How to choose ... a manual coffee maker

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 May, 2006, 12:00am

How to choose ... a manual coffee maker

Coffee-making can be cheap and basic or hi-tech and expensive. This week, we'll deal with manual coffee makers; next week, we'll cover expensive machines.

What are they? There are many ways to make coffee without using a machine. They include a paper filter placed in a plastic or metal cone, a 'French press' or plunger (also called a cafetiere), a three-part metal drip maker traditionally used in Vietnam (right), stove-top espresso makers and long-handled metal stove-top pots used for Turkish coffee.

What are the differences? There are advantages and disadvantages to all of them. Coffee made with a paper filter tends to be weak because the water drips through the coffee grounds quickly, which is fine if you like it that way. A French press coffee maker makes a strong, delicious brew (if sufficient coffee grounds are used), but there are concerns with this method because the metal mesh doesn't filter out the unhealthy fatty compounds. With metal drip makers, it takes a long time for the water to drip through the grounds, resulting in a small amount of intense coffee that's almost certainly cool by the time it finishes (although this isn't really a problem because Vietnamese coffee is frequently served over ice). Stove-top espresso makers take a long time to brew the coffee and they have to

be watched closely so the water in the base doesn't dry out (which can result in a melted pot), but the result is strong coffee. Turkish pots make super-strong coffee that needs to be sipped slowly to avoid the fine 'grounds' that invariably settle at the bottom of the cup.

What else? Different types of coffee makers need different 'grinds' of beans. Check the coffee packaging to see what brewing method the manufacturer recommends, or have the coffee beans ground to order.

Where to buy: Olympia Graeco Egyptian Coffee (tel: 2522 4653), Alessi (tel: 2869 6377), PanHandler (tel: 2523 1672) and Sogo (tel: 2833 8338).