How To Make Coffee With Minimal Equipment And Maintenance

Drip machines and percolators take up too much space, French presses are a hassle to clean and instant machines make coffee that tastes like crap. How to quickly make a cup of coffee that tastes great and leaves little mess? There are a number of options. The kitcheneers at Stack Exchange give you a few of them.

Title image by Sean Gallagher.

Question

My household doesn't regularly drink coffee, but we occasionally want to provide coffee for our guests.

We have a coffee maker, but it's been sitting in the garage for ages. It's now dusty, and requires too much cleaning and counter space to drip back into our good graces.

What is the most simple, easy-to-maintain means of producing plain old coffee?

KatieK (originally asked here)

Lifehacker Answer: AeroPress

Normally we leave all these answers to the users from Stack Overflow, but since I've got a strong opinion on this one, I'll add my two cents as well. You'll see this mentioned below as well, but for $50, the AeroPress makes some of the best coffee you'll ever taste, and it's incredibly easy to clean up. You can brew coffee with an AeroPress in many different ways, but I've had my best cups using Ben's method from the World AeroPress Championships recipe page.

As a final note, freshly roasted, whole beans make a huge difference, and a burr grinder will serve you better than a blade grinder. Since you're not looking at spending much, a crank burr grinder is probably your best bet.

For more details from the Lifehacker perspective, see our guide to dropping the drip and making better coffee.

— Adam Pash

Answer: Cone Filter

I'd pick up a simple pour-over coffee maker and cone filter at the local coffee shop (Melitta makes a few good products).

Insert a paper filter, add grounds, pour hot water through. Presto.

Answered by Chris Cudmore

Answer: La Macchinetta & La Macchinetta Napoletana

If your guests like Italian coffee you can buy a Moka.

These are ubiquitous in Italy, where it is called la macchinetta — the little machine. Every household has one, or often more then one, with different sizes. The classical one is sold by Bialetti.

Use is simple: fill with water, fill with coffee, throw on the stove, wait and pour. Maintenance is easy. With a Moka, soaping and overwashing are discouraged.

Also used in Italy: the macchinetta napoletana, known overseas as the flip-over coffee pot. See Eduardo de Filippo, one of the best Italian actors of all time, speak of the macchinetta napoletana's virtues (in Italian) in this scene from Questi fantasmi.

As Eduardo says, coffee making is "the poetry of life". Maximising caffeine content in your coffee is, well, something else.

Answered by nico

Answer: The Cezve (AKA the Ibrik)

A cezve is an easily cleanable pot that allows you to make Turkish coffee. In my opinion, the cezve is the way to go when it comes to making coffee quick and easy and with minimal clean up. Check out these instructions on how to use a cezve (sometimes called an ibrik).

Also, a Fench press is tolerable (see some tips on grinding for a French press and just how much coffee:water you should use), but you knew that already. Right?

Answered by Mischa Arefiev

Answer: AeroPress

I use an AeroPress. Its cheap, quick (if your water's hot, it can take less than a minute), super easy to keep clean and it makes high-quality (and versatile) coffee.

It requires a small filter (I bought a pack of 250 or so when I first got it 18 months ago and I'm only just running out now). The finished grounds are pressed into a "puck" which makes for convenient and dry trashing. See this video tutorial to learn how to use an AeroPress.

Answered by NBenatar

Do you have a quicker, cleaner and altogether better way to make coffee? Submit your answer at Stack Exchange or leave it in the comments. Stack Exchange is a place to trade expert knowledge on diverse topics from software programming to cycling to scientific skepticism.


Comments

    We have a La Macchinetta but ours is a cordless electric one. Love it as it is easy to use and makes a great coffee. Only problem is remembering to clean it as you have to wait for it to cool down first. Also don't compact the coffee too much as the pressure isn't as high as an espresso machine. Compacted it too much once and no water made it through as it all went out the over pressure valve.

    We have a La Macchinetta but ours is a cordless electric one. Love it as it is easy to use and makes a great coffee. Only problem is remembering to clean it as you have to wait for it to cool down first. Also don't compact the coffee too much as the pressure isn't as high as an espresso machine. Compacted it too much once and no water made it through as it all went out the over pressure valve.

    Though this being lifehacker and all, I daresay the cone filter method could be achieved with a simple funnel and some coffee filters (to avoid buying a niche device that won't otherwise get much use).

    That said, if KatieK was also looking to impress guests at the same time, the aeropress is generally quite novel enough and with very minimal cleanup.

    Another vote for La Macchinetta. My daily goto coffee for 20 years.

    Chemex. Nothing could be simpler.

    AeroPress. Hands down the best coffee I have ever made at home. I've tried French Press, La Macchinetta (stove top), electric drip and even instant (yes, I know it's not "real" coffee).

    Every single cup is consistently smooth and great-tasting. Cheap too. Highly recommended.

    You can get GREAT coffee with a french-press but there's a trick to it.

    - Must be strong (3 tablespoons of grounds in a small press - any less and it fails).
    - Only pour enough into your CUP to create the strength you want. (top up with milk or water). But the actual coffee must be espresso strength.
    - DON'T use a course grind - use about the same as you would for a drip filter. It should be hard(ish) to push down so that it takes about 30 seconds to depress the plunger with a LIGHT pressure.
    - Wet the grounds briefly (5 seconds) then pour in a strong stream. Amazingly the pouring technique makes a significant difference - test different methods. Some stir up lots of greyish sediment, others give a nice orange creme on top.
    - Let it steep for 30 seconds before depressing the plunger
    - Using a lot of coffee + a fine grind + pushing down slow creates a nice "puck" which filters the coffee and removes all the sediment just like an espresso machine. If it comes out a bit grey you've failed. When milk is added it should be a rich red-brown colour, not greyish.
    - Never buy regular supermarket coffee - IT'S ALL STALE!. Buy whole FRESH arabica beans from a coffee roaster that delivers immediately after roasting. Amazingly it is actually cheaper than supermarket coffee! and tastes ten x better!
    - Grind it yourself with a burr grinder. (Sunbeam have just released a "Grindmaster" for about $80 that's based on their regular stick blender)
    - you don't need to heat milk with a steam wand - milk only tastes bad if you heat it above about 85 degrees (when the proteins start cooking) so if you pour in coffee, then cold milk, then heat to drinking temperature (but never higher) in the microwave, you won't ruin the taste of the milk - try it.

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