Author: Julie Terebkov
Hello and welcome back everyone! This week I wanted to talk about different brewing methods. When referring to the different brewing method categories, I’m talking about the three main categories to brew coffee: full immersion, gravity driven filter, and pressure. Those are the categories of brewing methods that have different brewing systems and guides within them. So, something like a V60 pour over would go under the category of gravity driven filter, and espresso would go under pressure. There are some strange brewing systems that don’t get categorized under just one, since they use a combination of a few. An AeroPress for example, technically uses aspects of all the methods. It draws upon pressure, the system is full immersion, and there’s a gravity driven element with a paper filter.
Let’s talk about the categories and hit on the ways they differ.
This process literally immerses coffee grounds into water for an equal amount of time. Simply put, the grounds and the water are together the whole time up until the end.
Instead of pouring and allowing coffee to drip through some sort of filter, the grounds sit in the water as they brew. There may be some sort of filter to keep the grounds out of the final cup of coffee (like the metal filter on a French press) but, this is not always the case. I’d say this is usually the simplest of the brewing methods because you don’t have to worry about pouring water at different times; you just follow a very simple recipe.
Things that fall under full immersion:
Cold brew, French press, AeroPress (technically it’s also gravity driven filter and pressure), coffee cupping, Siphon brewer, Clever brewer, SoftBrew.
Gravity Driven Filter
With the gravity driven filter method we are allowing gravity to do all the work for us. There’s no pressure, no pressing down, simply gravity pulling water down through the grounds and through a filter. Unlike the full immersion process, we are adding water over a span of time rather than all at once.
For something like the pour over, we would be doing a total of three pours, over the span of about three and a half minutes. With each pour there are different flavors being extracted over time. To better understand what is happening, let’s talk about how coffee extracts over time. It begins by extracting sour flavors, then the sweet, and finally bitter. So, a perfectly extracted coffee finishes brewing right before hitting the bitter part of extraction, while also getting all the sweet flavors out of the coffee. When your coffee is under-extracted it’ll mainly taste sour, while over-extracted coffees taste overwhelmingly bitter.
Back to the stages of the pour over. During the “bloom”, you’re preparing the coffee for extraction. The second pour (after the bloom) is when you begin extracting the sour, or “brighter” flavors of the coffee. Over time you, gradually get out more sweetness and hopefully (if you’re brewing well) you’ll finish extracting flavors before you hit bitterness from over extracting your coffee.
Things that fall under gravity driven filter:
Pour over (Hario V60, Kalita, etc), Coffee makers, and Chemex. Like I mentioned earlier, technically AeroPress falls under this category as well, since it uses gravity and has a paper filter.
We have arrived at our final destination, pressure driven brewing. This is made by combing or putting water through coffee with loads of pressure and pushing the water out and making something like espresso. Espresso is not the only pressure driven brewing method in this category however, it’s going to be the most popular and what you typically see.
Things that fall under pressure brewing method:
Espresso, Moka Pot, and of course AeroPress… again.
The coffee that comes out with each of these brewing methods is going to vary quite a bit. The coffee descriptive categories are as follows: aroma, acidity, body, flavor and aftertaste. These are all pretty self explanatory except for body, which I will explain. The body of the coffee just means what it feels like on your tongue. We include the weight and texture as guides in this category. If a coffee has a light body, it will literally feel lighter on your tongue and have a clean almost tea-like texture. When a coffee is heavy in body, it can mean it has a syrupy texture like espresso, or has a lot of particles, oils, etc. like in French press coffees.
The flavors you get out of full immersion coffee is usually a medium-full bodied coffee with particles, oils and a lot going on as far as texture. Like I mentioned earlier, a French press will yield a full-bodied coffee that has particles in it. The oils from the coffee come through since it’s only filtered through a metal filter.
For gravity driven filtered coffees we get a lighter body and a “cleaner” texture when brewing since there is a filter to catch most of the oils, particulates, and grounds. We can expect a clean texture especially with something like the Chemex which utilizes a thick paper filter.
Finally for pressure driven brewing, we can get a few different results. For espresso, we get a rich, syrupy like, concentrated coffee. We are ending up with a small coffee, but an impactful flavor. For a Moka-Pot you are getting a rich and syrupy coffee but, not to the same extent as something you would get on an espresso machine.
There you have it folks, all the brewing methods explained in detail. Thanks for reading and I hope you left more informed and excited to brew some coffee!
Stay classy coffee tribe.