Your Guide to a Better Brew

Your Guide to a Better Brew

Your Guide to a Better Brew

Follow Louis: @lt_ingstagram

A morning cup of coffee is a daily ritual for many around the globe, with caffeine lovers customizing their daily fix to their liking. Some of these customizations may be familiar to you, such as different styles of espresso drinks or adding sugar and/or cream to brewed coffee. But did you know that there are actually a multitude of different ways to brew coffee itself? Each way has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages that are able to elevate the humble coffee bean to the beverage we all know and love. I hope you will join me on a brief tour of brewing methods, and you’ll consider trying a new one to shake up your routine. 


The Slow and Steady: Cold Brew

If you are a BrewBike fan, you’ll certainly be familiar with this method. Cold Brew is made by steeping ground beans in room temperature or chilled water for an extended period of time. After the liquid is strained from the grounds, it is diluted with water or milk and served over ice. This is a method of coffee that is easy to customize with flavors, through additions like cocoa nibs, vanilla bean pods, cinnamon, or cardamom during the brewing process. Additionally, this is a method that requires little equipment, as all you need is a container and a way to prevent the grounds from ending up in the finished product. Be warned, this method does take a decent amount of foresight, as the beans are required to seep for at least 8-10 hours. However, the end product is well worth the wait. The resulting pH is lower due to the water not reaching the temperature required to liberate the acidic compounds within the bean. The resulting flavor is smoother and has less bitter notes than coffee brewed with hot water.  This method is a summertime favorite and an example of slow and steady winning the race. If you’re looking for a streamlined way to get your fix at home, get one of BrewBikes’ at-home cold brew kits by looking here.

Pros: Smooth rich taste, little equipment, can be made ahead and highly customizable.

Cons: Takes a long time to brew.

Fun Fact: The first Cold Brew coffee is thought to have originated in Kyoto, Japan as early as the 1600s!

The Simple Solution: The French Press 

The French Press presents an elegant and efficient way to brew hot coffee. A French Press consists of a plunger with a lid and filter that is fixed on-top of a pitcher base. Ground coffee is placed within the pitcher and mixed with hot water. The plunger is placed on top of the pitcher and then when the coffee is finished brewing, the plunger is slowly pressed down to the bottom of the pitcher. This is actually harder than it might sound! Make sure you plunge down in a smooth, controlled manner. If there is no resistance, the grounds are too coarse. Alternatively, if pushing the plunger requires an enormous amount of effort, the grind size is likely too fine. The result is a fresh, full-bodied cup of hot black coffee, ready in just a few minutes. This is a great method to make a pot of coffee for several people at once and is quite portable, as the coffee can be made anywhere with access to hot water. Additionally, this method does not use filters, making it a great choice for the eco-conscious. However, the lack of paper filters can result in gritty coffee if the plunging is not done correctly. Additionally, grind size is key in obtaining a good cup of coffee from this method, so it might require some trial and error. 

Pros: Requires little equipment, environmentally friendly, portable, great for bigger groups.

Cons: Grind size can be hard to adjust using ground coffee, slight learning curve.

Fun Fact: The man who first patented the French Press wasn’t even French, he was from Milan, Italy.



The Party Trick: Pour-Over

Pour-Over coffee ensures a cup of bright coffee and emphasizes subtle flavor notes from Single Origin blends that can get lost in other brewing methods. In this method, grounds are placed within a filter that is suspended over a mug or cup. A small amount of hot water is poured over the grounds to saturate them. After this, the grounds will expand and bubble. Don’t be alarmed, this is called blooming. During the roasting process, carbon dioxide forms within the beans and is released when exposed to heat. Allowing time for this gas to bubble off helps reduce sour or off-tasting notes within the cup and promotes the extraction of flavors. After the blooming period is over, water is slowly poured over the filter and allowed to trickle through the grounds. This method produces one cup of coffee per pour, making it one of the more labor-intensive ways to brew coffee. However, this allows for coffee to not go to waste if only one cup is desired. Additionally, this method has the potential to be a show-stopping way to impress your guests with your brewing know-how in the comfort of your own home.

Pros: Emphasize flavor notes, perfect for when only one cup is desired, looks impressive.

Cons: Labor intensive, requires some skill, produces a small amount of coffee.

Fun Fact: The Pour Over method was invented by a German housewife in 1908, after she tried filtering her husband’s coffee with a sheet of their son’s notebook paper. 



Louis Ingram works as one of the Master Baristas at Northwestern University, where he is a rising senior doubling majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience with a concentration in Linguistics. When not perfecting his latte art, chatting up customers, or performing research, you can find him listening to true crime podcasts, baking, or hanging with his rather chubby cat, Pan. Follow him at @lt_ingstagram


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