The Quick Guide to Brewing

Steve GSeptember 18th, 2007
By: Steve G

Having a great bean doesn’t guarantee a good cup of coffee. With so many varieties and processes of coffee, there is no definitive great bean. Everyone has different tastes, so the best you can hope for is extracting the most that you can from a bean. A cup of coffee consists of 98 percent water, so as you can imagine brewing is a key factor in extracting the best cup of coffee from your bean. But just as with beans, there are also a vast variety of ways to brew your precious beans. None of these techniques can be considered the authoritative way to brew, it all depends on your personal preference. At Chef Seattle, we complied some of the better known techniques, but be sure to experiment to find the best way to brew your beans.

The Grandfather of Instant Coffee: The Percolator

More akin to an antique today, the percolator tends to have a small loyal following. The former mainstay of homes in the early and mid 20th Century, the percolator was unseated by the reigning king: Automatic Electric Drip. The Percolator uses boiling as a method of brewing the coffee. The boiling method is an antiquated way, since many coffee connoisseurs agree that boiling is a grave injustice to the coffee bean. By boiling coffee, most of the aromatics are driven off while the sour and bitterness vastly heighten due to over extraction. Might sound a little unappetizing, but many of the legendary coffee houses in England served boiled coffee during the 18th Century. Its amazing that so many scholars and writers accomplished so much with hugely over extracted coffee.

How it works:

Consisting of two small chambers and a tube, the percolator is placed on a heat source until the water begins to boil. Once it reaches the right temperature, the water is forced through the tube into the upper chamber where the coffee resides. The water is then sprayed on top of the coffee grounds and exits through a hole in the upper chamber falling back into the lower part. The colder water is forced through the tube and the cycle is repeated until all of the water has been run through the grounds several times.


Its important to remove the heat source once all of the water has passed through. Boiled coffee is generally bad coffee as it removes all the aromatics and flavors while increasing the sour and bitterness of the cup.

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A standard percolator.
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