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Coffee Beans photo by Stirling Noyes

From the moka to the sock, here are six different ways to brew your morning pick-me-up.

I worked as a barista in my student years, and developed coffee savvy (yes!) and a serious addiction (dang).

The coffee habit produced a strange hobby of buying exotic new coffee makers on my travels and then lugging them home, bulky and bubble-wrapped. Now, with a pile of coffee making devices in my cupboard, I can geek out on all the options for my morning cup. Below are six tasty ways to brew a pot.

1. The Press

The French press, coffee plunger, caffetiere or Bodum. Call it what you like, it’s a popular little gadget.

French Press photo by Luz Bratcher

Where you’ll find it:

These tabletop urns are popular in France (where they were first patented), and other parts of western Europe. It’s also used in North America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

How it’s prepared:

A good brew will start with coarsely-ground coffee beans. Use a tablespoon of grinds for each “cup” (4 oz of coffee). Pour boiled water gently and evenly over the grinds. Coffee geeks here will backseat-brew with jabber about the “bloom”; a slow bubbling on the surface that looks like an opening flower. If your grinds start to froth up, you’re doing well so far. If you’re not seeing it, give the brew a few gentle stirs to get the bloom going.

Let the coffee sit about three minutes, then plunge. It’s oddly satisfying.

The taste:

The press extracts more oils from the beans, so the flavour is clearer and the texture is thicker than with a drip. It’s also said to produce the purest taste, since there are no paper filters and no risk of overheating. Mild coffees brew especially well in the press, since the “clean” preparation allows you to pick up the subtle notes.

The Sock

Photo by Luz Bratcher

Okay, it’s not really a sock, though I’m sure you could use one in a pinch. This simple filter is made of cotton or muslin, and too small to fit on your foot anyway.

Where You’ll Find it:

This simple device is popular in Central and South America, where the sock works like a drip filter. In Thailand and Malaysia, the sock covers the rim of the pot and the grinds are immersed in water, steeping.

How it’s Prepared:

A medium to coarse grind of coffee bean is best, or else grinds will sneak through the weave of the fabric and you’ll end up with sludge.

In the Southeast Asian method, the “sock” is quite thin and looks like a tiny butterfly net with a wire handle. The preparation here is like loose-leaf tea. Pour the grinds into the sock, prop it over the mouth of a mug, pour in boiled water. Let it steep for 3-4 minutes.

In the Central and South American method, the “sock” is suspended over a coffee pot on a simple wooden frame. Pour coffee into the sock, with one tablespoon for every serving. Pour boiled water over the beans slowly and in widening circles, so the water spreads out evenly.

For cleaning, the sock is rinsed with water between uses. This allows oils and residue to build and add to the taste of future pots.

The Taste:

The first few brews make have a faint cottony taste. Once the sock gets a bit lived-in, the flavours will come out with clear high notes: think florals or fruitiness.

The Ibrik

Ibrik (or Cezve) photo by Iban

Also called a cezve, this simple ladle is used to make strong, thick brew, known widely as Turkish coffee.

Where You’ll Find it:

This is one of the oldest currently-used methods for preparing coffee, and is common in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East. Pots are typically made of copper or brass, with a long wooden handle.

How it’s Prepared:

Start with a very, very fine grind of bean. It should be finer than espresso and close to the texture of baby powder.

For each serving, stir together 3-4 oz of cold water, 1 tsp (heaping) of coffee, and 1/2 tsp of sugar. Heat the ibrik on medium-low heat until it comes to a frothy boil. Remove the pot for a minute to let mix settle, then boil and cool again two more times. Pour the coffee into cups slowly. Each cup should have some grinds settled at the bottom, and a frothy head on top.

The Taste:

There’s a Turkish saying that coffee should be “black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.” For a well-brewed ibrik cup, that proverb sums it up. The taste is potent, but the sugar balances the acidic punch of the coffee.

The flat drip

Flat Drip photo by Hector Garcia

One model of this simple brewer sits like a tiny metal hat atop your coffee cup, which is really cute.

Where you’ll find it:

In Vietnam, you’ll see cups of coffee topped with a still-brewing phin, or single-serving metal sieve. In India, countertop coffee makers use the same sieve design, but brew a family-sized amount of coffee.

How it’s Prepared:

For the Indian pot, warm the lower container with a rinse in hot water, then spoon a few tablespoons of coffee onto the sieved top chamber. Shake the pot a few times so the grinds sit evenly. Pour a few tablespoons of boiled water into the upper container to let the coffee swell. Wait a few seconds, then pour in the rest of the water (about 6 oz for every tablespoon of coffee) and close the lid. The coffee will percolate through the sieve in about ten minutes. To serve, transfer the coffee into cups in a long, steady pour to aerate the coffee.

The Vietnamese device is very similar, though with no bottom chamber. Instead, it’s brewed right into the coffee cup. There is a second sieve that’s twisted down over the grinds before adding the hot water. To make the coffee in true Vietnamese style, pour some condensed milk into the bottom of the cup before brewing.

In both cases, use medium-coarse beans, and spoon out more than you normally would for drip coffee. The flavour is supposed to be intense.

The Taste:

The strength of this brew is somewhere between espresso and coffee. A well-prepared cup has very little acidity. In both brewing methods, chicory-infused coffee is the norm, giving a bodied and slightly bitter taste.

The Instant

Instant Coffee photo by Sarah Gilbert

Call it astronaut brew, call it gross, call it an insult to the good name of coffee. Love it or hate it, this stuff is popular.

Where you’ll find it:

Oh, everywhere.

Individual sleeves of just-add-water mix are popular in southern and eastern Asia. Family-sized jars of instant stuff are common in North America and regions of Europe that don’t have proud, historic coffee traditions.

How it’s prepared:

Add boiling water. Stir. Finito! You can stir in some milk or hot chocolate mix too, if you wanna get fancy.

The Taste:

Okay, if you have a fine palate for coffee, you’ll likely hate the stuff. Its flavours can range from uber-bland to chemically bitter. Then again, coffee purists would likely hate the stuff on principle, for the sheer use of coffee beans that haven’t seen a roaster since Y2K.

Usually, the taste is gentle and sweet-ish. Those looking for mild flavour or just a simple caffeine jolt will probably find a brand they like.

The Moka

Moka Photo by Marieke Kuijjer

Yes, yes, the moka brews espresso and not coffee, but this gadget can make an Americano so perfect that it has replaced my morning coffee. It could convert you, too.

Where you’ll find it:

This little guy is big in Europe, especially in Italy. The aluminum model is the most popular, but stainless steel numbers are on the market too.

How it’s prepared:

Start with finely-ground beans, or go full Italian with ready-ground Illy or LaVazza.

Open the bottom chamber and fill it with cold water, up to the pressure valve. On top, place the middle filter and loosely pack in the coffee, then screw on the top bit tightly. Heat it on medium until it gurgles, at which point you’ll find lovely rich espresso, steam-brewed into the upper chamber.

Some models come with bigger top chambers for milk or cream, which heats along with the water and gets infused with the steam-made espresso.

Moka buffs are very precise about cleaning, since any buildup of oil from the beans can cause a bitter flavour in future brews. Most folks use warm soapy water, but purists will tell you to run a pot with vinegar instead of coffee to clean the whole device.

The Taste:

The flavours of moka and espresso machine brews are very very close. Still, I think the stovetop stuff is richer, less acidic, and almost chocolately. Also, the prep is so idiot-proof that it’s tough to make a bitter cup.


Do you use any of these techniques to drink your coffee? Are there any other ways you know of to brew coffee? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.



About The Author

Anne Merritt

Anne Merritt has lived in Canada, Europe, and Asia. She teaches ESL, writes, haggles, hikes, and wears sunscreen fanatically. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail,, and The Compass. Check out her blog.

  • Sej

    You’re right, it’s really big in Italy. I once hosted two Italians who carried this *everywhere* they went. They made their shots each morning with so much precision, and they would make at least 5 rounds for each. The amount of time they spent on it was almost funny. :) The shots turned out really really good, though. I’ve been meaning to buy it for quite some time now. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sej

    *The Moka that is.

  • Hannah Tangi

    I use the sock! Got it in Costa Rica…and I love the simplicity of it. :-)

  • Nick Rowlands

    Brilliant! Coffee will never be the same again…

  • Sinem Parkan

    Traditional Turkish coffee is served only in special ceramic coffee cups. It is never served in glass or any other material. There is also another ritual after finishing drinking coffee. The small cup is turned upside down on its own plate and left to cool down for 5 minutes.Then the cup is picked up. The remains of the coffee which takes vogue shapes are used a way of fortunetelling. Spiritual people read those signs and this is a highly common social ritual especially among Turkish women.

  • matt

    Love the flat-drip. Had to bring one home from Vietnam.

  • Cédric

    Cool article! What about Ethiopian way?

  • Theodore Scott

    I use a moka pot daily.

    With respect to cleaning, I have always heard that you shouldn’t do a thorough cleaning. Just do a quick rinse with water – no soap. This is supposed to leave a residue buildup. Cleaning it down to the metal creates a bad tasting coffee.

    This is also why, when buying a new moka pot, people will throw out the first couple batches of coffee.

    Of course, to know which side to believe, you’ll just have to try it each way and decide.

    One complication to this – the comments around the internet vary depending on the material of your moka pot (aluminum vs stainless steel). Mine is aluminum.

  • Sandy

    My nonna always had a Moka- i didn’t even know there was another way to make espresso. I’m a diehard fan- the thing just works, and it’s easy.

  • Nick

    What’s most important – brewing method or quality of the beans? It seems to me that there’s slight variations of quality with the method … but freshly roasted/ground beans from the right place make all the difference.

    As for my favorite method, it’s currently hand drip. I haven’t tried Moka yet though …

    Gotta love coffee. It makes any kind of work a million times better, and even seems to make me a better teacher … I’m much goofier after the second or third cup!

    Interesting article, thanks Anne

  • Andreas

    You forgot South American as instant coffee fanatics. Awesome article.

  • Blue Heron

    A slightly different method for brewing Turkish coffee: Start with cold water; then just float the coffee grounds on the water without stirring. Sugar is then sprinkled on top of the grinds. When the water boils, the grinds & sugar will be rolled beneath into the hot water. That way the coffee grinds are not heated for too long before the water comes to a boil. It’s also more elegant.

  • Bostonccl

    I was taught to use a stovetop percolator when I was young, so that my parents would have coffee first thing! Better than a timer! After that, I have used all sorts of electric coffee makers in offices & home but really prefer the Melitta: pour boiling water in to the glass carafe once, then a second time, it is lovely. Thanks for the article, really fun.

  • Marion

    Moka forever! :)

  • Mike H.

    Stories on coffee always get the attention of the devoted… praise java!

    On that note, I’ve written product reviews on a number of java extraction devices geared towards the lightweight needs of backpackers. My favorite – by a long-shot – is the Aeropress (Google it). This device sort of looks like Turkish penis pump, but it yields a super smooth shot (or three!) of ‘spro which can then be rendered any number of ways. Sublime, high octane nectar…

    • Sara

      Love this article! I too have collected coffee makers everywhere I’ve traveled and lived abroad and have one of everything mentioned here. My new favorite however is also the Aeropress ( by far the least attractive but absolutely the best cup of coffee that is also quick with super easy clean up, I will never go back!

      Another favorite is the travel mug with a built in french press and hideaway compartment for extra grounds (…perfect to bring along to the library for long hours of studying.


  • Liz

    No toddy mention? Best to stay away from it if you haven already had it – it’s ten times the addiction of regular coffee. Cold brewed, also known as Kyoto coffee, this coffee lacks the acids produced when hot water meets coffee, and is a potent potion of true coffee love.

    Grind your beans fresh in a size similar as u would for a French press, and soak in a bath of cold water overnight. Then drain the brew and use as a concentrate.

    The loss of aromatic oils is virually nil with this method, so the mouthfeel is smooth, fresh, and deep, as in a sinfully delicious dark chocolate.

    There are differing brewing systems out there, I tried my way wig a bucket then pouring into my stainless filter for a bit, but the ease and taste that comes from my toddy brewing system is wonderful, so I haven’t tried anything else since. The wool filter makes a lot of sense both ecologically and oil wise, since wool doesn’t soak up oils as paper does, or leave a metallic counter taste as with a press.

    This method is my favorite by far, but since it never loses any Of that vital coffee flavor, you’ve got to make sure your beans are superb and roasted perfectly.

    My answer to that? Fair trade organic Chiapas from kbay coffee in homer Alaska. The best coffee roaster in the state of darkness does it right my friends.

    Consider yourself warned, this is the grade a can’t stop thinking about it coffee brew method!

    • Anne M

      Sounds wonderful! I’m a baby when it comes to too-acidic coffee, so the toddy is tempting. Thanks for the tip!

  • Mallika Henry

    Thank you! Whenever we find ourselves in someone’s kitchen, on a home exchange, we have to improvise with the utensils at hand. At last some authoritative instructions!

  • Miguel Marcos

    The sock was common in villages and rural areas in Spain, probably until about 20 years ago. Now that life has been modernized so much you don’t see it around here but I do have memories of this kind of coffee. It was delicious.

  • Gina L.

    We house-sat for a couple in Argentina, where everything was cooked on the stovetop (no micro-appliances anywhere). We spent 8 weeks boiling coffee in a stainless steel pot then pouring it through a small sieve. Still hit the spot first thing on a cold winter’s morning!

  • Marie

    Nice round-up, Anne! I love these things, too and end up collecting more food-related items than I should when I’m travelling. My husband and I take our Vietnamese coffee filters everywhere as they are so portable. Perfect for camping.

  • Nala

    Hi, found this via notcot.
    Im from Indonesia, and here we have “kopi tubruk”, which we just pour boiling water over 1 scoop grounds coffee + sugar (to taste), stir, let mug sit for a few minutes while it brews & the ground settle to the bottom. no filtering used/required, the ground used is pretty fine, and a trick my parents taught me to reduce a rim of grounds on the mugs (and to reduce change of glass mug breaking) is to pour the hot water on the back of a spoon placed in the mug.
    cheers :)

  • Macel Aguilar

    When I was in Cameroon in West Africa (2009-2010) and electricity is very erratic, I used the coffee press and was delighted as well. When I went to Europe last holidays, however, I was exposed to the Moka. No matter what manner you are making your coffee, what matters to me are two things – the kind of coffee being used and how much is the timelog for drinking it. I usually drink my coffee right after I make it otherwise, it gets acidic and I won’t enjoy it at all.

  • Adri

    Great post! Now I wanna buy Moka :-)

  • jenny

    Instant is really popular among Peruvians (even though they harvest the good stuff, it’s mostly for export). Being a coffee lover, it was hard to drink at first, but I found after some time I came to crave it with a bit of condensed milk.
    there’s addiction for you.
    fun article!

  • darmabum

    Instant coffee is also very BIG in India . . . but as for me, the Moka is my baby. Great size for the small spaces I’ve lived in: 29′ sailboat, 19′ sailboat and now, a Basque sheepherder wagon.

    Almost forgot Cowboy Coffee . . . fill a pan/pot with water, add coffee, bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Let sit for five minutes. Crack a fresh egg, separate yolk from white, add white to coffee (it’ll settle the grounds) YeeHaw!

  • Shreya

    I use the flat drip. We call it filter coffee here in India. But the filter that I use is made of stainless steel. Would love to try the other methods mentioned, except of course for the instant version. That takes care of my evening coffee quota!

  • YourDailyLifeInfo

    Nice article, I found out a site about great kettles guys. I though I should share it with you:

  • CoffeeSockCompany

    I use the coffee sock.  I found it while I was volunteering overseas in East Timor and have never turned back.  Also started a website about it –

  • Dave Shaffer

    I’ve got a 7-cup Drip-o-lator that makes an excellent cup (or seven)……along with more than a half-dozen (and growing) other “devices” for brewing. I’m trying my hand at Cuban coffee tomorrow in my moka pot. Addicted? Naw.

  • Mariana Martín Alvarado

    I have the moka! :D

  • Rey Coll

    Found this Aerobie AeroPress that is somewhere between french press and moka espresso…anyone have one or like it? Amazon link:

  • Kevtc AJông

    syphon is the best. imo.

  • Thanh Trung

    I realy like coffee.

  • Micke

    Mixing the moka with water? What’s wrong with you? I drink it like any cup of coffee.

  • James Nunn

    The cezve is also immensely popular in Serbia, Bosnia, and Macedonia, where it often serves double duty as a kettle for boiling water for other drinks. Serbs are almost as fanatical about their coffee as Italians, and consider non-kafa fans weird! Their coffee is made in the same manner as Turkish coffee, but with only one secondary boil and NEVER any sugar – they like it bitter and strong, leaving the addition of sweeteners to the drinker. I love the Moka too though, but nothing’s as comforting to make coffee in as moja djezva.

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