If you are ready to be a little more hands-on with your coffee than just pushing a button, congratulations! You are entering a larger (and more delicious) world of coffee. If you are intimidated by all the options out there, breathe easily. The act of brewing coffee is stunningly simple. Pour water into ground coffee, let it steep, and filter the coffee grounds from the new mixture. Every coffee beverage, from espresso to iced coffee, is the result of a variation on this theme. This chart offers some simple guidelines for the various brewers and the tastes they produce.
Best for: Heavy-bodied coffees, milk and sugar
French presses filter out the least amount of coffee particles, resulting in a heavy, full-bodied brew with lower amounts of acidity. If you like cream in your coffee, this is the brewing method for you.
Coffees to try: Dark roasts, Sumatra
Brew time: At 3 minutes, break the crust that formed with a spoon. Plunge at 4 minutes.
Best for: Multipurpose brewing, camping
If you really need a strong cup of coffee, but are on a budget, consider an Aeropress. This brewer uses pressure (albeit from your own arm strength) and results in tasty, strong brews of coffee for only a fraction of the price of a home espresso machine. You can also make a regular cup of coffee in an Aeropress. It is forgiving and flexible, works well with many coffees and can take a beating. Pack it up and make it your vacation-brewing device.
Coffees to try: Almost any coffee
Brew time: 30 seconds (with pressure) to 4 minutes
Erik Evenson is a writer who has worked as the head roaster and green coffee buyer for Zoka Coffee Roasting Company. He also managed Tony's Coffee Bar where he taught brewing classes.