Several factors contribute to a good cup of coffee and at the end of the day you should use the method which suits you best – which can give you the coffee you really enjoy.
That said, there are some important points to consider:
- Use the freshest coffee you can buy (always check the roast date). The coffee should be days or weeks old rather than months. So do not buy too much at one time
- Buy coffee beans if you can, so you can grind just before brewing to maximise freshness
- Make sure the brewing equipment is clean and rinsed (so you avoid unwanted flavours from either old coffee, or detergent). The old maxim that cleanliness is next to godliness holds true for coffee as well.
- Never ‘stew’ the coffee (eg. by keeping it warm on a hotplate) or re-heat it (eg. in a microwave), as either will destroy the flavour
- Measure coffee and water volumes, plus brewing time: this will enable you to fine-tune your method to your personal taste. Then reproduce the result consistently
There are so many resources on-line that show you and tell you how to brew, many with videos. Here are some nice sites we find useful:
Hand-Filtered Coffee: The Pour-over
The coffee filter was invented in 1908 by a German housewife named Melitta Bentz. An easy home method, all it needs is a Melitta® filter, filter papers and fresh coffee beans.
A modern version of the Melitta, the V60 was released in 2004 by Hario, a Japanese glassware company. The V60 stands for the 60-degree angle of the cone shape.
Another variation on the filter system is the CHEMEX® coffeemaker, invented by chemist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm in 1941. The product was developed to be both functional and a thing of beauty.
The pour-over method generally gives a clear and clean cup quality as the paper filters absorb a portion of the coffee oils and retain most of the solids. The body is dependent on how finely you grind your beans.
Dating from 2005, this is a clever little device that requires little more than ground beans, hot water and a specialised mini filter paper. The Aeropress produces a very clean cup with absolutely no coffee ground residues, but arguably not that much body.
The Cafetiere/ Press Pot/ French Press
For lovers of heavy body, the press pot delivers a superb cup. Filtered only through a metal mesh (rather than paper), the coffee oils and often some fine residue pass into the cup. Some people don’t like the resulting sludge that can accumulate at the bottom of their cup, but the richness of this method is undeniable.
The Moka Pot
This old Italian stove-top method of producing home espresso is a timeless classic. The trick to avoiding a burned, bitter brew is to use a low heat in this old-style method. The resulting cup can be thick and strong.