How to Make Coffee Without a Coffee Maker: 3 Different Methods

If you’ve never had that “oh crap” moment where you’ve had to consider how to make coffee without a coffee maker, then you’ve been living a charmed life.

A few months ago I booked a short stay at an Airbnb in Florida for a few nights. If I’m being honest, it was probably one of the best Airbnb stays I’ve ever had in my life. The host was friendly and helpful, the property was clean and spacious, and the neighborhood was quiet.

No, you didn’t take a wrong turn and end up in an Airbnb review, I’m getting to the sad coffee part of the story.

I thought that the place was an easy 5-star rating, no problem. However, when I woke up on the first morning and made my way to the kitchen my stomach dropped – there was no coffee maker.

Was I going to have to drink some instant coffee? After all, my host had been kind enough to leave a couple packets on the counter – how thoughtful. No, things weren’t that bad.

Once I calmed myself I realized that I had a pot, water, a stove, my favorite coffee, and I knew how to make coffee without a coffee maker. Everything was going to be fine.

Different Methods of Making Coffee Without a Coffee Maker

People didn’t just start drinking coffee when the coffee maker was invented. The art of coffee making has been evolving over hundreds of years. If you desperately need to know how to make coffee without a coffee maker then don’t worry, here are a few easy methods.

1. Cowboy Coffee

It is thought that when cowboys were around the campfire and needed a little pick-me-up in the morning, this was their go to brewing method. Now, if you’re a worldly coffee lover then you may realize that the cowboy coffee method is strikingly similar to Turkish coffee. Here’s what you’ll need:

The Essentials

  • Stove or other heat source
  • Ground coffee beans
  • Small pot
  • Your coffee cup

Optional

  • Campfire
  • Horse
  • Cowboy hat
  • Whiskey

The Process

  1. Fill your pot or pan with water (add a little more than you would usually use).
  2. Place the pot on your heat source (stove, campfire, etc.) and wait until the water starts to boil.
  3. Now, add your coffee. A reasonable ratio would be 2 to 3 tablespoons of coffee (depending on how strong you like your coffee) for 6 ounces of water.
  4. Take your pan off of the heat source and cover it.
  5. After 5 minutes have passed, uncover the pot. If the grounds have not fully settled, then you can speed up the process by adding a small sprinkle of cold water.
  6. All done! Simply pour the coffee into your cup and drink away. If you’re feeling fancy, then you can use a ladle to serve the coffee.

2. Coffee Bag

No, not the 16 oz. bag of coffee that you have on your kitchen counter. We’re talking about a single serving sachet of your preferred coffee that you can just plop into your coffee mug.

If you’ve been to a supermarket in the last few years then you have to know what I’m talking about. It’s like a tea bag but with coffee instead of tea.

If you’re wondering how to make coffee without a coffee maker and you have a few coffee bags lying around then you’re great. Just plop it into your mug and you’re good to go. However, if you don’t have any coffee bags, here’s how you can make your own.

The Essentials

  • Coffee filter
  • String
  • Ground coffee beans
  • Hot water

Optional

  • British accent
  • Wait until 4 p.m.
  • An invitation to the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace

The Process

  1. Put your coffee grounds in the middle of a coffee filter and then tightly tie off the top with some string
  2. Make sure that there is an extra bit of string after the knot so that you can easily remove the coffee bag when you’re done.
  3. Put the coffee bag into your cup and then pour the hot water onto it.
  4. Let the bag steep for a few minutes – if you want a strong cup then 5 minutes should suffice.
  5. All done! Take out the coffee bag and drink up.

3. Improvised Filter

This is the method that I used on my Airbnb stay that was absent of a coffee maker. I was lucky enough to have a few paper filters in my coffee travel bag and a random rubber band in my purse.

However, if you don’t have a paper filter there are still a few other options that can get the job done.

The Essentials

  • Rubber bands, paperclips, etc.
  • Paper filter, handkerchief, cheesecloth, thick paper towel
  • Coffee cup
  • Hot water
  • Ground coffee beans

Optional

  • A contract with ABC
  • Pete Thornton’s phone number
  • All 7 seasons of MacGyver on Blu-ray

The Process

  1. Place your filter in your cup and let it hang over the sides.
  2. If you don’t have a filter, then fold your handkerchief or other material into a square and place it into the cup.
  3. Secure the filter (with rubber bands, binder clips, etc.) onto the cup and place your ground coffee in the middle.
  4. Pour your hot water over the grounds. You can pour all at once to fill the filter but a series of slow pours over a two-minute period is recommended.
  5. Once your cup is full then that’s it, you’re done! Carefully remove the filter and enjoy.

You Can Survive Without a Coffee Maker!

There you have it. Three ways to preserve your sanity when you’re faced with the question of how to make coffee without a coffee maker.

Is there another common method that I left out? Do you already know how to make coffee without a coffee maker and have a secret technique that you’ve perfected? I would love to hear all about it.

Oh and don’t worry, I left that nice Airbnb lady with a 5-star review… and casual suggestion that she invest in a simple coffee maker for her guests.

Jacqueline S.

Author at Caffeinefiend.co

Jacqueline is a trained teacher with almost two decades of teaching experience under her belt. However, her friends and family would tell you that her true passions are writing, DIY projects, eating good food, and of course, listening to “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Nitro Cold Brew: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

When you hear the words “nitro cold brew coffee”, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Well, The Fast and the Furious movies are a guilty pleasure of mine (don’t judge me), so when I first heard about nitro cold brew coffee back in 2015, my first though was that the caffeine must hit you faster than regular coffee.

However, I soon learned that there was much more to it than that. Here’s everything that you need to know.

Why is the Brew called “Nitro Cold”?

Well, it’s not because it gets into your cup faster, and the jury’s still out on whether or not it will increase your running speed. It’s simply called nitro cold brew because it’s cold brewed coffee that has been infused/charged with nitrogen.

If you go to your favorite coffee shop and order a NCB (as it’s sometimes abbreviated), you’ll no doubt see your barista serving it from a tap like a bartender would serve beer. This isn’t a coincidence.

Some draught beers (like Guinness) use a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide to give the drink a rich and creamy head. If you’ve ever had a nitro cold brew coffee then this should sound familiar, since it also features a thick and creamy head thanks to the nitrogen.

What Can I Expect from A Good Cup of NCB Coffee?

On the surface, NCB and regular coffee do seem to have a lot of the same benefits.

  • They both increase metabolism and aid in weight loss.
  • They both significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • They both decrease the risk of depression.
  • They both show promising results towards lowering the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

So, what sets it apart from regular coffee?

Sweeter Taste Without the Sweetener

Virtually everyone that’s had a cup of NCB coffee will tell you that is noticeably sweeter than the average cup of coffee. This isn’t because there is more sugar or creamer, it is the nitrogen that adds the sweet taste.

You can’t tell me that this doesn’t sound like something from a fantasy world. A super sweet cup of coffee that doesn’t contain conventional sweeteners.

I’m not the only one that’s amazed by this fact. This is the primary selling point for a lot of people and its why they are considering (or have already) switching from regular coffee to nitro cold brew.

We all know the dangers that excess sugar consumption can potential lead to: type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are just a few of them.

More Caffeine for Your Cup

A cup of nitro cold brew would have a significantly higher amount of coffee grounds than a regular cup of coffee, leading to a higher coffee-to-water ratio.

One example of this is the Starbucks Reserve Nitro Cold Brew, which has 280 mg of caffeine, almost 20% more than their Caffè Americano. There are even reports of some companies that produce nitro cold brew coffee with over 30% more caffeine content than a regular cup of coffee.

There have been several studies that show that caffeine has several benefits; like lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. So getting a more concentrated does of caffeine could potentially be a good thing.

Still, if one cup has so much caffeine it could make it easier for people to overdo it. Too much caffeine can potentially lead to headaches, increased anxiety, and high blood pressure.

A Different Mouthfeel

The term “mouthfeel” is pretty straightforward; it refers to how something feels in your mouth. Texture, smoothness, and density are all factors that contribute to mouthfeel.

When compared to regular coffee, one of the things that stands out about nitro cold brew is its texture; it’s distinct thick, rich and creamy.

This is particularly evident in the layer of frothy foam that lies at the top. Most people that drink NCB for the first time often compare its mouthfeel to beer.

Can You Make Your Own Nitro Cold Brew Coffee at Home?

If you’ve fallen in love with NCB coffee, it may have saddened you to realize two things; it’s somewhat pricey and it isn’t available everywhere. Prices for a cup can range from $3 to $5 (and sometimes even more).

You bought an espresso machine when you wanted espressos at home, right? So why can’t you do the same for nitro cold brew?

All you need to do is make the cold brew iced coffee of your choice and then put it into a whipped cream dispenser that has a nitro charger. There are affordable options out there; like the Animato and the ICO.

Then, grab your glass and dispense the coffee (just like you would if it was whipped cream) and enjoy!

Jacqueline S.

Author at Caffeinefiend.co

Jacqueline is a trained teacher with almost two decades of teaching experience under her belt. However, her friends and family would tell you that her true passions are writing, DIY projects, eating good food, and of course, listening to “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Butter in Coffee: Healthy Craze or Slippery Slope? (Plus Recipe!)

Coffee trends come and coffee trends go but in recent years there’s one in particular that seems to have firmly cemented itself in the caffeine zeitgeist – butter in coffee.

What is butter coffee? There’s no mystification here – it’s exactly what it sounds like. Butter, added to your coffee (as well as some coconut oil).

I can hear the uninitiated shouting at their screens as they read this. Why would someone defile their precious black gold with a lump of animal fat? Are they nuts?!

Slow those accusations. There’s actually a few very good reasons why butter coffee, also known as Bulletproof coffee, rose to prominence, and it’s those reasons that we’re going to examine in detail below.

A small cup of foamy bulletproof coffee

Butter in Coffee: The Origin Story

Butter coffee can generally trace its roots to Dave Asprey, who discovered the reinvigorating powers of the drink when he first consumed tea containing animal fat in Tibet. Recalling it, he said, “I staggered into a guest house from the -10 degree weather and was literally rejuvenated by a creamy cup of yak butter tea.”

That’s story most westerners know about butter coffee, but its origins are actually way older. The credit for its inception also lies with Ethiopia rather than America.

Ethiopia, one of the oldest coffee producing countries in the world, has been producing and consuming coffee since the 9th century. During this time, people would grind roasted beans and mix it with ghee, a type of clarified butter. This made the beans easy to carry, and could be easily consumed for a quick pick-me-up while on the go.

The Ethopians would then go on to add this ghee to their coffee drinks, as well as spices and salt to enhance the flavor. It’s this drink that would eventually evolve into the butter coffee people know and love today.

a chunk of butter ready to be used to make bulletproof coffee

The Science on Butter in Coffee

So why exactly do people want to put butter in their coffee? Well, as we mentioned above, the current craze of butter coffee came into being because of Dave Asprey. Asprey, entrepreneur and biohacker, founded Bulletproof Nutrition Inc which promotes, among other things, the myriad health benefits of butter coffee.

Asprey’s Bulletproof coffee consists of coffee, two-tablespoons of grassfed butter and two tablespoons of medium-chain triglyceride oil or coconut oil. The result is a cup of coffee bursting with 450 calories and 50 grams of fat that Asprey claims promotes weight loss, curbs the tendency to overeat, and enhances cognitive functions.

Big claims – but what does the science say?

The Good

Butter coffee’s praise centers around its ability to do three things. Curb hunger, enhance cognitive performance, and provide a steady, low-burning source of energy. Let’s examine these claims a bit further. 

Hunger

The large amount of fat present in butter coffee means has the duel effect of slowing digestion as well as stimulating a feeling of fullness that curbs a person’s appetite. This effect is more pronounced if you’re on a keto diet and consuming butter coffee in place of breakfast.

The multi-chain-triglycerides (MCTs) contained in coconut oil are actually more adept at promoting these feelings of fullness than long-chain-triglycerides found in foods like nuts and oils. MCT oil, coupled with butter, means that you’ll feel fuller for longer. Studies have also found that consuming MCTs in the morning is correlated with a reduced consumption of calories and accelerated fat loss.

Cognitive Focus

The coconut oil used in butter coffee gets broken down by the liver. During this process MCTs are broken down into a fuel source called ketones. These ketones are a significant source of energy for your brain cells, and so can help your brain function more efficiently.

There’s also evidence to suggest that ketones can be effective in reducing the potency of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. However, MCTs haven’t been shown to be effective when it comes to increasing mental clarity – although that’s not to say that butter coffee doesn’t stimulate the mental faculties. One study showed that the increased mental clarity was caused by the caffeine in the coffee rather than the MCTs in coconut oil.

Energy

Anyone who drinks coffee is familiar with the rapid peak of energy that comes with consuming an espresso or strong americano. It’s a strong yet unfocused energy spike, and when it dissipates you’re often left feeling drained and eager for the next cup of coffee.

Butter coffee eliminates that blood sugar crash by providing a steady, longer-lasting release of energy than a traditional cup of coffee. The fats in the drink take longer to be broken down in the stomach, slowing the absorption and prolonging the effects of the caffeine. 

The MCTs also play a role. They get broken down rapidly and absorbed quickly by your body, resulting in a much more sustained and steadily-released form of energy.  

The Bad

It’s not all good fats and roses when it comes, like most things in life there are also potential downsides to consuming butter coffee first thing in the morning.

Lack of nutritional value

Many people like to use butter coffee as a meal replacement for breakfast due to its high caloric nature and energy boosting properties. However, this comes at a cost as a lot of the highly nutritious foods consumed during more traditional breakfasts are not being consumed. Since you’re mostly consuming only fat, you’re missing out on other vital nutrients such as protein, fiber and certain vitamins and minerals.

Possible stomach pains (if you’re not used to it)

On top nutrition, if you’re not used to consuming large amounts of fat (especially in the morning), you may experience some uncomfortable stomach pains. This can also lead to certain intestinal issues such as diarrhea and bloating.

Butter in Coffee isn’t for those with high cholesterol

Lastly, if you’re someone who suffers from high cholesterol, then it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of the butter coffee for the time being. Due to the large quantities of butter in each cup, butter coffee, unsurprisingly, contains significant amounts of cholesterol. And high cholesterol can increase a person’s risk of both strokes and heart disease. 


So, Is Butter in Coffee Good or Bad?

It depends. There’s no black or white answer here, rather, the answer is dependent on the type of lifestyle you enjoy, as well as how much coffee you consume.

There’s undoubtedly benefits to the slow, sustained energy release of caffeine and MCT oil, and the propensity for weight loss that many butter coffee drinkers have enjoyed. 

However, just like most things in life, the key is moderation. Substituting a nutritious breakfast for a cup of Bulletproof coffee won’t hurt if you follow a strict diet and regimen to ensure you remain healthy, but consuming multiple times a day for a sustained period of time probably isn’t too good for your heart.

a small carton of cold brew bulletproof coffee

Still curious? Well if you want to try…

Here’s How to Make the Perfect Bulletproof Coffee

Making butter or Bulletproof coffee is a very simple process – on top of that, it’s also creamy and delicious. Here’s what the average cup of butter coffee should contain: 30g of MCT oil, 30g of grass fed butter and around 300ml coffee. And here’s how to make it:

How to make bulletproof coffee (butter in coffee): CaffeineFiend’s Recipe

  1. Brew either a batch of cold brew or French press coffee

    You’ll need this in order to preserve the beneficial coffee oils that both drinks contain. You’ll want a medium to dark roast with an intense aromatic flavor in order to compliment the creamy nature of the following ingredients. 

  2. Pour it into a blender and add one to two tablespoons of MCT oil.

    You can also use coconut oil if you can’t get your hands on MCT oil – they’re both very similar compounds.

  3. Add one or two tablespoons of grass-fed butter.

    If you’re lactose intolerant you can also use grass-fed ghee. Just ensure that neither option is salted – butter is going to make your coffee creamy and delicious; salt is just going to ruin it.

  4. Mix together in the blender for around 30 seconds

    Do this until the mixture takes on the consistency of a creamy latte. Your butter coffee is ready to be served!

Things to Note:

  • The great thing about butter coffee is that it’s pretty straightforward to make. Other than any normal equipment you would use to make your preferred style of coffee, the only other gadget you will need is a blender. 
  • You don’t even need a specific style of coffee either. Just ensure that you’re choosing a roast with a strong flavor and that you’re grinding your own beans for optimal freshness. Other than than just make sure you’re brewing with a coffee that you absolute love.
  • When it comes to butter make sure that you’re using high-quality grass-fed butter. The reason for this is that butter made from the milk of grass-fed cattle contains way more nutrients than grain- or corn-fed.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, use margarine. Margarine is a highly-processed substitute that was designed to look and taste like butter. It’s made using vegetable oils and contains high amounts of polyunsaturated and trans fats – two ingredients that are certainly not conducive to a healthy heart.
  • If you’re wondering how often to consume butter coffee, the answer is that it depends on how you drink it. If you’re using it as a meal substitute then drinking it every morning as a meal substitute, you’ll be just fine. But if you’re pounding three or more a day, your heart and liver are probably going to want to have a word with you.
Martin Stokes

Martin Stokes

novelthings

Martin Stokes hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. He enjoys writing about all manner of things and can quote lines from films like nobody’s business. He moved to Berlin in 2015 and is working tirelessly at broadening his repertoire of bad jokes.

Chemex vs French Press [The Ultimate Side-by-Side Comparison]

Everyone who comes to develop a love of coffee eventually arrives at a crossroads. On their current path lies the lazy man’s way of making coffee – drip coffee machine, automated coffee pods and K cups. On the other are more sophisticated, artisan methods of brewing such as the Chemex and French press.

It’s a choice between sticking to standard, easy and convenient methods of brewing, or delving deep into the science and art of coffee brewing. Luckily the learning curve isn’t so steep, especially when it comes to devices such as the Chemex and the French press.

On paper both devices are pretty similar. They’re both glass vessels designed for holding hot liquids producing delicious coffee; they even use the same sized coffee grind. However, what sets them apart is not so much their function as the way they go about it.

The main difference lies in the extraction process, or how each piece of kit infuses the flavor of the coffee beans into hot water. But which is better? It’s a truly artisan question that requires some unpacking, and one that might get you into trouble at a dinner party should you ever devoutly defend one side.

With that in mind let’s explore both the Chemex and the French press, and find out which one is better for you.

Why People Love Chemex and French Press Coffee

Compared to other brewing methods, Chemex and the French press offer a relatively simple way to brew quality coffee in a relatively short amount of time. The apparatus of each is exceedingly simple to both set up and clean. They’re also both pretty cheap, meaning amateur coffee enthusiasts can make the leap from amateur to intermediate coffee guru without breaking the bank.

Compared to say, espresso, which requires a large initial injection of capital in order to purchase an espresso machine, the Chemex and French press can be acquired for $43 and $35 respectively.

For such a cheap and simple way of brewing, both methods also offer the brewer amazing control over the final flavor of the coffee. Expensive coffee machines offer different degrees of variation, whereas the Chemex and French press allow for a much more intuitive brewing experience.


Advantages

Disadvantages
A relatively inexpensive investment compared with other coffee brewing methods such as espresso and cappuccino.Set up and brewing times tend to be quite a bit longer than other brewing methods such as the use of an espresso or filter coffee machine.
Offers the brewer complete control over brewing variables such as brewing time, steeping time, coffee volume and water volume.The glass that both the Chemex and French press is made from tends to be quite fragile. This might result in breakage if either piece is put through a dishwasher.
Both pieces of equipment are visually appealing and work seamlessly with any current kitchen decor. Because of the coarse mesh filter used on a French press, small coffee particles tend to pass through during the plunging process, ending up in the final cup of coffee.
Extremely simple to set up as well as clean.With regards to the Chemex, it tends to be pretty expensive, especially when compared to other similar brewing methods such as a simple, paper-filtered pour over.

Chemex Coffee – Everything You Need to Know

How it works

The Chemex is a manual, pour over style glass device for making coffee. It’s all the rage nowadays and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a brand new coffeemaker. Quite the contrary; the Chemex was developed in 1941 by German inventor Peter Schlumbohm, although it’s enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity among the coffee community.

It’s no wonder, either – the Chemex is absolutely beautiful to look at. Its simple yet tasteful hourglass design makes it a wonderful asset to any decorated kitchen worth its salt, and that’s before even a drop of coffee has been brewed.

The wooden collar also deserves a mention. As the third and final piece in the Chemex setup (after the vase and the disposable filters), it’s the most visually-distinctive feature. Fitting around the neck, the collar is heatproof and allows the Chemex to be handled safely even when full of hot coffee.

How to pour out some of the best pour over

Brewing Chemex coffee is a pretty simple affair. All you’re going to need is the Chemex itself, your coffee of choice, a grinder (check out our grinder guide here) and some Chemex filters

  • To start, measure out 38g of your favorite coffee beans. The Chemex works well with all roasts, but a medium roast is recommended if you want to pack the most flavor into your drink.
  • Next, grind the beans until you achieve a medium coarseness. Because the filters used in a Chemex are thicker than average, you want a medium coarse grind in order to filter out all of the oils and bitterness while still retaining a clean flavor.
  • Insert the filter into the Chemex with the 3 section placed just over the lip for pouring.
  • Boil some water to about 200 degrees fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, just boil water in an ordinary kettle and let it stand for 30 seconds.
  • Wet the paper filter with the hot water. This will prevent the taste of the paper from seeping into your final product.
  • Pour the water you used for rinsing out, then add your grounds to the filter.
  • Saturate the grounds with hot water and let it rest for 30 seconds. This process is called blooming and it allows carbon dioxide trapped within the grounds to escape before brewing.
  • After blooming, gradually add around 600 grams of hot water to the coffee, pouring in a circular pattern starting at the center. Make sure you do this slowly and leave about an inch of space from the top of the flask.
  • Allow all of the water to pass through the filter. Wait about four minutes to make sure you have every single drop.
  • Remove the filter, and serve.

Things to note

Unlike other brewing methods, like the Aeropress or French press, making coffee using a Chemex isn’t going to result in a cup of coffee more bitter than Cersei Lannister. Quite the contrary, due to the thick filters used and the fact that the extraction process occurs as water passes through the grounds, the coffee made by the Chemex is smooth, light and easy to drink. 

It’s important not to rush the process. Pour gradually and deliberately, taking care to let the water drain through the grounds before adding more. Your patience will be well-rewarded a large amount of nuanced coffee that’s great for sharing with friends.

a French Press

French Press Coffee – Simple, Effective, Superb

How it works

The French press is one of the simple coffee extraction systems out there, but surprisingly, one of the most effective. Unlike other similar devices, the French press provides an extremely thorough extraction processes by fulling immerging the coffee grounds in hot water.

Consisting of a glass beaker, lid, and a plunger and coarse steel mesh filter attached, the French press offers complete control of the brewing process. It puts specificity back into the brewer’s hands, allowing manipulation of crucial variables such as water temperature, water volume, coffee volume and brewing time.

This means that, with some thoughtful tinkering, you have the ability to make your coffee as strong or as weak as you’d like. There’s also no reusable filter to deal with, meaning that once you have your French press, you’re ready to brew straightaway without any added extras.

The secret of the French press lies in the fact that the grounds are allowed to fully saturate in the water before they’re filtered. Other methods, such as the Chemex or pour over, rely on extraction to occur as hot water is passing through the grounds. By allowing the grounds to steep fully, broader, more intense and more complex flavors are allowed to develop.

Many of the oils that give coffee such a beautifully strong flavor are removed during filtered extraction, so using the French press means that none of these get lost.

It’s important to note that you need a medium to coarse grind of coffee when using a French press. Because the filter is made of steel and not as fine as a paper filter, using a finer coffee grain will simply flow straight through, rendering it ineffective. If your coffee is too coarse, however, you risk adequate extraction not being able to take place.

And speaking of filters – the French press doesn’t have one. This makes it an environmentally superior option to methods such as the Chemex or pour over, as you don’t have to purchase disposable filters which are ultimately destined for the trash.

How to make delicious French press coffee every time  

  • Place your French press on a dry surface and remove the lid and plunger.
  • Add your coffee; add 8 grams of coffee for every 200mls of water.
  • Boil your water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, simply boil water in a kettle and let it stand for 30 seconds.
  • Add the appropriate amount of water to your coffee grounds.
  • Stir thoroughly, place the lid and plunger on the top of the pot and then let the mixture sit for four minutes. If you like your coffee stronger, allow it to steep for longer (with some experimentation you can figure out your desired strength).
  • Apply steady and firm pressure to the plunger and press it all the way to the bottom. Take your time here; if you’re too brisk and your hand is too heavy then hot coffee is apt to go spilling all over your counter.
  • Once you’ve pressed the plunger all the way to the bottom, your coffee is ready to go. Pour and enjoy!

Notable French presses

If the French press has got you excited but you’re unsure about which one to go for, stop sweating – we’ve got you covered. Below are some of our favorite tried and tested French presses which almost always guarantee an incredible cup of coffee.

  • Veken French press – Available in both 34oz and 12oz options, the Veken French press is an affordable and effective press that is perfect for a first-timer looking to upgrade their coffee game.
  • Bodum Chambord French press – the Bodum Chambord is one of the most classic names among coffee equipment and French presses in particular. It’s a trusted brand that will get a nod of approval from coffee enthusiasts everywhere.
  • Espro Press P7 – For those uncomfortable with the fragile nature of glass French presses, the Espro Press P7 offers a more sturdy, premium alternative. Made from stainless steel, purchasing an Espro means you’ll never have to worry about accidentally breaking a French press in the pursuit of fine coffee ever again.

Chemex vs French Press – Which Should I Buy?

At the end of the day, the decision to purchase either a French press or a Chemex is a personal choice and comes down to the buyer. Consider your expectations, your budget and the type of coffee you’d like to drink.

If you’re looking for a full-bodied, aromatic and intensely flavored cup of coffee, the French press is the way to go. As discussed above, the steeping technique allows for the retention of all of the oils and aromas which are lost in other brewing methods. 

That being said, if you’re someone who prefers a lighter, less bitter and all round smoother cup of coffee, then you can hardly go wrong with the Chemex. The heavy filter used means most of the bitter oils and particulates that end up in a final cup of French press coffee are removed. This leaves you with a truly refined, and some would say superior, cup of coffee.

Like most things within the coffee world it’s difficult to give an absolute answer. Different brewing methods allow for so much flavor variation of the final product that definitively stating that one technique trumps another is almost impossible.  But if you’re a true coffee enthusiast, all the different methods of brewing coffee should be exciting to one degree or another.

Martin Stokes

Martin Stokes

novelthings

Martin Stokes hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. He enjoys writing about all manner of things and can quote lines from films like nobody’s business. He moved to Berlin in 2015 and is working tirelessly at broadening his repertoire of bad jokes.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home – 6 Easy Steps

Anyone who has visited Starbucks or their local coffee shop in the summer has heard of cold brew coffee. It’s smooth, delicious and the perfect thing to cool you down on a hot day. It’s also really simple to make at home, and so in this article we’re going to demonstrate how to make cold brew coffee.

While most people are familiar with iced coffee, cold brew couldn’t be more different both in terms of brewing methods and tastes. To start with, iced coffee relies on hot coffee poured over ice, whereas when learning how to make cold brew coffee you’ll see that it relies on steeping in tepid water as its primary extraction method.

Using hot water in iced coffee causes the final product to be bitter and acidic. The colder water used in cold brew, however, gives the drink a much smoother, less acidic flavor profile, with the natural flavor of the beans more pronounced in every sip.

You’ve probably tried cold brew coffee at Starbucks and thought about making your own at home. Well it couldn’t be more simple. Read on, follow our advice, and we’ll teach you how to make quality cold brew coffee at home in no time.

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

But we’re jumping the gun here; let’s start by defining what it is before we demonstrate how to make cold brew coffee at home.

Put simply, cold brew coffee is a method of coffee extraction that relies on soaking coffee grounds in tepid to cold water for an extended period of time. Unlike traditional coffee brewing methods which use hot water or pressure to produce your espresso or cappuccino in a matter of minutes, cold brew coffee is an exercise in patience.

There’s no skirting around this – cold brew coffee relies on time in order to draw out all the delicate flavors and oils from the coffee grounds. The entire process will take between 16 hours and a full day to achieve completion.

It’s also important to note that the resultant brew is more of a concentrate more than a straight cup of coffee. It generally has higher caffeine content that other methods of brewing, and needs to be diluted in water before you can drink it. That is, if you don’t want to be bouncing off  the walls first thing in the morning.

Needless to say, cold brew coffee is a labour of love. But it’s definitely worth it.


How to Make Cold Brew Coffee – A Quick Overview


There are a number of items which are essential to making a delicious batch of cold brew coffee. First and foremost, you’re going to need a batch of quality beans. You’ll also need a grinder, a large container (a mason jar works great for this), fine mesh sieve, paper coffee filters, and room temperature water. 

When choosing your beans it’s important that you opt for a medium roast.  Medium roast beans have been roasted to a lower temperature than dark roast beans, and that means they retain a smoother, less bitter flavor. This is extremely important as one of the hallmarks of cold brew coffee is its mellowness, and lack of bitterness within the flavor profile.

Time needed: 16 hours.

Once you’ve gathered all of your equipment and ingredients, it’s fairly straightforward to make cold brew coffee:

  1. Measure your beans and water so that they’re sitting at a ratio of about 1:5. 

  2. Grind your beans until they’re coarse, NOT medium or fine.

    This will give them a greater surface area and allow the water to extract the oils and flavors more efficiently. 

  3. Next, add water to your grounds.

    Make sure you stir the mixture so that the coffee grounds are thoroughly saturated.

  4. Place the mixture in the fridge and leave it to steep for around 15 hours.

    Depending on how strong you like your coffee, as well as the ratio of grounds to water, you may want to let it steep for longer.

  5. Take the readied mixture out of the fridge and strain it through a paper filter placed within the wire mesh sieve into a bowl or container.

    Let it rest in the sieve to ensure you draw out as much liquid as possible.

  6. To serve, mix the concentrate with water at a ratio of 1:1, pour over ice, add some milk and enjoy.

All in all you’re looking at a full day’s worth of brewing time in order to get this right. Don’t be alarmed when you strain your mixture and end up with less concentrate when you thought. Once you dilute it with water you’ll see that this drink goes a long way.

If you’re not using all of your cold brew coffee at once, simply pour it into a sealable container and place it in the fridge. It should keep for up to 10 days, meaning you can produce batch brews in advance in you like. 


How to Make Cold Brew Coffee – The Full Guide


Now that we’ve outlined the process we’re going to take a look at it in more detail. When it comes to learning how to make cold brew coffee, even the smallest details can have a profound impact on the final flavor, so it’s important to get them right.

1- Beans and Grinder

Coffee, no matter what style, is nothing without good quality beans and a grinder that can produce consistent grounds.

As we mentioned above, it’s important that you choose a medium roast in order to avoid bitterness and ensure the cold brew is as smooth as possible. 

Because many of the sweeter flavor compounds of coffee grounds are soluble in cold water, whereas many of the acidic oils are not, using a medium roast always lends your cold brew a sweeter taste. Because of this, you want a bean that has an inherent sweetness as this will really show in the final product. 

Some of our favourite beans include:

Once you’ve decided on the type of bean you want to use, you’ll need a way to grind them coarsely. We’ve waxed lyrical on this topic in our articles concerning the best coffee grinders for French press coffee as well as the best manual coffee grinders, but it bears repeating. Beans aside, a grinder is probably the most important tool for producing consistently delicious, smooth and robust coffee.

For cold brew coffee a coarse grind works best. This exposes more surface area of the bean and means that it’ll be able to get extracted more fully. If you grind your beans too finely you’ll end up with a sludgy mess on your hands; too chunky and the oils and flavors won’t be able to be extracted efficiently.

With a consistent grind in mind, we’ve listed a few of our favorites below:

OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

Wheroamoz Manual Coffee Grinder

2- Water

The next step in the process is adding water to your grounds. You’ll want a ratio of five parts water for every one part coffee. The final concentrate is going to have less yield than the amount of water that you put in, because some of that water is going to be absorbed by the grinds.

That’s nothing to worry about though. As mentioned above, you’re going to dilute the final product with water before you drink it anyway.

While the words used to describe cold brew coffee give the impression that it’s going to be freezing, the actual water used should be room temperature. Hot water will cause the extraction to take place much too quickly, leaving you with bitter coffee, and defeating the entire point of cold brew coffee in the first place.

Once you’ve added the water it’s important that you stir the grinds thoroughly and ensure that they’re fully saturated. If you’ve got an Aeropress starter kit, the stirrer that comes with it is a great tool for mixing your cold brew mixture thoroughly.

There are some rumors that the type of water you use will also affect the flavor. Using mineral water, for example, supposedly results in a much smoother finish. If you’re not willing to run out and buy five liters of Perrier, however, don’t worry – tap water works just fine.

3- Steeping

Steeping is the step that sets cold brew coffee apart from other, similar iced coffee methods. Whereas traditional Vietnamese iced coffee, for example, produces a delicious and chilled drink, it does this by adding hot coffee to ice. Cold brew coffee relies entirely on steeping as the primary extraction method.

There are two factors which are going to ultimately affect the flavor of the coffee here – the volume of water used in relation to the amount of coffee grinds, and the amount of time that the mixture is left to steep for.

It goes without saying that the longer you leave your cold brew to steep, the more intense the final flavors will be. However, this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Leaving your coffee to steep for too long is an easy way to end up with enough caffeine to send you to the moon.

The optimal time for steeping is around 15 – 18 hours (Starbucks steep theirs for 20). However, some people have found that steeping up to 24 hours is the way to go. At the end of the day, it all depends on your palate and how strong you like your coffee.

That being said, there’s such a thing as overkill. So it’s recommended that you try it a few times in order to find your sweet spot.

4- Straining

Once your coffee has finished steeping, you’ll need to strain it to get rid of all the leftover coffee particulates. Using only a fine mesh sieve or French press plunger won’t be enough here, and using either method will likely leave you with a sludgy, undrinkable mess – you need something finer.

We found that using paper coffee filters or cheesecloth is the way to go. Using either, line a fine mesh sieve and place it over a container. Then simply pour your cold brew mixture into the sieve and give it about 15 minutes to drain, stirring it with a wooden spoon in order to get out every last drop.

If you decide to use a paper filter then it would be good to wet it beforehand. This will ensure that the filter absorbs as little of the precious coffee concentrate as possible. It will also prevent the concentrate from acquiring a papery taste that sometimes gets passed on from dry filters.

5- Ready to Drink!

Once you’ve strained your coffee through the fine mesh filter and the paper coffee filters, you’re good to go. You’ve successfully produced cold brew coffee concentrate and learned how to make cold brew coffee at home – congratulations!

However, drinking it in this form might cause your heart to explode, so we recommend diluting it first. A 1:1 ratio of cold brew concentrate to water is usually sufficient for a smooth, sweet and velvety drink, but some people prefer it slightly to either side of the strength spectrum.

Pour the concentrate into a glass of ice, add your water and then top it off with some milk for enhanced smoothness.

If you find that the coffee is too strong, simply dilute it more until it’s more palatable. Likewise, if the coffee is too weak, just add more concentrate until you reach your desired strength.

Some people like to add sugar, but we find it isn’t necessary. As we mentioned earlier, the unique nature of the cold brew extraction process means many of the sweeter notes of the coffee bean are brought to the front. This should be ample sweetness for anyone who’s used to drinking espresso or pour over. 


The Paradox: HOT Cold Brew Coffee 

What many people don’t know is that you can actually use cold brew concentrate to make… hot coffee! It may seem a little counterintuitive at first (after all, cold brew suggests a drink you’re unlikely to consume in winter), but it’s actually a delicious and time-saving alternative to other styles of coffee.

It’s also really easy to make. Simply pour your concentrate into a glass or mug, then add hot or boiling water, the same amount as the cold water you would normally add when making regular cold brew. The result – a hot, less acidic and extremely smooth variation of an Americano.

This method is great for people who want to enjoy quality coffee in the morning, but don’t want to spend fifteen minutes grinding beans and waiting for their drinks to settle. Using previously made cold brew coffee takes as long as adding hot water and maybe some milk into a jar, and you’re ready to go.

Martin Stokes

Martin Stokes

novelthings

Martin Stokes hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. He enjoys writing about all manner of things and can quote lines from films like nobody’s business. He moved to Berlin in 2015 and is working tirelessly at broadening his repertoire of bad jokes.

AeroPress vs French Press: What You Need to Know

Espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, AeroPress and French press – these are just some of the more popular styles of coffee on offer when visiting your average coffee shop. They’re designed to appeal to a broad range of tastes, and this often leads to a lot of amicable disagreement about which style is the best.

The answer, as you might imagine, isn’t so straightforward and requires quite a bit of unpacking.

While it does depend in part on your taste and preferred style, many coffee experts across the board all agree on one thing: when it comes to brewing coffee at home, it’s hard to beat press style coffee. And at the forefront of the press movement are the two firm favorites: the French press and the Aeropress. 

But what sets these apart from other brewing methods, and what makes them so superior? At first glance it might not even seem obvious, especially since both contraptions look quite similar in style and produce a similarly high quality cup of coffee. The details are in the process, however, and it’s this that has placed them firmly in the good graces of coffee afficandios across the world.

The secret? Hot water and pressure and lots of it. Utilizing these two factors in both the Aeropress and the French press provides the means to expertly manipulate and extract delicate flavors where other methods fall short.


What do French Press and AeroPress have in common? 

As we mentioned briefly above, to the layman who doesn’t know too much about coffee production, the AeroPress and French press might look similarly strange. Both feature a plunger mechanism and a large chamber for storing liquid, and they also rely on the same mechanism for actually brewing the coffee – steadily applied pressure.

Unlike other methods which rely on complicated coffee machinery, these two tools are remarkably simple. Both use very few moving parts and rely on first steeping the coffee grinds before filtering them out and extracting the final product. It’s this steeping technique – all called immersion – that is unique from other coffee production methods.

The process of steeping coffee grounds allows for a lot of control over brewing variables which ultimately affect the final flavor. These variables include the steeping time, the temperature of the water, the amount of coffee grinds used and the volume of hot water added.

But for all their similarities, they’re still very distinct pieces of equipment.

AeroPress vs French Press – The Big Difference: 

Mechanically, the major differences between the French press and the AeroPress have to do with the way in which the coffee grinds are filtered. While both methods rely on steeping the coffee grinds in order to extract the flavor, the filters they employ to the job are quite different.

The AeroPress relies on a very fine, disposable paper filter in order to filter out the coffee grinds, while the French press utilizes a much more coarse steel filter which is attached to the plunger. The AeroPress also uses air pressure in order to force water through the filter and separate the grinds, while with the French Press the grinds are separated by being forced to the bottom of the chamber.

The use of a paper filter in the AeroPress means that a lot of the essential oils and aromatic essences of the coffee are going to be filtered out, while the coarser filter used in the French press allows them through. The trade-off for losing some of this intensity is that an AeroPress is going to deliver a much more balanced and consistent cup of coffee.

That being said, if you want don’t want to settle for your standard AeroPress kit, you can always invest in a set of reusable stainless steel filters of varying finenesses to take it to the next level. This will give you greater control of your coffee’s flavor, acidity and intensity. 


AeroPress Coffee

What is it?

But for all of its hype and praise, what exactly is an AeroPress? Invented in 2005 by Alan Adler, the AeroPress is probably the youngest and one of the most recent coffee inventions to change the coffee industry entirely. 

Its build consists of two cylinders made from high quality plastic. The smaller cylinder has a flexible airtight seal and rests inside the larger cylinder, similar to that of a syringe. The larger cylinder has space for either a disposable paper filter, or reusable steel filters, which the coffee grinds and hot water are then placed on top of.

The AeroPress is famous for using pressure in order to extract flavor from coffee beans and produce an espresso-style drink. While it will never be able to match the 9 bars of pressure produced by an espresso machine, the pressure it can produce by hand is quite impressive. Keen baristas can also invest in filters such as those by Fellow Prismo in order to achieve even greater levels of pressure for a more fully-extracted final product.

Unlike the French press, which has been around for quite some time and exists in many different variations, the AeroPress is unique in that it is not only a device, but a brand name, too. This means that there is only one variation of this particular device which is used across the coffee industry.

 AeroPress’ hidden Superpowers 

From the outside looking in, it may seem as though you need a plethora of intricate equipment in order to produce coffee even marginally better than a mug of freeze-dried instant. The AeroPress, with its simple design and affordable price tag, dispels those myths instantly upon use.

These aren’t the AeroPress’ only positive attributes, however. In fact, the device is so popular among coffee fans because of everything else it delivers.

To start with, the AeroPress is extremely durable and light. This makes it the ideal travel companion, and perfect for someone who is always on the go but wants to enjoy a proper cup of coffee in their hotel room or AirBnb. 

It’s also extremely affordable compared to other brewing methods of comparable quality. An AeroPress starter kit with a year’s worth of filters will only set you back about $30 depending on where you buy it from.

Brewing coffee in an AeroPress results in a much smoother brew over other conventional brewing methods. This has to do with the fact that grinds are being steeped in hot water before being filtered, and that nothing is left out during the extraction process. This also results in a much shorter brewing time than something like drip coffee.

The shorter brewing time is also a key factor in the final taste of the coffee, which by and large is much less acidic than even French press brew. All of these factors result in a smooth, easy to drink and consistently great cup of coffee.


How to make AeroPress Coffee

So after reading the above guide, we assume by this point you’re hooked. You’ve got your AeroPress and now you’re wondering exactly how to use this contraption and create the wonderful coffee we’ve waxed lyrical about. It’s pretty simple:

  1. Boil some water, let it rest then set it aside while you prepare the other components of your coffee.
  2. Grind your beans. The AeroPress usually requires a finer grind that even espresso, so make sure you have a grinder that can handle this. You want to use about four tablespoons of coffee grinds. 
  3. Assemble the AeroPress by placing your filter in the bottom of the larger cylinder, then placing it on top of a mug or other container. Splash a little hot water onto the filter before you start to avoid having the papery taste of it affect the coffee.
  4. Add the coffee grinds. If you’re unsure about your aim use the funnel provided.
  5. Once your water has rested add it into the coffee grinds until it’s near the top line.
  6. Stir the mixture briefly and then allow it to steep for 20 – 30 seconds.
  7. Insert the plunger on top of the AeroPress. Apply steady pressure to the plunger until you begin to hear a long hiss and the coffee accumulates in the mug below.
  8. Enjoy your creation. The AeroPress is known for quite strong espresso-style coffee, so if you find that it’s a little bit too intense try splitting it between two or more cups.

An Alternative Way to Make AeroPress Coffee

Introduced in 2005, the AeroPress is definitely one of, if not the, youngest brewing methods to hit the coffee market. Bluntly put, it took the world by storm, and baristas have been figuring out creative ways of using this device other than its intended purpose ever since. And while numerous methods have made the cut, perhaps the most popular is the Upside-Down AeroPress Brewing Technique.

Upside-Down AeroPress Technique
Upside-down AeroPress Brewing!

To make it you’re going to need all of the same ingredients used to make normal AeroPress coffee. The main difference is the setup of the AeroPress itself. 

You’ll want to start by placing the plunger on the counter facing upwards. Then, turn the brewing chamber upside down and place it securely on the plunger, resting the stopper around the #4 marking on the chamber. Now add your coffee and hot water just as you normally would.

Secure the filter to the top of the AeroPress and let the coffee brew for around 90 seconds. Unlike a normal AeroPress setup, this method allows the coffee to become fully immersed in a process actually quite similar to the French press. 

When you’re ready, flip the AeroPress and place it on your mug or desired container. Apply pressure as you normally would and in 20 seconds or so your Upside Down AeroPress coffee is ready to go.

Since making coffee this way can occasionally get a little bit messy, it helps to have something like the AeroPress organizer just to ensure all of your AeroPress parts are properly stored and ordered.


French Press

What is it?

Now that we’ve spoken at length about the AeroPress, it’s time to address the other device in the room.

The French press is a staple piece of kit for anyone looking to make premium, delicious coffee at home. It consists of a glass cylinder and a plunger with a fine wire mesh attached to it. Some variations of the French press are also made from steel or ceramic.

We went into detail about the history of the French press in a previous article, but some pertinent facts are worth repeating. Patented by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani in 1929, the French press is actually an Italian design, although it may have been first created in France.

It saw a rise of popularity across Europe in the 60s and eventually became a common household device for making coffee. Its ability to make copious and consistently delicious cups of coffee, as well as draw out the best quality of the coffee being used, also makes it a firm favorite among baristas.

The Myriad Advantages of using a French Press

To start with, the French Press is a very simple device. Consisting of only two separate parts, it makes producing a surprisingly good cup of coffee a very easy affair.

Unlike other methods of producing coffee – looking at you, espresso – the French press is also able to produce relatively large amounts of coffee per brew. Whereas the AeroPress, for example, will only produce enough coffee for one or two people, the French press makes enough for six. This means you don’t have to brew multiple times when having guests over.

The French press is also renowned for allowing maximum control when it comes to manipulating the flavor profile of the coffee. From the amount of coffee used, the water temperature and volume, and steeping time of the coffee, the French press lets you fully determine how long you would like to extract the coffee for.

And because the grinds are steeped before it is filtered, the French press retains many of the oils and aromas that other methods lose. The resultant brew is more textured, intense and contains a more complex flavor profile that other filtered coffee.

How To Make a Perfect Cup of French Press Coffee

Making the perfect cup of French press isn’t rocket science. In fact, it couldn’t be simpler.

  1. Grind up the bean of your choice – about 8 grams of coffee to 200ml of water. The type of bean and roast you choose are the main determinants when it comes to your coffee flavor. The grinder you use, and the way you grind it, also play a role, so ensure you pick the correct fineness.
  2. Add the ground up coffee to the cylinder.
  3. Boil some water. Let it rest for about 30 seconds and add it to the cylinder.
  4. Stir the mixture gently with a spoon or coffee stirrer.
  5. Place the plunger on top of the cylinder but don’t push it just yet. Allow the French press to sit like this for around 3 to 4 minutes. If you like your coffee extra strong, let it steep for longer.
  6. Once it has rested, push the plunger down slowly, applying steady, even pressure.
  7. Enjoy! Some sediment may find its way into the final brew. This is normal and shouldn’t affect the final flavor.
Pouring a cup of French Press Coffee

AeroPress vs French Press – Which is Best?

The showdown between the AeroPress and French press is one of the most heated in the coffee world. While both devices require manual use, and utilize steeping as the brewing technique – admittedly very similar functionalities – the distinct difference between them lies in the way in which the coffee is filtered.

And because so many coffee aficionados want to have ultimate control of the exact flavor of their coffee, this is oftentimes the deciding factor on which device they opt to buy.

While both brewing methods offer control over most of the crucial variables that determine coffee flavor, each method possesses a quality that sets it apart from the other.

With the AeroPress, it’s pressure. While you won’t achieve anything close to the massive amounts of pressure generated by an espresso machine, you can produce a not insignificant amount of force with this trusty little hand brewer. It’s this pressure which allows for a faster and (some would say) more complete extraction.

The French press, on the other hand, allows for more complex flavors and aromas. Because the filter used is a more coarse and made of steel, many of the oils found within the coffee are retained. The resultant brew is generally tastier, more intense and more aromatic. 

So if you’re after a cup of coffee with a stronger flavor profile, then the French press is your friend. If, however, you prefer a more rounded cup of coffee, then you can’t go wrong with the AeroPress.

Martin Stokes

Martin Stokes

novelthings

Martin Stokes hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. He enjoys writing about all manner of things and can quote lines from films like nobody’s business. He moved to Berlin in 2015 and is working tirelessly at broadening his repertoire of bad jokes.