Best Method to Make 1 Decent Cup of Coffee
January 17, 2013 10:26 AM   Subscribe

I love coffee, and I have it every morning. But I live with only one other person, my girlfriend, and she doesn't drink coffee in the morning. And most mornings I drink 1 cup, at most 2. So it makes little sense for me to brew a pot. Suggestions?

I currently use a pack of Starbucks Via, and mix it with heated water. It's decent, certainly not great, but it's convenient. But there's got to be a easier / cheaper method.

I've used a french press before, but the cleaning of the press after isn't fun. I've heard good things about using an aero press, but have no experience with it. I also have no experience with the Krup single serving machines.

I do love great coffee, but for every-day coffee I'd rather have decent coffee that's convenient than great coffee that's a chore to make. I'll wait for the weekend to make great coffee.

Anyone have a method they'd like to share?
posted by ratherbethedevil to Food & Drink (69 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
My keurig machine is servicable for the same situation as you. I only want two cups in the morning. In my opinion the keurig is capable of brewing a good, but never great cup of coffee. I also use ekobrew reusable filters so I don't have to have the guilt of throwing away those plastic k-cups every day.
posted by Think_Long at 10:29 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use a French Press or a Keurig depending on how lazy I'm feeling. I have an Aeropress and used it for a while, but I haven't recently. Personally I don't like the coffee from the Aeropress as much as the French Press, and I don't find it that much less of a hassle, so it's kind of pointless for me. Then again, I also don't really understand why people think a French Press is a pain to clean - I just dump the grounds in the garbage and put all the parts in the dish washer. Takes 30 seconds, and it always comes out clean. The thing that holds me back from the French Press is actually the time for heating the water and grinding the beans, not cleaning it (and those are required for the Aeropress too).

The coffee from the Keurig is clearly not anywhere as good as French Press, and I'm sure some people will be here shortly to say it's terrible, but I think it's pretty good and the convenience is hard to beat for a single cup.
posted by primethyme at 10:29 AM on January 17, 2013


Beloved of pragmatic coffee nerds everywhere.

See how it works.
posted by sportbucket at 10:30 AM on January 17, 2013 [15 favorites]

Aero press is awesome! Only problem I had initially was working out the best amount of coffee for my taste as it seemed quite a lot stronger than I was expecting. It's so easy to clean though and you do get a great cup of coffee from it.
posted by joboe at 10:30 AM on January 17, 2013

Melitta Perfect Cup. Takes seconds to clean, fits in a drawer. You may have to play with your grind to get it the way you like it, and you'll really want an electric kettle, but everyone should have one of those anyway.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:30 AM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]

nthing Aeropress, so smooth.
posted by Cosine at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2013

Try cold brew, where you make a jar of coffee concentrate to keep in your fridge. Then to make one cup worth you use 1/3 cup of concentrate, and 2/3 cup of water or milk/cream, and microwave. It is delish.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]

The aeropress is probably your best bet. It's super easy to clean (you just push out the coffee grains and rinse it with a bit of water). Probably takes 2 minutes total.

The other option is an old school melitta pourover.
posted by cacofonie at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Black and Decker Brew & Go one cup brewer!

I have owned a verson of this for 21 years! I bought it at K-Mart in 1992 for $10.

No special filters, comes with a reusable one.

Brews a lovely cup of coffee, easy to clean, and cheap!

You can use regular coffee, which is a total bonus.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:33 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

seconding Melitta Perfect Cup. My boyfriend drinks exactly one cup of coffee in the morning, and that's it for coffee in our house for the next 24 hours. Throw away the filter, rinse, put it in dish rack, and you're done till the next day.
posted by scody at 10:33 AM on January 17, 2013

Aeropress. Very different coffee than French press (better, in my world). Much easier to clean. Get a manual grinder and you can grind the perfect amount of beans every morning in about 90 seconds.
posted by ssg at 10:34 AM on January 17, 2013

I used to hate cleaning the French Press, too, largely because it was hard to get the grounds out of it and into the trash without making an ungodly mess (I don't have a garbage disposal, which would make this problem trivial). I solved this problem by buying a small (4" or so) fine-meshed strainer which I keep on a hook behind the sink. To clean the pot I blast some water in, slosh, and drain through the strainer. I then let it sit in the sink a while (like sometimes till the next day) and then carry it to the trash.

If this does NOT address your problem with the French Press, then never mind.
posted by mr vino at 10:34 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nespresso is super-easy, and people seem to like it. It's expensive, though.
posted by sportbucket at 10:34 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

We make pour over in our house of coffee snobs with access to every coffee making tool ever made ever. It is quick, clean up is easy (you can even leave it until you get home from work without harming it) and it makes a damn fine cup.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:35 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

My fiance has a little mini french press that he uses for his coffee in the morning. I know you say you don't like cleaning it, but it really doesn't take long. He only scoops out the grinds and gives things a quick rinse, and he does that the night before. And then once every week or so he will put the works in the dish washer for a more thorough clean.

Makes great coffee.
Super inexpensive.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:35 AM on January 17, 2013

Aeropress. Filters are even washable/reusable several times. Only reason we no longer use ours is because we are not competent to make coffee before we've had coffee. So we need to set up the night before on a timer.
posted by rocketpup at 10:37 AM on January 17, 2013

We just use a drip coffee maker. We can calibrate between one and three cups based on how much water/grounds we put in. I also like that it gives us the option to make a full pot for when we have house guests.
posted by muddgirl at 10:39 AM on January 17, 2013

Chemex or equivalent. Paper filters make it a little expensive.
posted by rr at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2013

I should say that we, too, had a french press that we used to use, but heating water and cleaning it became a hassle. The drip coffee maker has been a great appliance so far.
posted by muddgirl at 10:41 AM on January 17, 2013

Since people are sharing their French Press cleaning tips, fwiw what I do is use spatula (along these lines) to scrape the grounds into the garbage. It gets almost all of it very easily.
posted by primethyme at 10:41 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd get something like this pod brewer.

Pods are cheaper than K-Cups, and there is plenty of variety of flavors available.

(I rarely drink coffee, but have a similar machine and I love it. Very convenient for guests and the occasional cup I make for myself.)
posted by The Deej at 10:41 AM on January 17, 2013

At home I use an Aeropress because the coffee tastes better, but at my studio with a bar sink I use a Melitta Ready Set Joe pourover cone because I can just toss the filter and rinse without getting grounds in the sink. The cone is also $10 to get started while the aeropress is $50 or so.

I would stay away from the K-cup machines, because though they make decent coffee, the price per cup is much higher. And it's a complex appliance, and it makes more garbage than simple paper filters and coffee grounds.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:41 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am the non-coffee drinker in our household, and my life really changed for the better when Mr. BlahLaLa got a Keurig. He's happy with the coffee, I'm super happy that there's virtually nothing for me to clean up. Bonus points for how quick and easy it is for him -- he wakes up VERRRRY early and is able to just pop the thingy in, make the cuppa and be on his way within minutes.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:42 AM on January 17, 2013

If you've already got an electric kettle, pour-over is my favorite way to make coffee. Dump the grounds and filter, give it a good rinse, and you're good til tomorrow. I actually get a little upset when I'm making myself coffee and my wife wants a cup, too, because then I have to use the French press. And clean it.

The Aeropress is fine too, but you've got to wipe the grounds off the end of the plunger, and who has time for that?
posted by uncleozzy at 10:45 AM on January 17, 2013

I'm very fond of the Clever Coffee Dripper. It's more consistent and low maintenance than making really high quality pourover coffee.
posted by vathek at 10:45 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have a Nespresso and a Technivorm. Nespresso is great for espresso, and their lungo is about a half cup of coffee, but I have no problem with making a half pot of coffee. 4 c. in my Technivorm perfectly fills either a 16 oz. travel mug, or makes 1.5 mugs of coffee (one full cup and a top off). I'm sure I could do a smaller pot without sacrificing quality. When my husband and I are both drinking coffee, we make a full pot.
posted by hrj at 10:45 AM on January 17, 2013

Moka pot. It's not ultra fussy about grind – a cheap grinder works fine. Once every year or so you need to buy a new rubber gasket, costs a couple bucks. You tap out the old grounds into the trash or compost, it's that simple.

The "cup" estimates are tiny, though: buy a 6-cup pot for a decent-sized cup of coffee for one; buy a steel pot because the cheaper aluminum ones dent easily and their handles often fall off after a bit of use.
posted by zadcat at 10:46 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

I use a Melitta pour-over with paper filters. I use a kettle on the stove, but an electric is probably easier, and faster (since they're vacuum flasks, right?)
posted by mkb at 10:48 AM on January 17, 2013

I use a French Press because I like stupidly strong coffee. I don't bother with much cleaning - I just dump the grinds in the sink and rinse it (and thus the grinds go down the drain). I don't use soap because I figure that the coffee oil will help keep the metal from rusting. I don't grind my own coffee, I don't even buy special coarse grind - I just use bog-standard grocery store coffee (because I'm an addict, not a connoisseur). It's all about the same amount of work as dumping the grinds and rinsing the pot from a regular drip machine.

My parents-in-law prefer drip-style coffee and they use a mug-top strainer (like the pour-over linked above, but with an inbuilt reusable filter). They like the coffee from that, and it takes very little effort -- again, they just rinse the strainers and run the grinds down the drain. The strainers cost a whopping $5 at the grocery store.

The third alternative is what I use for traveling or camping, when I want to take something that is very light and unbreakable. I use a strainer that's actually designed for loose leaf tea (like this one) and do a french press style brew right in the mug - just put in 1-2 tbsp of coffee, fill mug with hot water and leave to stand. This can make a very strong cup of coffee, and again I just rinse after use. It rinses faster, because there are fewer parts.

NB: we are all British-Canadian and thus we all have very good electric kettles that boil quickly. If you don't already have a good automatic, cordless electric kettle and you want to use any of the manual coffee brewing methods, I highly suggest getting one. Also, all your tea-drinking acquaintances will thank you.
posted by jb at 10:49 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aeropress! I live alone and am super-lazy but also really like good coffee and don't want to do a lot of work in the morning. It's very easy to clean and once you boil water you have coffee within two minutes. I always forget about my french press when it's brewing, but the aeropress is faster and more consistent. It's moderately expensive but for quality and convenience I think it's worth it.

You could also go the pour-over route - this is both easy and cheap and will make great coffee but I don't have specific recommendations.

I'm assuming you don't want to buy a whole real espresso machine and make americanos every day, but when I house-sat for friends with one this was actually super-quick and delightful. You have to clean up your espresso area once a week or so but day-to-day it's pretty nice.

I'm not a fan of any of the single-serve pod machines I've tried. My office has a Keurig and it seems like it's hard for the coffee to be at all fresh and it seems expensive on a cup-for-cup basis even compared to buying fancy coffee beans.
posted by SoftRain at 10:50 AM on January 17, 2013

You know you don't have to make a full pot of coffee when you use a regular drip machine, right? When I drank coffee I was usually just making it for myself, and I'd just use 3 cups of water with two scoops of coffee. You can prep it the night before and just flip the switch in the morning, or get one with a timer.

Keurigs are pretty cool but they are really expensive per-cup.
posted by radioamy at 10:51 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing the nthing of the Aeropress. It is really outstanding and easy as can be to both use and clean. (One tip - wait a few minutes before ejecting the grounds and they will firm up and become easier to deal with.)
posted by AgentRocket at 10:51 AM on January 17, 2013

Have to agree with others that have said melitta filter. Best $3 you will spend.

I also would recommend cold brew (that is what I do) but melitta filter is a fine fine cup of coffee and stupid easy to do and clean up. Cold brew is also wonderful but there is upfront work. We do it without a machine, just by coffee grounds steeping in buckets that I then drain off in giant coffee filters. Once you have a batch it lasts 2-3 weeks in the fridge and it's a breeze to use for hot or cold drinks. But really, the $3 melitta is amazing.
posted by 58 at 10:51 AM on January 17, 2013

Oh - but they also do make one-cup American-style drip coffee machines. I bought one for a friend - instead of a pot, it did the drip directly into a matching travel mug.

As for all of the pod systems, you have to ask yourself: are you okay with the expense and the pollution/waste of all those plastic pods?
posted by jb at 10:52 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

You want cold brew. This is how I do it.

1: Purchase coffee. (If grinding at home, you probably want a rough grind like you'd use for a French Press, just so you don't end up with a ton of sediment.)

2: Put ground coffee and cold water into a large lidded container like a pitcher or a mason jar. I use a 3:1 water to coffee ratio, so in my case about 1.3 cups of ground coffee to a quart of water. Stir as needed to make sure that the coffee gets well mixed into the water. You don't want dry coffee floating on the surface.

3: Wait 8-12 hours. I make up a new batch of cold-brew when I get down to a cup or two in the fridge, so that I'm never waiting for coffee to be ready.

4: Strain through a wire sieve into another container. I use the kind of sieve that comes three-for-a-buck at the dollar store, and I strain it into a quart mason jar with a separate ring-and-lid style top. Like you'd use for canning. The most onerous part of the cold brew process is the straining and dirtying up more containers and utensils than you'd think.

5: Strain a second time, through cheesecloth. There are a few approaches here. I usually throw out the lid of the mason jar and attach a square of cheesecloth with the ring to form a self-straining coffee container from which you can pour directly into a cup. But if I want to stockpile a ton of coffee, I'll pour from my self-straining coffee jar into a bottle or pitcher or really any large container typically used for storing liquids.

6: Now you have a very strong coffee concentrate that is ready to drink, but can be stored in the fridge for several days. Some people drink it straight up. Others come up with a preferred dilution ratio with water. My preference is to dilute the concentrate 50/50 with 2% milk, since I take my coffee with milk anyway.

A note on coldness vs. warmness. The most efficient way to drink cold brew is, well, cold. But on chilly days I pour my half-mug of coffee into a saucepan and heat it for a few moments over the stove. Don't let it boil, obviously. Adding hot steamed milk to cool or room-temp coffee is also a good way to get a hot beverage from your cold brew batch.

It might sound like a complicated process, but the great thing is that, aside from mixing and straining, it's entirely passive. And because you make large batches in one go, you could conceivably spend 15 minutes making a week's worth of coffee.
posted by Sara C. at 10:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

Nthing Aeropress and going to add that not only are Keurig cups super expensive, they're an environmental nightmare. But if you like that style, just get an Ekobrew reusable filter so that you can use your own coffee without contributing to the endless disposal of plastic waste.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:58 AM on January 17, 2013

I used to hate cleaning the French Press, too, largely because it was hard to get the grounds out of it and into the trash

Those silicone bowl-scraper spatulas are perfect for this, especially the ones with sort of a concave top surface. When I French Pressed regularly, I'd just carry the press over to the trash can and use the silicone spatula to get the solid grounds into the trash. I'd then pour the sediment-ish liquid down the sink.
posted by Sara C. at 11:00 AM on January 17, 2013

I am okay with average weekday coffee, if it means the bare minimum of cleanup.

For a while, I had a Black and Decker like Ruthless Bunny describes. I now own a Keurig and use refillable cups.

Elaborations on "it's not hard to clean" from owners of other contraptions convinced me I made the right decision both times.
posted by gnomeloaf at 11:00 AM on January 17, 2013

This is where I pop in with my usual shout out to Chemex. They make a one-cup size, but I'd go with the next one up; that way you can make a little extra if you have company or a leisurely morning.
posted by usonian at 11:00 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another pourover adherent here: Heat water in the kettle, grind beans, stir grounds and water in a measuring pitcher, set timer, when that goes off pour it through the filter and holder where it shortly thereafter results in the perfect cup.

Only new equipment is the filter holder, cleanup is "toss the filter in the compost, put the holder and pitcher in the dishwasher", totally works as part of the morning kitchen routine.

Timer setting changes depending on the roast, 3 minutes (assuming a 4 minute brew time and roughly 1 minute for pouring through the filter) is my starting point.
posted by straw at 11:07 AM on January 17, 2013

Note that the Melittas are downwards-compatible in terms of filter sizes. That is, the smaller filters will fit into bigger filter holders. You can get a big filter holder / carafe combo, and then buy small filters and they'll work just fine. (Just don't pour in so much water that it goes over the top of the filter.) This is pretty nice in case you ever might have friends over or something, and want to make more than a single cup of coffee.

The other system that competes favorably with the Melitta is the Chemex, but its filters are significantly more expensive and harder to find. Some people insist that the coffee it produces is much better, though. (Personally I'm unconvinced, but it sure does look pretty.) Also you can get generic Melitta-compatible filters at most supermarkets, but I've never seen generic Chemex-compatible filters.

And definitely get an electric kettle. Even if you are braindead in the morning, as I am, you can fill the thing full of water at night (allowing it to dechlorinate naturally) and then just hit the button in the morning as you are getting the coffee and filter ready, and by the time you're ready to go the water will be hot. I don't let mine go all the way to boiling, incidentally; I think that makes bitter coffee. YMMV.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:10 AM on January 17, 2013

A Chemex makes wonderful coffee. It's quick, easy, simple, and far more elegant than the plastic plunger clap-trap of an aeropress.
posted by gyusan at 11:14 AM on January 17, 2013

I'm also the sole coffee drinker in my house. I used to have one of the little Black & Deckers, but it was never that great, and it died. I'm not crazy about the cost of using a Keurig. I'm intrigued by the Aeropress, but it seems a little too custom for my weekday morning.

I got an old-school electric percolator, and I'm very happy with it. It's not terribly different than the pourover concept, except you don't have to think about heating water or setting a timer. I use a filter, and the only cleanup is to dump the grounds and rinse.

It's little and cute, too.
posted by Kriesa at 11:14 AM on January 17, 2013

Seconding the Clever Coffee Dripper. It's so easy to use, and you get the benefit of steeping the grounds (like a french press) with a filter you can throw away (not like a french press). However, if you like the taste of french press coffee, you might prefer the aeropress -- french press coffee has more oil in it, and my sense is that aeropress coffee has more oil in it than CCD coffee.
posted by OrangeDisk at 11:20 AM on January 17, 2013

I use a stainless steel stovetop espresso pot (aka moka pot). Not only is it fast and easy, it makes excellent coffee, especially if you make it Cuban style:

1. While the espresso pot is heating, put your planned amount of sugar in your cup. Don't skimp, because the coffee will be strong. I use 4 teaspoons of sugar for my "two cup" espresso pot.

2. When the first few drops of brewed coffee appear in the pot, pour a little of it into the sugar, enough to make a paste the consistency of peanut butter.

3. With a spoon and your early-morning enthusiasm, whip that coffee into that sugar until you get a paste like cookie dough.

4. Now the coffee should be ready. Pour it into your paste and mix gently until the sugar dissolves.

The result is an espresso with a magical creamy top. It takes about 4 minutes in my little two-cup pot. ("Two cups" in espresso-pot land is one cup in my world.)

To clean, knock the grounds out of the grounds holder, rinse everything, the end.
posted by ceiba at 11:22 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

I know, I know. Everyone loves their Aeropresses, Chemexes and Melittas. We may move toward one in the future in the name of better tasting coffee, but we'd have to wait for our pot to die first. I'm going to second the Moka pot - we have a 6 cup Bialetti, and it's good-lookin', easy to use, and has served us well for years and years. It's not fussy about what coffee you put in it, and the gaskets are cheap and readily available. And it's clutter-free and easy to clean. If people like my parents want "regular" coffee, I boil a little water and give them an "Americano."
posted by peagood at 11:23 AM on January 17, 2013

Aeropress times a million. I'm not good at complex tasks when I wake up - I almost fed my cat ground coffee instead of tuna this morning - but I can easily work and clean an Aeropress in the morning, provided I'm awake enough to tell the difference between coffee and cat food.

I also really like cold-brewing a week's worth of coffee, keeping it in the fridge, and drinking it iced.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:24 AM on January 17, 2013

Personally, I'm a big fan of using a drip coffee maker in this situation-- you just use a smaller amount of water and a smaller amount of coffee. Everything the others are suggesting may make better coffee, I don't know, but I don't think it's easier.
posted by willbaude at 11:39 AM on January 17, 2013

I also cold brew, having just carried on when summer ended, though weekends I often make a pot of French press to enjoy all day.

The last few weeks I have tried my AeroPress again in the morning (I got a little Hario hand-grinder for Christmas), and I am considering dusting off my teensy Moka pot...but the allure of pouring a cup of coffee with NO WAITING is just too strong.

And if you want confessions, then: some days I drink it cold, and undiluted.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:39 AM on January 17, 2013

Aeropress, then dilute to taste with hot water if you want something less espresso-y. Cleanup is pretty trivial; just take off the filter-holder, push the plunger to eject the grounds and filter into the compost or trash, then wipe off the end of the plunger.

A pour-over filtercone could be a good option too.
posted by JiBB at 11:44 AM on January 17, 2013

Melitta Ready-Set-Joe is the simplest and cheapest solution here. $10 for the cone and 50-100 filters, and you have a fairly fool-proof cup of excellent coffee. As long as you get the right grind size and the water hot enough, you can't really screw it up. Then if you go pourover crazy, you can buy the more expensive versions. Ceramic Hario cone, Clever Coffee, Chemex.

Aeropress is the slightly-fancier step up for lazy coffee makers. If you shop around you can find an Aeropress for $25, and 300 filters will run you about $3. Or you can buy a stainless steel filter; not sure how much those cost. People go crazy with their Aeropress recipes (one of the World Aeropress Champion recipes specifies that the water is from a specific lake in Norway), but you don't even have to be as specific about grind size and water temp as you do with the pourover. Because of the pressure you can brew cooler, and because of the paper filter you can grind finer.

Coldbrew IMO is for when you want to drink A LOT of coffee because it is WAAAAY too convenient to have a half gallon of coffee concentrate in the fridge and before you know it, it's 3am and you're finishing your 6th cup.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:52 AM on January 17, 2013

YMMV, but FWIW I found the coffee from the re-usable Keuring gadgets to be universally terrible. I don't know what I did wrong, but I tried two different models and I use really good quality beans (the same stuff I use for my french press), and I thought it was awful. Then again, I don't really think the k-cups are all that expensive in the scheme of things, so I frankly didn't have much of an incentive to keep screwing with it after a few tries.
posted by primethyme at 11:54 AM on January 17, 2013

Nthing the Keurig machine.
posted by sunnychef88 at 11:54 AM on January 17, 2013

I have: a French press, an Aeropress, a Chemex, a Clever Coffee Dripper. (I guess I also have a Melitta pour-over hanging around somewhere which I would use if I were to go camping.)

I don't use the French press; don't like the oil and sediment. For one cup I like the Clever Coffee Dripper best, and for two I like the Chemex. The Aeropress was my favorite for keeping at work when I had an office with a proper break room and a grinder. (For two or more cups, it is kind of a pain.) For being stupid easy to clean with no dishwasher, I would say the Chemex takes the prize followed by the Aeropress. Definitely any of the above three makes what to me is a decent, and even quite good, cup of coffee.
posted by clavicle at 12:37 PM on January 17, 2013

I love my french press and I don't get the issue about cleaning out the grounds from the container - it's just a glass cylinder and a rinse out with water gets rid of the grounds (down the drain) and you're done.
posted by michellenoel at 12:40 PM on January 17, 2013

Another vote for the Melitta cone (plus electric kettle - boils 1 cup of water in about a minute). I've done pods, french press, and drip, and I've ogled others' Keurigs and Nespressos, but the cone beats them all, as far as I'm concerned. (I do especially like that it takes up no counter space.)
posted by mskyle at 12:41 PM on January 17, 2013

I use the Melitta pour-over plus electric kettle during the week because I only want one cup and my husband doesn't drink coffee until he gets to work. Then on the weekends we use the french press for both of us. The pour over is convenient, incredibly easy to clean, and comes in really handy when I randomly decide I want coffee in the afternoon or evening.
posted by thejanna at 12:46 PM on January 17, 2013

I have a Melitta, Aeropress and French Press.

The Melitta is awesome in terms of its simplicity (just $3 for the cone), but I found it too dependent on technique. One day it makes coffee, the next day it makes brown water - because I poured the water in too fast or something. If you can follow a consistent process, it may work for you.

The French Press was too much work to clean, and I kept letting it steep too long, making it cold, too bitter, or both.

The Aeropress cleans itself and doesn't require waiting for anything. Out of the box, with the normal instructions, it is very forgiving (if inefficient in terms of grinds). But people are finding ways to use it like other brewers. If you want you can use it similarly to the Clever Coffee Dripper, or get metal filters to make it like a French Press.
posted by meowzilla at 1:08 PM on January 17, 2013

I've tried a lot of different ways to brew coffee.

My favorite? A little 6-cup Mr. Coffee, which I got for ~$25. If I fill it up to the 4-cup mark, it makes exactly one thermos of coffee for me. It brews consistently, and cleanup is as simple as throwing out the filter.

There is some snob factor against little machines like this but they're essentially the same process as what is used for plain coffee in many good coffee shops, including the roaster where I used to work. You can get fancier, but as long as you have good fresh beans and a good fresh grind you can make a great cup of coffee with one.

I don't like Keurig because the coffee isn't strong enough and doesn't taste quite right. I am okay with French presses, but I don't like the sediment. I like to cold-brew coffee once in a while, but it really is a different drink. Americanos are also a different drink.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:24 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use a ceramic pour-over thing like this. Not too expensive, and I just use paper filters, which are cheap on Amazon. It's so easy - you just pop in a filter, add some coffee, and pour over hot water. And, there is basically zero clean-up since the ceramic cone just needs to be rinsed off.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:38 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I always end up going back to the cone. If I want a second cup I'll just heat up more water and do a new pour. No muss, no fuss, and practical in my small kitchen, too.

On preview, yep, just like rainbowbrite says.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:49 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

1 - Aeropress
2 - Chemex (preferably with glass handle, to make cleaning easier)
posted by 0110 at 4:26 PM on January 17, 2013

Pour-over. It's easy, it's cheaper than pods, you can use good coffee and all the hip coffee places make pour-over coffee now.

PS: the easy way to clean a french press is to pour water into the vessel with the old grounds; put the filter on, plunging it only to it just below the top rim; swirl, then pour off water leaving a little dam of coffee grounds just below the rim of the vessel; shake or scoop grounds out into garbage as they are all right at the top now. Then add very hot water and a tiny bit of soap, plunge a few times, rinse very well and leave to dry. Once a week take the whole thing apart to scrub if you want.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:56 PM on January 17, 2013

I use a Hario ceramic drip cone.

I used to use an Aeropress but like the drip cone better because it is just one piece. You use them with a paper filter.
posted by dottiechang at 5:25 PM on January 17, 2013

Aeropress, inverted. Forever.
posted by GilloD at 7:46 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is what instant coffee is for. As you have already figured out with your Starbucks Via. But gods forbid, don't buy anything available at the American supermarkets. You want this, or this, or this.

If you have locally any European stores (Russian, Polish, German), you might want to check if they have it.
posted by Ender's Friend at 7:48 PM on January 17, 2013

Woah, thanks everyone. Didn't expect this type response. I've got a lot to try out :)

To those that said cleaning a french press isn't that difficult. I agree, just was curious if there's anything even easier.
posted by ratherbethedevil at 1:07 PM on January 18, 2013

We have a Keurig at the office I use everyday. Rather than spending a bunch of money on the the K-Cups, I use the Reusable K-Cup with whatever coffee I like. Also works great for tea!
posted by SarahElizaP at 11:01 PM on January 18, 2013

Another recommendation for a stovetop moka. Bialetti models are easy to find everywhere. We have a Giannina from Italy. (I recommend not going with a cheap knock-off from Ikea or whatnot, because the quality of the seal is important.)

Simple, fast, easy cleanup, amazing coffee. I would never go back to another method. The 6-cup is the perfect size for brewing one mug-ful. The 6 cups refers to espresso shots, but I just reduce the amount of coffee grounds and increase the amount of water for something like an Americano. I find this method actually uses a lot less coffee than a drip or french press, as it is much more efficient in extracting all the flavour from the beans. So you save on coffee (which helps justify buying more expensive beans) and you get a superb cup every time.
posted by amusebuche at 5:07 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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