Many factors contribute to a good cup of coffee and at the end of the day you should use the method which suits you best – which can give you the coffee you really enjoy.
That said, there are some important points to consider:
Use the freshest coffee you can buy (always check the roast date). The coffee should be days or weeks old rather than months. So do not buy too much at one time
Buy coffee beans if you can, so you can grind just before brewing to maximise freshness
Make sure the brewing equipment is clean and rinsed (so you avoid unwanted flavours from either old coffee, or detergent). The old maxim that cleanliness is next to godliness holds true for coffee as well.
Never ‘stew’ the coffee (eg. by keeping it warm on a hotplate) or re-heat it (eg. in a microwave), as either will destroy the flavour
Measure coffee and water volumes, plus brewing time: this will enable you to fine-tune your method to your personal taste. Experiment. Who knows what might suit your taste.
There are so many resources on-line that show you and tell you how to brew, many with videos. Here are some nice sites we find useful:
Hand-Filtered Coffee: The Pour-over
The coffee filter was invented in 1908 by a German housewife named Melitta Bentz. An easy home method, all it needs is a Melitta filter, filter papers and fresh coffee beans.
A modern version of the Melitta, the V60 was released in 2004 by Hario, a Japanese glassware company. V60 stands for the 60-degree angle of the cone shape.
Another variation on the filter system is the Chemex coffee maker, invented by another German (!) in 1941, chemist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. The brewer was developed to be both functional and a thing of beauty.
Pour-over methods generally give a clear and clean cup quality as the paper filters absorb a portion of the coffee oils and retain most of the solids. The body is dependent on how finely you grind your beans.
Dating from 2005, this is a clever little device that requires little more than ground beans, hot water and a specialised mini filter paper. The Aeropress produces a very clean cup with absolutely no coffee ground residues, but arguably not that much body.
The Cafetiere/ Press Pot/ French Press
For lovers of heavy body, the press pot delivers a superb cup. Filtered only through a metal mesh (rather than paper), the coffee oils and often some fine residue pass into the cup. Some people don’t like the resulting sludge that can accumulate at the bottom of their cup, but the richness of this method is undeniable.
The Moka Pot
This old Italian stove-top method of producing home espresso is a timeless classic. The trick to avoiding a burned, bitter brew is to use a low heat in this old-style method. The resulting cup can be thick and strong.
Because I’m a coffee geek, I buy every piece of industry nonsense that crosses my path. I have a cupboard full of gadgets that I’ll probably never use, but that I obsessively and compulsively cannot help but collect. One day I was on an aeroplane, when I saw in-flight duty free was selling this thing called the Nanopresso. And of course I had to buy it. And leave it in its box. Three weeks it remained there, but just before consigning it to the cupboard-of-all-gadgets-useless, I thought I might just try it out, see how it works.
What ensued amazed me. I used the wrong coffee (far too acidic), the wrong grind (too coarse) and the wrong temperature (only lukewarm) and still I got an exceptional espresso. I couldn’t believe it. I experimented over and over and was so impressed that I decided to sell the little machines myself.
Today it has become a part of my daily coffee ritual. I like to start my mornings with two successive press pots. But at some point later in the day, I do feel like having an espresso. And then I use the Nanopresso. The beauty of it is, I can change the coffee I used at will, because I don’t have a giant hopper full of grounds. I experiment constantly with different single origins, different grinds and degrees of tamping or not. What looked like a gimmicky little gadget has become a part of my coffee routine and I recommend it to anyone who wants a simple espresso making tool.