In the final part of this series I am going to focus briefly on a few home brewing methods.
The first method is the most obvious, drip. For the last 50 years or so drip coffee has been the catalyst for coffee becoming such a desired and easily consumed beverage. In restaurants and diners and coffee shops around the world you will often see a large metal box spitting out gallons and gallons of the caffeinated concoction we call a cup of coffee.
Eventually much smarter minds than mine figured out how to condense this brewing equipment of convenience down to a model small enough and manageable enough to sit on the kitchen counter. Just like television sets have found a home in just about every residence in America, the drip coffee machine has been a staple for home brewers since the 1950’s. Prior to that coffee was traditionally brewed by hand or a percolator.
Besides the drip machine, which can also be a really great cup of coffee taking into account the essentials already discussed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, there are other more manual methods of brewing that are being revitalized as a result of the renewed focus brought on by third wave coffee.
Here is a short list of them:
- Vacuum (Siphon)
- Moka pot
The Vacuum brewing method, also called Siphon brewing, came about in the mid 1800s and was popular till about the mid-twentieth century. It has since gained some momentum as people have taken to coffee as more of a craft or hobby. Siphons look much like a mad scientists chemistry set. It works by heating water, forcing it through expansion from a lower chamber to an upper vessel that holds the coffee grinds. When the brew time expires the heat is removed allowing the coffee contents to pass through a filter back into the empty lower chamber at which point it would be drinkable without the grinds. Check out some of these vacuum brewers if you are interested in purchasing one: Hario “Technica” Syphon Coffee Maker, Yama Glass 8 Cup Stovetop Coffee Siphon, Bodum 8-Cup Vacuum Coffee Maker.
Moka pot, which is commonly used in Europe and Latin America, steam passes through ground coffee by way of heating and pressurizing water. Like the siphon brewers, the moka pot brings a unique and vintage look that has coffee aficionados very excited about home brewing.
Pourovers is exactly like it says, you manually pour the water over the coffee grinds and let gravity do its thing. There are variations of a pourover as well. There is the Chemex, the Hario V60, Kalita Wave, and many more. These methods use conventional funnel type brewing where hot water is poured directly over the grinds and because of the filter design, the flavor of the coffee is extracted from the grounds as the water passes through it. Basically, gravity draws the water through the coffee into a carafe or cup just underneath it.
Immersion methods have been popular for… well, 500 years! And one of those most popular forms of it is the French Press. Immersion simply tells us how the hot water is introduced to the coffee grounds. Much like loose leaf tea, immersion brewing steeps the grounds directly in the water for a period of time. This is where water to coffee ratio is imperative and the amount of time is also important because the possibility of over or under extracting your coffee is present. Once the desired brew time is reached there are several ways immersion brew methods extract coffee. With a french press the grounds are pressed down to the bottom of the container while the water passes through a filter into the top part of the container. Other methods like Aeropress use air pressure to drive the coffee through the grounds into the cup. This is probably one of the oldest forms of brewing coffee, outside of the original method called ‘ibrik’ which is associated with Turkish coffee.
The last method we will talk about generally requires a kitchen counter-top machine that can get pretty pricey, but offers one of the more unique tastes coffee has to offer. Espresso, a round about way of meaning ‘forced out’, is exactly what happens. Typically, machines force about 9 bars of pressure of hot water through a puck of ground coffee sitting in what is called a portafilter. This quick push of water through the coffee creates a very strong taste of coffee. Espressos are a very popular drink in Europe and other countries, but in America the latte and cappuccino are most popular (espresso drinks with steamed milk). Americans even had an espresso drink named after them. In the early to mid-20th century world wars American soldiers were not accustomed to the strong espresso taste, therefore, local shops in war-torn Europe often diluted their espressos with hot water, hence the name Americano came about (or so the story goes). Today’s technology has devised other devices to create the espresso experience, but there is still nothing like a good ole espresso crafted on a traditional espresso machine.
I hope you enjoyed this series. It wasn’t meant to be comprehensive, but I do hope that you may have learned something that you didn’t already know. Next week… well next week I don’t know what we are going to talk about. So until then blessings!