If you brew the exact same coffee—same origin, same roasting—with different methods, the flavor of the drink can be dramatically different. Take Zingerman’s Coffee Company’s Espresso Blend No. 1. As you might guess from the name, this blend of beans from the Daterra Estate in Brazil was developed with espresso in mind, and it produces a great shot: rich with flavors of dark chocolate and a sweet nuttiness. But that doesn’t mean you have to prepare it as espresso. If you made it in a French press, the flavor becomes lighter and brighter, with notes of white cake, chestnut, and blood orange. Prepared in an aeropress the flavor changes again, now emphasizing creamy caramel notes with a hint of spice. And brewing the espresso blend in a Clever cup draws out toasty cocoa notes and a rich, full body. Brew the espresso blend in each of these four different ways and taste the four cups side by side, the differences are striking. None of these different brewing methods are “right” or “wrong”—at the end of the day, the only taste that counts is yours, and whichever way you like your coffee is the right way.
Six superior home brewing methods.
You could use your regular brewing method to make any Zingerman’s coffee at home. You’d make yourself an excellent cup of coffee. Try a different method, and you’ll create different flavors. Here are my favorite brew and coffee combos. Each brings a coarser- or finer-ground coffee in touch with hot water and pressure in a slightly different way. Try some variations at Zingerman’s Coffee Company’s cafe in Ann Arbor—it’s an amazing experience. Or stay home and check out all the possibilities on our Big Brew Board.
1. Roadhouse Joe Coffee brewed in an automatic drip pot
Our perennial best-selling coffee, the Roadhouse Joe blend is a mix of Papua New Guinean, Costa Rican, Indian and Brazilian Peaberry beans. We’ve served it every day alongside breakfast (and brunch, and lunch, and dinner) at Zingerman’s Roadhouse restaurant for over a decade. Brewed in a standard automatic drip machine (like the kind most of us have on our kitchen counters at home), it’s nutty and balanced.
2. Espresso Blend No. 1 prepared as espresso
Made from a blend of coffee varietals all grown on the Daterra Estate in Brazil, our house espresso blend is especially great as espresso—luxuriously thick crema, with flavors of dark chocolate and sweet nuts—but it’s great brewed just about any other way, too.
3. Ethiopian Guji Coffee brewed in a press pot
Ethiopian coffees often have intensely fruity flavors, almost like biting into a handful of juicy berries. This coffee, from Ethiopia’s Oromia region, is no exception. Brewed in a press pot (also called a French press), the flavor is so light and bright it’s almost tea like, with acidic notes of lemon and blueberry.
4. Sumatra Mandheling Coffee brewed as a pourover
Sumatran coffees tend to be on the full-bodied, dark, earthy, wild end of the coffee flavor spectrum. When this one from the Jegarang Region of Indonesia is made as a manual pourover—which is basically drip coffee made by hand—those deep, earthy notes find balance with hints of butterscotch, almond, pecan, and banana.
5. Uganda Rwenzori Coffee brewed with an aeropress
The beans are handpicked, then undergo a dry, “natural” processing, whereby the coffee cherries are dried for 18-20 days with the fruit of the cherry intact around the coffee “bean” seed. Drying the beans with the fruit intact can give the coffee beans a notably fruity flavor. Brewing it with an aeropress—a 21st-century take on a French press that uses pressure to quickly brew a single smooth, clean cup—particularly emphasizes those bright, fruity flavors.
6. Costa Rica Hacienda Miramonte Coffee brewed with a syphon
At the peak of the season, the most experienced pickers harvest the ripest coffee cherries just for us from a micro-lot on the Hacienda Miramonte estate. When brewed using a syphon—the science-experimenty looking brew equipment seen at some specialty coffee shops and the occasional serious coffee-lover’s home—the flavors are rich and complex with a pleasant toffee note.