For me, coffee has always come from dependable Mr. Coffee, who sits—and takes up a lot of space—on my countertop. I grind the beans at night, fill the canister, set the timer, and wake up to freshly brewed drip coffee. Poured into a travel mug, it gets me on my way to the subway to face the day.
But plenty of my friends have been singing the praises of different brewing methods, and I’ve been considering giving Mr. Coffee a bit of a break.
I borrowed a Bodum French press from my friend Cameron. She promised coffee that’s much richer than my normal brew.
To use, you need to grind your beans more coarsely than for drip coffee. Put about three teaspoonfuls per cup in the bottom of the French press canister and pour slightly less-than-boiling water to the top. Let it steep anywhere between four and eight minutes, depending on how strong you like it. (I did four, but wished I had let it steep longer.) Gently press down the grounds, and pour out a cup of good, rich coffee.
Pros: No filter; no electricity; small to transport and store; rich, non-bitter cup of coffee
Cons: Needs to steep longer to create a strong brew; small bits of grounds settle in the bottom of the mug
Bodum “Bean” 4-cup French Press Coffee Maker, $30 at bodumusa.com
My friend Jessica doesn’t drink regular drip coffee. “The acidity is too hard on my stomach,” she says. “I cold brew my coffee.” Cold brew? I’d never heard of it, so I added it to my must-try list.
Jessica recommends the Toddy system, which comes with a canister, filter and carafe. You fill the plugged canister with about a half pound of coarsely ground coffee (somewhere in between a drip coffee grind and a French press grind). Pour in roughly four cups of water to moisten the grounds. Let the water settle, then pour in another half pound of coffee grounds. Fill with about five more cups of water.
Let the grounds steep overnight, about 12 hours. In the morning, release the canister’s plug and let the brewed coffee drip into a carafe. It’s a concentrated coffee that’s nearly 70 percent less acidic than drip coffee, and it lasts in your fridge for up to 14 days. Serve it over ice or add hot water for a traditional cup of hot coffee.
Pros: Less acidic than drip; makes an entire carafe of coffee that keeps in the fridge; easy to use for iced coffee
Cons: Toddy system is large and bulky; takes a lot of time to steep
Toddy Cold Brew System, $37.50 at toddycafe.com
My roommates are big fans of espresso. They both have small moka pots from Bialetti, which they use to make espresso on the stovetop.
It’s simple to brew with a moka pot: tamp down finely ground espresso beans (not regular coffee beans) into the base, then fill the boiler with water. Screw on the top, and put the whole thing directly onto your stove over a low flame. The water boils and creates steam—wait for a distinct gurgling noise, which means it’s done brewing. Pour out your espresso and enjoy!
Pros: No filters; no electricity; simple to use; small to transport and store
Cons: Boils over easily; not for those who prefer big mugs of coffee instead of espresso (like me)
One-cup moka pot, $20; 12-cup moka pot, $60 at bialettishop.com