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Which Coffee Beans to Pair with Which Brewers?

Which Coffee Beans to Pair with Which Brewers?

Words Erin Meister

Can you drink a martini out of a highball glass? Technically you can drink a martini out of any vessel you want, but the experience is probably slightly changed. Just like certain cocktails taste more “right” when served in specific barware, some coffees seem to call out for particular brewing methods. Though you can prepare any coffee any way (yes, even as espresso!) here are a few pairings that can maximize your maker.


Pour Over
The clean, almost rarefied quality of a pour-over brewer is one of the best ways to highlight delicate coffees with more nuanced, subtle, and sparkling notes. The intense florals of a washed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, for instance, can get lost or masked in other preparations, and the light, tea-like body that the coffee inherently produces is perfect for the sediment-absorbing powers of a sturdy paper filter.

Kenyan coffees, with their snappy tropical-fruit flavors, are also a good fit for pouring-over. The juiciness and complexity they can offer will benefit from the personalized attention and care that a pour-over demands, and they definitely reward the patient.

French press
The heavy, rich, comforting brews that come from a French press are like a cozy blanket for your mouth, and coffees that offer warm, sweet, and nutty flavors complement this type of steeping method. Darker roasts are practically made for pressing, as their pleasant bitter-sweetness is enhanced in the fuller-bodied presentation; lower-acidity coffees like those from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, and parts of Central America are also a wonderful match, as their nuttiness, chocolaty tones, and savory or baking-spice-like characteristics will linger on your palate, warming you through and through.

Automatic Drip
Looking for the perfect on-the-go brews, the wake-up-happy breakfast coffee, and the best multiple-pots-a-day beans? Select dynamic but not overwhelmingly challenging beans from growing areas such as Colombia (sweet and fruity but balanced), Costa Rica (toffee sweetness with subtle citrus), or Guatemala (floral chocolate and toasted nuts) will offer interesting but accessible and easy-drinking batches all day long. Coffees with a measured amount of gentle fruit that complement sweet milk chocolate, toffee, or nutty tones will be an even-keeled choice for this most easygoing of brew methods.

Cold Brew
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Those are the flavors that are most pronounced via the cold-brew process (most fruity, acidic flavors can only be extracted through hot water, not room-temperature or cold water), so chocolaty or nutty coffees are the best bet here. Beans from Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, or Nicaragua have the ideal combination of dark chocolate and nuts with a heavy body that’s ideal for the concentrated brew.

For something with a little more dynamic sweetness or a hint of fruit, a natural Ethiopian from the Sidama region or Harrar is a nice switcharoo. Because the brewing process won’t highlight or utilize very bright or delicate coffees, don’t sweat the nuanced labels on the bag. Go for something with straightforward sweet, mellow characteristics, and let the brewer do the delicious rest.

By Erin Meister

Erin Meister is a freelance writer for OXO. She is a specialty-coffee professional with 15-plus years as a barista, café manager, wholesale account representative, speaker, and educator; she currently sells green coffee for the Minneapolis-based importing company Café Imports. You can also hear her on weekly episodes of "Opposites Extract: A Debate Podcast about Coffee," available on iTunes.

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