Let’s start by stating the obvious: there are many, many ways to brew your morning (or afternoon, or evening) coffee. Maybe you’re already completely content with the convenience of your automatic coffeemaker, or perhaps the only piece of equipment you own is a French press. But if you’re still not settled on your coffee routine and are considering a change, there are few factors that can help you choose the best brewing method for you.
First, though, a note that coffee preferences are highly personal, and there is no single “right” way to prepare a cup of joe. The best cup of coffee is the cup you enjoy, after all.
How much time do you have?
Perhaps the biggest factor for the bleary-eyed among us is how quickly we can have coffee made and ready to drink. If you want your coffee ready at the press of a button—or, better yet, brewed before you get out of bed—you’ll probably want to stick with a drip coffeemaker that can be programmed the night before, or a pod brewer like a Keurig or Nespresso. This also applies if your time is limited because you have kids to feed, or a long commute to work, or simply if you feel perpetually rushed in the morning.
If you have time to be hands-on with your brewing method, consider a more manual option. A French press doesn’t require much more engagement than a coffee machine, while a pour-over generally takes at least a few minutes of active attention.
And if iced coffee is your jam, a cold brewer allows you to make your coffee ahead of time and pour and go in the morning.
How many people are you brewing for?
Convenience also has a bit to do with how many cups you need to make at once. If you’re brewing for a crowd, a coffee machine with a 12-cup capacity may be the best bang for your buck. If it’s just you, a single-cup pour-over method like a V60 may work just fine. In our house, we brew for two, and we use a 6-cup Chemex, though a French press can be a good alternative for this batch size. Depending on your preferences, an Aeropress can also work for more than one cup at a time.
And, of course, you can always use a big-batch method for fewer people or make multiple rounds using a single-batch brewer. Plus, most brewing methods are at least somewhat adaptable to serve more or fewer people.
What equipment do you already own?
Do you want to invest more money in your coffee setup? If not, the brewing method you already use is the best one.
If you have money to spend, consider the cost of not only the brewing method itself, but any other equipment you’d need to get the most out of your investment, from a Keurig machine to an electric kettle to a grinder and a scale. If you already have some or all of these things, switching from one pour-over method to another (for example) would be pretty easy.
A few other questions to consider: Will you need to remember to keep disposable filters on hand, or will a reusable filter work? How easy is the coffee maker to clean? Do you care about portability for camping, traveling, or brewing at work? (If so, an Aeropress is a top choice.) Do you prefer espresso, which requires its own unique setup? You certainly could drop a ton of cash on coffee equipment, but you don’t have to.
Would a different method change the taste or experience?
Logistical issues aside, different brewing methods generally yield different coffee-drinking experiences, from taste to texture. Other important variables include the beans you’re using, your grind size, your filter type, and the precision offered by your chosen brewing method.
It may take some practice to dial in a new way of brewing things, but if you nerd out over the nuance of flavor, the experiment may be worth it.