A Better Coffee FAQ

Brew Bar vs. Espresso Bar

Drinks begin with coffee that is either brewed or pulled from the espresso machine. All coffees, both brewed and pulled, are weighed, ground and brewed to order. When it comes to brewed coffee, there are three main methods, each of which affects the qualities of the cup.


The closest thing to a traditional drip. This one involves slowly pouring hot water through the grounds and into a waiting cup. The process takes three to four minutes and results in a light-bodied, pleasantly sweet cup of coffee.


The device works like a French press, where hot water is poured onto grounds, allowed to sit, and then the coffee is separated from the grounds. It results in a 4-ounce concentrate that is diluted with hot water to make a full cup. The process takes three to four minutes and results in a bold but smooth cup of coffee.

Vacuum pot

Picture an hourglass and you’ll have a good idea how this dual-chamber contraption looks. Water is placed in the lower orb, while grounds are placed in the top one. When heated over a halogen burner, the water is forced from the lower chamber to the upper chamber, where it mixes with the grounds. After the appropriate time, the heat is shut off and the brewed coffee travels through a filter and back down. Pricey but worth it.


It might look like the machine is doing all the work, but that’s not the case — and there still is plenty of room for human error. There’s the tamping, brew pressure and brewing time. The result is 2 ounces of intensely flavored coffee.


A macchiato is an espresso with a very small amount of steamed milk. It is served in a small espresso cup.


The cortado is like a mini-cappuccino, with almost equal amounts of espresso and steamed milk. It is about 4 ounces in total.

Cappucino A cappuccino is approximately one-third espresso to two-thirds milk. Here, the milk is steamed and frothed into soft peaks before it is added to the espresso, giving the drink its characteristic buoyancy.

Latte The difference between a cappuccino and a latte is all about the texture. The latte will have less, and the milk will be thinner.

Mocha A mocha is the same as a latte but with chocolate milk instead.


A toddy is a fancy version of iced coffee. A very long — 12 to 24 hours — cold-brewing process results in an intensely flavored coffee that is cut with water and served over ice. Rising Star’s Tips for Better Coffee at Home

• Buy fresh whole-bean coffee, ideally roasted within the week

• Store beans in an airtight container out of the sun

• Weigh (or measure) and grind the beans immediately before brewing

• Start with nice, clean equipment, preferably a pour-over or aeropress

• Use water (not distilled) between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit (just off the boil)

About The Author

Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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