What is Coffee Brewing?

B. Miller

Coffee brewing is the act of using heated water and ground coffee to turn coffee beans into a hot cup of coffee. There are a few different methods of making coffee, depending on the strength and style of coffee that is desired. It is always necessary, however, to grind coffee beans before brewing the coffee.

Coffee and coffee beans.
Coffee and coffee beans.

It is possible to purchase coffee either in its whole bean form, or already ground. Most experts recommend purchasing whole bean coffee and grinding it at home. It is best to grind coffee right before it is to be brewed; this ensures the freshest flavor. Experts also recommend using coffee within a few weeks of purchase, and keeping coffee in a tightly sealed container.

Ground coffee.
Ground coffee.

There are some general rules for all types of coffee brewing methods. The ratio of coffee to water should be approximately two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces (approximately 177 milliliters) of water. The water should either be filtered or spring water; tap water is not recommended because it can impart other, unpleasant flavors to the coffee. The temperature of the water should be close to boiling, but not quite. Water should be between 195 degrees Fahrenheit and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (between 90 and 95 degrees Celsius).

Drip coffee making is the most common form of coffee brewing in the United States.
Drip coffee making is the most common form of coffee brewing in the United States.

The most common coffee brewing method in the U.S. is generally a standard drip coffee maker. In this method, water is added to the coffee machine, and coffee grounds are placed in a basket containing a filter. The machine takes care of the rest, and the user isn't given any control over the temperature of the water. The drip coffee maker will generally shut off when coffee brewing is complete, though many have a hot plate to keep the coffee warm. It is best to remove the coffee from the hot plate, which can burn the coffee, and transfer it into an insulated carafe to keep it warm.

Espresso is made in a special coffee machine.
Espresso is made in a special coffee machine.

Another common method of coffee brewing is a French press. In this method, the user adds the hot water at the desired temperature on top of the coffee grounds, which rest at the bottom of a glass container. After four to five minutes have passed, a plunger is pressed into the water, which releases the coffee and the coffee oils, separating the grounds.

In a 2013 Zagat survey, 38 percent of Americans said they prefer coffee from a local cafe over home-brewed and name-brand cafes.
In a 2013 Zagat survey, 38 percent of Americans said they prefer coffee from a local cafe over home-brewed and name-brand cafes.

There are other methods of coffee brewing, that produce a stronger, more concentrated beverage, usually served in smaller cups. Turkish style coffee is heated directly over a stove, and the coffee is served with the grounds in the bottom of the cup. Italian espresso is made in a special machine, in which hot water is forced through the grounds under high pressure. No matter which style one chooses, it is best to drink the coffee immediately after it has been prepared.

Most experts advise buying whole bean coffee and then grinding it immediately before using.
Most experts advise buying whole bean coffee and then grinding it immediately before using.
Green coffee is roasted before brewing.
Green coffee is roasted before brewing.

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