7 ways to brew coffee

With over 400 billion cups downed every year, it's no wonder you can order the dark stuff according to how it's brewed.

Published 27 Apr 2017, 16:00 BST, Updated 8 Jul 2021, 14:43 BST
Making coffee

Making coffee.

Photograph by Getty

1// Cafetière
Simple and stylish; there's a reason the popularity of the French press has endured. This is a fast and simple way to serve medium-bodied coffee. Presses work best with coarser grounds, which are squeezed down to the bottom of the cylinder before pouring. For maximum flavour, steep for around four minutes before plunging.

2// Cold brew
Despite its hipster mystique, cold brew coffee is pretty self-explanatory. There are various methods, but in short: the drink is prepared at lower temperatures to traditional brewing. Grounds are steeped for longer periods in cold water, which preserves certain compounds that are lost in hot water, and then usually served cold, creating milder, less acidic flavours.

3// Turkish coffee
One for the purists, a heady Turkish coffee sees coarse, strong grounds heated in a cezve, usually a long-handled copper pot. Once boiling, the coffee is poured slowly into a cup forming a layer of silky froth — the mark of a well-brewed cup — and ideally served with a sticky slice of baklava. Once finished, don't wash out the grounds; the dregs are supposed to tell the drinker's fortune.

4// Espresso
Any Italian will tell you there's no other way to punctuate the day. Hot water is fired through a tightly packed filter of grounds and allowed to trickle down into small porcelain cups, resulting in a strong, intense coffee with plenty of aroma. Pulling a good espresso takes training, precision and, some even maintain, inherent barista intuition.

5// Filter
Forget bland American diner 'coffee', the filter method has had a much-needed renaissance. Today's elaborate, technical coffee filters can produce an excellent, rich brew. Grounds are doused in hot water, which drops through the filter producing clear, strong coffee with a generally high ratio of the caffeine extracted. It's the go-to brew for a morning wake-up.

6// AeroPress
As its name implies, the AeroPress uses air pressure to brew the coffee and has proven to be an affordable, simple and efficient way to get a reliably good cup. It works similarly to the French press, but differs in that the device, made of plastic, relies on finer, disposable paper filters that remove a number of the coffee solids, resulting in a smooth, strong beverage. Lightweight and easy to clean, it's a traveller's friend.

7// Vacuum press
With its flask-like shape, the vacuum press looks like something that belongs in a chemistry lesson. And, it behaves no less cleverly. The vacuum — or siphon — relies on atmospheric pressure in the two chambers, pushing water up to the top chamber, before dropping the pressure to pull the coffee down to the bottom. In fact, it works in much the same way as the iconic Italian stove-top moka pot, but the vacuum press has a decidedly more 'mad scientist' aesthetic.

The fable of the flat white

1980s Australian and New Zealand coffee culture gave rise to this fashionable, micro-foam pressed coffee with milk. And, no, it's not just a small latte. Milk and foam are blended evenly with the coffee (double shot), to create a velvety, strong drink that's less milky than a latte and which has none of the dense foam of a cappuccino.

Follow @connorjmcgovern

Published in the May 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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