There are many alternative methods of making the perfect cup of coffee, and all of them are suitable to use at home. What does the word “alternative” mean in this case? It means a coffee brewing method different from a traditional Italian one – making coffee in an espresso machine. For Italians, alternative coffee brewing equipment is a legendary moka pot. I wrote about it in detail in one of my previous articles.
Using alternative coffee making styles isn’t as difficult as many people think. I’ll start with the easiest brewing method – the drip method. It’s one of the best ways to make coffee during your trip.
In specialty coffee shops, you can find packs of filter roast ground coffee. You should fix one to a cup, pour hot water (96°C) into it, and brew it for 4 minutes. You should make 2 pours. Pour 50 ml of water, wait for 30 seconds, and then continue pouring till you get 180 ml of drink. A pack contains 12 g of ground coffee, and it’s enough for making one cup. The first stage is important for coffee extraction. To brew it correctly, you should take a big cup to avoid its contact with a pack, as this can cause overextraction.
My favorite drip coffee packs are from the High 5 brand whose roastery is located in Odessa. The taste of its coffee resembles filter coffee in coffee shops.
The future of drips is quite clear, and now instant specialty coffee is ready to amaze us. Today people don’t always have time for brewing at home or waiting for the ordered beverage in the coffee shop, so they choose the faster way of brewing coffee. Instant specialty coffee is difficult to make as tasty and intense as that brewed using other alternative methods. It’s the easiest way to make a cup of coffee. I can’t wait to try it because the first feedback was awesome. The instant coffee from supermarkets people get used to drinking is awful. It tastes bad and is very unhealthy. Doctors say that it negatively influences the liver.
Filter coffee is my favorite beverage nowadays. It’s black coffee brewed in a coffee machine with the help of a paper filter inside. The grind for such coffee is coarse, and the ratio is 60 g of coffee per 1 l of water. The volume of the beverage is about 250 ml.
The next simple device for brewing, which is now widely used at home among coffee lovers, is called the Clever Dripper. It’s quite easy to use. It looks like the brewer V60, but it has a valve at the bottom. You need a paper filter for it and water of 96°C. The way it works resembles making drip coffee in a cup. The only difference is the amount of the ready-made drink, which is 300 ml. In general, when making coffee via alternative methods, baristas use the ratio of 6-7 g of coffee per 100 ml of water. Some of them recommend using 20 g of coffee per 300 ml of water. The ratio can vary depending on the coffee origins, its processing, and grind size. Also, once you finish making coffee in the Clever Dripper, you have to open the valve. This way coffee gets quickly into the cup; it is ready to drink and is not over-extracted. It takes about 4 minutes to make the beverage. As a barista, I see a great advantage in this brewing method: if you have many orders at once, it can allow you to make several beverages simultaneously while waiting for the coffee to be ready after the second pour.
The V60 got its name because of the cone-shaped design of the device. It’s a very popular method of brewing in coffee shops. There are plenty of recipes that you can apply at home as well. I recommend the approach of James Hoffmann, the World Barista Champion of 2007 from the UK. He is experimenting a lot with water, coffee grind sizes, and pouring techniques. In general, he takes 20 g of coffee per 300 ml of water. Some baristas recommend using 17.5-18 g of coffee per 250 ml of water. According to his V60 recipe, the coffee is brewed with water of 98°C. On the other hand, most baristas commonly take water of 96°C. According to James Hoffmann, it’s better to swallow than stir the coffee with a spoon in the crater after the first and last pours.
In general, baristas use 3 pours in this alternative technique. The first pour is very quick. You should cover ground coffee in a crater with water and wait for 30-50 seconds for extraction to start. Next, pour water for about 1 minute and a half very slowly in the center and then make circles in one direction. Wait for the water to come through the coffee and then make the last pour till you have 270-300 ml of coffee in your pot. The overall brewing time is 3-3.30 minutes. Don’t forget to warm up your pot and make your paper filter wet before starting brewing. It’s important for coffee to bloom and unleash all its potential. We do this when we make coffee using the Clever Dripper, V60, Chemex, and AeroPress.
Next, I’ll tell you about the last two brewing methods. Comparing the V60 and the Chemex, baristas see a great advantage in the first method because the valve in this device isn’t flat (like in the Chemex) but wavy, so air, which passes between the paper filter and the crater, helps coffee to extract better. If you’re thinking about buying such a device, I recommend Hario, the Japanese brand, which offers a brewer of very good quality.
The Chemex is a very beautiful brewing method. It looks great, but the flat crater makes the body of coffee harsh, and thus it tastes less intense and rich, in my opinion. This coffee maker uses more expensive paper filters, which you should fold manually. You could see such a device in different films and exhibitions of modern art.
The AeroPress device is the last thing I want to tell you about in this article. There are different thematic championships such as World Barista Championship, World Brewers Cup, World Coffee in Good Spirits, World Cup Tasters, Cezve/Ibric, and Latte Art, but there is also a funky AeroPress contest. Amateurs and professionals can take part in it. In this contest, you should be fast, and the judges blindly try the coffee and decide which drink is the tastiest and who the winner is.
The World Brewers Cup is also very interesting and is associated with the alternative methods of brewing described above, but you can read about this contest and the others in my next article.
So, the AeroPress is a very popular and portable way of brewing coffee. For it, you’ll need water of 92-94°C and a small round paper filter. Some baristas take 2 filters for coffee to be more transparent, without ground particles in the cup. The grind should be finer than that for the V60 but coarser than that for espresso. Baristas usually take 18-20 g of coffee per 180 ml of water. I know that some of them make the inverted AeroPress. They put the device upside down because it’s more comfortable. Some people see a difference in taste, but I don’t notice it. The main detail here is to warm up the device and make the paper filters wet. The first pour is for better coffee extraction. Then it’s very important to push the plunger with the same strength till you hear the special sound of air going out. The more often you use your AeroPress, the softer the rubber, and thus it becomes easier to push. This device is made of special heat-resistant plastic.
So, in conclusion, I can tell you that I’m a fan of drip and Clever Dripper coffee brewing methods because of their simplicity and effectiveness. You can experiment with any alternative method that you like. You can play with the grind size, water quality and its temperature, the origins of coffee, time of pouring, number of filters, brands and types of devices, and so on and so forth. Be open and creative because in this case, you can experiment a lot and create your own great recipes.