For most folks, a morning without freshly brewed coffee is like a day without sunshine — it’s just not the same! The flavor, the rich aroma, the warm taste on your tongue is a part of your early routine that you just can’t do without, right? Your coffee maker just might be the single most important item on your kitchen shelves, and going without that first cup of the day is unthinkable!
According to coffee experts, those who study coffee and coffee drinkers, the coffee business has mushroomed over the past few years. It’s a global market worth billions of dollars, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds every year. Most coffee fans consume at least two or three cups a day, and that number is continually increasing.
The single most important element of coffee is the taste, and every type of coffee maker offers different flavors, depending on how it brews. Does everyone have their own feelings about the best kind of coffee — Arabian? French? Columbian? — it all depends on how strong and robust you like your coffee. Manual coffee makers have definite advantages, so here we offer you a roundup of 10 different kinds. You can decide for yourself which one to try.
1) The Pour Over Method
This method is the very first one ever used to make coffee — simply pour boiling water over the grounds, brew it to the strength you like, and voila!
This is coffee making at its easiest and most simple, using a cup or pot, and a funnel, but no actual machine that brews the coffee. Using this method lets you brew a fabulous, rich cup of coffee with lots of flavour that is tailored to your personal preference.
One of the most beneficial aspects of this method is size — you can make four cups, or just one, or however many you wish. Always use a burr grinder for this style of manual coffee maker, and use only the amount of beans you need for the amount of coffee you’re making. A medium-fine grind is the best for this type of manual coffee maker, as it lets the coffee flavour come through fully.
Have a look at our other blog post, “How To Make the Best Cup of Pour Over Coffee! (It’s Easy!)”
2) A French Press
These manual coffee makers are also called coffee presses or coffee plungers because you simply push the plunger down after the coffee has sat in boiling water for a few minutes. This type of manual coffee maker was, not surprisingly, created in France, and it’s one of the most popular methods of brewing coffee in the world.
A French press pulls out all the wonderful oils and sediment in coffee beans, which helps make the coffee incredibly rich and flavourful. This type of coffee gives you a truly fresh, strong taste and beautiful texture. If you love strong coffee, a French press is likely the ideal manual coffee maker for you.
This coffee maker is really easy to operate. You put coarse ground coffee in the pot, pour over boiling water, and let it rest with the plunger sitting gently on top. After the requisite amount of time — the longer you leave it the stronger it gets — push the plunger to the bottom. A French press makes a truly memorable, delicious cup of coffee.
3) Cold Drip Coffee Maker
This is a manual coffee maker that uses cold water through just ground coffee — yup, you read that right — cold water, not hot! This method takes anywhere from one hour to an entire day, so if you need your coffee fix first thing in the morning, it might not be right for you.
It may surprise you, but cold drip coffee is actually a scientifically proven process, plus it’s fun to watch the coffee getting brewed. Water trickles gradually from the top compartment into the coffee, they soak up as much as they can, then they release the coffee into a filter, then into the beaker on the bottom. The process results in a strong, rich cup of cold coffee.
Using coarse grind coffee is ideal for this method, as the coffee stays with the water for hours, sometimes.
4) Cowboy Coffee
This type of coffee is famously simple to make; all you need is a coffee pot, grounds, and of course some hot water. It’s called “Cowboy Coffee” because it’s so easy to make outdoors, over a campfire or on a camp stove.
It’s similar to French press coffee, but there’s no plunger. You just pour the boiling water into the pot, wait for the grounds to settle and the water to cool a little, and then enjoy a cup of freshly brewed Joe made like they did in the great outdoors.
It’s best to use extra coarse coffee grinds in this case, big ones, almost the size of peppercorns. They create bold, strong flavour, and give you coffee like you see cowboys drinking in all your favourite Western movies!
5) Moka Pot Coffee Maker
This manual coffee maker was created by Luigi de Ponti, about 80 years ago, and it’s still a popular coffee maker. It has three separate columns; the first has the coffee, the second has hot water, and the third is where the percolated coffee is sent. If you love rich, espresso style coffee this is the manual maker for you!
Because of how this maker is structured, the coffee should be finer than the grounds you use in a traditional, pour over maker.
6) Espresso Coffee Maker
Because espresso is such strong coffee, usually a shot is all you need. This coffee maker forces hot water through grounds, and the resulting coffee is thick, dark and strong.
To make a true espresso, you need the kind of machine that really lets water pressure build, or you won’t get what’s considered a “true” shot of espresso. In addition to fine grind coffee, you can get a close proximity to espresso by using a French press, or a Moka pot or an Aero press. Stay tuned for more info!
7) AeroPress Coffee Maker
This coffee maker was created by the company’s president about 15 years ago. It’s designed a little like a French press, in that you put grounds in the pot, pour boiling water over them, wait, stir and push a plunger down to keep the grounds at the bottom.
This manual coffee maker creates a clean taste because the coffee is filtered through paper, which catches all the sediment and oil.
Using medium to fine grind is best with this kind of coffee maker, and the more you use, the stronger your coffee is.
8) Siphon Coffee Brewer
This brewing method dates back all the way to the 1830s. This pot has two separate chambers, or columns, a glass carafe on the bottom and the brewer on top. The grounds go into the top brewer, while water goes in the bottom carafe. When this part heats up, the water turns to vapour, which in turn creates pressure in the bottom piece. Then it goes to the top container, and becomes coffee. (Sounds complicated, we know, but it isn’t really!)
The coffee is a little tea-like, delicate and even a bit watery, but delicious! You’ll love this way of brewing your morning cup, particularly if you like your coffee less strong than, say, espresso or French press brew.
Be sure the coffee is not too finely ground, because then water can’t pass through it. But not to worry — you’ll soon get the hang of this method once you’ve used it once or twice.
9) The Chemex Method
This has been around for close to a century, but it’s still hugely popular. It makes strong, rich coffee, and is perfect when you need to brew several cups simultaneously. The Chemex utilizes infusion, and that really gets the most out of the coffee grounds. Chemex filters are considerably 20% to 30% thicker than filters used in other pour over brewing methods, like Melita filters.
Chemex doesn’t make coffee quite as strong and dense as a French press, but it’s still very good and bold. And it’s far superior to the coffee made in automatic drip machines, which can be watery and timid. If you like your coffee smooth and flavourful, a Chemex might be the perfect manual coffee maker for you.
To get the best coffee from your Chemex, grind the beans coarsely and be mindful of how you pour the water through the filter — not too quickly, and not too slowly.
10) Turkish Coffee
This brewing method is loved not only throughout Turkey, but in countries right around the world. It’s brewed in a pot called a “cezve,” usually made of copper. The grounds, some sugar and cold water in the cezve, then heat it up on the stove. Bring it to a boil for several minutes to get the dark, rich foam that Turkish coffee is so famous for.
Turkish coffee is strong, bold and flavourful. Usually it is served in small cups with lots of foam on top, which is a measure of how skilled you are at making this caffeinated delight!
Use very finely ground coffee in this instance, a really small grind, about 1 mm or smaller. That helps the absorption rate — lots of coffee infusing into water.
A Word About Your Grinder
Your coffee grinder is just as important — maybe more so — than the manual coffee maker you use. The best brewing equipment in the world won’t make your coffee ‘sing’ if you don’t have a good quality grinder.
To get the best possible grind, opt for a burr coffee grinder. There are several key benefits to these, including consistency and control. By that we mean that you get the most consistent size of coffee grounds once you set your grinder — fine, coarse, etc. Which setting you choose depends on the grinder you’re using to brew your coffee.
A burr grinder allows you to choose a precise size for your grind, and you’ll get that size every time you use your grinder. And getting the right grind means you’re on your way to a fabulous cup of coffee, made in one of the 10 manual coffee makers we’ve described here.