Are you a new coffee drinker who needs to learn how to brew coffee? Or maybe you’re already a caffeine fiend, but are looking to sharpen your barista skills to avoid those extra trips to Starbucks.
The Coffee Rooster will guide you through the process through a series of how-to guides and articles about how to brew coffee. First, some Coffee 101.
First, let’s address a myth. Making great coffee isn’t necessarily about knowing the best coffee brands or finding the perfect coffee bean off the bat. Sure, the best coffee beans can help you dial in on an amazing experience, but for the novice coffee drinker, it is more about knowing the difference between general coffee roasting levels and coffee brewing equipment.
Typically, coffee beans are roasted before they are consumed. Coffee roasting levels can range from light to medium to dark, all of which have very different flavor characteristics. Roasters start with a raw, green coffee bean before roasting them to the desired levels. There are hundreds of coffee roasters out there who have created an infinite variety of coffee roasts and flavors, but simply knowing the difference between light and dark coffee can make a world of difference.
Coffee roasting is exactly as it sounds. The coffee beans are placed into a coffee roaster, or even an oven, where they are heated and toasted until they reach a certain roast level. In general, these coffee roast levels result in the following flavor profiles:
Light Roast – Coffee beans are roasted until they are light brown in color and tend to have a milder flavor. Because these are so lightly roasted, they do not have much of a smoky flavor, and have not yet developed much oil on the surface of the bean. Often, new coffee drinkers will start off with a lighter roast.
Medium Roast – The coffee beans are roasted longer, resulting in a slightly darker brown color. Here, we start to see a stronger flavor, but still have not developed much oil on the surface of the bean. Many people like to stick with a medium roast as their preferred coffee bean due to its balance and lack of bitterness or smokiness.
Medium-Dark Roast – We now start to see some bitterness appear in the coffee bean taste as well as some oil on the surface of the bean, which will be visible in the cup when the coffee is poured.
Dark Roast – Dark roasts are, expectedly, much darker in color. They often have a pronounced smoky or charred flavor and an enhanced bitter aftertaste compared to medium roast beans. In addition to there being a number of dark coffee beans out there, espresso beans are sometimes also referred to as dark roast coffee.
There are three main ways that people in the US tend to brew their coffee. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please check back as we continue to add how-to’s and articles on other sophisticated coffee brewing methods!
Percolators – Unfortunately, many people are still using percolators to brew their coffee, and we do not recommend it. A percolator resembles a pitcher where the water is poured into the bottom, and course-ground coffee beans are placed in the top chamber. The percolator is then placed on the stove or some other heating source. The water eventually boils, pushing itself up over the top of the beans to brew them. Due to the extremely high heat during boiling, this often leads to over-brewed coffee with a burnt or otherwise off flavor. Percolators may work well for brewing coffee for large groups of people, but not so much for obtaining the best coffee flavor. (Recommended: Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator or Presto 02811 12-Cup Stainless Steel Coffee Maker)
Automatic Drip Coffee Machines – Around the 1970s, percolators were replaced by automatic drip coffee machines in many households. This is the type of coffee brewing equipment that most who are reading this guide will be familiar with. In this case, ground coffee beans are placed into a filter at the top of the appliance and water is poured into a chamber. Once started the water will heat up and permeate the coffee grounds, causing brewed coffee to drip into a coffee pot underneath. Because the coffee is collected into a pot rather than recirculated into itself, drip coffee tends to have a better flavor than that of the percolator. Automatic drip coffee machines are often a great place to start for beginner coffee brewers. (Recommended: Cuisinart DCC-3200 14-Cup Glass Carafe with Stainless Steel Handle Programmable Coffeemaker)
French Press – French press coffee is, in my humble opinion, second to none. Even better, the process is ridiculously simple and gives off that minimalist vibe. In this case, water is boiled on the stove or in an electric kettle, and is then poured over the ground coffee beans in the French press itself. After brewing for three or more minutes, the coffee can then be pressed, pushing the course-ground coffee to the bottom and the liquid coffee to the top. It is now time to enjoy an amazing cup of coffee! (Recommended: Bodum Brazil 8-Cup French Press Coffee Maker along with this beautiful KitchenAid KEK1222PT Electric Kettle)