Coffee is personal - I do not believe there is any such thing as 'the best' or 'the only' way to brew your perfect cup. Certain roast profiles do lend themselves to different techniques for sure - although many espresso roasts are just as tasty a brew as a french press as through an espresso machine.
Below are my suggestions for different brewing techniques, use them as a guide to create your perfect cup - do not be afraid to play around with quantity, temperature and times. When we are talking about a good cup vs a great cup the main differentiators are always -
Freshness - Coffee, once roasted should ideally be consumed within six weeks of the roast date, once the bag has been opened, try and use it all up that week
Water - Always use fresh, cold water (filtered if you live in a place with exceptionally hard or soft water.
Grind - Grind can be one of the trickiest of the components to get right - you will always need to play here. Use a good quality burr grinder - those pesky little blade grinders are going to give you an uneven grind and lead to uneven flavour. Even the professionals will change their grind settings throughout the day, for my espresso machine I have a different grind setting for night, day, sunny or overcast. for me, grind can be the single most important factor in delivering a great cup of coffee.
Heat - Always pre-heat your tools - if you push 200*F water through a cold portafilter, you have basically just lost most of the extraction you were aiming at - pouring that fantastic Gesha into a unheated ceramic mug - boo! - Coffee extracts by heat - make sure you use the correct temperature for the correct extraction.
Pour Over | V60
When done right, a pour over coffee will bring out all the subtle flavours that the roaster intended - crisp, clean, acidic coffees do really well with this method - it also makes you look like a real pro!
#1. use 28g medium ground, fresh coffee & Boil 500ml of fresh water to 96*C
#2. place paper filter in pour-over and rinse with hot water, discard rinse water.
#3. place coffee in filter, ensure it is level & even.
#4. pour 60g of hot water over the grinds, ensure all are covered - let stand for 30 seconds - this is called 'blooming'
#5. pour 400g more (460g total) hot water slowly over the grinds in a circular motion, all water should brew through the grinds in aprx. 3:15 mins total - too quick, finer grind, too long, corser grind
#6 Select appropriate music, Mott the Hoople's All the Young Dudes Album works best, pour into an Eleven Speed Coffee 170ml cup and enjoy.
Go on, I dare you - search 'best aeropress recipe' on the google. This simple little device can create some of the most heated discussions between coffee nerds. It also happens to be a really great way to make a fantastic cup of coffee! Below is the way I do it - it makes a 'meatier' cup of coffee and works well for Central American beans - slightly more sediment than a pour-over, but still super clean.
#1. use 35g course ground fresh coffee & boil 400g fresh water
#2. 'Invert' the press - so the 'pushy' part is on the counter - place the coffee in the press and fill (aprx. 150g) with the boiled water - Allow to sit for 30 seconds.
#3. place the lid with a rinsed paper filter on the press, flip over, allow another 30 seconds brewing.
#4. slowly start pressing, aim for a 30 second press.
#5. add another 160g to 200g hot water to taste
I don't know anyone who does not have a French press sitting in a cupboard somewhere - super simple to use, a french press allows for a full bodied cup - lots of particulate & oils come through giving you a strong cup. Great for all roasts, but Indonesian's and Equatorial African's really shine in a press.
#1. use 60g coarse ground coffee and 1L fresh boiled water.
#2. place ground coffee in press, fill half way with hot water and give it a stir
#3. fill to just below the top of the press and place lid on - Allow 4 minutes to brew
#4. slowly press & serve - if it seems too hard to press use a coarser grind, presses to quick - finer grind.
To be a 'Barista' and make exquisite, mind blowing shots day in day out takes years of practice - even then searching for the 'god shot' can be elusive. It is why we are happy to part with our hard earned cash to have a professional pour us our favourite shot. Home espresso makers have created the illusion that this process can be replicated at home & do not get me wrong, with the right machine and some practice - you can come close. But for my buck, a shot poured off of a $35,000 La Marazocco by a highly seasoned barista will always beat your home machine. However if you insist...
#1. use good coffee! This may seem like a no brainer, but high quality, FRESH, espresso specific beans are a must.
#2. fine grind 18g of coffee directly into your preheated portofilter
#3. make sure your machine is heated between 92*C & 96*C
#4. brew, Ideally you can pre-set your machine to 9.5bar - brew should be between 28 & 33 seconds - Too fast, grind finner - Too quick, well you get the point...
Keurig or other 'Pod' style machine
Pod machines, such as Keurig, Nespresso (ok, I'll admit I was a Nespresso fan for many years) burst onto the scene a few years back, super easy to use and a great way for the manufacturers to ensure you are trapped into buying their product. These machines show no real sign of slowing down anytime soon, so figured I better add in instructions for you.
#1. place machine in appropriate sized box.
#2. donate to the 'People Who Hate the Planet & Enjoy Flavourless Coffee Society'
#3. see the other four methods above to make a decent cup.