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Brewing a perfect cup of coffee: Steeping
Posted on October 06 2020,
To continue on our conversation on coffee brewing methods, let's explore the steeping methods!
A French Press uses steeping to brew the coffee. The grinds sit in boiled water for as much as ten minutes. A filtered plunger is then used to push the grinds to the bottom of the carafe leaving the coffee above the plunger and the grounds are pushed to the bottom.
Brewing using a French Press does take a bit of time. Brewing the coffee itself will take ten minutes or more. You also have to be a bit careful because usually not all of the grinds are pushed to the bottom. There will be some grounds in the cup. Some people will avoid drinking to the last drop.
Brewing using a French Press does create a rather nice cup of coffee. It has a lot of body and aroma. The coffee is not at all bitter nor is it overly strong.
This is the simplest way of brewing coffee. It is exactly the same way that you make a cup of tea. A coffee bag is steeped in hot water and that’s it.
This is not instant coffee. The grinds in the bag are from proper coffee beans, can even create your own bags if you want.
Using the coffee bag brewing method will not create a great-tasting cup of coffee. You have very little control over the steeping process and can steep it for too long. You will, however, have a real coffee, and not a horrible instant one.
Now we start getting a bit fancy. Siphon coffee brewing is a great way to look like you know what you’re doing and that you are a true coffee lover.
Here’s how it works. There are two glass chambers, one on top of the other. You put boiling water into the bottom chamber. The vapor from the boiling water rises to the top chamber and mixes with your grinds. While this is happening, gravity is pulling the coffee back into the bottom chamber. It’s kind of neat to watch, but it takes a while and you need to constantly attend to it.
Some people swear by this method. The coffee never touches anything but glass. It produces a very clean and pure cup of coffee with lots of flavors. The coffee is very smooth and has a lovely aroma.
This coffee brewer is sort of like filtered coffee, but much more sophisticated.
It looks much like a filter coffee brewer. The coffee grinds are mixed with boiling water and drip through a filter. The difference here is that the filter is around thirty percent thicker than the filter you’ll find in a drip coffee maker. This means that the coffee has no sediment whatsoever.
Here's where things get sophisticated. This is a pour-over brewing method. You control the amount of water going through the filter. You use a gooseneck kettle for this one. Then you pour the hot water in circles allowing it to slowly drip through the filter. You add water as you go, and let it drip through the filter slowly. Actually, you are in control of the entire dripping process.
Pour-over coffee is quite popular these days and creates a lovely cup of coffee. Once you learn how to manage the amount of grinds and the pouring speed. The oils pull through the filter and the cup of coffee is rich and flavorful. You’ll get all the goodness out of the beans, and leave the bitterness and sediment behind.
The Chemex brewing method does take time to master. You’ll need to experiment a bit until you get exactly what you want. One issue though, is that it is a heck of a lot of work for just one cup of coffee in the morning. When you need a few cups, this is an ideal method.
When you only want a single cup of coffee, this is the way to go. It is really easy to use. Basically, you pour water in the top and let it drip through the filter. Well, not quite.
The Vietnamese Dripper has a perforated metal plate that sits on top of your coffee chamber that sits on top of the plate. Inside the top brewing, chamber is a thin filter that is used to tamp down the grinds. This is still a bit of a pour-over method as you do add water during the dripping process.
The Vietnamese Dripper takes around four or five minutes to brew the coffee. Since there is no paper filter, the dripper can extract the oils from the coffee grinds. Remember, it only makes a single cup of coffee, so as long as you want to make only a cup of coffee in the morning, this is the right method for you.
The coffee from a Vietnamese Dripper is full-bodied and aromatic. The flavor is heightened by the lack of a paper filter. Like a French Press, there will be a few grinds in your cup, but the coffee taste is well worth it.
Got a bit of time? Don’t need your fix right now? Cold brew is a wonderful way to brew great coffee.
The word “cold” is exactly what this is. Coldwater drips through a filter, and it takes a long time. To brew coffee with this method will take ten hours or more, but you can store the brewed for around two weeks.
Don’t mistake this for a cup of cold coffee or ice coffee. This is cold brewing and the coffee is fantastic. There is no bitterness in your cup and the acidity is low. The cold brew will really allow the origin of your beans to take center stage.
Nitro brewing involves mixing the coffee with nitrogen. As you brew the coffee in the brewing chamber you use around five capsules of nitrogen that each gets added at a different time. Make sure your guests watch. This one is certainly a good way to show off.
Since you are brewing with nitrogen, there’s quite a bit of special equipment involved. You’ll need to keep buying nitrogen capsules and will go through them pretty quickly. Nitro brewing uses cold brew coffee, so plan on waiting about two weeks to enjoy it.
Is nitro coffee any good? It is really a truly wonderful and unique cup of coffee. You might expect the coffee to be carbonated with lots of bubbles, but it is far from that. The coffee is creamy and looks like a beer poured from a tap. It is intense and quite sweet. You’ll never have another cup of coffee like this one. Most people drink a nitro brewed coffee with no sugar or milk. It doesn’t need it!
Summing it all up
Coffee brewing at home is the perfect way to enjoy gourmet coffee. Unlike a typical café, you can taste a wide variety of beans from different origins and blends. You can bring the very best out of the beans and fill your cup with absolutely wonderful coffee.
The method you choose to brew your coffee really does affect the flavor, acidity, and mouthfeel. Some methods are easier to master than others. It really all comes down to how much money you want to spend and how much time you want to put into your coffee brewing.
The best way to experiment with various methods of coffee brewing is to start small. Get yourself an Aeropress or a Vietnamese dripper. Even a Moka Pot is perfect as a starter. Once you master home coffee brewing and know what kind of coffee you want in your cup, you can expand your horizons with more advanced equipment.
Don’t get caught up with the latest fads in coffee brewing. Just like with clothes, fashions change. It’s no different with coffee brewing. If you think about it, espresso and even Moka Pots have been around for a very long time. Nitro coffee is big right now, but will it be popular in five years' time? Will you still be able to get the right accessories in the future?
If you’re a coffee-lover and want to take things to the next level, brewing coffee at home can be a lot of fun. Experimenting with brewing methods will open up a whole new world of finding the magic in the bean, and getting that same magic into your cup.