Most coffee geeks agree: You can’t make the best cup of coffee using an electric drip machine. Sure, it’s efficient, but the machines get very dirty over time, plus there’s no way to control the water temperature -- two factors that drastically affect the taste of your brew.
Here are four barista-approved ways to make your morning cup of Joe. And bonus: The equipment for these methods is cheaper than most electric coffeemakers.
Method: French press
What it is: Also known as a press pot, a French press is a pitcher (usually glass) in which you infuse coffee in hot water before using a plunger -- with a mesh filter and lid attached -- to press the grounds down to the bottom of the pot.
How it works: In the pot’s beaker, pour nearly boiling water over coarsely ground coffee, let it steep, then press down the grounds with the plunger.
Pros: It’s the easiest way to make a richly flavored, full-bodied cup of coffee.
Cons: You can get a lot of sediment in your cup, the pot can be a pain to clean, and you can’t keep the coffee hot.
What it is: The Chemex is a trademarked hourglass-shaped glass pitcher that can be spotted in Don Draper’s kitchen on Mad Men.
How it works: Line the top of a glass Chemex pot with a thick paper filter, fill with coarsely ground coffee, and slowly pour the water over the grounds; the coffee drips through to the bottom of the pot.
Pros: It’s a beautiful pot for making a super flavorful but lightly bodied coffee, free of sediment. Plus, you can make multiple cups at a time.
Cons: The special Chemex filters are more expensive than regular paper filters, and while you can make multiple cups of coffee, you can’t keep them hot.
Method: Pour-over cone
What it is: At its most basic level, the pour-over cone is like the filter basket in your auto-drop machine set directly over a mug of coffee. Of course, in the coffee connoisseur world, even the simplest things aren't so simple: There are several different shapes and materials used to make the cone -- from ceramic to metal to plastic.
How it works: Set a paper filter in the cone and place over your cup of coffee. Fill it with medium-ground coffee and slowly and evenly pour water over the grounds.
Pros: It’s a low-tech, portable and super inexpensive way to make a flavorful, sediment-free single cup of coffee.
Cons: It’s a time-consuming way to make coffee for a crowd, and the taste of the coffee can vary depending on which cone you use and how fast you pour the water each time.
What it is: The Aeropress is a trademarked cylindrical plastic device that is made by the people behind the Aerobie toy company. Like the French press, it allows coffee to be fully infused in the water, but it uses air pressure to push the water through a paper filter, so there’s no sludge. (shown: AeroPress Espresso Maker, $29.95 at Sur La Table)
How it works: Put finely ground coffee into the chamber of the plastic Aeropress and set over a mug. Pour hot water over the coffee, then use the special plunger to press the water through the grounds into the mug.
Pros: It makes low-acid, very concentrated coffee. Like the cone, it’s inexpensive and portable, but it’s easier to make a consistent-tasting cup.
Cons: It calls for special disk-shaped paper filters, plus using the Aeropress requires a steep learning curve. And compared to the other devices, it’s just not that pretty.
Our Favorite Method
The Chemex gets our vote. While we like the rich taste of French press coffee, cleaning the grinds out of the pot isn’t our cup of, uh, tea, so we’ll save that for special occasions. Plus, in addition to making a delicious cup of coffee, the Chemex is a beautiful piece to show off on your kitchen counter. (It’s even on display at the Museum of Modern Art!)