Get Your Fix:
Four Ways to Brew a Perfect Cup of Coffee

Humans have a long relationship with coffee. We’ve been drinking it (sometimes in massive quantities) going back to at least the thirteenth century. During the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, specialty coffee shops, roasters, and grinding mills cropped up and flourished in towns across North America.Warsh, Cheryl Lynn Kraznick, Drink in Canada: Historical Essays, pg. 16, Davids, Kenneth, Home Coffee Roasting, Revised, Updated Edition: Romance and Revival, pg. 26 Then in the twentieth century, the vacuum tin was invented, and instant and ground tinned coffee took over the market. Most of the small, specialized coffee roasters and shops disappeared.

Coffee Lovers of the World - Four Ways to Brew a Perfect Cup of Coffee

However, in the past 50 years, North Americans rediscovered specialty coffee in a big way. Today, grocery stores are stocked with whole beans from all over the world, and daily, someone seems to invent a new way to brew coffee at home. Did you know how you brew your coffee can affect the flavor and acid levels of your beloved cuppa? Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of some of the most popular brewing methods. Consider this a cheat sheet for brewing a perfect cup of coffee.

Beginner's Guide to Coffee Beans - Four Ways to Brew a Perfect Cup of Coffee

Pro Tips for Brewing Delicious Coffee

No matter which method you choose, you’re likely to get a more satisfying morning mug if you follow these barista-recommended practices:

Start with high-quality, fresh coffee beans and good-tasting water.

For hot-water brewing methods:

  • Follow the instructions for your specific brewing equipment.
  • Pour hot water in your device and cup ahead of time to preheat them before you start the brewing process.
  • Experiment with different filters, which can affect the taste of coffee. Oxygen-bleached filters may impart the best taste, according to taste tests done at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon.
  • Rinse the filter with warm water before brewing to wash out any dust and eliminate the hint of a paper taste.
  • Keep the water for brewing at around 200 degrees, just below the boiling point.
  • Experiment with the ratio of water and coffee to find your desired strength.
  • Thoroughly clean all equipment after brewing.

Home Coffee Brewing Showdown

There’s no perfect way to make coffee. Different people prefer different methods for different occasions. You’ll need to experiment to see which way works best for you. Here are some of the pros and cons of four popular methods.

Storing and Grinding Coffee Beans - Four Ways to Brew a Perfect Cup of Coffee

Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

The first automatic drip coffee maker debuted in 1972, mechanizing the process of making coffee at home for the first time. By 1996, 73 percent of households reportedly had an automatic drip coffeemaker on the counter.


  • Affordable
  • Easy
  • Convenient
  • Can usually be programmed ahead of time
  • Depending on the machine, can make a lot of coffee at a time or just one cup


  • Most machines require filters
  • Takes longer to brew than some other methods
  • Machines can be difficult to clean
  • It’s easy to forget to remove spent coffee grounds or leftover coffee, which both mold easily
  • Some users report off-tasting coffee for no discernible reason

For the best cup, use this coffee grind: Medium (about the consistency of sea salt).

French Press

The French Press, also known as a coffee plunger in some parts of the world, was first patented by an Italian designer in 1929.


  • Affordable
  • Requires no filters
  • Portable and self-contained
  • Takes only two to four minutes to brew
  • You can control the brew time and thus, the strength of the coffee
  • Large presses make large quantities of coffee
  • Can also be used to make cold-water brew or tea


  • If coffee is left too long in the beaker, it can become astringent and bitter
  • If the beans are ground too fine, the coffee can be muddy
  • Difficult to clean the mesh filter; trapped grounds can cause off-tasting coffee

For the best cup, use this coffee grind: Coarse (somewhere between the consistency of raw sugar and rock salt).

Coffee Brewing Methods - Four Ways to Brew a Perfect Cup of Coffee

Melitta (a.k.a Single-Cup Pour Over)

It’s easy to admire the simplicity of the single-cup, pour-over cone, which is often called a Melitta after Melitta Bentz, the German housewife who originated this popular brewing method in 1908.


  • Simple
  • Portable and self-contained
  • Requires little equipment
  • Takes only two to four minutes to brew
  • Easy to clean


  • Requires filters
  • User must be careful not to pour too much water or let the coffee overflow
  • Brews only one cup at a time

For the best cup, use this coffee grind: Medium-fine (about the consistency of table salt).

Want the simplicity of the pour-over method while brewing more than one cup at a time? Consider the Chemex, which features a six-cup beaker and a multi-layer specialty filter.

Cold-Water Brew



  • Takes 12 to 16 hours to brew
  • Coffee is cold (but can be heated)

For the best cup, use this grind: Extra-coarse (about the consistency of ground peppercorns).

Cold Water Brew How to - Four Ways to Brew a Perfect Cup of Coffee

Forty-three percent of coffee drinkers routinely make their own coffee at home or work, according to a 2015 Zagat survey. If you’re one of them, it’s worth experimenting with different methods to find your favorite way to make one of your favorite drinks.

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