The other night I watched a movie called Black Narcissus, made in 1947. In one scene the co-star, David Farrar, is brewing his coffee near Darjeeling high in the Himalayas, using a siphon the very same type used in some coffeehouses today.
If you give it thought, the way coffee drinkers like their brew has a lot to do with the Home brewing method popular at the time. In the 1950’s, percolators – perhaps because of the “robustness” their brews – replaced the stove-top drip brewers and stylish vacuum pots of the 20’s and 30’s; Mr. Coffee then led the way for everyone to switch to auto-drip, bringing the relatively cleaner taste (and disposability) of the paper filter into our homes. While auto-drip brewers still dominate at home today, French Press, Melitta, Chemex, and of course, the K-Cup method, continue to elbow their way in.
Individual taste preferences, along with ease of preparation and convenience, go a long way in answering the question of which method makes the best coffee.
Were you to ask a Third Wave barista or roaster, their consensus for the ultimate taste would be a light roasted, bright-tasting coffee variety, hand brewed through a Chemex, Hario V60, or variation thereof. A carefully selected single-origin or blend, including dark roasts, through a French Press, certainly has its adherents. The popularity of K-Cup begins with the ease of grabbing a capsule from a wide variety, popping into your Keurig brewer and pressing the button. However the system wouldn’t garner this popularity on convenience alone. K-Cup drinkers obviously enjoy their coffee. Most of us at Coffee Express test, or drink for enjoyment, through a paper filter, sacrificing a slight paper taste for the clarity of the brew.
In the end, carefully selected, freshly-roasted top-notch coffee; fresh water (of a quality you would drink straight); a scrupulously clean brewer; proper grind and bed-depth of the ground coffee; and water temp; all work harmoniously to give you a great tasting cup.