A Beginners Guide to Alternative Coffee Brewing

If you love drinking a cup of steaming hot coffee in the morning or after work, you need to make a bold step to learn how to make it yourself manually. One of the highlights of doing this is that you will have full control of the brewing process. That is, you can choose to increase or reduce the ingredients.

The rise in popularity of manual coffee making methods has attracted the attention of thousands if not millions of people from all across the world. Let us proceed and look at the various immersion brewing processes, their advantages and unique differences. Alternative brewing is a fascinating world and the design involved of some of these amazing brewing methods really adds to the decor of your kitchen, so let’s get stuck in!

Smart Brewing Tips

Before we get into the brewing processes themselves, have a quick read through the following tips to learn of how to make your cup of coffee using one or two of the methods that we will cover in this article

Grind

Invest in a quality burr grinder and use it to get a consistent grind and extraction. There are plenty of different types of grinders, both automatic and hand powered so your decision can be based on personal preference and your level of laziness pre-coffee.

Dose

Start your journey to the amazing manual coffee-making world by using 60 grams of coffee for every litre of water that you intend to use. Note that changing the ratio will affect the results.

Water

Always use filtered water to avoid waterborne diseases. Well in Australia, this is not so much an issue but we still prefer using filtered water to remove any impurities that come through the tap.

Accessories

The secret to getting a great cup of coffee is preparing it at the right temperature. A gram scale, thermometer and a variable temperature kettle will help keep the quality of your coffee consistent.

Hario

Design

Hario v60 and buono kettle

The Hario v60 is the most well known coffee-brewing accessories from the iconic Japanese brand. It resembles the conventional pour over dripper (like that of the Kalita or Chemex) that has a paper filter. However, this one is technologically advanced; it has a unique escape on both sides of the bottom of the brewer which makes it easy for the coffee to escape, ensuring a pleasantly smooth cup.

The raised ridges along the side wall of the cone further faciliate the even extraction for all the coffee in the brewer. It’s designed to keep the main ingredients, water, and coffee, together until they are naturally ready (gravity yo!).

The Hario V60 range is very affordable, durable, has a compact design, and the plastic versions are made from BPA free plastic material. Alternative Brewing stock the best Hario coffee we’ve seen anywhere online, perfect collection for beginners.

Grind

One of the highlights of using a grinder is that it can help you prepare a good cup of coffee despite the fact that you’re at home. freshly ground coffee is always a better option that ground. Use a medium grind for the Hario.

Technique

All you have to do is place your filter in the cone, rinse it with hot water, and decant with warm water then rinse your mug or server. Place the Hario on a flat surface with your mug or server underneath, grind the coffee and pour it into the cone of the v60 where your filter now sits. Proceed to add hot water on top of the coffee to your desired volume. We recommend pouring in just enough water to wet all the coffee grounds for the first 30 seconds or so. Then hit the walls in a circular motion after pouring the water to get a level coffee bed. Some people prefer stirring, but this is not recommended as it increases the rate of extraction. Total brew time should be around 2-3 minutes with 20-24 grams of coffee and 300-400ml of water. After serving, toss the grounds, filter, and rinse the Hario using hot water to keep it in top order.

Advantage

The Hario V60 method is utterly easy and seamlessly combines both immersion and pour-over to produce a clean and well-extracted cup of coffee. It is perfect for anyone who has never tried alternative brewing, as no prior experience is required. Finally, the Hario products works perfectly with virtually all coffee brands, so mix and match your severs and barista tools if you wish!

French Press

french press outdoor

Design

This is a classic and one of the most preferred coffee brewing devices in the world today. It is made up of a mesh plunger whose main role is to separate water from coffee grounds and a metal or glass beaker. The Bodum and Bialetti press comes with a barrel shaped mesh filter that helps in ensuring that you get a clean cup of coffee devoid of grit all the time. On the other hand, the Hario’s Double Walled Olive Wood press has better insulation than the traditional brewer does, as it has two thick glass walls so if you want a modern version of a classic, that’s a good option.

Grind

Coarse grind is the best for this device.

Technique

The first step entails preheating the press using hot water. Then, toss the water and add coarsely ground coffee. Heat water in a kettle then pour 10% of the total volume of water that you intend to use on the ground coffee grains. Give the coffee a few seconds to bloom, stir then add the remaining water into the press. Put the plunger on and press until all the coffee grounds are fully submerged in the water. Wait for 3-4 minutes before pressing slowly and decanting into a server or mug.

Advantage

The main benefit is that it offers a full-bodied cup. Its metal filter allows more oils to pass than other conventional filters, and this makes the coffee more viscous and full. After brewing, it is recommended to detach the press and filter, scrubbing all the components using detergent to keep your press in working order and to maintain the coffee taste. Accumulation of stale oils will give your coffee an unpleasant flavour.

Darker coffee roasts are well suited for a French press than all other brewers on the market. The best dark roasts come from Mexico, Brazil, and Sumatra.

Aeropress

Aeropress Inverted

Design

This unique coffee brewing device was designed by a flying disc manufacturer weirdly enough. In fact, no one would have thought that Aeropress would become a legitimate coffee brewing option. But, against all odds the Aeropress has cemented itself as a crowd favourite the world over. There is even a world championships for Aeropress brew masters – check out their recipes here! It is made from BPA-free plastic material and is indestructible. Hence, you can carry it when travelling around the world.

Grind

It is not possible to give a specific setting. However, we have managed to get a great cup of coffee with many different grind settings. If you want, use the fine grind setting, brew for 45-90 seconds. If you opt for the medium grind, use the 2-minute dwell and a 30-second press. Note that the setting is dependent on your preferred technique. Many of the small hand grinders on offer can fit into the tube of the Aeropress too which is super convenient when space is an issue on your travels. The original aeropress store has a starter bundle that includes a mini grinder that does just this!

Technique

There are different methods making coffee using Aeropress. The first method that was invented by the manufacturer involves turning the Aeropress upside down and inserting the plunger to seal the bottom. Dampen your medium-grounded coffee in the chamber then add hot water to your desired volume. let it sit for 1.45-2.00 mins and then stir once or twice. Screw the filter and press until a head that looks like a blond crema appears on top. Invert the whole device carefully and place it on top of your server or cup. As you do this, press down slowly for 30 seconds or so.

The second technique is a perfect choice for espresso lovers as it results in a cup that has some qualities of the real espresso. In the traditional upright position and setting at fine-medium, place the Aeropress on top of the mug or serve with a filter in place, add coffee and hot water to your target volume. Stir for 30-45 seconds then press in at a steady and controlled pace. Following the above steps will give you a delicious cup of coffee filled with intense flavours.

Advantage

The Aeropress is versatile, has a compact design that is very sturdy, and easy to use. One of the main benefits is that it allows one to experiment with various brewing settings and filters. It comes with paper filters that deliver expected results, but it’s wise to invest in a fine disk filter and Disk filters to get full-bodied cup. The two filters are made from stainless steel and can be reused countless times.

Try it out with coffee varieties from Ethiopia, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Syphon

Design

Also referred to as Vacpot in some circles, this revolutionary device supports numerous brewing methods. The top chamber has syphon tube that has to be inserted into the lower globe. The main essence of doing this is to allow the water at the bottom of the chamber to move upwards by water vapour pressure. Most coffee brewing syphons come with a  a cloth filter and a stand. If you want to get into the physics of the syphon, check out the coffee vacuum wiki here.

Grind

Just like the Aeropress, the Syphon can be used with a variety of grind settings. All you need to do is choose one that best suits your preferred technique.

Technique

The first step of preparing coffee using the Syphon is boiling water and pouring it into the lower globe. Alternatively, you can heat the water over the Siphon’s burner but this is time-consuming and uneconomical on fuel. If you prefer the later, heat the water using an alcohol or butane burner, fix the filter assembly, and then insert the top chamber in the opening of the bottom bowl. Lower the flame when the water begins to rise into the top chamber. To get a snug fit, push the round edges of the filter using a stirring utensil. Doing this will also help to reduce the large bubbles.

Start to monitor the temperature using a thermometer at this point. A 5-cup or 3-cup stovetop model can help you get the right brewing range if you do not have a thermometer. Add the ground coffee to the chamber, and start the timer immediately. To submerge the grounds, stir the coffee in a zigzag pattern twice preferable 30 seconds after the first stir. As soon as the timer hits 1:00, cut off the flame and stir one more time before serving. The whole brewing process will take around 2 minutes (longer if you are a newbie).

Advantage

This method is ideal for anyone who wants to take full control of the brewing process. For instance, it is possible to control agitation and brewing time. The water temperature remains constant because of the applied heat source while the coffee remains fully and evenly saturated.

It also results in a clean cup, as it uses a cloth filter to prevent pieces of ground coffee. With Vacuum coffee makers, you can make countless tasty coffee varieties, but we recommend highly floral coffees as they are dry processed. You can also try coffees from Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Panama.

Indeed, learning how to make great coffee manually will save you time and money that you would have spent purchasing the same from coffee shops and restaurants so get learning! There are plenty of great guides out there (just like this beginners guide), for every brewing method you can imagine. Pinterest and Instagram have some great communities that are constantly swapping coffee recipes and brewing secrets!

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