Tuesday, February 19

Coffee Cultured: Common coffee-making methods

(Noelle Cho/Daily Bruin)

(Noelle Cho/Daily Bruin)

From latte art videos on Facebook to not-so-witty quotes on T-shirts, coffee is an indisputable aspect of our everyday lives. Every frappy hour is national news, and liking the taste of coffee is viewed as a mark of adulthood. I don’t claim to be a coffee expert that can easily discern between single-origin coffees and blends. However, I love coffee because of how much it has to offer in regards to its taste, variety, effect and experience. For the rest of the quarter, I will be embarking on an in-depth exploration of coffee from all aspects, and hopefully become more coffee-cultured.

When many people think about making coffee, the first few things that comes to mind are the standard coffee pot, instant coffee or a Keurig machine. However, there are many more quick and convenient methods that produce a great cup of coffee. The process of making coffee should be just as enjoyable as drinking it.

Some of the most common, convenient and quick methods of making coffee are using French presses, AeroPresses and Chemexs. These are all available on Amazon, which offers six months of Amazon Prime free for students.

French press

The simplicity of the French press reaches beyond its appearance to its function. Not only is the minimalist French press aesthetically pleasing and Instagram-worthy, it easily makes coffee in four minutes.

Either after grinding coffee beans or measuring out the correct amount of pre-ground coffee, add your blend to the French press along with some near-boiling water. Stir and let the coffee sit for 30 seconds; this is called the bloom, in which the aromas and gases of coffee are released. Lastly, pour the rest of the water and allow the coffee to steep for four minutes. Press the plunger down slowly, separating the grounds from the coffee. When the plunger has reached the bottom, the coffee is ready to be poured out.

The French press is convenient and easy to take on-the-go, as it doesn’t use a filter. Without a filter the coffee has a stronger flavor, as the essential oils aren’t removed. In addition, this contraption is versatile – it can make tea and cold brew as well.


The AeroPress, a cylindrical device that utilizes pressure to brew coffee, is a more modern method than the French press. It makes both regular coffee and espresso, depending on the amount of coffee grounds and water used. This is the best alternative to an espresso machine for making espresso, since it’s both cheap and convenient.

Unlike the French press, the AeroPress uses a filter. However, the process of making coffee is similar to that of the French press. After wetting the filter and putting it into the filter cap, the grounds are put into the cylindrical chamber.

The AeroPress is placed on top of a mug so that the coffee pours straight out into the mug. Hot water is poured onto the grounds, and then stirred for 10 seconds. Then, the plunger is inserted into the chamber and slowly pushed down, resulting in coffee in 30 seconds.

This method is convenient, quick and portable. It doesn’t require any additional measurement of coffee grounds and water, since there are numbers on the side of the chamber. Because of the short brewing time and use of pressure, the coffee is less acidic and can have a similar strength and taste to espresso.


Given that the Chemex could be mistaken for a piece of modern art, it’s no surprise that this product is the most expensive of the three I chose.

The Chemex uses its own conical filters to catch the grounds. First, the filter is put in the top part of the brewer, and then wetted with hot water. After placing the grounds into the filter, pour hot water onto them just enough to wet them and let them bloom for 45 seconds. After that, pour more water into the filter in a spiraling method. Once all the water drains through the filter, the filter and grounds can be removed, and the coffee is ready.

Some prefer the Chemex because the Chemex paper filters are thicker, resulting in a less bitter cup of coffee. However, this filter also removes more oils and thus removes more flavor.

Option of last resort: UCLA Dining Halls

If you aren’t down to buy a coffee-making contraption of your own, making a cup of coffee in the dining halls is pretty self-explanatory. However, here’s a dining hack that some people may not know: the Hill’s espresso machines make a great iced latte.

Select the espresso setting on the machine and add sugar to the hot espresso according to your preferences. Then, add ice and whole milk for an iced latte. Feel free to experiment: swapping out some of the whole milk for vanilla creamer makes a vanilla latte, adding caramel to the hot espresso results in a caramel latte and adding chocolate sauce to the hot espresso produces an iced mocha.

Although there are many methods of making coffee, the French press, the AeroPress and the Chemex are among the most popular, probably due to their convenience and swift results. If you’re tired of settling for dining hall coffee and MacGyvered iced lattes, give one of these methods a shot.

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Michelle Lin is a Daily Bruin Quad contributor. She writes about everything, but especially likes lifestyle and informative pieces.

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  • James

    Great article, Michelle. For the Chemex, I use a metal cone filter that let’s more oils into the final brew. The filter is about $50, which is costly, but it’s reusable. Keep these articles coming!