Let’s go back to basics for a minute and focus on one simple question: How do you make coffee?
I’ve seen this question come up on a few question boards, and it occurred to me that the answer isn’t necessarily as simple as one might think. There are, after all, countless ways to make this ancient drink, and it exists in a quite a variety of forms.
This is what lead me to the decision to write this article as a guide explaining what making coffee-making entails, and what the most common brewing methods are.
So, let’s get started:
What is ‘Brewing Coffee’?
What exactly do people mean when they talk about ‘brewing coffee’? To ‘brew’ is to make something, either by fermenting it – like you do with beer – or by making it with boiling water, generally by seeping, mixing, or soaking in said boiling water. That’s why we say that we brew beer, but you also say that we brew beverages like coffee and tea, even though beer and coffee are very clearly not made the same way.
Coffee Brewing Methods
Coffee is an incredibly old drink, so there are countless ways to make it. The most common one that people refer to is via drip coffee maker, which is what people commonly use to brew coffee maker at home. Basic drip coffee makers are the ones with a glass carafe (coffee pot), that often hold up to 12 cups of coffee. This machine works by pouring water through coffee grounds and a paper filter, turning that water into coffee.
The other two most common at-home coffee brewing methods for regular coffee are brewing via a press, or a french press – which is the one that consists of a glass pitcher that has a lid with a plunger – and via pour-over, which is a conical-shaped device that sits over the top of a cup or is attached to a larger container that collects the coffee you make.
The other type of coffee you see people make at home a lot is instant coffee.
Instant coffee is made from fine or granulated instant coffee powder and hot water. It’s basically just processed, dehydrated coffee powder that you scoop into a cup and add hot water to. The coffee you get from instant coffee powder is similar to regular drip coffee, but it is more heavily processed (meaning it does have a higher chemical composition), it has a lower caffeine content, and – in my opinion – doesn’t have the same boldness in taste.
Espresso is still coffee and still made from roasted coffee beans, but the beans and brew for espresso are prepared differently than those for drip coffee. This is why espresso beans are sold separately, and why you need a specific espresso maker to make it. There’s no instant espresso powder, and you can’t make make espresso in a regular coffee maker, or using any of the methods I listed above, which is why people mostly just get their espresso intake from coffee shops, since a very large portion of coffee shop drinks are made with espresso.
How to Make Coffee with a Drip Coffee Maker
Making coffee with a drip coffee maker requires more than just the coffee maker itself. You also need water, coffee grounds, and a paper coffee filter.
- First, fill the water reservoir to the desired water level. Most coffee makers have measurements on the side of both the machine and the pot that depict how many cups of coffee you want to make. Keep in mind that the 12-cup mark doesn’t actually make 12 regular mugs full of coffee, and it doesn’t mean 12 liquid measured cups (3 quarts) either. It is supposed to refer to mugs of coffee, but it’s considering a mug of coffee to be only 5oz, and I have never seen a mug that holds less than 10oz. Most mugs are significantly bigger.
- The easiest way I’ve found to figure out how much water you need is to fill the carafe (the glass pot part) with as much water as coffee you want to end up with.
- Next, pour the water into the water reservoir in the machine. This is the part that looks like a tank, and is typically behind the basket for the filter.
- Then, get your paper filter out and place it in the basket.
- The next step is to measure out and add your coffee grounds. (Make sure they are already ground – if they are whole mean, you do need to grind them first!) I recommend starting out by adding a scoop of coffee for every ‘cup’ of water you added to the machine, but you should experiment with this ratio over time and decide how strong you personally prefer your coffee.
- Lastly, set the machine to brew! How to start the machine varies by product. If there’s a ‘brew’ button, press that. If there is no brew button, you most likely just need to press the on/off or power button to start the brewing process.
Some machines are more complicated than others. If you aren’t sure about how your specific drip coffee maker works or how it’s laid out, it might be a fancier machine, and I’d recommend googling that specific model and looking for diagrams or videos on their specific website.
How to Make Coffee with a Keurig
Keurigs and other single-serve coffee makers are also popular for at-home coffee brewers, and making coffee in them is similar to making coffee in a drip coffee maker. One thing I have noticed about Keurigs is that every machine tends to be a little bit different, however, they all have the same general components that make the brewing process pretty simple.
- First, fill the water reservoir, just like you’d do with a drip coffee maker.
- Next, open the tray that houses the coffee pod. Empty any old pods, and place your desired one in the pod-sized divot that’s clearly meant for it. Close the tray – this should puncture a hole in the top of the pod.
- Place your cup on the tray beneath the spout.
- Press the button to start the brew process – this might be a ‘K’ button, a ‘brew’ button, or a button with an image of a coffee cup on it. Some models ask you to pick a size as well before you can brew – for reference, smaller mugs are generally around 12oz, and larger ones can hold as much as 24oz. If you don’t know how big your cup is and can’t measure it, make your best guess based on its size, and play it safe the first time.
And that’s it!
I hope that you found this guide helpful, and learned something new! If there’s anything I missed, or if you have any more questions on making coffee, please leave a comment below! Happy coffee-making!