There are numerous coffee brewing methods around the world including siphon, cold drip, cold brew, espresso, boiling, and pour over methods. The methods have varying effects on the coffee flavor and aroma and are favored by different countries as detailed below.
1. Siphon method
- The Siphon brewing is also called the vacuum pot method due to its use of vacuum. It is considered a superior brewing method to drip coffee and French press as it combines both these methods by utilizing the full immersion and low pressure extraction techniques.
- Siphon coffee makers can either be standalone or stove top with the stove top requiring heat from an independent source such as a stove.
- The siphon coffee maker use gravity and pressure in addition to vacuum. It contains two chambers and a heater that is usually a butane burner. The top chamber contains a siphon that fits to the lower chamber. The siphon can be made from numerous materials including stainless steel, paper, glass, and cloth. A metal encasing extending into a handle binds the two chambers together.
- Water is filled in the lower chamber while coffee is filled in the upper chamber. The burner heats the water and as water gets heated steam is produced, water is forced into the upper chamber by vapor pressure. When enough water is collected at the top vessel, coffee grounds are added allowing them to be fully immersed into the water. As the water permeates the beans, it extracts flavor from the coffee grounds.
- The burner is turned off after allowing the coffee to steep for up to five minutes. Turning off the heat causes the vapor pressure to drop and water from the upper chamber to drip back into the bottom chamber through the filter placed at the bottom of the upper chamber resulting in a clear and pure coffee that lacks coffee sediments. The water drops into the bottom chamber due to both gravity and vacuum effect.
- The siphon method produces coffee with a rich aroma that is favored by many coffee enthusiasts. Siphoned coffee is ‘smooth, full-bodied, crisp, clean and richly flavored’ due to the brewing method. The aroma becomes ‘trapped inside the globe mechanism’ resulting to the ‘clean, crisp and vibrant’ coffee with an even consistency. The coffee can however taste bitter but the defect can be corrected by using coarsely ground coffee beans.
- Siphon method has been a popular method for brewing coffee across Europe since the mid 19th century but it is also used in US, Laos and Japan.
2. Boiling method
- Water and coffee are mixed together in a pot and boiled over a source of heat until foam is produced.
- This method produces ‘muddy and heavy’ coffee that contains a lot of coffee sediment and a bitter flavor which normally requires an addition of sweetener.
- This is a popular method in Turkey where the famous Turkish coffee is produced. It is also used in Columbia to produce Tinto.
- In this method, finely ground coffee beans are brewed at high temperatures with pressurized water passing through the coffee. An espresso machine can use 8-10 bars of pressure to pull shots using finely ground coffee within 25-30 seconds. It is, therefore, a very fast method of brewing that results in denser and more concentrated coffee than filter coffee method.
- The resulting brew has two layers, crema and liquid. Crema is the golden top layer of the brew which contains proteins, oils and the colored melanoidins. Production of crema depends on the types of coffee as not all can produce it. Melanoidins give espresso the characteristic bitter flavor and is formed from the reaction of sugars (carbohydrates) and amino acids in the coffee. The liquid part of the espresso contributes to the acidity and sweetness. It can be considered as having the middle section which is usually caramel-brown and the base which has a richer and darker shade of brown.
- The highly pressurized process produces the rich flavors and aroma as the original flavors gets preserved.
- Espresso method is used across the globe including in the US, Canary Islands, Australia, Italy, England and Cuba
4. Pour Over method
- This method involves pouring hot water through coffee grounds placed in a filter. The water then pours into a mug or a jug from the filter. It is also known as the filter method. Since the water is poured by hand, it can also be called manual or hand brewing. The brewer needs to control the amount of coffee grounds, water and speed of pouring to produce quality coffee.
- Pouring water through the filter at timed intervals is critical to achieving a balanced flavor extraction. Pouring is done in a circular motion for a few seconds making grounds to start rising and bloom resulting in flavor and gaseous release from inside the coffee grounds. The first pour is usually twice the amount of water to coffee.
- The method takes time as the coffee falls into the mug drip by drip. However, it has efficient extraction ability and produces a “clean, clear and consistent” coffee with a deep and rich flavor as the slow process allows for intricate flavor extraction and the filter traps a lot of oils and sediments.
- The method is usually used for single origin coffees to bring out the unique aromas and flavors.
- Compared to immersion method, pour over method has a “lighter body, crisper acidity, and more flavor clarity”.
- It is a common method in Europe since the 20th century but has existed for longer in Latin America particularly Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Costa Rica.
5. Drip method
- Unlike the completely manual pour over method, the drip method is semi automated as the electric drip coffee maker controls the entire brewing process with the only manual work being pouring water in the reservoir and adding the coffee grounds into the filter.
- Cold water is pulled out of a reservoir by the machine, warmed and siphoned up through the drip machine by a combination of heat and pressure. The water is then passed through the coffee grounds via the filter. The coffee is well bodied, with a ‘simple, yet smooth, tasty and savory flavor’.
- Drip method is popular in India and Vietnam.
6. Cold brewing method
- It falls under the steeping method of brewing and results int a smooth flavored coffee with low acidity.
- The rich aroma is due to the long duration is takes to brew the coffee, usually not less than 10 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Unlike using hot brewing which relies on the heat to release the flavors in the beans, cold brew relies on time. Since a lot of the sweet flavor compounds in the beans are soluble in cold water while oils and acids are not, the resulting coffee does not have oils and is mellow.
- Unlike hot brewing methods, the coffee does not become harsh or bitter despite being strong in terms of coffee grounds to water.
- It is used in the US and Japan with variations in Vietnam, India and Thailand.
7. Cold Drip method
- Unlike cold brew method which relies on complete immersion of beans to produce flavor, cold drip completely separates ground coffee from the cold water.
- A dip apparatus made of three glass chambers allows water to slowly percolate through the freshly ground course coffee beans. After absorbing the drops of water from the of vessel, the ground coffee beans then drips the water to the bottom vessel. It takes between 3-12 hours to brew.
- Unlike the floral flavor of cold brew method, the cold drip method results in a fuller and richer body
- The cold drip method is popular in India and Vietnam.
History of Coffee Brewing
Coffee brewing has a rich history that spans centuries. From seeping ground coffee in hot water during the 13th century in the Arab Peninsula to the invention of the espresso machine in 1884 in Turin, coffee brewing has undoubtedly come a long way.
The History of Coffee
- To this day, no one knows for sure how coffee was first discovered, but there are many legends that explain its discovery. One of the most popular theories is that the cultivation of coffee first started centuries ago in the Ethiopian plateaus.
- According to the legend, an Ethiopian goat herder by the name Kaldi discovered the coffee beans when his goats ate berries from a certain tree, become energetic, and they could not sleep at night.
- Kaldi then informed the abbot of the local monastery about the energizing beans, and the abbot used them to make a drink. He found that the resulting drink helped him stay awake during long prayers.
- The abbot presented his findings to his colleagues at the monastery, and the knowledge about the beans kept spreading to the East, and the coffee beans finally reached the Arab Peninsula. It’s in the Arab Peninsula that the cultivation of coffee as a globally-traded commodity started in the 13th century.
- Over the next centuries, coffee cultivation was adopted across the globe in Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Europe, and finally to the Americas.
The History of Coffee Brewing
- During the 13th century in the Arab Peninsula, the traditional method of brewing coffee was seeping the ground coffee in hot water. This process could take between five hours to half a day to be completed.
- When the popularity of coffee spread to Turkey, the Turks developed the Ibrik method, one of the earliest manual coffee brewing methods that is still in use today.
- During the 15th century, Turkey’s Ottoman Empire broadened its geographical reach to parts of North Africa, Central and East Europe, and Asia. The expansion allowed the empire to control main trade routes, and this is where they likely came across the coffee.
- This manual brewing method involved grounding roasted beans using mortars, adding them to water, and then boiling in a special pot called a cezve.
- The small metal pot (cezve or Ibrik) features a long handle on the side for serving. All the ingredients for brewing coffee (coffee grounds, sugar, spices, and water) are all mixed together before brewing.
- The mixture is heated until it’s almost boiling. It’s then cooled and heated several more times then served into a cup with foam on top.
- The Ibrik method “revolutionized coffee brewing to be more time efficient, turning coffee brewing into an activity that could be done every day.”
- This brewing method was quickly adopted in the Sultan’s kitchen, in wealthy homes across the empire, and soon it became popular with the entire population.
Biggin Pots and Metal Filters
- The Ottoman Turks tried to monopolize coffee trade by banning its exportation, but this was impossible. The beans were smuggled out of the country and eventually made their way across Europe.
- European travelers also brought the coffee seed from the Arab Peninsula in the 17th century.
- When coffee first arrived in Europe, it was prepared in a similar way as the Turks did, adding ground beans to water in a single pot then boiling it.
- The drink soon became extremely popular, and coffee shops sprung up all around Europe, with Italy leading the pack. The coffee shops acted as social gathering places, just like today’s coffee shops.
- In this coffee shops, coffee was brewed using coffee pots with spouts. Ground coffee was put inside, and the water heated to the verge of boiling.
- The pots had sharp spouts that filtered out the coffee grinds and flat bottoms for sufficient heat absorption. The coffee pots evolved, and so did the methods of filtration.
- According to historians, the first coffee filtering method was a sock. Hot water would be poured through a sock filled with coffee grounds to filter the coffee. The cloth filters are believed to have been more expensive and less efficient than paper filters, which arrived 200 years later.
- The first commercial coffee maker was called the “Mr. Biggin,” and it was released in 1780. The biggin pot wanted to improve on the drawbacks of cloth filtering, especially poor drainage.
- Biggin pots consisted of three to four parts with a tin filter or a cloth bag under the lid. While the biggin pots were an improvement over the initial pots, if the coffee grounds were too fine or too coarse, the water would run right through them.
- In 1820, the Biggin pots arrived in England, and they are still in use today around the world, but they are significant improvements of the original ones.
- During the early years of the Biggin pots, metal filters and improved filter-pot systems were introduced. One such design was patented in 1802 in France.
- The filter consisted of a metal tin with spreaders to distribute water evenly into the coffee. In 1804, another filter design was patented by the French in the form of a drip pot that filtered coffee without boiling it.
- Siphon pots, also known as vacuum brewers, were first invented in the early 19th century. While the initial patent is from the 1830s, the first siphon pot to be commercially available was designed by Marie Fanny Amelne Massot, and it was introduced to the market in the 1840s.
- The siphon pot arrived in America in 1910 and was patented by Bridges and Sutton, two Massachusetts sisters. They named their pyrex brewer the “Silex.”
- The siphon pot looks like an hourglass with two glass domes. The heat is applied from the bottom dome building up pressure that pushes water through the siphon so that it mixes with the ground coffee. The coffee is ready for consumption once the grinds have been filtered out.
- The siphon pot is still used in some homes today by true coffee aficionados. The Italian Moka, invented in 1933, uses a similar brewing method to the siphon pot.
- Just like siphon pots, coffee percolators were invented in the early 19th century. The earliest prototype of the coffee percolator is credited to Sir Benjamin Thompson, an American-British physicist.
- Other notable percolator prototypes include:
- Joseph Henry Marie Laurens’s invented a percolator pot in Paris that’s almost similar to the modern-day stove models a few years later after Thompson’s percolator.
- In the US, James Nason patented a percolator prototype.
- In 1889, Hanson Goodrich, a man from Illinois, patented the modern US percolator.
- Before the invention of the percolator, coffee pots brewed coffee through a process called decoction, where the grinds are mixed with boiling water to produce the coffee. The method was popular for centuries and is still used today.
- The percolator created coffee that didn’t have any leftover grinds eliminating the need to filter the coffee before drinking.
- The percolator operates “using steam pressure generated by high heat and boiling. Inside the percolator, a tube connects the coffee grinds with the water. The steam pressure is created when water at the bottom of the chamber boils. The water rises through the pot and over the coffee grounds, which then seeps through and creates freshly brewed coffee. “
- The cycle is repeated, provided that the pot is exposed to a source of heat. Thomson and Nason’s percolator prototypes used the downflow method instead of the rising steam one.
- The espresso machine was invented in 1884 and is still widely used today in almost every coffee shop.
- The first espresso machine was patented by an Italian named Angelo Moriondo in Turin, Italy. His machine used water and pressurized steam to brew a strong cup of coffee faster.
- Unlike the modern espresso machines, Angelo’s machine produced coffee in bulk instead of producing it in small espresso cups for one customer.
- In the of course the next few years, fellow Italians from Madrid, Luigi Bezzerra and Desiderio Pavoni, went ahead and updated and commercialized Moriondo’s original invention. The resultant machine could produce 1,000 cups of coffee an hour and could make individual cups of espresso.
- The machine “premiered in 1906 at the Milan Fair, and the first espresso machine came to the United States in 1927 in New York. “
- The machine, however, had a drawback. Due to the steam mechanism, espresso brewed by this machine left a bitter aftertaste.
- The modern espresso machine is credited to Achille Gaggia, also an Italian from Milan. This machine, just like today’s espresso machines, used a lever.
- The lever increased the water pressure from 2 bars to 8-10 bars, which is the minimum pressure for making a cup of espresso. This invention created a smoother and richer cup of espresso.
The French Press
- While the name may suggest that this machine had its origins in France, both the French and Italians have claimed this invention.
- Frenchmen Mayer and Delforge patented the first French Press in 1852. However, a different French Press prototype, similar to today’s French Press, was patented in Italy by Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1928.
- The modern French Press first appeared in 1958 and was patented by Faliero Bondanini, a Swiss-Italian man. The model was known as the Chambord and was first manufactured in France.
- The French Press operates “by mixing hot water with coarsely ground coffee. After soaking for a few minutes, a metal plunger separates the coffee from the used grinds, making it ready to pour.”
- The French Press coffee is popular today because it’s old-school simple and has a rich flavor.
- Instant coffee brewing is much simpler and more straight-forward than all the coffee brewing methods since it does not require any machines.
- Instant coffee was first brewed in the 18th century in Great Britain as a coffee compound that was added to water to make coffee.
- The very first American instant coffee developed during the Civil War in the 1850s.
- Instant coffee is also attributed to many sources such as:
- David Strang of New Zealand patented his design of instant coffee in 1890
- Satori Kato, a chemist from Chicago, created the first successful version of instant coffee by using a technique similar to Strang’s to his instant coffee.
- In 1910, instant coffee was produced in bulk in the United States by George Constant Louis Washington.
- Instant coffee was not that popular at first since it had an unappealing and bitter taste. Despite this, it’s popularity shot due to its ease of use and preparation.
- During the 1960s, scientists invented a process called dry freezing that helped to maintain instant coffee’s rich taste.
Commercial Coffee Filter
- The first coffee filter was a sock or a cheesecloth. The modern paper coffee filter was invented in 1908 by Melitta Bentz.
- After being frustrated by having to clean the coffee residue in her brass coffee pot, she decided to use a page from her son’s notebook and placed it at the bottom of her coffee pot.
- She then poured the filled it with coffee grinds and poured water over them, marking the birth of the paper filter.
History of Coffee Brewing – Evolution
Coffee has a storied past and a big tale to tell! The beverage has been around since the 15th century, with the first account of drinking coffee originating in Yemen in the 1400s. Several centuries would pass before Europeans became drinkers, and even several more centuries before European coffee culture became a thing. The first Europeans to start drinking coffee regularly were the Parisians and the Dutch (which was home to the first known coffee houses), and by 1699, the East India Trading Company started growing coffee beans for commercial trade in an area of Indonesia familiarly known as Java.
We have curated fourteen pieces of information, data, and statistics surrounding the evolution of coffee and presented these below.
- After noticing how excited his goats became after eating the beans from a plant, legend has it that Kaldi, the 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd was the one who discovered coffee.
- While this story is most certainly fictional, coffee definitely came from Ethiopia and by the 15th century it had wound its way into Yemen.
- It was in 1570 that coffee finally arrived in Venice. As the 1600s progressed, coffee houses popped up all over Europe in Austria, the UK, Germany, France, and Holland, which is a testament to its broad appeal and popularity.
- Perhaps surprisingly, there have been no fewer than five attempts to prohibit coffee consumption throughout history, including in Mecca, Constantinople, Italy, Sweden and Prussia.
- From the time it was introduced to the American colonies in the 17th century, coffee has grown to become one of the most popular beverages in the United States. In fact, Thomas Jefferson reportedly declared coffee as “The favorite drink of the civilized world.”
- According to the Smithsonian Magazine, coffee companies started manufacturing and selling pre-ground coffee in the early 20th century. Following World War 2, instant coffee became available, being sold by brands with now familiar names like Folgers and Maxwell House. Instant coffee remained popular until the 1980s, at which point Americans started preferring more fresh-brewed coffee.
- In the 1990s single-brew coffee makers that utilized coffee pods were introduced. These were initially targeted towards offices and other workplaces, but quickly gained popularity with consumers at home. Fast forward to 2019, and single-cup brewers made up about $950 million in annual sales. Almost one in five American coffee drinkers say the only way they know how to make coffee is with single-cup brewers like Keurig.
- Priced at nearly $275, the most expensive single-serving coffee pod on the planet is sold in Singapore.
- For daily coffee drinkers, gourmet coffee is preferred by a 60/40 margin over non-gourmet. In-home preparation is becoming less common, with seventy-eight percent of daily coffee drinkers making their brew at home compared to eighty-four percent in 2012.
- Drumming up almost one billion dollars in venture capital, coffee startups are a commodity that investors want to be involved in. Blue Bottle, Bellwether Coffee, Alpine Start, Wandering Bear and Rise Brewing are some of those hot new brands that have benefited from VC’s. Notoriously drawing more than $60 million in VC investment, Bulletproof coffee is an excellent example of the popularity of the continuing evolution of coffee.
- Black coffee or not? According to this source, about 35% of coffee drinkers take their coffee black. Some other common preparations include Late: Espresso combined with steamed milk and thin foam; Americano: Hot water combined with espresso; Pour over: Hot water and coffee combined through slow-pour device; Flat white: Espresso combined with steamed milk and very thin foam; Mocha: Espresso combined with chocolate syrup and steamed milk; Cold-brew: Coarse-ground coffee combined with room-temperature water; Espresso: Finely ground beans brewed with pressurized water; Macchiato: Espresso combined with steamed milk with thick foam; Cortado: Half-espresso/half-steamed milk with very thin foam, and Red-eye: Drip coffee plus a shot of espresso.
- Over the last two decades, the strongest overall growth in the coffee market has been the number of daily specialty drinkers. To bolster that statement, in 1999, only nine percent of American adults were drinking specialty coffee daily. By 2017, that number was forty-one percent. In 2017, specialty drinkers enjoyed 2.97 cups of coffee per day, which, when compared to numbers in 2001, is up from 2.24 cups.
- Coffee as automobile fuel? Yes! A coffee-powered car set a record for the longest trip taken purely on coffee power. It was a 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco, which was driven from London to Manchester.
- While not vetted by clinical data, coffee grounds can be used as a skin scrub. According to Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab chemist Danusia Wnek, “Coffee grounds are physical exfoliators that can lift off dead skin cells, making skin feel smooth and look brighter. Caffeine is thought to improve blood circulation in skin, but there isn’t yet sufficient clinical data on its use in topical products.”