KCoffee. If there’s anything better than a fresh cup to start your morning, pick up your afternoon, or enjoy after a heavy dinner, we don’t know what it would be. If we were to rank some of our favorite things, coffee would be in the top three. And we’re not alone.
But coffee is interesting. For as much as people love it, they may not know much about it. Sure, there are different brewing methods, but what makes them different, and why does that matter? Does dark roast have more or less caffeine in it?
In honor of International Coffee Day this September, we have a quick guide to getting started for your own coffee brewing endeavors. You’ll learn what the differences between three common types of coffee bean roasts are, different methods of brewing (with links to tutorials on how to do each one), and finally how to select your particular bean or grind. This will be everything you need to get started with your own coffee brewing experience!
Light, Medium, or Dark: Choosing Your Roast
If you’ve ever ordered a coffee you may have been put on the spot when you get asked “what type of roast do you want?” You’re not alone if you don’t know how to answer and just choose one of the three. But the each one offers distinct differences.
Light Roast: Light roast coffee has no oil on the bean and a lot of its original flavor because the bean hasn’t been heavily roasted. That also means that most of the caffeine is retained, giving light roast coffee a nice kick for those who prefer it. Great for a morning boost or an afternoon pick-me-up, light coffee also has a pronounced acidity to it.
Medium Roast: Medium roast coffee is a bit more balanced in everything from aroma and acidity to caffeine and flavor. Don’t think that “the middle of the road” roast coffee is a blend of both light and dark though – medium roasts are a classic style of coffee and the most common you’re likely to get when you order a “cuppa” anywhere. And with good reason – medium roast coffee is the most popular coffee roast in America.
Dark Roast: Dark roast coffee has bitter notes to its taste, low caffeine, and rich flavor. Those who really enjoy a strong taste, but will sacrifice caffeine and acidity to their drink should order dark roast. You may notice that the beans on dark roast are a bit oily, which is natural as the bean gets most roasted.
Choosing Your Coffee Brew Method
How do you take your coffee? Do you prefer it hot or cold? Do you like a cold brew? French press? How you prepare your coffee matters just as much as the type of roast you select. Below are just some of the more popular ways you can be a master barista in your own home.
If you’ve ever brewed coffee in your home, in a hotel room, at an office, really anywhere, you’d have encountered a drip brew. Ground coffee beans are placed on a filter and water is heated in a reservoir before – you guessed it – dripping through the grinds and filter in a cup, pot, mug, you name it. K-cups are the same concept as a drip brew, designed to make a quick, one-off cup. However, using ground coffee with a proper drip brew maker means a lot more coffee can be made, and made fast. Your typical drip coffee maker will have speed and quantity as it’s key benefits.
Take a drip brew process, remove the machine, but keep the coffee and the filter, and you’ve got the basics of a pour-over. Where the differences lie is in control. Your typical drip brew coffee maker will be very automated, with the higher end ones capable of more features. A pour-over, however, gives you complete control over your brew, similar to using a camera on “automatic” settings versus “manual.” You control the temperature, the consistency, the quality, all of which will give you a richer and smoother cup. Pour-over methods may seem intimidating at first glance for its manual process, but if you’ve ever made a cup of tea, you’ll be more than capable of handling a pour-over. The best part? Pour overs give you the same (or better) quality coffee as a high-end drip machine, but at a fraction of the cost.
Sometimes called a “press pot” method of brewing, the French Press is commonly known but not as commonly used among many at-home brewers. The misconception about the French Press method of coffee brewing is that it’s complicated. The reality is brewing a pot of French Press coffee is something anyone can do, provided they know what they’re doing. The French Press doesn’t take long to brew – in fact, most of the process is letting the water soak with the grinds – but it does demand good equipment. A poorly-made French Press could have the grinds “leak” when you press down, resulting in your coffee having some unwanted chunks in it.
Watch: Brewing with a French Press
You might be quick to dismiss Chemex as “pour over 2.0” but in doing so you would deprive yourself of a richer, more flavorful cup of coffee – not to mention some of the differences in the pour itself. Though the process is similar, the Chemex uses a thicker filter that draws the drip out longer – creating that bolder flavor. You can also brew more coffee with a Chemex, as the Chemex can come in a bigger size. There are a few more steps involved in the Chemex process compared to a pour-over, but if you prefer a strong flavor that brings out all the notes in your coffee, there’s no question that a Chemex brew will go the extra mile for you.
Watch: Brewing with a Chemex
Cold brew coffee will be the longest cup you’ll have ever brewed, but the payoff will be in the flavor and concentration. This type of coffee takes about 12 hours to properly make. After it’s complete, you will need to mix it with water to dilute the concentration. You also should do that to avoid over caffeinate yourself. After all, a cup of coffee is great in the morning, but you don’t want to go 0-100 at 8:30 AM – unless you want to crash hard by the afternoon! Cold brew, despite its name, does not need to be brewed cold – it can be done at room temperature, though drinking the cold brew over ice is a popular way of enjoying this tasty drink!
Watch: Creating your cold brew
Not One Grind Fits All: A Note About Your Coffee Grinds
By now you probably know the type of coffee you like and the way you want to brew it, but that doesn’t mean you can snag any bag of coffee grinds and call it a day. Different methods of brewing demand different textures to your coffee. A Chemex pour would need your coffee ground to a sand-like texture, whereas a French Press will need a sea-salt consistency to your coffee grinds.
Fortunately, you don’t need to guess. As long as you know the brewing method you want to utilize, you can buy the coffee pre-ground to the style you’ll be using to make your cup of joe.
If you buy a whole bean bag of coffee, you’ll need to grind the coffee yourself. No need to fret on that though. Get a good coffee grinder, learn how it works, and grind away. The benefit of whole bean is that you get a better, fresher taste if you store the coffee properly, and the notes in the coffee – both taste and aroma – will be significantly highlighted.
Ready to Start Brewing?
This is only your start to making your own perfect cup of coffee, but there’s still plenty more to learn. Coffee is an art, and as Hugh Jackman once said, “the smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the world’s greatest inventions.” So get started and start enjoying your coffee the way you made it!
Look for the best International Coffee Day deals when you shop with Piggy, including 3% cashback and 25% off coffee beans at Peet’s Coffee through September 29.