We compare the merits French press, pour over, and drip coffee.

By Victoria Spencer
July 15, 2020
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Courtesy of Espro

You love coffee, and why wouldn't you? Just about everyone does. But how have you been drinking your coffee the past few months, and have you been drinking more cups per day than usual? It's likely that you've been making your daily cup of Joe at home rather than buying a latte at your favorite coffee shop on the way to work, so you've been putting your at-home java essentials to good use as of late. That begs the question: Are you still in love with your coffee maker, or are you looking for a whole new way to brew?

If your renewed interest in coffee has you considering different methods of brewing, read on. Here we're outlining some of the best and simplest methods of making coffee. We're not discussing espresso, espresso drinks, or cold brew; instead, our focus is on coffee makers that help you brew good coffee at home.

French Press

We're starting with the French press because this is the easiest, least intimidating way to make coffee. It doesn't take up precious counter space like a drip machine, and it doesn't require you to master a pouring technique, like pour-over does. It's an immersion method of making coffee. Simply add coarsely ground coffee, then add water that has boiled but is not boiling, 196-203 degrees Fahrenheit and allow to steep for three to five minutes, then plunge and pour. A basic French press, like the one-cup size stainless steel option from Bonjour ($18.93, amazon.com) is very reasonable; if you want something a little bigger, try Bodum's 34-ounce French Press ($39.13, amazon.com) instead.

One downside to the French press is that coffee cools quickly in the glass carafe. If you're planning to make more than the number of cups that will be poured once the coffee has brewed, consider upgrading to a French press with vacuum-insulated walls, like the Espro P7 ($110, williams-sonoma.com), which we also like for it's micro filters which are much finer than those used in other French presses. A French press cozy will also work.

Pour Over

Another unplugged, space-saving coffee maker is the pour-over. It's a gentle method of making coffee loved by pros and especially suited to delicate roasts. It produces a small amount of filtered coffee, usually one or two cups, and requires precision, from the grind of the coffee to the amount of water used to technique for making. The pour over is a simple ceramic cone-shaped funnel like the Hario V-60 ($24.99, bedbathandbeyond.com) that sits on top of the mug you are brewing into. A paper or permanent filter is set inside the pour over and medium-fine ground coffee (with a texture like coarse salt) is added.

A small amount of water is used to moisten the grounds and Co2 is released creating the "bloom." Then, the remaining water is added steadily in a spiraling motion in two or three more parts, allowing the coffee to drip through into the cup before the next water is added. Some people follow the lead of baristas and use a digital scale to weigh the coffee grounds and water for pour over. Using a goose neck kettle, such as the Oxo Adjustable Pour Over Kettle ($99.99, oxo.com), for heating and pouring the water also makes it easier to make pour over as it controls the speed of the water going into the coffee. Chemex ($45.95, surlatable.com) is a pour-over method that brews a larger amount of coffee into a glass carafe.

Drip Coffee Makers

An easy, familiar, and popular way to make coffee, drip coffee makers range widely in functionality, price, and size. Some brew anywhere from one to 14 cups at a time, while some models grind the coffee in addition to brewing it. The method is simple: Cold water is added to the reservoir, and ground coffee placed in the filter. The water heats up in the machine and passes through the beans. Brewed coffee is then dispensed into a glass carafe that sits atop a hot plate, which keeps the coffee warm. Drip coffee makers start around $25 but it's definitely worth investing in a higher end model if you'll be using the machine every day and want delicious coffee not just basic coffee. Some drip coffee makers, like the Oxo Brew 9-Cup Coffee Maker ($149.99, oxo.com) feature a thermal carafe which allows the coffee to stay warm for hours without sitting cooking on a hot plate. We also like that it allows for programming so you can wake to the smell of coffee. Some, like the Breville Grind Control ($299.95, williams-sonoma.com) brew directly into travel mugs or into a carafe or tall mug.  Some, like the Delonghi 3-in-1 Specialty Coffee Brewer ($149.95, williams-sonoma.com), also make cold-brew coffee and allow for pour over-style coffee in a drip machine.

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