Different Coffee Brewing Methods Around the World
French press, pour over, filter coffee, moka pot, Turkish coffee, espresso, Americano, Greek coffee, bica, macchiato, mocha… It seems like there are almost infinite number of ways and recipes to make and enjoy a cup of coffee taking into account all those ingredients you can use to produce a hot or cold drink with a coffee base. However, we will concentrate on pure coffee brewing methods without any additional ingredients. Surely, not only the additional ingredients but also the way you brew your coffee significantly contributes to its texture, taste, flavor and aroma and produces a different coffee drinking experience. There are mainly four different coffee brewing methods around the world: steeping, drip brewing, boiling and pressurized brewing. All types of coffees fall under one of these four brewing methods with their special and delicious taste. Here are the basics of each method.
Steeping as a coffee brewing method
Steeping is soaking of coffee grounds into hot water to extract flavors. This method is used not only to make coffee but also to brew different types of teas such as black tea, thyme, peppermint etc. To make coffee by steeping you first put coffee grounds into the cup and pour some hot water over it. After waiting for 4-7 minutes you filter the coffee to separate the coffee grounds from the drink. French press and siphon coffee are two examples of brewing coffee by steeping.
How to make French press coffee:
Being among the coffee brewing methods since the 1850s, French press is not so popular with American coffee drinkers but it is very common around Europe. A cafetière, also called French press, is used to brew French press coffee. Cafetière is a long glass cylinder with a plunger moving up and down in it. The plunger has a metal or plastic mesh filter on its tip. Coffee beans should be ground at coarse size to make French press because finer grounds will either get stuck in the mesh filter and make the draining difficult, or will pass through the filter and end up with a thick muddy coffee experience. Golden water to coffee ratio for brewing French press is 15:1 which means 15 grams of water for every gram of coffee. You can alter the ratio depending on your preferences. French press brewing will produce a pure, clean, robust taste. Below are the steps to make French press coffee:
- Put coffee grounds into the cafetière
- Pour hot water over the coffee grounds
- Place the plunger in upper position
- Wait for 3-4 minutes for brewing
- Gently move down the plunger to keep the grounds below the filter
- Pour the coffee free from the grounds into a mug
How to make siphon coffee:
Siphon coffee brewing has been used since the 1830s and it is one of the most theatrical brewing methods. A vacuum brewer and a burner are needed to make siphon coffee. Vacuum brewers could be made of glass or metal but glass vacuum brewers are visually more attractive. Vacuum brewer has two chambers, one on top of the other. The upper chamber has a filter at the bottom and a funnel below the filter which goes into the lower chamber. Coffee beans should be ground at medium size similar to beach sand. Golden water to coffee ratio for brewing siphon coffee is 15:1 which means 15 grams of water for every gram of coffee. Of course, you can use a different ratio depending on your preference. Siphon coffee brewing will produce a mellow, smooth, delicate taste at the end. Below are the steps to make siphon coffee:
- Add water to the bottom chamber
- Fit the filter into the top chamber and place it over the lower chamber
- Light the burner and place the vacuum brewer over it
- Watch the water in the lower chamber climb up to the top chamber
- Measure the temperature of water when most of it reaches the top chamber
- Add coffee grounds to the upper chamber when the water temperature is around 190 degrees Fahrenheit (88 degrees Celsius)
- Gently stir the coffee grounds using a paddle to saturate all coffee grounds
- Wait for 2 minutes for brewing
- Turn off the burner and move the vacuum brewer away from it
- Shortly after, the coffee will draw back into the lower chamber
- Remove the top chamber when the drawing back is completed
- Pour the coffee in the lower chamber into a mug
Drip brewing to make coffee
Drip brewing, also called filtered coffee, is a method in which hot water drips onto coffee grounds held in a filter and ends up in the cup below with the flavors extracted while passing through the coffee grounds and the filter. Drip brewing can be made either by pouring water over the coffee grounds manually or by electric appliances which automatically drip hot water over the coffee grounds. Drip brewing is used while making pour over and drip coffee.
How to make pour over coffee:
Even though pour over coffee originated in 1908 and has a long history, it was not so popular until recently. With more people wishing to make their favorite coffee themselves, there has been a surge in the popularity of pour over coffee lately probably because it is a relatively easier and cheaper method to make coffee at home. You basically need a gooseneck kettle, a filter and a cup, a carafe or a dripper set to make pour over coffee at home instead of sophisticated machines other methods need to provide a similar coffee experience. To learn how to make pour over coffee and more about it, please visit our blog dedicated solely to pour over coffee.
How to make drip coffee:
Drip coffee, also called filter or filtered coffee, is coffee that is made in an electric drip machine or automatic coffee machine as more commonly known. Even though pour over coffee also falls under filtered coffee category, generally, drip coffee made in an automatic machine is meant by the term “filter coffee” or “filtered coffee”. Similarly, the term “drip coffee” is sometimes used to mean pour over coffee even though there is no dripping in pour over method. So, we can say that there is some confusion naming the coffees made by drip brewing!
An automatic coffee machine needed to make filtered coffee. First electric drip brewer was invented in 1954 in Germany and today it is the most common coffee brewing method in Northern Europe and the USA. Coffee beans to make filtered coffee should be ground at medium coarse size similar to beach sand. Golden water to coffee ratio for brewing drip coffee is 17:1 which means 17 grams of water for every gram of coffee. You can change the ratio as you gain experience in making drip coffee to find the best taste that works for you. You will have a clean, refined and balanced taste when you brew coffee in an automatic drip machine. However, you will miss aromatic oils in your coffee since the paper filter used in the machine keeps the oil. Below are the steps to make filtered coffee:
- Add water to the water reservoir
- Put a filter into filter basket
- Add coffee grounds to the filter
- Place the carafe over the warming plate
- Plug in the machine and turn it on
- Wait for machine to finish its job
- Throw away the filter and coffee sediments in it
- Remove the carafe and serve the brewed coffee into a mug
- Warming plate will keep the remaining coffee in the carafe warm if you put it back
- Enjoy your coffee!
Boiling as a coffee brewing method
In the boiling method coffee is brewed within the water either by pouring hot water over it or by putting the pot with coffee and water directly over a burner, and then left for some time for coffee grounds to settle in the bottom of the mug or cup. Since the coffee grounds create a mud-like sludge at the bottom, the coffees made with this method are sometimes called mud coffee. There are two important points to remember when making and drinking a mud coffee, though: mud coffee will be hotter than most of the coffees brewed by other methods and the coffee grounds at the bottom should not be drunk so you are done when you come to the grounds.
Boiling is the oldest coffee brewing method and was the only one until late 1800s. It is still in use in Nordic countries and the Middle and Far East. Kopi Tubruk, Cowboy coffee and Turkish coffee are some examples of coffee brewed by this method.
How to make Kopi Tubruk:
Kopi Tubruk is a traditional coffee made in Indonesia which is a country very attached to coffee drinking since the 1700s. No special equipment is needed to make Kopi Tubruk other than a pot and a cup. Coffee grounds should be extremely fine, otherwise they will not settle in the bottom and float at the surface. Water to coffee ratio for Kopi Tubruk is 10:1 which is 10 gram of water for each gram of coffee. In Indonesia people usually drink coffee with sugar so you may prefer to try it with sugar. The amount of sugar to add varies depending on the preference but, mostly, equal amounts of sugar and coffee are used. Kopi Tubruk will produce a rich thick coffee experience at the end. Be aware that you should not drink the coffee grounds settled in the bottom. Below are the steps to make Kopi Tubruk, you can simply skip sugar if you wish:
- Add coffee grounds and sugar into a cup
- Boil the water and pour the hot water over the coffee grounds and sugar
- Stir it to completely mix the coffee, sugar and water
- Leave it a few minutes so that the coffee grounds settle in the bottom of the cup while releasing their flavor and aroma into the water
- It is ready when the coffee grounds sink to the bottom
How to make cowboy coffee:
This is a traditional coffee made by cowboys over an open fire when they are on the trail, but, of course, you can also make it on the stove at home. No special equipment is needed other than a pot to put over fire and a cup, but surprisingly you will need salt to enrich the taste of coffee. Coffee grounds should be medium coarse. Golden water to coffee ratio for brewing cowboy coffee is 9:1 which is 9 gram of water for each gram of coffee. You will have a bold flavorful taste at the end and some traditional feelings emerged from the Wild West! It also tastes a little bit more bitter than other coffees since the boiling temperature causes coffee beans to release their bitter acids into the water. To avoid bitterness you can add some milk after your coffee is brewed. Below are the steps to make cowboy coffee:
- Add water and a pinch of salt into the pot
- Place the pot over a stove or on an open fire if you are outside
- Pour the coffee grounds into the water and stir it
- Wait for it to boil for 2-3 minutes
- Move it away from the fire and let it stay for sometime so that the coffee grounds settle in the bottom
- Add a small amount of cold water to help coffee grounds floating over the surface to go down
- You can also filter the coffee if the coffee grounds do not completely settle in the bottom, even though it is not in the original recipe!
- It is ready when all the coffee grounds are at the bottom
- Pour the liquid into a cup leaving the coffee sediments in the pot
How to make Turkish coffee, also called Greek coffee:
This is a traditional coffee making method used in Turkey, Greece and Middle East countries since the 16th century and is named today according to country names. So both the Turkish coffee and the Greek coffee have the same coffee making process. To make Turkish coffee you need a coffee pot to use over a stove which is called “cezve” in Turkish and “briki” in Greek. The coffee beans should be very finely ground. Water to coffee ratio for a perfect Turkish coffee is 10:1 which is 10 gram of water for each gram of coffee.
The secret to making a perfect Turkish or Greek coffee is not to allow coffee to boil and let it be brewed just under boiling point at around 205 degrees Fahrenheit (96 degrees Celsius). This is the temperature that ensures the coffee grounds release aromatic oils into the water and that does not allow bitter acids to pass into water. So, you will have a sweet, flavorful and thick coffee experience at the end. Please be aware of the fact that Turkish and Greek coffee will be hotter than other coffees you have tasted before. To learn more about Turkish coffee and how to make it please visit our blog pages dedicated solely to Turkish coffee.
Pressurized brewing of coffee
Pressurized brewing is forcing hot water under pressure to pass through coffee grounds concentrated in the shape of a puck. Even though there are some recent devices to use manually for pressurized brewing, mostly machines specifically designed for this purpose are used to brew coffee with this method. Espresso, moka pot, and recent AeroPress are examples of coffees made by pressurized brewing.
How to make espresso:
Espresso, made since the beginning of the 1900s, is an Italian way of making coffee and famous for its foamy crema on top. It is served in small cups drunk directly as a single shot or used as a base for several hot and cold drinks such as latte, cappuccino, frappuccino etc. To make espresso at home, it is necessary to have an espresso machine which brews coffee using pressurized water. Fully automated machines will receive the beans, grind them and compress them into a puck, but if you have a semi-automatic machine as usual, then you should prepare the coffee grounds yourself and puck them using a portafilter.
To make espresso coffee beans should be ground at fine even very fine so that they can firmly gather to form a puck. Water to coffee ratio for a traditional espresso taste is 2:1 which means 2 grams of water for every gram of coffee. However, you will see different ratios ranging from 4:1 to 1:1 among which you can determine your preference. A perfect espresso will have an intense sweet taste similar to a rich caramel. Any sourness in the taste indicates a problem in the brewing process either in the grind size, water temperature or extraction time. Below are the steps of making espresso:
- Add water to the water reservoir of the machine
- Ensure all components of the machine are fixed including portafilter
- Turn on the machine to make a one shot without adding coffee grounds so that both the machine and the cup is heated up
- Add coffee grounds to the portafilter
- Tamp coffee grounds and make sure that they are firmly packed into the portafilter
- Place the portafilter to its slot
- Start the machine to extract the espresso shot
- Stop the machine once the coffee in the cup reaches the desired amount or the flowing shot starts to turn blonde, probably 20-30 seconds after the flow begins
- Remove the cup from the machine
- Enjoy your espresso!
How to make moka pot:
The moka pot coffee is brewed in an appliance used since the 1930s and called moka pot by some while being called caffettiera or Italian coffeepot by others. Moka pot coffee differs from espresso by not having a cream on top. Moka pot has three chambers in it and is used over a burner during the whole brewing process. The lower chamber has water, the middle chamber has the coffee grounds and the upper chamber has the coffee at the end of the brewing. As the water in the below chamber gets boiled it creates a steam pressure at about one bar, which is one eighth of an espresso machine, and this pressure forces the boiling water to move up through the coffee grounds in the middle and end up in the upper chamber extracting all flavors, aroma and oil in the coffee grounds and creating a delicious coffee.
Coffee beans to make moka pot should be fine grind a little bit coarser than espresso grounds. Golden water to coffee ratio for brewing moka pot is 7:1 which means 7 grams of water for every gram of coffee. Moka pot coffee tastes very similar to espresso so leaves a sweet caramel-like feeling in the mouth. Below are the steps to make moka pot coffee:
- Put coffee grounds into the filter but do not tamp it as in espresso
- Ensure that the rubber gasket is attached to the upper chamber
- Add water to the lower chamber of moka pot until the safety valve, preferably hot water to shorten the boiling time which can affect the final taste of the coffee
- Place the filter carrying the coffee grounds on top of lower chamber
- Screw the upper and lower chambers together
- Put the moka pot over the burner
- Wait until you hear a gurgling sound
- Take the moka pot using a towel and let some cold water run over the lower chamber to get rid of the steam and completely stop the brewing process to avoid any burn
- Pour your coffee into a cup
How to make coffee using an AeroPress:
AeroPress, which was launched in 2005, is a very recent mechanical device used to make coffee manually with pressurized water. AeroPress is a cylindrical brewer which has a filter at the bottom and a plunger moving inside. It is very cheap, compact and portable to anywhere. The pressure is created by moving the plunger down by hand and this movement forces water in the chamber to run through the coffee grounds below to end up in the mug as an AeroPress coffee.
AeroPress can be used with different grind sizes but medium coarse is recommended most since finer grounds make it difficult to move the plunger down and coarser grounds extend the brewing time.Water to coffee ratio for AeroPress is very variable from 16:1 to 2:1 which shows the amount of water in grams for every gram of coffee. So, you should try different ratios until you find what is best for your taste. AeroPress produces a coffee between a moka pot and a French press and tastes smoother than espresso. Below are the steps to make AeroPress coffee:
- Boil the water and leave it to cool down to around 170 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius)
- Assemble the plunger and its seal into the chamber and pull it as back as possible
- Place the AeroPress upside down over the scale
- Add coffee grounds into the chamber
- Add some water and wait for one minute to make sure all coffee grounds get saturated
- Pour the remaining water
- Stir the coffee grounds
- Put a filter into the filter cap and dampen it using hot water
- Screw the filter cap tightly to the AeroPress
- Turn the AeroPress over a coffee mug
- Press down the plunger slowly
- When there is no more place to move the plunger, your coffee is ready