We're in our homes now more than ever, so how we consume that cup of coffee in the morning is even more important. It's often a highlight to our day, or what gets our day started. Making coffee at home nowadays is more complex than simply brewing a big pot of coffee and going back to it for refills.
With all the options out there, from our very own Leverpresso to single-use pod machines, how are you supposed to know which device is right for you? Thankfully, we've compiled a list of the most commonly used espresso and coffee machines and how they work, so that you can make an informed decision based on what you want out of your at-home brewing experience.
Starting off with automatic drip brewers, these produce big pots of coffee at a time, rather than single shots of espresso. These are perhaps one of the most popular methods of brewing coffee in households, likely due to its affordability and convenience.
All these machines require from you, as you are still waking up in the morning, is filling the paper filters with coffee grounds and adding hot water to the machine. The hot water filters through the grounds automatically and a pump is used in order for the water to move above the coffee grounds. Further, the hot plate that the pot rests on as this process is taking place ensures that the coffee remains hot for an extended period.
The worthiness of these machines depends on the quality of coffee that you’re looking for. Each individual machine filters coffee a bit differently. With a paper filter, the taste is going to be different, as opposed to a metal one in a French press. This is because paper filters often take out much of the flavors and oils in coffee.
As mentioned earlier, compared to drip brewers, French presses retain more of the flavors and oils with their metal filters, often leaving you with a stronger taste. Even though they are a bit more of a hassle to clean, they generally last a long time and aren’t too expensive.
The greatest appeal of French presses is that they are affordable and simple to use. All you do is combine your ground coffee (which should generally be ground coarse for French press) with hot water and let it sit for four minutes before pressing the filter down and serving.
Fully-Automatic & Partially-Automatic Espresso Makers
While these machines may sound like a godsend to people who want to easily turn their kitchen into a café with the press of a button, there’s a lot more to these machines than people think. The biggest drawback is that machines like these are often expensive, sometimes even reaching price tags of $1,000 (or around 1,000,000 Korean Won).
Depending on how long the machine lasts, it is cheaper to use every day for making espresso. However, the quality won’t always be the highest that you may be searching for, compared to a manual device. These machines also require a lot of maintenance to keep them running smoothly for as long as you would like them to. While they come with the illusion of convenience in terms of pulling the espresso shot, there’s a lot of extra work behind the scenes that you may not want to be bothered with.
Not only is Leverpresso unique in its form and compact structure, but the extraction process is simple and only takes about three minutes out of your morning routine. Our manual espresso maker even comes with two different kinds of portafilters to choose from. One is for beginners (pressurized), and the other is for more experienced at-home baristas (non-pressurized), which allows you to have more control over your experience.
Speaking of control, it’s all up to you when you use Leverpresso. The product operates much like manual espresso machines in cafes, allowing you to create standard 9-bar pressure for extraction of the espresso. You can control how fast you extract with the two levers, but it is recommended to let the shot pull for about 30 seconds to get the best quality.
While the Leverpresso is extracting, it creates minimal pressure, not allowing for much channeling to occur (when the water is not draining properly). Best of all, unlike many other manual espresso makers, the vessel is transparent, so you can watch the entire process happen right in front of you. This process even extracts two shots at a time, which is plenty to get you started in the morning.
Manual Drip Brew
Rather than leaving an automatic drip brewer to do the job for you, this method is more rewarding, despite it being a more-involved process. This style of coffee brewing uses more of an hourglass shape. It has been around since the early 1940s, being one of the older, more traditional options, alongside the Moka pot.
The most unique components regarding this brewer are the thick filter and glass construction. Because of this glass, there are no added flavors to the coffee and less bitterness as a result.
Drip coffee with an automatic brewing machine typically has a medium grind and uses a standard filter. The coffee is dispensed smoothly and quickly, but gets rid of much of the oil and flavor from the grounds. Manual drip filters have a coarser grind and slow down the extraction process, which helps to add more flavor to your cup.
While this process takes at least five minutes and may not be your first or fastest option in the morning, the end result is usually worth it. This method is becoming more popular even amongst beginners.
Moka pots have been used for decades and are commonly seen in popular culture, such as over a campfire. These devices in particular use steam pressure to produce that cup of coffee you're craving. Having been around since the early 1930s and originally from Italy (they know a few things about coffee), these are a traditional favorite.
Compared to other manual espresso makers like Leverpresso, Moka pots produce relatively low pressure of up to 1 or 2 bars, so the coffee produced in these pots has much different flavor characteristics than espresso.
Essentially, the pot has a separate space in the middle where the ground coffee is placed. There is a funnel underneath that allows the water to boil into the compartment where the coffee is stored. Once the water is boiling, the coffee then starts to expand from the grounds and fills up in the top compartment of the pot. Once all the coffee has been produced from the boiling water and steam pressure, it is ready to be enjoyed.
Single-Serve Coffee Makers (Pods)
This can be an affordable method of brewing coffee. No single-serve machine is the same, and some can make cappuccinos and lattes while others are confined to a single type of coffee or espresso to brew. You may have heard of common single-serve brands, such as Keurig and Nespresso.
Single-serve brewers require the purchase of separate pods or capsules in order to brew your cup of coffee or espresso. These machines generally require minimal effort and you can easily walk away from them while they are brewing, as once you insert the pod, the machine automatically filters the hot water from the tank and produces your drink.
While these machines are convenient, they may not necessarily be the best device for your budget. Constantly purchasing capsules or pods can be expensive if you’re not replacing it with your normal run to the coffee shop.
Siphon Coffee Maker
Invented in the 1840s by a French housewife and around the same time, a Scottish engineer, this is one of the oldest forms of brewing that has adapted over the years. It is often referred to as a “vacuum coffee maker” because the hot water is pushed into the upper chamber. It used to be more complex and finicky to use, but has evolved to be more concise for every day users.
This method is especially going to make you feel like a scientist in a laboratory, while in the comfort of your home. First, you soak your siphon filter in warm water for at least five minutes before leaving it in the bottom of the top chamber. You then fill the bottom component (also referred to as a bulb) with hot water.
Once the water has boiled and been pushed into the upper component, you add your ground coffee into the upper chamber (you can gently submerge it with a general kitchen knife). The coffee then only brews for a little over a minute, so not very long! After removing it from the heat source, stir it around several times.
Once you have done all this, the grounds themselves remain on the floor of the upper chamber, while the brewed coffee has made its way into the bottom chamber.
This is surely not going to be a method that suits everyone. Siphon makers require a lot of effort and concentration, particularly if you're waking up in the morning, as well as cleaning and maintenance. However, despite its lengthy process, siphon coffee makers are surprisingly not as expensive as you would imagine and they produce a quality cup of coffee.
Every machine varies greatly and not all machines function the same. You have to consider many aspects in regards to your brewing experience, such as durability, portability, accessibility, and of course, affordability. Whether you're looking to enjoy coffee-making as a hobby with a siphon, or to feel like a barista while making a convenient espresso beverage with Leverpresso, you will hardly run out of options in the coffee maker industry.