Photo: Benedict Kraus/Shutterstock

5 More Traditional Ways to Brew Coffee

by Anne Merritt Dec 14, 2011
The addicts have spoken.

LAST WINTER, WE RAN an article on Six ways to brew coffee around the world. The guide became one of Life’s most popular features of 2011, and the truth became clear: Matadorians love the brew.

As a former barista, I’ve met my share of coffee snobs, and was bracing myself for the usual guff of “how can you bring yourself to drink x?” Instead, I was floored by the comments and retweets, full of tips and kind words. Any trace of snobbery was self-deprecating, any trick or gadget shared eagerly with fellow javaphiles.

Matadorian coffee drinkers, you’re my kind of people.

In the comments, we culled more worldwide means to a perfect cup.

Kyoto (cold drip) coffee

The machine is bulky, intricate, and looks like a relic from Marie Curie’s lab. But the brew? Many say it’s worth the 16-hour wait.

Where you’ll find it
This gadget is popular in Japan and Korea (where you order it as Dutch coffee). Kyoto coffee is also spreading to the United States via New York City, where the contraptions are popping up in cafes.

How it’s prepared
In a word: slowly. A slow dripper of room-temperature water is suspended over a narrow chamber of coarse grinds. The water is meted out slowly into the grinds through an eyedropper-like nozzle. The finished coffee slides down a coiled glass tube at the bottom of the coffee chamber, and into a waiting cup or carafe.

The taste
So smooth that even sugar addicts like me don’t need to tinker with the taste. In our previous coffee piece, a reader named Liz sung the praises of the cold brew. “The loss of aromatic oils is virtually nil with this method, so the mouthfeel is smooth, fresh, and deep, as in a sinfully delicious dark chocolate.” Yes.

Egg Coffee

Sometimes called Swedish or Norwegian coffee, the addition of an egg gives the coffee clarity and shine. Kind of like an egg yolk hair rinse.

Where you’ll find it
Traditionally a Scandinavian drink, you’ll also see it in the midwestern United States. Down in New Orleans, you may also find eggshells in your grandma’s coffee filter.

How it’s prepared
Combine ground coffee, a cracked egg (shell optional) and a bit of water until it forms a clumpy mix, like wet potting soil. Pour it into a pot of boiling water, wait 3 minutes, then take it off the heat and throw in some cold water. After 10 minutes, the grinds will settle at the bottom. Pour your brew threw a strainer to serve.

Alternatively, just crack an egg in a cup of boiling water with coffee grinds, wait, and pour out the same way.

The taste
This amber-colored brew is clean tasting, with a light, silky body. It’s the kind of coffee that stands just fine without milk or sugar, since the flavours are light and clear. Be warned that egg coffee can overboil and get too acidic, so do a few practice brews before showing it off to your friends.

The Aeropress

Mike H. tipped me off to this in our last coffee article. “The device sort of looks like a Turkish penis pump, but it yields a super smooth shot.” Sold.

Where you’ll find it
In the States, where the Aeropress was invented a mere six years ago. The popular little press has also been spreading to the Far East and South America.

How it’s prepared
Quickly! Fine coffee grinds are scooped into a cylindrical tube with a paper disc filter attached to the bottom. Pour hot water over the grinds, give it a stir, and slide in the plunger. The slow, recommended 20-30 second plunge is straight-up sexual, but yields a fine, fine cup.

The taste
Smooth and almost sweet. Somewhere in the alchemy of fine grinds, not-too-hot water and quick filtration, the resulting cup is mild, not too acidic, with bright notes and a bit of sweetness.

Kopi Tubruk

Often called “mud coffee,” this thick slurry is not for dainty drinkers.

Where you’ll find it
This style is common in Bali and Java. Kopi tubruk’s simple recipe is said to have been brought over to Indonesia by Middle Eastern traders. The method is very similar to a Turkish or Greek coffee.

How it’s prepared
In a mug, spoon in two teaspoons of medium grinds and one of sugar (add more to taste). Add boiling water and let the coffee “cook” until the grinds settle to the bottom. Water temperature is the trickiest part of the process; a crazy boil may give you an acidic cup, but a too-low temperature means grinds stay floating on the surface.

You can add sweetened condensed milk to make a kopi susu, or get adventurous with another local mix-in, avocado juice.

The taste
Strong, sweet, definitely a cup to be sipped leisurely. Some tubruk brewers swear by fine grinds, which give a stronger flavor despite a bit more silt in your cup. With condensed milk, this brew is rich like melted ice cream.

Yuanyang (coffee/tea)

This Cantonese coffee/tea combo is named for Mandarin ducks. Though the male and female differ so much in appearance, they make a heck of a pair. It’s often referred to as “yin-yang,” too.

Where you’ll find it
In Hong Kong, where yuanyang is served just about everywhere from street markets to chichi restaurants. Though British singer/TVpariah Peter Andre once claimed to have invented the coffee/tea hybrid, the brew has been concocted by Hong Kong street vendors since the mid 20th century.

How it’s prepared
There are a million variations on the recipe, and every family has their own way of doing it. Take a cup of milk tea, brewed Hong Kong style with Ceylon tea and sweetened condensed milk. Stir in a cup of strong drip coffee. Play with the ratio to taste. Serve hot or over ice. Sweet harmony.

The taste
There’s going to be a lot going on in that first sip. The coffee’s richness comes through, though the milk tea calms any brassy notes. The tea’s citrus and malt flavors are very subtle, but work well with the coffee.

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