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Whether you were already a coffee-brewing die-hard, or decided to invest in equipment to get your caffeine fix when unable to visit your favorite cafe, many of us are now swimming in bags of fresh coffee beans, underutilized coffee accoutrement or both. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, this how-to-brew guide will help you get the most out of your surfeit.

The hardest part about making a cold-brew coffee is being patient. | ANDY VAN HEUIT
The hardest part about making a cold-brew coffee is being patient. | ANDY VAN HEUIT

Cold brew

For those just dipping their toe (metaphorically, I hope) into home-coffee-brewing, there are few methods more forgiving than cold brew. If you have very coarse-ground beans; water cooler than room temperature; and a cool-ish, dark place to keep the mixture as it infuses, you’re basically guaranteed a mellow, smooth, velvety-rich cup. Being patient is the hardest part.

Serves 2-3
Prep: 5 mins.; brew: 8-12 hrs.

  • 700 milliliters cool or cold water
  • 55 grams coarse-ground coffee beans (roughly the texture of rock salt)
  • Glass jar or carafe
  • Coffee filter or cheesecloth
  • Cold brew bag or loose-leaf tea bag (optional)

1. Pour the coffee grounds into the cold brew bag or loose-leaf tea bag. Place the grounds into the glass jar or carafe.

2. Pour the water into the glass container, making sure all the grounds are submerged, stirring or shaking gently to ensure saturation.

3. Allow to steep in a cool, dark place such as your fridge or pantry for eight to 12 hours. The longer you leave it, the stronger and more bitter it will be; past the 14-hour mark, it’s more akin to rocket fuel than coffee.

4. Remove the bag of grounds if using, or just pour the entire container over the coffee filter or cheesecloth to separate the liquid and grounds. Serve as soon as possible.

The French press is a classic piece of coffee equipment to invest in, particularly if you prefer dark-roast beans. | ANDY VAN HEUIT
The French press is a classic piece of coffee equipment to invest in, particularly if you prefer dark-roast beans. | ANDY VAN HEUIT

French press

The French press is a classic piece of coffee hardware to invest in. Since its brewing technique is only moderately more involved than cold brew, it’s also a reasonably accessible method. Compared to paper filters, the steel mesh filter used in a French press filters out less of the oil and minuscule dissolved particles that form the backbone of coffee’s flavor, meaning that darker roasts are brewed to best advantage here.

Serves 3-4
Prep: 5 mins.; brew: 4 mins.

  • 400 milliliters water (50 milliliters to preheat container, 350 milliliters to brew)
  • 30 grams coarse-ground coffee (like roughly coarse sea salt or breadcrumbs)
  •  500-milliliter (17 ounce) French press
  • Spoon or stirrer (I use a single chopstick)
  • Timer
  • Scale (optional, but recommended)
  • Gooseneck kettle (optional, but recommended)

1. Heat water to boiling. Pour 50 grams of water into the empty French press — this preheats the vessel, so when you pour water on the grounds it isn’t cooled immediately by chilly glass. Do not return the water to a boil.

2. After 30 seconds or so, empty the water out of the press. Add the ground coffee to the carafe.

3. Pour 60 grams of water into the carafe. Start your timer and stir gently, then allow the saturated grounds to rest for 30 seconds. This releases carbon dioxide from the beans in a process called “blooming,” or “degassing.”

4. Add the rest of the water to the carafe and put the lid on, but do not press the plunger.

5. When your timer hits four minutes, gently, but firmly, press the plunger down — there should be resistance, but not much.

6. Decant and serve immediately; if you leave the coffee in the press, it will over-extract and get bitter.

With its dramatic hourglass shape, the Chemex produces a clean, juicy cup of coffee and is ideal for brewing in bulk. | ANDY VAN HEUIT
With its dramatic hourglass shape, the Chemex produces a clean, juicy cup of coffee and is ideal for brewing in bulk. | ANDY VAN HEUIT

Chemex

Abandon all pretense, ye who enter here. The elegant hourglass shape, special equipment and more precise technique required for brewing with a Chemex puts your appreciation (dare I say “snobbery”) for your cup of joe well beyond doubt or denial. People may start to roll their eyes, but one of the advantages of this method is its capacity to brew in bulk. Should you be so magnanimous as to share your final product, the sweet, rich, jammy notes Chemex is perfect at accentuating will likely put an end to any gentle ribbing.

Serves 3-4
Prep: 5 mins.; brew: 4 mins.

  • 750 milliliters water (720 milliliters to brew, 30 milliliters to preheat the carafe)
  • 45 grams medium-ground coffee (like coarse beach sand or red chili flakes)
  • Chemex
  • Chemex filters
  • Gooseneck kettle
  • Scale
  • Timer

1. Open the Chemex filter, and place it so the middle of the three-layered portion rests against the spout of the carafe.

2. Pour 30 milliliters of water just off the boil into the carafe, warming it and forming a seal between it and the filter; the spout will allow you to pour the water out before brewing without breaking that seal. Put your coffee grounds into the filter, and shake gently so they form an even bed.

3. In a slow, gentle spiral starting from the center and moving out, pour twice as much water as coffee (90 grams, in this case) into the grounds and allow them to bloom for 30 to 45 seconds.

4. Pour roughly one-third of the remaining water over the grounds in the same spiral motion as before.

5. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the water, as soon as the previous pour sinks beneath the surface of the grounds. The goal is to be out of water by around 3½ to four minutes.

6. Remove the filter before it’s finished dripping; the last dregs can often be bitter. Serve immediately.

Although some upfront math is required, Tetsu Kasuya’s 4:6 Method for brewing V60 pour-over coffee lets you adjust the drink’s sweetness and strength. | ANDY VAN HEUIT
Although some upfront math is required, Tetsu Kasuya’s 4:6 Method for brewing V60 pour-over coffee lets you adjust the drink’s sweetness and strength. | ANDY VAN HEUIT

V60 (flash brew)

The final method in this tutorial is my personal go-to, and also the most finicky (more’s the pity). Grind size, pour timing and accurate weighing are critical, but the results speak for themselves: A well-executed V60 brew will give you the clearest, cleanest picture of what the producers and roasters meant your coffee to be. Thanks to 2016 World Brewers Cup Champion Tetsu Kasuya’s 4:6 Method, and another Japanese technique called flash-brewing, not even the ever-increasing temperatures of my native California can prevent me from enjoying the sweet, bright, fruity notes of my favorite beans.

Serves 1-2

Prep: 5 mins.; brew: 4 mins.

Note: For hot coffee, omit the ice and increase the volume of hot water by 190 milliliters, using 21 grams to both wet your filter and preheat your cup; adjust your pour calculations accordingly.

  • 281 milliliters water, heated to 95-97 degrees Celsius
  • 169 grams ice (about 60% total volume of water)
  • 30 grams coarse-ground coffee (like coarse sea salt or breadcrumbs)
  • V60
  • V60 filters
  • Hario carafe or large coffee cup
  • Gooseneck kettle
  • Scale
  • Timer

1. Do the math: Divide your total volume of water by five, and keep in mind what the total will be after each pour (in this case: 28.1 + 84.3 + 56.2 + 56.2 + 56.2).

Kasuya’s method postulates that, if you divide your brewing process into five pours, the first two, or the first 40%, will control the balance between acidity and sweetness, and the last three, the remaining 60%, will control the strength — Hario’s official YouTube channel has a video explaining this in detail.

2. Place your filter in the V60, using tap water to form a seal between the two. Put your grounds into the V60, shaking to form an even bed. Put the ice into the carafe or filter, and place the V60 on top.

3. Execute each of your five pours in slow spirals, starting from the center and moving out, waiting roughly 45 seconds between each.

4. Remove the V60 from the cup at roughly 3½ minutes; the ice should be mostly melted and the coffee should be cool.

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