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Brewing: Other Brewing Methods

There are dozens of other methods for brewing coffee, including the following:

Open Pot Brewing. The simplest brewing method is as good as any. You place the ground coffee in a pot of hot (just short of boiling) water, stir to break up lumps and saturate the coffee, strain or otherwise separate the grounds from the brewed coffee, and serve.

Middle Eastern or Turkish Brewing. Middle Eastern coffee is most often called Turkish coffee in this country, but this is a misnomer. For one thing, it is drunk all over the Middle East, the Balkans and Hungary, not only in Turkey. Second, according to all accounts, the method was invented in Cairo and later spread from there to Turkey. Middle Eastern coffee is unique, first, because some of the coffee grounds are deliberately drunk along with the coffee, and second, because the coffee is usually brewed with sugar, rather than sweetened after brewing. Much of the coffee settles to the bottom of the cup, but some tiny grains of coffee are suspended in the sweetened liquid, imparting a heavy, almost syrupy weight to the beverage.

Middle Easterners like to add spices to their coffee. The preferred spice, and the one I suggest you try, is cardamom. Grind the cardamom seeds as finely as you grind the coffee, and add them to the water with the coffee and sugar. There are usually three seeds in a cardamom pod; start by using the equivalent of one seed (not pod) per demitasse of water, or a pinch if the cardamom is pre-ground.

Soluble or Instant Coffee. Making instant coffee is not really brewing, rather mixing and stirring. However, at first glance (not taste), instant coffee does seem to offer many advantages: It stays fresh longer than ordinary roasted coffee; it eliminates the mistakes that can occur when brewing ordinary roasted coffee; it can be made quickly; it can be mixed by the cup to individual taste; and it contains somewhat less caffeine than regularly brewed coffee. Furthermore, because the process of producing instant coffee neutralizes strong or unusual flavors, the manufacturer can use cheaper beans and pass the savings on to the consumer.

Yet few of instant coffee's apparent advantages prove out. Instant does stay fresher, but grinding your own makes an even fresher cup. Instant is cleaner, but so are frozen dinners. True, it is hard to ruin a cup of instant, but if you have read this far, you can probably can brew coffee. And if it is convenience you are looking for, the one-cup drip or plunger pot will give you much better coffee, and just as quickly. So I cannot see any reasons except tidy countertops and a slight edge in price to recommend instant.

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Brewing:  Introduction  | Brewing Tips  | Water Quality  | Automatic Filter Drip Brewing  | Manual Pour-Over Filter Brewing  | French Press or Plunger Pot  |  | The Best Brewing Method for You

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Adapted from Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying; Espresso: Ultimate Coffee; and Home Coffee Roasting: Romance & Revival. St. Martin's Press.
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