With high-end coffee shops on the rise, our coffee options have expanded. Enter one of these establishments, such as WTF Coffee in Brooklyn, and it becomes clear. The question is no longer what kind of coffee you want -- dark roast, breakfast blend, etc. -- but how you want that coffee made. Between the pour over, French press, siphon pot and Chemex, getting a cup of coffee has become complicated.
It got us thinking: what brewing method makes the best cup? There are a plethora of options, most of them fairly affordable too. Should we stick to the classic Mr. Coffee that's been making us coffee all these years, or is it time to make a change? Clearly, we had to find out which brewing method produces the best cup of coffee.
We gathered a group of classic coffee drinkers. Not coffee experts or snobs, but people who like to have a good cup or two on a daily basis. We brewed lots of coffee. We blind tasted them. We got wired. And we rated nine coffee brewers -- any more would have been pure chaos. We brewed each cup of coffee with Dunkin' Donuts beans and the recommended 2 tablespoons to 6 ounces of water ratio (unless otherwise specified by manufacturers instructions).
People, we drank nine cups of coffee to find the perfect cup for the good of coffee drinkers everywhere. This is what we learned: first, you don't want to drink this much coffee. Ever. Second, there are many ways to make a cup, and none of them are created equal. Third, price isn't everything. (We found a $38 dollar machine to be better than a $300+ one.) Here's how they ranked -- with No. 1 being the very best.
Please note that in no way was this taste test influenced or supported by any of the products that were tested. Also, we fully recognize that some coffee brewers were left out. We just couldn't drink another cup. It would have been really bad.
Sur La Table
This old-school style brewer will get you a strong cup of coffee, but it won't be the best use of your beans. The problem with most percolators is that you can end up accidentally boiling the coffee -- a sure way to get a bitter cup. We worked hard to make sure this didn't happen, but it still wasn't a crowd pleaser. Here's what the tasters thought: "This stuff will turn boys into men, and I don't mean that in a good way." "Metallic."
(The one we used for the taste test is currently out of stock, but a not so similar one can be found at Sur La Table for $69.95.)
As much as we loved this coffeemaker, it just didn't win the people over. When following the manufacturer's instructions we got a weak pot every time. While we appreciate the sleek design and the fact that some tinkering could produce us a better cup, it didn't stand up next to the other brewers. Here's what our tasters thought: "Strong aroma, weak flavor." "No flavor."
If there's one thing that's truly great about the vacuum pot it's the theatrics of it. There's something truly magical about watching it brew coffee. And, it makes a nice smooth cup though we found that most coffee drinkers want a little more "oomph" with their caffeine. Also, it's hard to clean. Here's what the tasters thought: "This one grows hair on my palms. It's some heavy voo-doo brew.""Really low acid." "Super mellow flavor." "Weak!"
The Aeropress uses pressure to brew coffee, and it seems to be a smart way to do it. Here's what people thought: "Obviously brewed with zest, care and attention." "Nice, but a little too acidic." "Strong and yet mellow."
This beautiful piece of equipment will set you back some, but not without the reward of a great cup of coffee. Here's what people thought: "Full flavor!" "Best cup!" "I like this!" "A good stiff cup of Joe."
Maybe it's the filters (which are specially made by Chemex to make a great cup), or maybe it's the genius of the doctor that created this coffee brewer, but either way people loved it: "Nice!""Strong and not too bitter.""Working-man's brew!" "Nice smell with a smooth, low-acid flavor."