Comparison of coffee brewing methods

How Different Brewing Methods Affect Your Cup

Posted on March 14th 2014 by Maddie

Did you know 65% of Canadians drink an average of 3.2 cups of coffee per day? According to a study by the Coffee Association of Canada, half of that 65% brew their daily cup at home.

It’s overwhelming the variety of home brewing equipment to choose from. Aeropress, Moka Pot, Chemex, French Press, Siphons... With the constant quest for individuality we have all sorts of avenues for preparing coffee.

In this entry, I want to skim the surface of what’s available, by explaining how each differently prepared cup may vary in taste. Even when using the same blend of coffee.

Just the other day, I was asked why you would use a French Press over a Drip Coffee Maker. I first thought, well of course it is way superior. But, it shouldn’t be better or worse. It is all subjective. I happen to like the taste of coffee from a French Press more than a typical home drip machine.

Another good life lesson, as nothing is better than another. It comes down to preference. So, I like the Press better than Drip. Why is that? What does that mean I look for in a cup of coffee?

Beginners Guide to Tasting Coffee

It is true that we all do have different levels of taste and it can be quite personal. You might think your taste is not that discerning, but it is something that we can work on.

If you’re keen on exploring more of your palate, I suggest starting a sensory journal, where you can describe what you eat and drink in full detail; aromas, mouth textures, tastes. It’s an excellent way to increase awareness of our senses, and begin assigning language to this information.

Coffee is a lot like wine. So, if you have to do some wine tasting after reading this that’s completely reasonable. Aroma and flavor are linked directly to the life of the plant, the ways in which we process, roast, and finally prepare our coffee to brew.

So, even before tasting what sort of aroma are you getting from the beans? Then in understanding our palate, where does the coffee hit your tongue?

So, without further ado, let’s explain some common tasting notes in the coffee world. Clear up any confusion one might have.

Acidity

Acidity is a common taste descriptor of coffee. It’s a sparkle on the tip of your tongue. A certain brightness. It’s a lively, sharp, tangy flavour which hits you when you first sip your coffee.

Body

Body comes closer to the end of your sip. Body can be explained by mouthfeel, the sense of thickness associated with taste. Water has a thin, light mouthfeel. On the opposite end, Kicking Horse Coffee's Sumatran has a full, buttery mouthfeel, with lots of body to satisfy the throat and palate.

Smoothness

Well balanced, continuous. Not overbalanced on one end. An even cup of coffee.

Clarity

Clarity is about tasting the distinctiveness of the coffee. How many insoluble materials come through in your cup?

When you brew a cup of coffee, soluble particles are extracted from the coffee grounds. Flavor and aroma are a direct result of this.

The correlation between insoluble materials and body is clear when preparing a French Press. You’ll see more insoluble materials in the cup, some would attribute this to increased body.

Clarity therefore will increase in filtered coffee. You’ll see type of filter influencing your cup. A cloth filter, which is used with the Chemex and Siphon will produce very clean cups of coffee.

Therefore, keeping this in mind the character of our cup can be directly influenced by our extraction process.

What do you all look for in your cup of coffee?