Coffee lovers everywhere agree that there’s no better way to start the day than with a steaming hot cup of java. But how do you make yours? This is where opinions differ wildly. Of course, there’s no right or wrong way to brew coffee, just different techniques and taste preferences.
If you’re not sure which is your favourite, or the one that’s most compatible with your lifestyle, why not conduct a week long coffee experiment and try them all?
- Cowboy Coffee
Campers, backpackers and other nomads will all agree that less is more. This back-to-basics approach to coffee making involves a pan of boiling water, a bag of coffee and some mugs. Heat the water in the pan, and when it comes to a boil stir in some ground coffee and let it steep for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle a handful of cold water on the top so that any coffee grounds floating on the surface settle on the bottom of the pan, then pour into mugs and enjoy. Nothing’s filtered, strained or processed, so all the oils and acids that are naturally found in coffee beans will still be there.
It’s a cheap and straightforward coffee making method that’s perfect for the great outdoors, with a strong punchy flavour that’s equally earthy. See The Bag Broker for a few tasty options here.
- Filter Coffee
Do you remember the filter coffee machines of the 1970s and 1980s? Well, they’re making a comeback! Fill up the cold water tank, add medium to fine ground coffee into the filter over an empty glass jug and switch on. The water heats up and drips into the coffee filter, while gravity pulls the water through the grounds and into the waiting jug.
Of course, instead of a machine, you can simply place a porcelain filter with a paper insert over your mug. Slowly wet the grounds with just boiled water, gradually and repeatedly filling the filter until your mug is full. Filter coffee is easy to make and the result is a refined and clean tasting cup with no bits.
- Cafetiere Coffee
Also known as a French Press (though patented by an Italian in the late 1920s!), this coffee maker is one of the most popular ways to brew coffee at home. Add medium ground coffee to the bottom of the glass jug and top up with freshly boiled water, giving it a stir to make sure there are no lumps. Gently rest the plunger and lid on top.
Let the coffee sit for around 5 minutes, depending on your personal taste and the strength of coffee you are using, then slowly press down as far as it can go, straining the liquid and trapping the coffee grounds at the bottom of the jug. The longer you wait before you plunge, the stronger the coffee will be.
Cafetiere coffee is a little thicker than filter coffee, not having been paper filtered. This makes for a bolder taste, often adding a little bit of grittiness to the texture.
Espresso is made by pushing hot water through a layer of compacted coffee. It’s a strong, concentrated coffee with lots of body, aroma and flavour and a foamy layer on top. If you like your espresso straight up, you don’t need a lot.
If you prefer more volume and perhaps a bit of milk, you can turn your humble espresso into any number of well known drinks including flat white, cappuccino, latte, white Americano, macchiato and mocha.
The good news is that you don’t need to go to your local espresso bar to get an authentic cup of coffee. With a wealth of home espresso machines available in the marketplace, anyone can be a barista.
- Pod or Capsule Coffee
If you’ve developed a taste for espresso but can’t be bothered to make it properly, coffee pods or capsules are a handy shortcut. You’ll need a single serve pod coffee maker such as Nespresso or Tassimo and a supply of capsules.
Simply pop a little pod into the machine and create a barista style coffee at the touch of a button. Choose from dark roasted javas that contain more cancer fighting antioxidants, or lighter roasts that are higher in caffeine. Make sure you opt for plastic pods, since aluminium ones can impart a metallic flavour to your beverage.
- Stovetop Percolator
The handy little Moka Pot or Moka Express is a coffee making staple you’ll find in every Italian household. It’s also a design classic, allowing you to brew deliciously dense espresso without any need for fancy equipment.
Put cold water into the lower part of the pot, then insert the funnel and fill the compartment with coffee. Screw the upper part of the pot onto the base, place your Moka Pot on the hob and turn up the heat.
As water is boiled at the bottom of the percolator, it travels up the metal tube, distilling through the coffee grounds and up into the top half of the pot. It will start to make a gurgling noise as it does this. When the noise gets louder, your coffee is ready.
- Turkish Coffee
Whether you call it Turkish coffee or Greek coffee, it’s basically the same coffee technique used around that part of the world and originally stems from Yemen. Turkish coffee is extremely finely ground – there’s a ‘Turkish’ setting on most professional coffee grinders.
To be authentic, you’ll need a Turkish coffee cezve or ibrik, which is a small attractive copper pot with a long wooden handle. You’ll also need a spoon and some sugar. To make proper Turkish coffee, combine water, sugar and coffee powder, then heat the mixture over a medium heat until the coffee starts foaming but without letting it come to a boil. Remove from the heat, stir and repeat the process a few more times.
Then, without further ado, your coffee is ready to serve, complete with foam and grounds. The flavour is unique and very intense and you should avoid drinking right to the muddy bottom of the cup. Turkish coffee is always served with a glass of water which you drink first to cleanse your palate.