Isn’t it all just coffee, anyway?
Well, yes. And no.
While the word “craft” may seem like a pointless addition to those who drink coffee for the buzz, it actually changes everything from process to flavor.
You don’t have to be a coffee connoisseur to know that this savory beverage trails a long journey before finally reaching your cup. However, you do have to be enough of an appreciator to be interested in the art behind it all—from picking the right coffee berries to roasting them to perfection.
When we talk about the process and passion of coffee-making, we’re talking about craft coffee.
What Even is Craft Coffee, and is It That Special?
In simple terms, craft coffee is more than just a caffeinated drink. It’s artistry—one that requires years of aptitude and knowledge to get right.
Craft coffee involves the whole experience prior to savoring your cuppa. It takes into account the origin of coffee beans, types of roast (light, medium, dark, or extra dark), as well as the brewing method chosen.
That means no pre-ground coffee! When brewing craft coffee, freshness is key. Sure, grinding your own beans will take a few extra minutes of your time—but that’s the whole point of craft coffee!
Those extra minutes will make for a straight-out-of-a-fancy-coffee-shop-unique cup, though. That’s a promise.
What’s the Difference Between Regular Coffee and Craft Coffee?
Let’s get the truth out there: if coffee is just a part of your hurried mornings and you couldn’t care less about what goes in your cup, it probably won’t make a difference to you. That’s the first step in telling regular coffee from craft coffee.
“Regular” coffee: a pick-me-up before work. It doesn’t really matter if you use unfiltered water or not. Pre-ground, instant, whatever makes it quicker. Not specially flavorful.
Craft coffee: an enjoyable every-day ritual. The type of roast suits your palate. Freshly ground. Aromatic. Every step matters, including the origin of your bean.
Whatever your preference is, anyone can educate themselves about how to get a flavorful, special cup of coffee every time.
How to Brew a Perfect Cup of Craft Coffee
There are several methods you can choose rather than the monotonous drip coffee. Some of them are:
- Pour-over coffee
- French Press coffee
- Chemex coffee
- Moka Pot coffee
If you can experiment with each one of these methods to discover which one best suits you, go for it. In case you already own one of them and still didn’t figure out how to use it, now’s the time to learn.
First Things First: Grind Your Beans!
When we talk about freshly ground coffee, we mean coffee that’s ground moments before it’s brewed.
When you buy pre-ground coffee (even if it’s “sealed for freshness”), it gradually loses its flavorful properties. Who knows for how long it’s been sitting on that Walmart shelf?
If you want the full craft coffee experience, you’ll need a coffee grinder. You can either use a manual Burr grinder or an electric Burr grinder.
Important: there’s a reason why we repeated “Burr grinder”. Don’t EVER use blade coffee grinders unless you want to make a coarse and chunky mess.
Depending on how strong you want your coffee or which method you’ll use, there are three main different ways to grind it (with their variations in-between):
Coarse grounds: ideal for French-pressed coffee, coarse grounds are larger and have the same consistency as kosher salt.
Medium grounds: this is the best grind if you’re brewing pour-over coffee. They’re usually the ones you see when you open your bag of pre-ground coffee—only this time you’ll be grinding it yourself.
Fine grounds: because this type of ground is so lightweight, it works perfectly for espresso and Moka pot coffee. By the way, that’s fine, not pulverized. When putting them on your hand, you should still be able to feel each grain.
Now, the fun part. Here’s how to brew craft coffee using four different methods.
For a single serve, you’ll need:
- A porcelain dripper
- A gooseneck kettle
- A coffee filter
- A mug
- A digital scale
- Hot filtered water (around 195 to 205 F)
- Freshly ground coffee (20 to 30 g for 250 to 300 ml of water)
Bring the water to a boil. Place the filter in your dripper, and use the hot water to prime both your mug and your filter to get rid of that “papery” taste.
After about a minute, dump the hot water. Add your ground coffee to the filter and start pouring the rest of the water on the grounds with the gooseneck kettle.
Start at the center, and pour slowly outwards in circular motions, allowing the coffee to bloom. Make sure to cover all of the grounds evenly until the end of the process.
French Press Coffee
The french press is a slower method, so be patient and enjoy the moment.
- Freshly ground coffee (between 60 and 70 g per liter of water)
- A French press
- A digital scale
- Hot filtered water
- A tablespoon
Put your coffee grounds in the French press. Pour hot water over it. Let it sit for four minutes.
Use a tablespoon to stir the coffee barrier that forms on top so you get the most out of the flavors. Feel free to throw those “coffee bits” away with the same tablespoon.
For a bolder flavor, let the coffee sit for another five minutes. The leftover floating grounds will sink down to the bottom.
When it’s time to use the plunge to push the coffee down, do it slowly and gently. Then serve.
For the Chemex coffee method, you’ll need:
- A Chemex coffee filter
- A Chemex
- A digital scale
- Freshly ground coffee (52 g of coffee for 700 g of water for two mugs)
- Hot filtered water
After you’ve placed your filter in the Chemex, rinse out the filters with the hot water. Dump the water afterward.
Add your measured grounds and start pouring the hot water over them. Pour them in the same way you would do it for the pour-over method: using slow and circular motions until all of the grains are submerged.
Allow the grains to bloom, and wait for about a minute. Gradually pour more water until the process is finished.
After four to five minutes, you’re ready to serve.
Moka Pot Coffee
It’s pretty easy to make coffee with a Moka pot. What you’ll need is:
- Hot filtered water (enough to fill the bottom chamber)
- Ground coffee (coarser than espresso)
- A Moka pot
Fill the bottom chamber up to the valve with hot water. Then, fill the built-in filter with your coffee grounds, making sure they’re evenly distributed.
Place the Moka pot on the stove and turn on the flame at low intensity. Watch the coffee as it brews: you’ll see it rise and drip from the reservoir into the container.
Wait for the process to finish, then serve.
Well, that was quite a lot to take in. But now you know exactly how to brew craft coffee like a pro using different methods. With enough practice, you’ll become your personal favorite barista in no time.