Brewed vs. Drip Coffee? Are They the Same?

If you’ve recently discovered a few different ways to brew your coffee, you might have also heard of drip coffee. Whether you got curious looking at the term in a cafe menu or recently had a cup only to find it pretty close to traditional brews, you might want to know whether drip coffee is the same as brewed coffee.

As a general rule, the drip system is a brewing method, so all drip coffee is brewed coffee. However, not all brewed coffee is drip coffee because most brewing doesn’t rely on water flow. Drip systems are great for consistency, while other brewing methods favor intensity.

In this article, you will learn more about coffee brewing and drip systems alongside each method’s pros and cons. Above all, you will learn when you should brew yourself a cup and when you must opt for a drip system.

Brewed Coffee: A Brief Overview

Brewing is a term used for using heat, water, and time to extract the essence of a specific plant-based product like a bean or hops. The term’s implications vary depending on the end product. The two main products of brewing are beer and coffee, and the brewing methodology and even the process differ.

Coffee brewing is based on heat and transfer of unstable caffeine from roasted and ground coffee beans to relatively neutral water. Beer brewing relies on fermentation and isn’t to be confused with the former brewing method. When you read the term “brew” from this point forward, please note that we’re discussing coffee brewing only.

Brewing coffee is a very broad term because passing coffee grounds sitting in water through a filter to get a coffee-rich drink has been done many times by different cultures since coffee took the world by storm. French press, cold brew, boil and filter, and pan brew are only a handful of ways one can prepare brewed coffee. You can leverage temperature, water, and bean ground coarseness to adjust, improve, and vary the flavor of the end product.

Among these methods of brewing lies a specific process that got so popular it isn’t even identified with the term “brewing” anymore. This method of preparing coffee is called dripping and the coffee brewed from this process is almost never called brewed coffee; it is referred to as Drip Coffee. Though technically a drip coffee is a brew, it will be compared to other brewing methods to establish a contrast between the commonly recognized brews and drip coffee.

Pros of Brewed Coffee

When it comes to brewing the best cup of coffee, you get to define what best means to you. Brewing allows you to bring variety into your caffeine consumption experience, and this section covers the various benefits of brewing yourself a cup.

You Control More Factors

If you boil the grounds, your coffee might be ready in minutes. Cooldown the same process, and the grounds will sit for a day in the water, releasing their essence slowly to create the perfect cup. From temperature to the degree to which the bean is roasted, you control many aspects of the brewing process. Here’s what you control and what each factor affects the end product.

  • Time – The quicker you brew a cup, the lower it will be in its flavor and contents intensity. Though brewing for longer periods is preferable, you’ll need to adjust the heat, so the coffee doesn’t disappear thanks to evaporation. 
  • Bean coarseness – The finer the grounds, the more surface area water has to react with. As a result, freshly brewed coffee from fine grounds will almost always outdo similarly brewed coffee from coarser grounds. 
  • Heat – You can control heat from the roasting process down to the water temperature. Even though dark roasts might taste more bitter, the bulk of caffeine is best retained in lighter roasts as lower heat keeps the caffeine relatively stable until the brewing begins.

Brewed Coffee Is Easy to Make

Ease is relative, and if you’re used to mixing instant coffee in water or popping a coffee pod in a machine, then brewing might seem more advanced. But the reality is that compared to setting up the perfect drip-feeding apparatus for your coffee, brewed coffee is much easier to make. 

Whether you’re placing coffee grounds in a jug of water overnight in a fridge or boiling water alongside coffee grounds in a kettle, brewing is simpler. But simplicity often comes with a trade-off. And there are few drawbacks to consider with brewed coffee.

Cons of Brewed Coffee

As mentioned earlier, brewed coffee is simpler to make and allows you to control multiple variables. This can be a blessing as well as a curse, as having multiple variables to control while not knowing what you are doing puts you in the same position as the kid hitting random buttons on his dad’s laptop. Here are the drawbacks that emerge from this.

Taste Can Vary Drastically

Because you do not rely on a single variable to get the perfect taste, you have to get everything from grind size to water volume and heat just right to recreate the perfect cup. This, of course, is only a disadvantage if you are very particular about your coffee’s taste. You also risk being inconsistent if you own a cafe and use general brewing methods. That’s also why baristas master remaking the same cup by controlling all the variables.

Easy to Overdo

You can overbrew coffee easily because it is easy to brew. If your personal trainer asks you to do a hundred pushups, you might not overshoot the target because reaching half the set target will have you breathing three people’s oxygen and sweating five people’s sauna yield. In contrast, if something is easy, you can easily go overboard.

One of the greatest disadvantages of easy brewing is that you might end up getting very acidic coffee as you may overbrew it. Diluting coffee, once brewed, affects the drink’s taste and temperature. This disadvantage is offset best by drip coffee.

Drip Coffee: A Brief Overview

Drip coffee gets its name from the fact that it is made by dripping hot water through a collection of grounds. The water passes through the grounds, and each drop carries some of the grounds’ essence into the container placed under the filter. This method is designed to restrict variables like water amount, grind size, and temperature, ensuring consistency across multiple cups.

Pros of Drip Coffee

Drip coffee equals patience and consistency, both of which pay off when it comes to brewing coffee. Here are the main advantages of the drip method for brewing coffee.

  • Reliable taste – Drip coffee restricts so many variables that as long as you keep the drip feed on the same setting, you will get an identical cup every single time.  
  • Healthier – Since this method relies much more on filtering compared to some other brews that bet on the grounds settling to the bottom, you get a healthier drink with many concern-raising contents of coffee beans being held back by the filter.

Cons of Drip Coffee

No process that has advantages comes without its own disadvantages. Look at the drawbacks below to decide if this brewing process is worth it.

  • Doesn’t contain as much coffee essence – Since the drip method involves water passing through as opposed to sitting, the rate of drip correlates with the lightness of coffee.  
  • Difficult to set up – Drip systems have come a long way since the initial models hit the market. However, they still remain complicated and can be hard for a novice to master. If you have a hard time with the french press, take a raincheck on the drip coffee.

Final Thoughts

Coffee brewing has become a cultural obsession in the caffeine-consumer community. This is a promising trend as it shows people taking control over the taste and richness of their coffee drinks. Those who want quick, intense, caffeine hits can take hot brewing methods featuring light roasts, while ones who enjoy consistency and lighter coffee drinks can opt for a drip system and commit to its learning curve.

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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