Brewing 101: Which brewing method is right for you?
Bri Sternquist, store manager of Starbucks Reserve coffee bar in downtown Seattle, sits at the end of her store’s long, low bar aglow with eye-catching brewing equipment. She shares how she and her team help customers reimagine their daily coffee ritual by choosing different brewing methods, including from the bar’s trio of bubbling siphon brewers, a row of elegant copper pour-over stands and two sleek chrome manual espresso machines that would look at home in a sports car showroom.
The way a coffee is brewed can have a surprising effect on the flavors in your cup, Sternquist said.
Take a coffee like Starbucks Reserve® Costa Rica La Candelilla Estate. If it’s brewed in a coffee press or on a Clover® brewer, it develops a rich chocolatey flavor. But a Chemex® can bring out its notes of sweet citrus.
“When customers come here, they encounter brewing methods they may have never seen before,” Sternquist said. “We try to cultivate their curiosity, and ask them to come on a journey with us.”
Sternquist and members of Starbucks Coffee team share some of their favorite brewing methods featured at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, Starbucks Reserve coffee bars, and select Starbucks stores around the world.
The first patent for the siphon brewer may have been filed in the 1830s, but its allure is timeless – an entertaining display of coffee artistry and science. The technique takes about 10 minutes from start to finish, and produces enough coffee to share with a friend. Taste result is a clean and balanced cup that is approachable in flavor, perfect for washed Latin American coffees such as Brazil.
“Whenever the siphon lights up, a crowd starts to form around it,” Sternquist said. “It’s magical.”
Not too heavy and not too light, the pour-over is a simple technique that produces a beautiful cup. To brew, a barista gently pours hot water over finely ground coffee in a slow, circular motion. This filtered method allows bright flavor notes to shine, perfect for Blonde Roast coffees with their delicate and citrusy flavors. The brewing method takes about three minutes, and is available at most Starbucks® stores around the world.
A Chemex® brewer is a specialized version of pour-over, with an elegant one-piece hourglass-shaped vessel made of heat-resistant glass. The result is two to three cups of complex, clean and bright flavor.
“A Chemex balances out a coffee – heavy coffees come through more cleanly, and bright coffees come through a little more balanced,” said Starbucks coffee quality specialist Sergio Alvarez.
A favorite among Starbucks partners for sampling new coffees, the coffee press uses metal mesh instead of a paper filter to strain the coffee grounds. The technique, which takes about four minutes of brewing time, allows the coffee to retain its natural oils and extracts its full flavor while producing a thick, rich consistency, ideal for bold coffees like Sumatra or Caffé Verona.
Chad Moore from Starbucks Coffee Education team said this is his favorite brewing method.
“It produces a nice full-body coffee that’s a little smoky, sweet,” he said. “It’s the real essence of coffee, it’s a bold syrupy flavor, it’s the true essence of the bean.”
The proprietary Clover® brewer utilizes a full-immersion brewing method paired with vacuum extraction, resulting in highly defined flavors. Found in Starbucks Reserve coffee bars and more than 2,000 Starbucks stores with Reserve coffee, the Clover® brewing system allows customers to explore the full range of Starbucks coffees, one cup at a time.
“The Clover uses a finer mesh metal filter than a coffee press, resulting in a clean cup while maintaining the coffee’s natural oils,” said Starbucks Coffee Education specialist Mackenzie Karr. “It brings out each coffee’s unique flavors.”
Espresso is the most concentrated form of coffee, made in just a few seconds when hot water is pushed under high pressure through finely ground coffee for a flavor that is intense and subtly sweet. Semi-automatic espresso machines such as the Black Eagle give baristas precise control of the volume of extracted liquid and the shot time.
“With our Black Eagle espresso machines, customers hear us grinding the coffee and see us tamping every shot,” Sternquist said. “It brings us closer to the craft.”
Starbucks Draft Nitro
Starbucks Draft Nitro Cold Brew infuses refreshing cold coffee with nitrogen. A slow pour takes about 20 seconds, allowing for a subtly sweet cascade of velvety coffee. Nitro Cold Brew is on tap in nearly 1,000 stores and Starbucks Reserve coffee bars.