Coffee Brewing Methods: A Brief Intro
Coffee Brewing Methods
All throughout the years, the way we consume coffee has been changing drastically. The drink, which started as a kind of delicacy reserved mostly for European aristocracy, is now the most popular drink in the world and supports the livelihood of millions of farmers.
Of course, we could say that coffee owes its popularity to its taste, smell, or even to the invigorating effect we feel because of the caffeine we get from the coffee (a substance that is not found exclusively in coffee, regardless of its name) but the reasons go far beyond a superficial appeal: Coffee, studies show, makes us healthier. It lowers cholesterol, it boosts metabolism, and it keeps us active.
It’s also interesting to note that coffee hasn’t always been so popular with everyone: in the 18th century, Gustav III, king of Sweden, came to dislike coffee and tea. Though the reasons for this are unknown, we can guess that he was mostly against the stimulating effects these drinks have, as both have a moderate amount of caffeine. He ordered two prisoners, serving life sentences, to choose between tea and coffee. One prisoner would drink a pot of tea every day for the rest of his life, the other a pot of coffee.
Can you guess what happened next?
Gustav III was outlived by both prisoners. Written records of what happened with the prisoners did not survive (they weren’t kings, like Gustav III) but it is rumored they lived to be well over the average life expectancy of the time.
Fortunately nowadays, everyone can enjoy coffee freely and the way we consume coffee has become more convenient and effective with experience. From being restricted to just a few ways of making coffee, we can now brew coffee in almost every possible way.
In broad categories, we can say that there are two ways of brewing coffee: Steeping, and filtering. Examples of this are French press coffee, cowboy coffee and cold brew for steeping and espresso, pour-over and drip coffee for filtering.
Today, we will focus on the advantages that filtered coffee has over steeped coffee, and how to get the most out of our filtered coffee no matter what particular brewing method we’re using.
The most common cause of coffee bitterness is letting your coffee grounds be in contact with hot water for longer than they should be. This is because, constant exposure to high temperatures will “overcook” or, as a barista would say, over extract the coffee: This results in too strong, bitter coffee.
With filtered coffee it is almost impossible to make mistakes like these because there’s no steeping involved; as long as you stick with a proper ratio and keep water temperatures in the recommended spectrum, your coffee will not be overly strong. Of course, your espresso will still pack a punch because it is concentrated, so it’s bound to be at least a little bit bitter.
Being able to make a pot of coffee is actually a privilege reserved for those who choose filtered coffee. With steeping methods, whenever you make coffee you will have all the grounds at the bottom of your vessel, which means you have to pour immediately as soon as you’re done brewing the coffee. This can be troublesome if you like to make a pot of coffee and drink several cups throughout the morning instead of having to brew every single time.
With pour over methods, like the Hario V60 or the Asobu PourOver, this dilemma is solved by itself since you brew coffee directly into a pot, carafe, or decanter. In the case of the Asobu PourOver, we see that this is made even better for us since the carafe is made of double-wall glass-- This allows us to make as much coffee as we want and be sure that it will stay hot for a long time. Truly a coffee lover’s dream.
Finally, we reach the less talked about yet very important aspect of filtered coffee: It is, indeed, much healthier than steeped coffee. Why is this?
Coffee beans (which are technically seeds) contain many different kinds of oils within them. A lot of them are benign and in fact good for our health, but a few of them can be detrimental for our health. In fact, a study conducted on coffee drinkers found that certain types of coffee drinks can raise bad cholesterol.
This is because some ways of brewing filter better than others. Most filtering methods trap the oils in their filters, made of paper or cloth. Yet steeping methods hardly do anything to keep these oils from making their way into our cup.
Most specifically, people who drink instant coffee, cowboy coffee and Turkish coffee are the most at risk.
The good news is that you can always make the change to another brewing method! Pour overs like the Chemex or the Asobu PourOver are not expensive compared to an espresso machine and they last a long time.