How to Brew Coffee – 8 Popular Methods

Want to brew delicious coffee at home but don’t know where to start? We’re here to help you! Generally, you brew your coffee by grinding your beans, mixing the grounds with water to extract the solubles and aromas, and then filtering your coffee. But the question is how and why? We will introduce the brewing methods commonly used so you can choose what suits you best and start brewing coffee. Keep reading to find out!

Factors involved in brewing coffee

First, we will talk about some essential factors you need to consider every time you brew coffee.

  • Roast Level. Lighter-roasted coffee beans generally taste more acidic and brighter than darker-roasted ones.
  • Grind size. Finer ground coffee will brew much slower than ground coffee but with a higher level of extraction.
  • Water temperature. Hot water extracts quicker than cold water. For example, making a pour-over coffee, which uses hot water, takes about 3 minutes, while a cold brew takes 12 hours.
  • Coffee-to-water ratio. This affects the concentration of your coffee.  Increasing the amount of water gives you a less intense cup of coffee. Often, 1:15-1:18 is used to brew coffee, while 1:2 is used for espresso.
  • Brew time. Brew time varies widely depending on different brewing methods. You need enough time to get all the tasty solubles from the beans, but over-brewing can bring out bitterness in coffee. 

We wrote an ultimate guide to everything you need about the coffee-to-water ratio. Check it out here!

Ways to brew coffee

There are two common mechanisms for brewing coffee: percolation and infusion. Every brewing method you’ve heard utilizes one of these principles. Here, I briefly give an overview of how they work and introduce the different brewing methods that use them.


Percolation is simply water passing through a bed of coffee. Commonly, you pour water over ground beans held together by a filter. The liquid passes through and drips to your container due to gravity.

Two standard brewing methods apply percolation: drip and pour-over.

Drip Coffee Machine

Brewing with a drip machine is suitable if you’re seeking simplicity.

How to:

The convenience and uniqueness of a drip maker come with no need to pour water onto the coffee bed on your own. Instead, you simply add water to the designated reservoir of the machine and then press a button to start the brewing process.

Grind LevelFine grind
Coffee-to-water Ratio1:17
Brew Time3 minutes
One serving8 ounces

Using a drip machine is a safe choice. The process is straightforward; you just press the button. You can also experiment with the bean’s roast level or grind size to make better-tasting coffee. 

Pour-Over Coffee

You will prefer pour-over coffee if you want to be more involved and in control when brewing coffee. You can control the speed and rounds of pouring, which can affect the taste profile of your coffee. 

There are two standard pour-over coffee brewers: Chemex and Hario V60. The former is suitable for making large amounts of coffee at once, and the Hario V60 is usually for single serve.

How to:

First, assemble the brewer and pre-wet it before adding some ground coffee. Then, you pour hot water onto the bed of coffee gradually and in a circular manner to agitate the grounds. You do this in small batches so that water won’t overflow. 

With pour-over, the right grind size, water temperature, and the coffee-to-water ratio are essential.

Pouring water is a crucial aspect of this brew, so you might need some practice before getting it right. 

Click here to check the ultimate guide to brewing the best cup of pour-over coffee. 

FlavorDelicate, lighter-bodied
Grind sizeFine
Coffee-to-water Ratio1:17
Brew Time~3.5 minutes
ServingChemex: 30-40 oz; v60: 10-18 oz. 
FilterPaper filter


Infusion, also called steeping or immersion, is another fundamental method of brewing coffee. Instead of letting water pass through, we directly immerse the coffee grinds in water to extract its tasty solubles and separate them for your coffee. It also takes longer than percolation. 

Using more coffee for an infusion method than the percolation method is usual. Because the infusion method has a lower extraction level and slower extraction rate than percolation, it needs more coffee to reach the same level.

French Press, Siphon, and Cold Brew are examples of infusion methods. 

French Press

A French Press is inexpensive and uncomplicated to use. You can also brew a big batch of coffee with it.

How to: In a French press, soak the grounds in hot water for 4 minutes before plunging. 

There are many advantages of using the French Press. However, sometimes, it’s difficult to clean. It can cause some sediment build-up in the bottom.

To know more, check out this EASY-to-understand guide on how to make French press coffee. 

FlavorBolder, richer, full-bodied, creamier, less watery.
Grind sizemedium to coarse
Coffee-to-water Ratio1:15
Brew Time4 minutes
Serving12 oz. 

Siphon Coffee (Vacuum Pot)

If you want to show off your coffee brewing skills in front of your friends, a Siphon coffee is the best choice. It’s novel and has a complex process.

How to: Making siphon coffee is like conducting a coffee science experiment. You’ll need a fancy glass or metal contraption with two chambers. In one, you put water, and in the other, you add coffee grounds. 

When you heat the water, it rises into the coffee chamber, mixing with the grounds. After a short time, you remove the heat, and the brewed coffee is sucked back into the lower chamber because of a vacuum effect.

It’s definitely not the easiest and the most practical way to make coffee, but it’s a great and aesthetic form of entertainment. 

FlavorVery clean, full of flavor
Grind sizemiddle to coarse
Coffee-to-water Ratio1:15
Brew Time~10 minutes
Serving16 oz. 

Cold brew

Cold brew is for you if you want a smooth, rich-flavored coffee without acidity. What’s unique here is using room temperature water, instead of the usual hot water. By the way, this is completely different from iced coffee, which is regular drip coffee with ice. 

You can make cold brew ready-to-drink or in the form of a concentrate that you can dilute.

How to: The process is straightforward. Following a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:4 to make a cold brew concentrate, you simply soak coffee grounds in cold or room-temperature water for 12 to 24 hours before filtering it to serve or to store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

The drawback is the brew time is very long. You’ll need patience.

More details can be found in this extensive guide on how to make cold brew coffee. 

FlavorSmooth, heavy-bodies, not acidic
Grind sizemiddle to coarse
Coffee-to-water Ratio1:4 (Concentrate); 1:16 (Ready-to-drink)
Brew Time12-24 hours
Serving16 oz. 


Pressure-brewed coffee, akin to the percolation mechanism, employs high pressure, resulting in a swift brewing process and reduced water consumption. This method provides a more robust flavor than other brewing methods.

Three common ways of brewing coffee with pressure include using an espresso machine, a Moka pot, and an AeroPress brewer.

Espresso Machine

If you want to brew robust coffee and espresso-based drinks like Latte or Macchiato, you might want to invest in an espresso machine. 

How to: First, add finely ground beans into a portafilter and mount it to the machine, which will then quickly press a small amount of water through the beans. This produces a super concentrated cup of coffee.

The only con here is that an espresso machine is not wallet-friendly. Also,  it takes up some space in your kitchen and is a bit difficult to clean. But if you’re adventurous, making espresso opens up many possibilities. 

You can look at this introduction to the 30+ Espresso-based drinks. 

FlavorStrong, sharp, concentrated
Grind sizefine
Coffee-to-water Ratio1:2 (single shot); 1:1 (ristretto); 1:4 (lungo)
Brew Time20-30 seconds
Serving1 oz (single shot); 2 oz (double shot)

The Moka pot

If you want to brew strong coffee but don’t want to purchase an espresso machine, the Moka pot is for you.

How to: Add hot water to the bottom chamber and put it on a stove top to add heat. When the water boils, steam and pressure push water up through the coffee grounds into the top section of the pot.​

While the equipment isn’t as costly as an espresso machine, it doesn’t deliver the same pristine flavor as authentic espresso. 

Grind sizeMedium-fine
Coffee-to-water Ratio1:7
Brew Time~5 minutes
Serving12 oz

The Aeropress

The Aeropress is a perfect choice if you like to customize your brew. And it’s portable, so, you can take it during travel or camping.

How to: An Aeropress uses both methods of infusion and pressure, with a plunger forcing hot water and grounds through a filter and straight into your cup.

You can make various types of coffee with Aeropress, like regular Aeropress coffee, Aeropress cold brew coffee, and Aeropress espresso. But you can only make a few servings at a time. 

FlavorSmooth, low acidity, 
Grind sizeDepends on brew (cold brew, espresso, regular)
Coffee-to-water RatioDepends on brew (cold brew, espresso, regular)
Brew TimeDepends on brew (cold brew, espresso, regular)
Serving8-12 oz

Winning Tips for Brewing the Best Coffee

  • Use fresh beans. Purchase fresh-roasted, whole, high-quality beans from a local coffee shop or specialty grocer, and avoid cheap supermarket brands. 
  • Weigh in grams. Pros talk about everything in grams rather than tablespoons or scoops, as this is the most precise way to measure your coffee.
  • Grind before use. Coffee starts losing quality immediately after grinding. So, it’s best to grind beans just before brewing to maintain their freshest flavor. 
  • Grind with Burr grinder. Burr grinder makes evenly-sized grains of coffee, an essential factor affecting extraction level. 
  • Keep your equipment clean. Clean your equipment as much as possible after every use, as bacteria may grow and old sediments can build up, which can affect the quality of your coffee. 

Curious about the caffeine content in your favorite cup of coffee? Check our article: Which coffee has the most caffeine? 

Photo of author


Mesphird Yang

I have been brewing and drinking coffee for almost 6 years now. At first, I was just dazzled by how baristas look and that's why I started learning. In the long run, I became obsessed with its charm. I have tried many coffee brewing methods, with different kinds of beans in various roast levels. If I could have more than 4 cups of coffee a day, I definitely would!

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