There are 6 types of brewing methods for coffee:
1. Drip filtration – this is your standard auto-drip machine or the manual pourover method. You pass hot water over ground coffee (remember freshly ground is highly recommended) and there’s a paper filter that catches oils and sediments. The coffee drips through and voila, you have your brew! Auto-drip is by far the most common method used in most homes, while manual pour-over has regained popularity with recent coffee connoisseurs because it offers better control over brewing.
2. Steeping (or immersion) – This technique involves the ground coffee having constant contact with hot or cold water for a certain amount of time, extracting the flavors from coffee into the water. Filtration happens in one go at the end. French press, aeropress and toddy brewing system are all examples of this method.
3. Pressurized infusion – a long time ago, the Italians who wanted their coffee quick, invented the method of using pressure. This led to the invention of the espresso technique, the espresso shot and all the derived types of drinks using espresso shots. The way this works is that you shoot water under pressure through finely ground and tightly packed ground coffee, and what comes through is a small shot-sized piece of goodness on the other end.
4. Vacuum filtration – this is the siphon and other funky-looking but also very finicky methods used in some cafes. I’ve only tried coffee from this system once, and wasn’t impressed for the amount of work that goes into this. This is best viewed in a display case since it looks so cool.
5. Decalktion – also famously known as cowboy coffee. Turkish coffee is also made in this way (in a device with a long handle called ibrik). The idea is that you are boiling water with coffee above it and as the water comes to boil, it extracts from the coffee above it. This coffee is generally considered to the strong, although that’s generally a misrepresentation for bitter due to overextraction.
6. Percolation – the last method is percolation where the water is boiling through finely ground coffee and collecting as coffee above it. Stovetop coffee makers and mokapots are examples of this technique.
Keep in mind that this industry is getting a lot of attention and there will likely be more and more innovation in brewing methods over the next few years. This list will hopefully expand (I’ll update it as I learn more) and hopefully it will lead to better-tasting coffee.
Over the next few weeks and months, I’ll get into specific methods, techniques, what works well, and what doesn’t for specific brewers.