Coffee Brewing Methods: How to Brew Great Coffee At Home

There are many ways that you can brew coffee while in the comforts of your own home. From the specialty-grade espresso-based drinks to the more affordable manual brewing method.

To be honest, there is no best way to coffee brewing. It depends on individuals. While some enjoy the complexities of brewing a cup of good coffee, others want it to be hassle-free. It is up to you to decide which coffee making methods suit you best. And if all else fails, you can still head down to the nearest coffee shop to get your favorite cup of coffee 🙂

Today, in this guide to brewing great coffee at home, we’re going to reveal the coffee brewing methods. There are four basic methods – boiling, steeping, dripping and pressure. Read on for the different techniques to brewing coffee.

Boiling Method

If you’re looking at something simple and economical, the boiling method will set you up nicely. It is really easy – you just add coffee with boiling (or near-boiling) water.

The boiling method is a loose term as we don’t really boil coffee grounds (technically).

Cowboy Coffee

This is one of the oldest coffee brewing methods. All you have to do is to boil water, throw in your ground coffee, remove from the heat source and let it brew for about 4-5 minutes.

Once the coffee settles down to a drinkable temperature, the grounds will sink to the bottom of the cup. Pour the coffee into a separate mug (be careful not to pour in the sediments) and you can start enjoying your cup of coffee.

boiling coffee in a kettle

As for the coffee grounds, medium-coarse or larger ones will be ideal. The advantage of using coarse grinds is that you get to store your ground coffee longer. The resulting brew is a hit-or-miss as it depends on the grinds used and the brewing time. You can refer to our grind size guide for more information on why it matters.

Mud Coffee

Mud coffee is a traditional method of brewing coffee. It is still used in the Middle East and some parts of Indonesia. And the brewing method is exactly the same as how you make cowboy coffee.

Why call it mud coffee? Well, this method uses very fine grinds that results in a mud-like sludge often left at the bottom of the cup. But you ought to be careful to avoid drinking from this layer. At times, it may be floating at the surface of the coffee. The ‘mud’ will not sink to the bottom if you use coffee grounds that are not fine enough.

Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is the oldest method in the history of making coffee – about 500 years old!

You will need a Turkish coffee pot (“cezve” or “ibrik”), water and extremely fine ground coffee (only a special grinder can do this). Surprisingly, you only require ⅓ of the amount of ground coffee as compared with other coffee brewing methods.

turkish coffee tools in the outdoors

Brewing time takes about 3-4 minutes per cup which is quick. Once you remove the pot from the heat, the grounds will completely sink to the bottom in about 30 seconds.

Be careful not to overflow the mixture as the water gets near to boiling temperature. The trick is to remove the coffee pot from the heat source right before it overflows. You can also brew it at lower temperatures for longer periods of time. This also helps in strengthening the sweet flavor.

The resulting brew is a cup of coffee which is strong, sweet and aromatic. You can also add spices such as cinnamon and cardamom to get an exotic blend. Adding cinnamon and cardamom may also help with digestion.

Steeping Method

Steeping is another word for immersion. This simply means mixing coffee grounds with hot water.

French Press

This is widely considered as the best and easiest technique to brew superior and consistent coffee at home. And relatively cheap too.

Invented in 1929, the French Press is a narrow, tall cylinder with a plunger that has a mesh filter attached at the end. It is small and portable.

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All you have to do is to immerse the ground coffee in hot water and press the grounds out. Simple. And the resulting brew is french press coffee with a unique taste (smooth, aromatic with full of flavor).

french press with a cup of brewed coffee

As for the ground coffee, coarse grind is the only ideal one. If you use finely ground coffee, particles may get stuck in the filter and end up in the coffee brew itself, making it bitter.

Time required from beans to brew is about 10 minutes, which is not too long.

The French Press comes in various sizes and can produce up to 8 cups of coffee. This is a convenient way to brew coffee especially when you entertain guests at home.

Definitely an excellent way to make a delicious cup of coffee either at home or even the outdoors such as camping.

Softbrew

A relatively new creation dating from 2010, Softbrew is another simple method which you can try.

Like the French Press, fill the Softbrew filter with ground coffee, add hot water and let it steep for about 4-8 minutes. Pour out the coffee, making sure the grounds stay inside the filter.

You can use any grind size. This is because the Softbrew uses a special filter. One that has many tiny holes that prevents the grounds from flowing to your cup.

Siphon Coffee

Siphon Coffee, also known as vacuum pot, is a fun method to coffee brewing, but the process may be tedious to some. This method was invented in Germany, tracing back all the way to the 1840s.

It combines both the full immersion brew and a siphon action to produce great tasting coffee.

You add the ground coffee to the upper component and water at the bottom. As the water starts to heat up, vapor pressure forces the hot water up to immerse the coffee. Once you remove the heat source, the brewed coffee will sink back through a filter into the bottom vessel.

a row of siphon coffee apparatus

The grinds used are medium-coarse ones. The entire process takes about 10 minutes and you will have to use a candle or butane burner.

You will get a brew which is rich in aroma and full of delicate flavors. Each brew produces up to 5 cups of coffee, great for an average household or if you are entertaining guests. Bear in mind that you will need a considerable amount of time to clean the brewing device after use.

Filtration/Dripping Method

This method is more commonly known as the pour over. The pour over is highly regarded as one of the best brewing methods to making coffee at home. Arguably, some might say the best coffee making way to producing great cups of coffee.

Brewing coffee using the filtration or dripping method is pretty straightforward. You will require an apparatus called the dripper. Most drippers are portable due to their small size and generally inexpensive.

So how do you make coffee using this method? Pour over hot water over your freshly ground coffee beans which usually sits in a filter. You should use a gooseneck kettle to help control the rate of the pour. Use a slow and steady pour of hot water in a spiral motion from the center and outwards. This will thoroughly saturate all the grounds evenly that helps optimal coffee extraction.

The resulting cup of coffee tends to be more vibrant, strong and full-bodied due to the longer brewing process. Many coffee lovers vouch that the dripping method produces the best coffee out there. There are also automatic pour over coffee makers which gives you the hassle-free option for brewing coffee using this method.

Coffee Cone

Drip brewing method using a drip coffee cone and paper filter is one of the simplest techniques to coffee brewing at home. Drip coffee cones come in many sizes and shapes, and are made of glass, ceramic or stainless steel.

The shape of the drip coffee cone and the filters used affect the coffee flavors brewed. You will get a cup of coffee that is refreshing and rich in flavors. Some of the common brands include the Hario V60 and the Kalita Wave.

pouring boiling water over a coffee cone

You will need grounds that are medium-fine to coarse for this method. Brewing process takes about 5 minutes – 30 seconds to bloom and 3 minutes to pour.

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Cleaning up is easy. All you have to do is to throw away the used filters with the grounds and clean the cone. That’s it.

Chemex

In 1941, Dr. Peter Schlumbohm invented the Chemex – an exquisite and elegant pour over flask that is shaped like an hourglass.

To brew coffee using this method, you require specially made Chemex paper filters that are 20-30% heavier than other filters. This is beneficial to us coffee fanatics, as the Chemex filters are designed to remove sediments, oil and any unwanted fatty acids.

coffee dripping with chemex brewer

Brewing time takes about 3-4 minutes, and you will easily produce 3-6 cups at one go. The grind requirements are anything between medium to coarse. The resulting coffee brew is somewhat like the French Press – aromatic and full of rich tasting flavors.

While the Chemex is quite portable, do be careful as it can be quite fragile.

Electric Percolator

The electric percolator uses a hybrid approach – both dripping and pressure methods. It was very popular in the 1950s to 1970s but has since been replaced by other coffee brewing methods such as the automatic drip coffee maker.

While the electric percolator seems like a normal coffee brewer from the outside, in reality it contains two chambers – a lower chamber for the water and an upper chamber for the ground coffee and filter.

Pressure forces the boiling water upwards and pushes through the ground coffee and filters into them. The freshly brewed coffee then drops back down into the lower chamber.

electric percolator with a set of coffee cups

Time taken from bean to brew is about 10 minutes. Yet, this is a great way to ruin your coffee. For better results, try brewing for about 3-4 minutes. You will need coarse coffee grounds using this method.

The electric percolator is able to produce 9-10 cups, thus an ideal way to make coffee for your guests. And it can also keep coffee hot for longer duration of time without burning it.

The resulting cup of coffee is nothing special. Some coffee fanatics claim that it brews coffee which is rich and full-bodied, while some say it produces over-extracted coffee with inferior taste. It produces a more intense flavor than a filter machine though, but the results are not the same like an espresso.

Cold Brew

Otherwise commonly known as “cold press”, the Cold Brew is exactly as it sounds – coffee that is brewed cold. The key differences from regular coffee are the taste and acidity. The benefits of cold brew coffee are that it is healthier (naturally sweeter) and less acidic which is beneficial for people who can’t tolerate acidic foods. You can read our guide to find out more on the healthy benefits of drinking coffee.

Pour cold water over the ground coffee instead of hot water, and allow to immerse for 18 to 24 hours. The brewed coffee is then filtered using a very thick filter, removing any particles or sediments.

a cup of cold brew coffee and small milk pitcher

You will need coarse coffee grounds for the cold brew method. The resulting brew is a strong, super smooth and intense flavored coffee with no tinge of acidity or bitterness. As cold brewing for long periods creates a coffee concentrate, it may have up to double the caffeine content compared to a traditional iced coffee.

Surprisingly, the coffee can stay fresh for up to 2 weeks. So for those who want longer lasting coffee, the cold brew gives you precisely that.

Nitro Cold Brew

This is the relatively new kid on the block, originating some time in 2016.

The process is like the Cold Brew. The extra step is to pump the cold brew full of nitrogen gas with a pressurized valve. Result is a sweeter, thicker and velvety cold brew that looks like a pint of Guinness.

nitro cold brew in a cup on a tray

Nitrogen, as a natural preservative, keeps the coffee fresh and can last up to 2 weeks if you store it in the fridge.

Pressure Method

This method means extracting coffee using pressure. If you like a more intense brew and fast extraction time, the pressure method is something you can go for.

Aeropress Coffee

Created in 2005, the Aeropress is a single cup method using a simple and inexpensive 3 piece tool. And it is a hassle-free brewing technique which you can do at home.

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It comes in 3 parts – the plunger, the brew chamber and the basket. A filter (micro paper or a fine aeropress metal filter) sits in the coffee basket at the bottom of the brew chamber. You place the coffee grounds in the brew chamber, add hot water and allow it to immerse the coffee. Use the plunger to press down the brewed coffee through the filter and into the cup.

pouring hot water into aeropress apparatus

The Aeropress method is a quick way to coffee brewing. All it takes is about 1-2 minutes (excluding hot water preparation) and the ideal coffee grounds you should be using are the fine-medium ones.

The resulting brew is a sweet, smooth and full bodied espresso-like cup of coffee. And it is less acidic (due to higher PH than drip coffee) and has lower caffeine content (almost the same amount per cup as 1 espresso shot). Check out our complete guide on caffeine content in coffee.

The Aeropress is popular among campers due to its portability. Cleaning is easy too – remove the filter and ground coffee from the basket, and give it a rinse with hot water. That is all to it.

Moka Pot

Patented in 1993 by Alfonso Bialetti, the Moka Pot is a three-chamber design that uses steam pressure from boiled water in the bottom chamber. The steam then passes through ground coffee in the middle chamber. The resulting brewed coffee then sits in the top chamber.

Moka pots typically sit directly on top of a stovetop burner or heater.

opened moka pot with brewed coffee inside

Brewing time takes less than 5 minutes (excluding hot water preparation). You have to use fine-medium to coarse coffee grounds. Typically coarser than a fine, espresso-like grind, but finer than a drip coffee grind.

The resulting brew is a concentrated and robust flavored coffee. Close to an espresso but not as strong and intense tasting coffee.

The Moka Pot is inexpensive, portable and durable. And it doesn’t take too long to clean.

Espresso Machine

Espresso is the basis for various coffee drinks. It is concentrated and has a distinct flavor produced by the crema – the aromatic, reddish-brown froth that sits on top of the coffee. The crema gives the espresso a fuller flavor and longer aftertaste than the drip coffee.

You usually brew a shot using an espresso machine. There are different types of machines – ranging from manual lever to fully automatic. Portable espresso makers are also available for travel.

Fully Automatic Machines allow for one-touch operation which provides ease of use. Such coffee makers let you program your preferences in coffee strength and milk frothing. But, the quality is not as good as compared with the manual or semi-automatic ones. If you are looking for something quick and easy, the fully automatic machine will fit you nicely.

Semi-automatic machines give you more choices. It lets you determine how much coffee you want to use, the grind size, and the temperatures of the water and milk. This flexibility provides you with more control to produce the coffee to your liking. If you are looking for an affordable espresso machine, a semi-automatic one can be an option.

semi-automatic expresso machine

Manual lever machines give you the ultimate control on your espresso and frothing. You do everything from beans to brew.

Brewing time is dependent on your machine. Some may take up to 15-40 minutes to warm up, while others only take mere seconds.

To brew espresso, you will need fine and consistent coffee grounds. The resulting brew – a strong and intense shot full of flavors.

Final Notes

Brewing coffee shouldn’t have to be a chore. If you find that you’re dreading a method, try another.

Some trial and error is to be expected as you experiment with the coffee brewing methods. Don’t be afraid to adjust the amount of coffee beans and grind requirements to suit your palette. In fact, I strongly urge you to do it.

While there are lots of ways to brew coffee at home, it is really up to you to find one that you can truly like. Most importantly, you should aim to enjoy the process, and the resultant great tasting coffee. You can even try adding butter to your coffee 🙂

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