In recent years, hot-brewed coffee and espresso drinks have had to make way for a new kid on the coffee block: cold brew. You can brew coffee in so many ways, each with its individual flavors and characteristics. Let’s take a closer look at a few different popular brewing methods and the way they affect the flavor of coffee.

The Drip Method

Drip coffee is something we’re all familiar with. It’s been the most popular brewing method in America since the 1970’s. With this method, relatively coarse ground coffee goes into a filter basket, and either a paper filter or a metal mesh filter is used to hold the ground coffee. Then, the coffee machine adds hot water, which extracts the flavor of the coffee before it lands in the coffee pot.

The drip method is the most popular method of brewing coffee and one of the easiest and most accessible. But, most coffee aficionados agree that it’s far from the most ideal. With drip coffee, many of the oils, chemical compounds and acids are trapped in the filter and never make it into the pot, which makes for a cup of coffee that’s less flavorful and complex than other brewing methods.

Pressure Based Brewing

Pressure based brewing shares some similarities with drip coffee, it’s just pumped up to another level. Espresso machines use pressure based brewing. With this method, the coffee is ground much finer and has almost a powder-like consistency. When you brew a cup of espresso, the machine forces hot water through the finely ground coffee using pressure that’s roughly 8 to 10 times normal atmospheric pressure.

This brewing process produces a small and super-concentrated shot of espresso. On top of the espresso is crema. This is a sort of foam that sits on top of the shot of espresso, and it’s made by the pressure that’s used to extract the coffee. This brewing method produces a dark, bitter and acidic coffee with a sweet, almost caramel-y crema on top.

Cold Brew Method

Cold brew coffee has taken the coffee world by storm in recent years, and it’s popular for good reason. By brewing the coffee cold, as opposed to using hot water to extract the flavors, a more balanced, less acidic and sweeter coffee is the result.

With the cold brew method, ground coffee goes into a container with cold water. The coffee is left to steep for 12 hours or longer in the refrigerator. Many cold brew drinkers prefer coffee that’s steeped for around 24 hours. Keep in mind that hot water does a better job than cold water when it comes to extracting all the oils and chemical compounds from ground coffee, which is why it often takes an entire day to produce a tasty pitcher of cold brewed coffee.

Cold brew coffee is characterized by its very balanced flavor. It’s sweeter, less bitter and less acidic than hot brewed coffee and it hits the spot on a warm day. As we gear up for the summer, you may want to give cold brew a try to see if you prefer it to other traditional brewing methods.