So you want to brew the BEST cup of coffee you can, at home!
As we all know there is a formula to brewing coffee, it is a kind of science. With that being said we know there are several factors that go into brewing a perfect cup of coffee. The first part is the coffee, a good roast, the proper grind and drop are all important for the coffee. Second is good water (contrary to popular belief distilled water is bad for brewing coffee, but that is another article) fresh, cold water that has not been softened is the best. Third is good clean and maintained equipment. This Article is going to focus the types of home equipment, the cost, pros and cons of each type. This is not an endorsement of any one type of equipment over another, just information so you can make an informed decision without the hype. I am going to start with the simplest home set up to more complex apparatus to a plain ol' carafe type brewer. With out further ado lets dive right in!
The Single cup pour over: this has become a specialty trend the the past few years, who doesn't want a fresh cup of coffee every time? The pros to using this system are the entry price can be very affordable, less waste, and a really personalized cup of coffee,for example if you like it strong and your partner doesn't, no more fighting you both can get it your way. Another plus is the actual brew time is pretty quick based on the smaller quantity of water. Now for the cons; you need an extra piece of equipment to heat your water , an electric kettle or teapot for your stove, the other downside is limited quantities are an issue if you like to entertain.
The French Press: this is the classic upscale coffee and tea , yes I said tea) service for home and restaurants. There are variable pros, you can still get personalization and even various sizes so you can make coffee for two or more drinkers. Your price is higher than a cup pour over but based on size or personal preference. The cons are similar to the pour over, you need an external hot water source, with the larger French presses you run the risk of your next cup being cold (unless you drink fast or buy a cozy for it). Clean up could also be a down side depending on the size of the press you get.
The Chemex Set: Have you ever wanted to feel like a mad Scientist? The Chemex coffee maker is for you! The Chemex set was invented in the 40's and uses the smoothest of glass for the carafe, borosilicate in the trades, it is supposed to be a completely neutral vessel that will never affect the taste of your coffee. Early sets used Sterno cans or even bunson type burners to heat the water into boiling over the grounds into the carafe. The pros to this setup is it is way cool if you have the flame heating attachment, (they now make an electric one that looks more modern and is probably a lot safer at the expense of the mad scientist vibe)
The Keurig, or "K-cup" brewer; in a brilliant move the Keurig company made a propitiatory brewing system and the industry was scrambling to catch up. The last time I checked a credible source (an employee of the company that owns the Keurig brand) they were producing upwards of 1.8 billion cups a year (this was in 2010) and I'm sure that number is over 6 billion now.( a conservative number for sure) Why might you ask am I talking about a closed format system where Rockabilly Roasters doesn't have a "K-Cup" offering (yet! someday we hope to be there). Keurig brewers offer extreme portion control and product shelf life are extended, plus you can switch around the brew as easily as picking a new cup, other pros are you can get the filter basket adapter and load your own but these are messy to clean some times. Cons are limited control over brew time, no control over grind (in the prepackaged), price range is higher (because of proprietary format and licensing fees for third party manufacturers) and they can be a little slow in the home units. I will say that they are very popular and seem to sell well all over. (as based on Green Mountains annual shareholder reports)
The Carafe/Thermal carafe brewer; A brewer found in most American house holds, this is almost a piece of Americana. These style of brewers can be very simple to very elaborate grind and brew units. Pricing varies depending on size, features and brand, as little as 10 dollars to as much a 500 dollars for a home unit. Carafe brewers offer the best flexibility as you can adjust the drop, grind type. My personal opinion is to stay away from coffee brewers with a warmer plate, get the thermal carafe and transfer to a good thermos for all day enjoyment (I will post about coffee holding and serving in a later post). I would avoid grind and brews as there are too many moving parts that are exposed to moisture during the brewing process, (much better to buy a separate grinder for that fresh ground experience, a later post). Pros are time and drop control, increased volume for groups and refills, and various price points allowing for easy upgrading or replacement. Cons can be wasteful if you want smaller portions, heated pots can ruin your brew, easy to get lost in what you really need to get the job done, can be undersized in the heating department and this will affect extraction (look another blog post on temperature ).
Now that you are more informed and can make a decision based on your needs, budget and commitment level all that is left is to get your brewer, some great Coffee (I would suggest Rockabilly Roasters). Brew it up and enjoy, whither it is morning starter , mid day energizer or evening wind down, coffee can fit that bill and you can make the Best cup...... At Home!
Until Next Time