3 Easy Methods for Manually Brewing a Great Cup of Coffee

February 11, 2020Brittany Ramjattan
Black Rifle Coffee French Press

With the ease of Keurig and Verissimo, it’s easy to forget that manual brewing is a viable option for your morning cup (or two) of coffee. And while pour-overs and French pressed coffee are all the rage at expensive artisanal coffee shops these days, the craft of manually brewing a cup of coffee at home can seem even further out of reach. But it doesn’t have to be.

While manual brewing may seem clunky and time consuming, your reward is a quality cup of coffee that costs considerably less than $4 to make — and, we promise, it’s really not that hard. In fact, these three means of manually brewing coffee are downright easy.

Cold Brew

Cold brew is the least stressful way to make coffee. If you haven’t tried it by now, you’ve likely at least seen it at a local cafe. Native to Japan, this method has been renowned as a go-to for a no-fuss, great cup of coffee since the 1600s, and for good reason. Basically, all you need is coarsely ground coffee, water, and six to 12 hours to kill — and those hours are completely hands off, so feel free to set it up before going to bed. 

There are various methods of making cold brew, but you basically immerse coffee grounds in a pitcher of water at a 2:1 ratio (twice the amount of water as coffee grounds). Let it sit for six to 12 hours, then drain and discard the grounds. Your cold brew is ready! But be careful — the brew is concentrated, so basically treat it like espresso. If you want a traditional-strength coffee experience, add about two parts water or milk to one part cold brew. 

Cold brew is the perfect method for enjoying iced coffee, but you can also pop it in the microwave if you’re craving a hot cup of joe in the morning.

Cone Drip / Pour Over

For those of us familiar with pour-over, it may seem easier to pay $4 a cup rather than buying a Chemex and a goose-necked kettle, but good pour-over doesn’t require anything as fancy or expensive as that. In fact, portable filters like the v60 can be mounted right on your mug and make a fantastic cup of coffee all the same. 

Most people know the base procedure for making a fantastic pour-over — add a couple of scoops of grounds to a filter and then pour hot water over it. But there are a few tricks you can use to maximize the flavor of your cup. 

For one, you’ll want a medium to fine grind on the beans to ensure that the water is extracting as much flavor as possible. The motion in which you pour the water is also important. While a pour-over kettle isn’t absolutely necessary for this, you do need to make sure to pour the water in a circular motion over the grounds to get the most out of them. While the ratio of water to grounds will vary by roast and strength preference, general guidelines suggest 16 parts water to 1 part grounds. 

Pour-over devices generally use a paper filter, which, unlike a mesh filter, “absorbs some of the oils that will be extracted from the coffee during brewing,” said Matt Leviner, Black Rifle Coffee Company’s Coffee Category Manager. “This lends to a cleaner and generally brighter cup with lighter mouthfeel/body.”

French Press

A French press is a great investment for coffee drinkers who are committed to an evenly extracted, robust cup of coffee without having to stand over a cone for 4 minutes. There are many benefits to a French press, and the process is fairly easy and straightforward. All it requires is a couple of tablespoons of medium- to coarsely ground coffee, hot water, and a press. 

Once you place the coffee grounds into the pitcher portion of the device, just add hot water — again, the ratios here will depend on your preference. After four minutes, press the plunger down to drain the grounds, and pour your coffee into a separate mug. For added complexity, feel free to salt your grounds.

The main difference in the coffee produced by a French press as opposed to a pour over is in the type of filter used. While the pour over uses a paper filter, French presses utilize a wire mesh filter. Since the mesh doesn’t absorb oils from the grounds, it “generally lends to a richer cup with a fuller body and creamier mouthfeel,” Leviner said.

Brittany Ramjattan
Brittany Ramjattan
Brittany Ramjattan is a freelance writer with a background in film. Brittany is currently a graduate student at Stony Brook’s Television Writing program in Manhattan, and when she’s not slaving over her computer, she’s slaving over her French press, working on her perfect cup. 
More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Dear Jack: I'm Retiring From The Military — Help!

In this installment of “Dear Jack,” Marine veteran Jack Mandaville helps a career service member figure out life after retirement.

March 31, 2023Jack Mandaville
navy chaplains suicide prevention
US Navy Deploys More Chaplains For Suicide Prevention

Growing mental health distress in the ranks carries such grave implications that the U.S. chief of n...

March 31, 2023Associated Press
ukraine lessons learned
Opinion & Essay
Nolan Peterson: Lessons From Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

After living in and reporting from Ukraine the last nine years, conflict journalist Nolan Peterson h...

March 30, 2023Nolan Peterson
black hawk crash kentucky
9 Killed In Army Black Hawk Helicopter Crash In Kentucky

Nondice Thurman, a spokesperson for Fort Campbell, said Thursday morning that the deaths happened the previous night in southwestern Kentucky during a routine training mission.

March 30, 2023Associated Press
richard stayskal act military medical malpractice
DOD Denies Most Stayskal Act Malpractice Claims

Master Sgt. Richard Stayskal was diagnosed with lung cancer long after military doctors missed a tum...

March 29, 2023Maggie BenZvi
ukrainian wounded soldiers
‘On Tour In Hell’: Wounded Ukrainian Soldiers Evacuated

With bandaged heads and splinted limbs, the wounded soldiers are stretchered into the waiting medica...

March 27, 2023Associated Press
US oil mission
US Launches Airstrikes in Syria After Drone Kills US Worker

While it’s not the first time the U.S. and Iran have traded airstrikes in Syria, the attack and the ...

March 24, 2023Associated Press
The Gift jason dunham
‘The Gift’ Explores the Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham

"The Gift" tells the story of the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. ...

March 24, 2023Mac Caltrider
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved