What You Need To Know After Tossing Out The Keurig
So, you’re in this, huh?
You’ve entered the world of specialty coffee.
The only catch is this: now that your Keurig lies cock-eyed in a dumpster, waiting to be repurposed by a family of decaffeinated raccoons, the bags under your eyes won’t fold themselves. You still need coffee; you just need a better way to make it.
So, where do you start? How do you decide which brewing method is best for you? And what are the differences between each one?
Well, dear friend with more bags than a trophy wife at Gucci under your eyes, leave the electric coffee devices to the rodents. You’ve come to the right place.
From Chemex and Hario to French Press, Aeropress and more, there are many reputable ways to brew coffee. The options can seem endless, overwhelming any beginner at-home barista. So, let’s boil it down by focusing on the two major categories of popular brewing methods: drip (or pour-over) and immersion.
It’s All About The Water
The easy way to tell the difference between drip and immersion is by looking at the method’s use of water.
Drip brewers require a continuous flow of water to be poured over the beans. As the water intermingles with the grounds, it extracts the flavor and drips coffee into a vessel set below. Common drip methods include pour-over devices like the Chemex, Hario v60, and Kalita Wave, or even that old batch brewer on your kitchen counter.
In immersion methods, the coffee and the water stay in contact with each other until they are “decanted” into a cup. The process is almost identical to steeping tea. French press and Aeropress are two of the most common brewers like this on the market today. Cold brew also uses this method.
Is One Categorical Method Easier Than The Other?
Neither approach is necessarily easier though each one has its benefits.
In general, brewing by immersion can be more forgiving which could be a service to the beginner. There are still the important variables to consider — grind size, water temperature, and extraction time — but for the most part you’ll fill up your brewing device and let everything steep until it’s ready.
Pour-over devices require more manual skill, more attention to detail, and a bit more patience. You’ll need to keep a steady rate of water flowing through the grounds while ensuring they are fully saturated with a delicate pouring motion.
Differences In Taste
The same coffee has the potential to taste completely different depending on the chosen brew method. Pour-over tends to bring out the brighter notes and subtle acidity of the beans. The result is a cup that’s more delicate like tea. The Chemex is known for providing a clean cup. The Hario v60 is more “refreshing,” and the Kalita is richer.
Immersion methods give the resulting drink a fuller body that’s heavy like a Cabernet. The French Press, for example, allows more oils and sediment to slip into the cup, while the Aeropress creates a concentrated but smooth brew.
Which Should You Use?
We recommend experimenting with as many methods as you can until you find one (or a few) that you love.
Keep in mind that some fantastic methods don’t fit neatly into either category. Things like the Clever Dripper, which is a hybrid, or espresso, which is always an outlier, can be a lot of fun to master as well.
Now that you know the major differences between drip and immersion methods, you can feel pretty great about that machine in the dumpster. Welcome to the most wonderful and fascinating aspect of specialty coffee: experimentation.