Love is in the air (and it smells like coffee)

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Be well and stay caffeinated.

By Michael Litt, Nervous Dog Coffee Bar

How should you brew your joe? There is a profusion of confusion on the best coffee infusion; however, it all comes down to preference:

In the 16th century, folks simply boiled it three times in a pitcher (or ibrik) in the desert sand. No desert handy? It can be made this way on a stovetop as well. It comes out thick, chewy, offensive to the imperious, yet, if you like a strong Turkish cup...delicious.

Fast forward to k-cups. As convenient as they are, these don’t produce my favorite cup; the coffee has oxidized too long, it’s extracted too quickly at too low a temperature, and the grind is optimized for speed not flavor. It’s currently the second most popular brewing method next to drip and when you need your vitamins, it does the job efficiently.

Percolators have been around for more than a century, yet they’re not highly regarded in the industry. The brewing temperature is inconsistent, and it tends to over-extract by cycling the water through spent grounds repeatedly. The coffee comes out slightly nutty, somewhat bitter, but robust.

Drip coffee has been the most popular brewing method since the 1970s (and drove percolators into near obsolescence). If you have a machine that brews at the right temperature (195 to 205F), it can yield a terrific cup, especially if you grind your beans just before brewing, use good water and avoid keeping the carafe on a warmer (try a vacuum pot instead).

The vacuum/siphon method can produce a cup that brings forward all the subtleties of the bean. It’s a sensory experience; the water fully immerses the grounds at exactly the proper temperature and for the optimal amount of time. In addition, the aroma remains sealed as it steeps, infusing the brew with a clean, bright and crisp flavor.

A French press makes a fantastic cup, albeit with slightly more effort (you have to time it well and get the grind and temperature exact). As with siphons, the coffee steeps for a predetermined amount of time, fully saturates the grounds and there is no filter to impart any impurities or flavor. However, some find the extra sediment in their cup unappealing.

In the interest of space, I’ve omitted a handful of other brewing methods—including the pourover—which is so important that we’ll discuss it at length in a later column.

As always, be well and stay caffeinated.

Nervous Dog Coffee Bar is in West Akron, Montrose, Stow and Beachwood. For hours, addresses and more, visit