The best way to make coffee at home is the one that suits your taste, time and brewing preferences.
What is the healthiest way to brew coffee at home?
Coffee oils have a minor amount of cholesterol in them, and non-decaffeinated coffee (obviously) contains caffeine.
Any methods of coffee brewing that uses a paper filter will remove the oils that contain cholesterol. The only way to remove caffeine is through decaffeination.
Aside from these considerations, the healthiest way to enjoy coffee is usually in moderation rather than by using a particular brewing method.
Get ready to experiment with different coffee brewing methods
Coffee is a versatile beverage, and there are lots of ways to make it.
Experiment with how to make coffee at home, and see which ways to brew coffee you prefer.
You’ll likely find a favourite daily way to brew coffee at home and a few other ways to brew coffee on special occasions.
What do you think is the best method to brew coffee? Let us know in the comments below!
More coffee guides
- Guide to the best milk frother
- Best coffee grinders
- Guide to all the different types of coffee drinks
- Iced latte vs iced coffee
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