16 Coffee Brewing Methods Compared

By: | Updated: April 13, 2021

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There are multiple ways to brew coffee, both at home and professionally. We have gone through the most popular ones and provided all the details for each coffee brewing method in this article. 

Before going through each brewing method, it’s important to know what type of brewing process each coffee maker uses.

This is important as the brewing method will determine the final taste, texture, flavor, and strength of your coffee.


Coffee Brewing Methods

Coffee brewing methods are categorized in the following:

Pressure Methods

Coffee makers who brew using measure typically require more machinery and features to work well. They are the method of choice for professionals and expert home brewers.

Pressure-based coffee makers (such as Automatic Esspresso machines) use pressure to move water quickly through the coffee grounds.

Steeping Methods

Coffee makers who brew via steeping (such as French Press Coffee makers) allow you to extract a lot more flavor and caffeine than other methods.

They work by full-immersion, which means the coffee grounds are in direct contact with water for a period of time. This is the method of choice for those looking for a strong, dark flavor in their coffee. 

Dripping/Filtration Methods

Drip and Filtration methods are some of the most popular ones around as they are easy to operate and require very little technique.

In addition, they are ideal to brew a whole range of coffee types as opposed to just stronger and darker coffees. 

Boiling Methods

The old-fashioned method of brewing coffee! This is a simple way to extract coffee by boiling the coffee grounds with water, allowing to circulate and extract the coffee.

This method is easy to learn and requires very little equipment. All you need is either a Moka pot or percolator coffee maker)


The Coffee Brewing Methods Compared

Now that we know the coffee brewing method categories, let’s start by breaking down each one and covering all of the coffee makers under each category.

Coffee Brewing Using Pressure

1. Espresso Maker

Grind Size: Fine

Espresso machines can be very expensive and complicated to operate (although single cup espresso machines for home use are now hitting the market), but they’re indispensable if you want great espresso. In fact, you can argue that very few other brewing methods can make espresso so well.

Espresso machines work by pushing hot water via pressure through coffee grounds that have been packed into a portafilter.

Although new espresso machines come with varying levels of automation, a lot of skill and knowledge is still needed to both operate the machine, and pull off a great shot of espresso.

Espresso machines are also extremely high maintenance equipment, needing regular descaling and cleaning.

Pros
  • Produce excellent, strong espresso
  • Suitable for home and commercial use
  • Allow complete control over the whole brewing process
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Requires specialized equipment

2. Moka Pot

Grind Size: Fine

Moka pots produce coffee that is very similar to espresso, without the need of expensive equipment. The coffee made from a moka pot is concentrated, rich, and has a light texture.

Moka pots are a popular way to make home brewed coffee in Europe as the equipment is very cheap and it’s simple to use (and produces great coffee!).

To make coffee using a Moka pot, simply add fine (similar to espresso) grounds and water to the pot and place it on the stove top.

The water will heat up, producing steam and passing through the fine coffee grounds, condensing into brewed coffee on the top.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Very Low Cost
  • Fast Brewing Time (less than 5 minutes)
  • Produces Excellent Coffee
Cons
  • Require specialized equipment

3. AeroPress

Grind Size: Various

The AeroPress is a fairly recent invention that took the coffee world by storm, becoming very popular almost immediately. The AeroPress is a handheld coffee maker that produces espresso-type coffee in a short amount of time.

AeroPresses are also customizable, allowing you to experiment and tailor the brewing method according to your taste.

It’s also very simple to use. Simply add coffee grounds, a paper filter, and hot water. Let it steep according to the coffee you’re making and then push the plunger to filter the coffee. Easy, simple, and effective!’

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Customizable to your needs
  • Produces rich, velvety coffee
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Requires specialized equipment
  • Requires paper filters

4. Single Serve Pod Machine

Grind Size: Pre-Packaged Pods

Coffee capsules have become an extremely popular way of consuming coffee. To enjoy coffee from a pod, you need a single-serve pod machine.

These are very easy to use and convenient since you don’t need to buy or grind coffee beans. There are several makers (such as Keurig or Nespresso) and different capsules available.

On the other hand, you don’t have much control over the brewing process as the final brew depends on the pod you choose. Similar to espresso machines, the single-serve pod machine requires regular cleaning and descaling.

To brew, simply insert the coffee pod of your choice into the machine, add water and hit the start button. That’s it! The single-serve coffee maker does the rest and you’ll have hot coffee in a few minutes.

For a detailed guide on coffee capsules you can check out our Guide to Coffee Capsules.

Pros
  • Very easy to use
  • Fast brewing time
  • Many pod varieties to choose from
Cons
  • Pods are expensive
  • Must be cleaned and descaled regularly
  • Not very environmentally friendly

Coffee Brewing Using Steeping

5. French Press

Grind Size: Medium-Coarse

French press coffee is both easy to make and fast. It is one of the most popular coffee makers for households as it produces rich tasting coffee and it can be used to brew several cups at once.

To make French press coffee is simple. Simply add medium-coarse coffee to the press, pour in hot water and wait for it to steep for 4 minutes. Once the 4 minutes have passed, simply push the plunger down and serve.

The plunger is very effective at trapping coffee grounds, resulting in a smoother and more pleasant final brew.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Strong, distinctive flavor
  • Produces several cups at once
  • Effective at trapping coffee grounds
Cons
  • Generally highly textured with sediment
  • Final brew can be bitter if coffee is left brewing for too long

6. Siphon Brewer

Grind Size: Medium-Coarse

Siphon brewers look more like they belong in a lab rather than a coffee shop! These coffee brewers are both impressive and complicated to use. However, when used correctly, they produce clear and flavorful tasting coffee.

Siphon brewers work by using a heat-induced vacuum to transfer water into the coffee grounds.

Coffee is then steeped in the Siphon upper chamber. Once brewing is complete, the final brew is pulled back into the lower chamber.

Pros
  • Impressive looking
  • Produces great coffee
Cons
  • Requires good technique
  • Rather expensive
  • Not easy to clean

7. Coffee Bags

Grind Size: Medium-Fine

One of the most simple coffee brewing methods are coffee bags. They work just like tea bags, but instead coffee is in the bag. 

To brew using coffee bags you simply need to pour boiling water over it and let it steep for 3 to 4 minutes. Once the steeping process is ready, remove the coffee bag and enjoy!

Pros
  • Super easy to brew
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Coffee flavor is not as intense
  • Coffee quality is not the best
  • Does not extract all the coffee flavor properly

8. Instant Coffee & Espresso

Grind Size: Instant Coffee Granules

Probably one of the brewing methods that you’re most familiar with. Instant coffee is one of the easiest brewing methods on this list.

It’s very straightforward and low-cost too. On the downside, it doesn’t produce the most flavorful coffee (unless you’re willing to buy expensive instant coffee).

As we said, instant coffee or espresso is very simple to make. Simply put coffee in your cup and pour hot water. Once it dissolves, your coffee is ready instantly!

Pros
  • Very fast
  • Inexpensive
  • Can be easily found in stores
  • No need for any equipment
Cons
  • Lacks flavor and complexity

Coffee Brewing Via Dripping or Filtration

9. Auto Drip Machine

Grind Size: Medium

A popular coffee brewing method around the world. Auto Drip or Drip Brewing machines are easy to use and are ideal for families, offices, and small businesses.

To brew using an auto drip machine, you add water to the machine’s water reservoir and add your desired amount of coffee grounds into the filter. The machine does the rest by passing hot water through the grounds and letting it drip into the provided pot.

Auto Drip machines are convenient as they take care of all the hard work and you don’t have to heat the water separately too.

Pros
  • Entire brewing process is automated
  • Ideal for brewing multiple cups at once
  • Keeps the coffee warm
  • Very-budget friendly
Cons
  • Not the best flavor wise

10. Chemex

Grind Size: Medium-Coarse

If you are a fan of pour-over coffee but hate that you can only brew a single cup at a time, the Chemex is the ideal brewing method for you.

The Chemex is a simple device that combines the pour-over dripper with a carafe, allowing you to brew multiple cups at a time.

Brewing with a Chemex is similar to pour-over. Add the appropriate chemex paper filters to the top of the brewer, wet the paper filter with hot water and place your coffee grounds. Then slowly pour hot water over the coffee grounds and let it drip.

Just like pour-over, you need to have precise measurements to get a good cup of coffee! So take that into account when using a Chemex brewer.

Pros
  • Attractive and Iconic Design
  • Can brew multiple cups at a time
  • Fast Brewing Time
  • Coffee flavor extraction is fantastic
Cons
  • You need special equipment
  • Chemex filters are more expensive

11. Vietnamese Drip

Grind Size: Coarse

This small and inexpensive coffee brewing equipment originates from Vietnam and is used to make cà phê sua dá  or as it’s more commonly known Vietnamese Drip Coffee. This brew consists of dark coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk and is brewed one cup at a time.

Similarly to the pour-over method, Vietnamese coffee uses special equipment called phin to brew the coffee directly into the cup. Unlike pour-over, no paper filters are needed as the phin does all the work.

To make Vietnamese coffee, place sweetened condensed milk in your cup and place your phin on top of the cup.

Add coffee grounds to the phin and cover with the perforated lid. To start the brewing process, simply pour hot water on top and that’s it.

In around 10 minutes the coffee will drip out into your cup. Simply stir the condensed milk and the coffee together to enjoy your own Vietnamese coffee at home!

Pros
  • Easy to brew
  • Phin is inexpensive
  • Coffee is dark and smooth
  • Portable
  • The filters are reusable
Cons
  • Can leave sediment in your cup if coffee is ground too fine
  • Brews only 1 cup at a time

12. Pour-Over

Grind Size: Medium

Pour-over coffee is a basic brewing method that produces incredible tasting coffee and has become very popular amongst home brewers. Pour-overs come in all ranges of sizes and designs, however, their function is essentially the same.

To make pour-over coffee, set up the pour-over equipment over your coffee mug and add a paper filter. Wet the paper filter to remove any external taste and place your coffee grounds (medium grind) inside the filter. 

Simply pour boiling water on top of the coffee ground and let it seep through your mug.

Pros
  • Clear coffee without any sediment
  • Easy to make
  • Inexpensive equipment
  • Fast brew time
Cons
  • You need paper filters
  • You can only brew one cup at a time
  • Low quality paper filters can alter the coffee flavor

13. Percolator

Grind Size: Coarse

Percolators have been a very popular coffee brewing method until newer methods came to market. Coffee percolators come in two different models: Electric and Stove Top. 

The Electric percolators do all the brewing without the need of a stove. On the other hand, stove top percolators can be used on stoves or even open fire, making them great for camping.

Coffee percolators work by circulating boiling water through coarse coffee grounds in a cyclical motion.

Brewing time usually takes around 10 minutes, although this can be adjusted depending on how strong you want the final brew to be.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Portable
  • Great for camping
Cons
  • The brewing process requires constant monitoring

14. Cold Brew

Grind Size: Coarse

Cold brew has become a very popular brewing method in recent years. Since coffee isn’t brewed via heat, cold brew coffee contains very low acidity and is slightly sweet. 

While it is very easy to make, it requires a significant amount of time, roughly 12 to 24 hours, to brew.

Cold brew coffee is made by combining coarsely ground coffee beans of your choice with tepid or room temperature water. Let the mixture sit for several hours (ideally overnight) depending on how strong you like your coffee. 

Once the desired taste is achieved, strain the grounds and serve over ice.

Pros
  • Strong flavor
  • Perfect for summer
  • Low acidity
  • Very easy to make
Cons
  • Lengthy brewing time

Coffee Brewing by Boiling

15. Turkish Coffee / Ibrik

Grind Size: Very Fine

Turkish coffee is a Middle Eastern brewing method that uses a special coffee pot called Ibrik. Turkish coffee is made using very fine grounds that produces a final brew that is strong, flavorful, frothy, and aromatic.

To make it, you need to combine your coffee grounds with sugar in the special pout. Boil the mixture until it starts frothing and remove from the heat.

To achieve the brew synonymous with Turkish coffee, you need to repeat this process several times. 

Pros
  • Strong and dark flavor
  • Very aromatic
Cons
  • Flavor can be intense
  • Requires specialized equipment

16. Cowboy Coffee

Grind Size: Very Coarse

Cowboy coffee is one of the oldest, simplest, and low-cost methods of brewing coffee. It can be done using any pot and any heat source (gas, electric, fire).

Cowboy coffee is popular amongst hikers due to the simplicity and lack of expensive or bulky equipment needed.

To brew cowboy coffee, you will need very coarse grounds since it is brewed over a large pot. Simply add your coffee grounds to a pot of boiling water for a few minutes.

Then take the pot off the heat and let the brewing process continue for a few more seconds. The coffee grounds will fall to the bottom during this time, leaving your brewed coffee at the top. 

Simply pour the coffee into your cup and enjoy!  

Pros
  • Easy to brew
  • Low cost
  • Very portable
  • No fancy equipment needed
  • Perfect for hiking and for brewing outdoors
Cons
  • Grounds may still be found in your brew
  • Not a good flavor

Final Thoughts

Coffee making is a constantly evolving art and so are the brewing methods used. We have compiled this list of some of our favorites.

Which coffee brewing method is best for you largely depends on your tastes, budget, time, and skill level. Whatever your favorite coffee brewing method is, we hope our guide has helped you understand the different options available.

If you’re still unsure on which one to pick, you can always reach out to us and we’ll point you in the right direction.

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by Brett