A quick poll on brew methods

I was thinking about this the other day, and was wondering what other people think. I’ve seen each of the opinions out there, but I’m curious about the distribution of opinion amongst those who read this blog.   I’ll post my own thoughts ont this up with the discussion of the results, but if you have an opinion (and I know you do!) and a moment to spare (which you must if you are reading this!) then I’d appreciate a couple of clicks from you.

Do you think individual coffees are suited to certain brew methods?

  • Yes, I think certain coffees suit certain brew methods - (44%, 233 Votes)
  • Sort of, I think certain coffee suit certain methods of filtration - (41%, 217 Votes)
  • No, I think any brewer can brew any coffee equally well - (15%, 77 Votes)

Total Voters: 527

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UPDATE:  I’ve closed this poll.  I will be posting a response to the results pretty soon.

28 Comments

  1. Always a tough question. 
    A good coffee will (and I think should) taste just as good across any method, be it chemex down to french press (though I don’t ever care for sludge). Does a certain method highlight characteristics of a coffee better than others? Of course, but it’s consistent in that highlighting among all coffees brewed using it.Any difference in opinion about if some coffees suit certain brew-methods better really comes down to a taster and their bias towards a certain highlighted quality, and perhaps not the coffee itself.Another thing to think about. Sure, coffee came way before the brew method, but brewed coffee certainly came just after the brew method.

  2. I think filter will always tend to reveal more flavour nuance simply because it’s a gentler brew method that usually employs a lighter roast depth.  Eg. some people seem to think filter is the best way to appreciate say a great kenyan or a geisha, but I also feel there’s no reason you can’t get just as much ‘enjoyment’ out of an espresso brew of that same coffee, even if it’s harder to reach the same level of flavour nuance when brewing espresso. You just have to put in more effort and be more meticulous i guess.

    But i think i get what you are saying. Are great coffees better suited to certain brew methods because they allow you to hit the mark more easily?  Kind of… maybe.  Or maybe it’s no excuse.

  3. I feel different brewing methods not necessarily suits a coffee in particular, rather than the brewingmethod highlighting different aspects icnherent in the coffee.

  4. Yes (which I voted) and no.
    Some coffees suit different brew methods for sure, but not as an absolute. A Kenya will for me ‘always’ taste better through an aeropress than a french press, but that is due to the qualities I will seek out from a Kenya which is fruityness and complexity and acidity. However, the combination of the oily body of a french press paired with the acidity of a Kenya can be heavenly and very enjoyable, so if that is your preference, then for you, it will suit a french press better than the aeropress. 

    It also depends on your goal for coffee consumption. If you are simply looking for the most tasty cup, and your preference is big body and oily mouthfeel, then paper filtration will not enhance a Kenyan coffee, so in that light, the answer is no. Tasty is subjective, and no right or wrong will change your definition of tasty, and no army of aeropressed-armed coffeegeeks will convince anyone that clarity triumphs body. 

    If, however, your goal is to taste the raw ‘produce’ of coffee, as closely as you can, and truly bring out the quality of the origin, then in my opinion I think different brew-methods suits different origin qualities. As coffee-brewing is inherently flawed (where sacrifice have to made in one or the other direction, and how fickle it is) the goal must be to enhance and replicate what makes the origin-qualities stand out in the cup. 

    Wherever the “different brew methods will suit different coffees”-ethos should be spoken to consumers on the other hand, is another discussion. 

  5. My humble opinion is that certain coffees suit certain brew methods, but that is considering the coffees we are talking about is roasted to its best. Did you mean ‘certain’ coffees as in origin or as in roast? I am not particularly fond of ‘Robusta’, and I do not think it suits neither pour-over nor AeroPress or any filter methods  -but it is not that evil as pure espresso (though I would not drink it again, Johanna) :)  -I think it would be cruel to roast a Gesha too dark, and it does not -to my taste- suit an espresso extraction, no matter roast.
    The trend of roasting ‘lighter’ (aka Scandinavian) is (IMHO -and I’m not alone?) suited for certain coffees in the higher quality segment, and these again are better suited for gentler extractions. Vietnamese coffees are not treasured as high as coffees from Honduras by AeroPressers, and Kenyan and Ethiopian coffees are slightly more preferred than Indian monsooned ones…

  6. I often experiment with the same coffee using varying brew methods. I also test different roast profiles of the same coffee across the entire spectrum of brewing from espresso to pour over. I enjoy tasting a really acidic and clean, lightly roasted coffee as both espresso and filter but I know that the common consumer will probably dislike the intense espresso and enjoy filter. This has led me to believe that although I’m happy to slurp down a Brazilian natural as a syphon, most people won’t appreciate the peanuts and earthiness of the drink because it tastes too different from their preconceived construct of what syphon should taste like. Let’s be honest – as baristas and roasters we are much happier to push the boundaries and experiment with different brew methods than customers (even if they’re coffee lovers). So although I’m happy to brew any coffee any way – I’m not sure that we should approach all coffees the same way. Certainly not from a commercial stand point anyway. I challenge anyone who said that they think all coffees suit all brew methods to encourage and offer their customers an esmeralda geisha as an espresso (which I have both tried and enjoyed!!!). I think that in the end although we like to think our roasting and brewing skills can create all purpose coffees we still err on the side of caution when it comes to offering these commercially – which probably means we don’t really think this at all…? Or maybe I’m being too harsh. 

  7. I will say to each their own, but in my experience I have come across that single origins are best suited for pour over methods, and that blends are best suited for drip brew or espresso. Even tho I have tasted some amazing single origins pulled as spro :)

  8. I’m finding it may make a difference. For brewed, my queries have been around water, air and co2 ratios as well as grind,time, temp,. in the grounds bed. For espresso I’ve been playing with the new Bezzera Strega lever that has a stronger pump assisted pre infusion. Been getting better results with light roasted SO and florals from coffees like Gesha very light roasted, with the profile this machine produces.

  9. I think part of the issue here is that most people (even coffee professionals) stick to the technique they like the best, when in all reality different techniques on the same brew method could potentially make different coffees shine. I like Kenya coffees on siphon, but if I worked at it I could probably find another method and technique to replicate that brew and get similar results. That’s my 2 cents.

  10. I think part of the issue here is that most people (even coffee professionals) stick to the technique they like the best, when in all reality different techniques on the same brew method could potentially make different coffees shine. I like Kenya coffees on siphon, but if I worked at it I could probably find another method and technique to replicate that brew and get similar results. That’s my 2 cents.

  11. Tough question. I don’t, however, think the poll is  worded correctly. There is a difference between “Does a coffee suit a method?” and “Can any method brew that coffee well?”. By the first I read, “Is there a pairing(brew method/coffee) that brings out what I (capitalized “I” there) am looking for in this coffee?” The latter reads to me as simple procedure, and I do believe that any coffee can be properly brewed through any method. Wether you get the characteristics that you are looking for or nor out of that pair (brew method/coffee) is an entirely different question (from the latter), and also somewhat subjective.

  12. I voted yes, but one of my fave coffees ever, roasted by square mile, was the Brazilian Capao from 2010, and I must confess, it was great brewed with all methods.

  13. I do find this to be a tricky question. I said sort of, mostly because at times I’m astounded at how well some coffee perform on other brew methods. I think the majority of coffees I’ve tried perform perfectly with a Chemex. Some coffees, a small handfull of Africans specifically, blow me away in a press. Maybe it’s just the shock of an excellent brew in a press, or maybe it really is that coffee pulling through well with metal screen filtration. And no, I don’t use a Kone. I prefer paper filters for everything other than espresso. 

  14. I also was unsure what you meant by “coffees” – origin or roast. In general, I find all coffees good in a pour over, but do not like “bright” coffees in espresso.

  15. Broadly speaking, I think some coffees are better suited to brew (whatever it may be) rather than espresso. within the mixture of brew tech, I think some thinks work better than others generally (Aeropress and cloth filtered pourovers in my opinion). But it is also important to note that some brew method suit certain people.

  16. I’m of mixed opinion. A well brewed coffee with always taste well brewed, regardless of the origin or roast, and I think a good taster will identify that. However, I have sometimes found myself drinking a new, exciting origin through a chemex, and thinking that I would like to try it brewed differently. There’s a new coffee from Bali that we have at the moment, and it’s lovely through a filter, but every time I drink it I find myself curious to try it roasted darker as an espresso. That isn’t necessarily a preference, though, just curiosity.

    I think complexity is somewhat lost in an espresso shot, and overly acidic coffee has to be roasted too dark to compensate. I think acidity and body are sometimes lost through a filter, and coffees without a lot of ‘high notes’ will come out a bit bland. Some of our more complex (and expensive) beans would be absolutely wasted on espresso, because the darker roast would mask their best bits. In contrast, we have a once-lovely-now-getting-a-bit-old coffee that tastes awesome as espresso, but bland through anything non-pressurized.

    I guess a lot of it depends on the quality of the beans. I guess that means I should have answered ‘yes’, instead of ‘sort of’…

  17. Nearly every coffee I roast or buy, I try with at least four different methods. Not always, but sometimes, some of the coffees taste drastically better with one brew method (say, an aeropress instead of a v60). Sometimes the cups will have slightly different flavour profiles but be equally good or bad. 

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a refractometer so I can’t determine precise extraction levels in order to rule out these differences being primarily due to different extraction levels. 

    Last point, I think that there are some flavour profiles that are just more nicely paired with a heavier body (that is due to brew method and not the coffee itself). Often coffees with lots of heavier smoky, chocolate, leather, etc. flavours are more satisfying when brewed with a metal filter or a press pot. I realize that’s a massive generalization, but I think it’s true in many cases. 

  18. I agree with you, MG. Some of the flavor differences that are often ascribed to various brew methods with a particular coffee may be due simply to extraction level.

    For instance, I recently brought a refractometer to my local artisan roaster and we ran some tests with french press. It was hard getting the yields above ~17% without a lot of agitation (no matter how long the steep time). But with the V60, 19% yields came easy. No surprise that they tasted different, above and beyond the metal/paper filter characteristics.

  19. We have this debate almost everyday at work. One says to never put an eithiopian in a Syphon or press but the other says its the best. Everyone tastes differently. I feel that if you are brewing your coffee correctly, in whatever method, it should be just as good in a pour over as it is in a press. But the people of the coffee world need something to argue about other than flavor shots and hot chocolate, if this is the arguement I’m ok with it.

  20. i tend to cup coffees before deciding what type of filter to try first. usually the decision hinges on how much acidity or body the coffee displays in the cupping bowl, and results in choosing a certain filter material (cloth, mesh or paper) instead of choosing between a full immersion versus a pourover. the filter material is not always chosen in direct correlation to how much body the coffee has. for example, a coffee with a really syrupy body can be lovely through a woodneck if your intention is to showcase the body of the coffee. on the other hand, a delicate coffee with very little body and high acidity can be very nice through a woodneck in order to allow what little body it has to pass into the cup, rather than stripping more of the oils away with a paper filter. 

    it may not be that certain coffees are better suited to a particular brew method, but that in order to produce a cup which showcases desirable aspects of a coffee, certain brew methods are better suited to your achieving such a goal. 

  21. IMHO the ideal brew method depends where you are in the roasted beans’ half life (or at least the period up until you’re not prepared to brew them any more). It changes every day, with the beans. E.g. for me acidity reduces with age, so it makes sense to switch to a brew method which reflects that. Sure, if you’re taking a snapshot of a moment in time, one method will suit better than another, but the passing of time needs to be included as a factor.

  22. I answered yes, but as with a lot of other  people I dont really agree with it in retrospect.

    I believe that my bias plays into it.  When I started in the coffee industry I instantaneously went out and bought a french press.  I remember pressing a kenya that was a great coffee, drinking my french press and thinking I had created a great cup.  Years later in that same situation my go to brew method for that coffee would not be a press.  I would much rather do something with a filter (I have a strange man-crush on the chemex).  The best way I have ever heard it described is that coffee is like music, and you pick your brew method (or headphones/speakers) depending on what you are desiring to highlight, ie. a french press brings out bass/heavy notes while a chemex or hario brings out the highs.  
    While all of these are just rules of thumb (in my head at least), I really like the benefits of a better body with full immersion brewing coupled with the clean articulate cup of something with a filter.  Right now I am absolutely loving the clever, aeropress and a new yama syphon I picked up.  

  23. James, my vote is: “No, and I do NOT think any brewer can brew any coffee well.”

    There are a few ways to approach this issue. First, you have to ask, is this a philosophical question, or a question of coffee science? Because ultimately, it’s a question of relativism vs. absolutism.

    Assuming one is more relativistic (and therefore answer YES to your main question), and believes that different methods suit different coffees, there’s a separate question that you must ask: Is it that each method is ideally suited for a particular sort of coffee, or is it that a particular brew method will be the least-worst for the coffee in question?

    In other words, is it that each method (and technique) is sufficiently flawed, each in different ways, and each set of flaws (or defects) results in a particular brew profile that is either pleasing or not pleasing to taste?

    There’s the sensory side of brewed coffee, in general terms of taste and such as they relate to brew methods, and then there’s the more scientific approach: looking at the variables from coffee to coffee, in terms of density, solubility of solids, and diffusion rates within the coffee particles. This will absolutely vary from coffee to coffee, depending on all of the relevant variables.

    I guess in conclusion, my long-form none-of-the-above answer is this:  I believe that there is such a thing as “ideal brewing method(s).” I believe that some devices are inherently poor brewing devices. If using a good brewing method, I believe that you can exercise certain controls (grind, dose, water temperature, turbulence/flow, etc.) in response to the variables in the coffee, to a good result, without needing to go to an entirely different brewing method. However, if your coffee isn’t “good,” there are different tricks to make it taste more palatable than otherwise, including using inherently flawed brew methods and techniques intentionally.

  24. Nick said everything (and much more than what) I was thinking. The three answers seemed incomplete for such a complex discussion, so I wasn’t comfortable choosing. The third answer choice was close, but the word “any” oversimplified the possible inclusions. Espresso requires a different approach completely, either in roasting or blending, so is that one of the “any” methods? Is “any” technique, applied to “any” method included in the choice? I may be splitting hairs, but isn’t that what we’re doing anyway?

  25. I disagree with your main point about filter being best – I think the best method really varies by coffee – but I really like your rephrasing of the question – that’s its could be about great coffees.  If so, then maybe great coffees work best via filter because “great” coffees are often more lightly roasted, more acidic, often characterized by delicate fruit or floral notes… In other words, “great” coffees are those that are comprised of traits that show through best via filter coffee.

  26. I would like to see a consumer focused poll on which manual brew method they find to be the most approachable or easiest to replicate (as far as doing it themselves). Not that that has much to do with this, but that’s just what popped in my mind when I was thinking about this. It could also be a cool month long project, pick 6 or so folks and give them 4 different brewing devices that they can then use for a week each and then see the results. I’m sure it would vary, but I would think that certain variables of each brew method would kinda stick out and perhaps reveal something. Sorry for the hijack, and true that to Cho.

  27. I may be mistaken, but i’ve never heard of anyone cupping a coffee and commenting ‘gee this is lovely, but wouldn’t it better brewed through a paper filter’. If a coffee is well roasted,  you want to extract as much of the goodness out as possible, and I think some brewers are betters than others at this for ALL coffees. Coffee brewing is hard enough – i’ve always wondered why so many people spend such energy on being jack of all trades but masters of none so to speak. Source the best designed brewer you can find, and master it.

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