Tips & Techniques Beverages Brewing the Perfect Pot of Coffee

The enticing aroma of fresh-brewed coffee signals that breakfast is on its way. A variety of roasts, which produce lighter or darker cups of coffee, are available today. Standard American roast, or breakfast roast, is a medium-light roast and produces coffee that is neither particularly strong nor dark. Medium-dark roasted beans, such as Viennese roast, produce darker, richer coffee; while full flavored, the coffee does not have the full body of darker roasts. Brewing coffee with dark-roasted coffee beans, usually called French or Italian roast, results in a black, full-bodied cup of coffee. These beans are used for making espresso. Be sure to give guests the option of one of the excellent decaffeinated types available today.

Shown below are three basic ways to brew coffee. Whichever you use, for regular coffee start with 2 Tbs. freshly ground beans for each 6-oz. cup, using the appropriate grind for the method. Offer cream or milk and sugar for guests to add to taste.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series: After Dinner, by Kristine Kidd (Time-Life Books, 1998)

Drip Filter

For the full-flavored, clean-tasting coffee this method yields, start with fine grind for cone-shaped filters such as the one shown, and a slightly coarser grind for flat-bottomed filters. Pour boiling water through the filter. Stir the coffee before pouring into cups.

Plunger Pot

This method produces rich, full-bodied coffee with a fine sediment. Rinse the pot with hot water and add coarsely ground coffee. Pour in boiling water, let steep for 4 minutes and then slowly push down on the plunger, trapping the grounds on the bottom.

Stovetop Espresso Pot

A thick, strong brew results from this easy method. Put water in the bottom reservoir of the pot. Fill the filter with finely ground coffee, tamping it down lightly. Screw on the top of the pot. Bring to a boil, forcing the water up through the coffee into the top of the pot, from where it is poured.