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The best brew for you: Understanding coffee brewing methods

Written by Matt Westenburg

With more than 18 years of experience as a certified public accountant, Matt has helped companies develop & validate business models, raise capital and provide management expertise. He enjoys working with entrepreneurs who are passionate about achieving their goals and bettering the community. He was voted the Silicon Prairie “Service Provider of the Year” and has been recognized multiple times for his contributions to the local entrepreneurial community.

Whether you’re ordering from a coffee shop or making coffee from home, coffee brewing techniques can seem like a foreign language. There are many different methods of brewing coffee and each one uniquely affects the flavor, aroma and finished product. However you take your coffee, we’ll help you understand what it takes to get the perfect brew.

Better beans, better brew

It may seem like common sense, but the coffee beans you purchase will determine how good your cup of coffee is. If you’re buying cheap coffee beans or storing them improperly, you will get a cheap-tasting cup of coffee. Consider the difference in flavor (hazelnut, cinnamon swirl, etc.), roast (light, medium or dark?), and grounds (finely ground or coarse?). Once you have the right coffee beans, however, you can brew them into the perfect morning cup of java.

Drip coffee

Drip Coffee or filter coffee is the most common way to prepare a cup of joe. Hot water seeps through ground coffee beans and drips into a coffee pot. Filters prevent the grounds from collecting in the coffee pot, so you’re not drinking coffee grinds during your morning grind. The quality of this method of brewing varies depending on the price of your equipment. Top of the line coffee makers will cost more but will brew your coffee with an incredible taste and aroma.

Pour over methods

The pour over technique gives you a lot of control over your cup of coffee, but it requires more effort. This manual method allows you to cater every step of the process to your individual preferences. A cone-shaped device is placed on top of your coffee mug with a filter placed inside. When the coffee grounds are added to the filter, you can begin pouring water into it. Pour slowly, just adding enough water to wet all the coffee grounds. Once all the coffee grounds are wet, take a short break to allow water to seep through. The brewed coffee will drip through the filter and into your mug. Once you’ve collected enough coffee, you can take a sip of perfection.

French press coffee

Press pots or french press coffee has a device that allows hot water to steep in coffee grounds before pressing down the grounds with a plunger. Once the coffee grounds are separated, the fresh coffee is poured into your favorite mug to enjoy.

Drip Coffee or filter coffee is the most common way to prepare a cup of joe. Hot water seeps through ground coffee beans and drips into a coffee pot. Filters prevent the grounds from collecting in the coffee pot, so you’re not drinking coffee grinds during your morning grind. The quality of this method of brewing varies depending on the price of your equipment.

Cold brews

Cold brew coffee is not the same thing as iced coffee or frozen drinks. Cold brew coffee takes a long time to steep the grounds, but if your patience will be rewarded with a great cup of coffee. Since it can take over 12 hours to brew, many people make cold brew coffee in large quantities and store it in the refrigerator. From there, people either heat it up or drink it cold. If regular coffee upsets your stomach, cold brew coffee is less acidic. This makes it easier to digest because it doesn’t throw off your body’s natural rhythm. Some people even notice a sweeter taste in cold brew coffee.


Percolators are an old-school method of brewing a bold, strong cup of coffee. These pots boil water in the bottom, where a tube carries it to the top and pours it over the grounds. The coffee continues through this cycle until it’s finished brewing. It’s important to watch the water temperature of your percolator because the coffee can accidentally get boiled, which makes it taste bitter.

However you take your cup of joe, a good cup of coffee starts with the right beans and the right brew. These methods will help you order coffee with confidence at your local coffee shop and improve your coffee making skills in your own kitchen.

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