Coffee beans must be ground and brewed to create a beverage. Almost all methods of preparing coffee require the beans to be ground and mixed with hot water for long enough to extract the flavor, but without boiling for more than an instant; boiling develops an unpleasant "cooked" flavor. Finally, the spent grounds are removed from the liquid, and the liquid is drunk. There are many variations in the fineness of grind, the ways in which the water extracts the flavor, additional flavorings (sugar, milk, spices), and the removal of the spent grounds. The ideal holding temperature is 79 to 85 °C (174 to 185 °F) and the ideal serving temperature is 68 to 79 °C (154 to 174 °F).

The roasted coffee beans may be ground at a roastery, in a grocery store, or in the home. Most coffee is roasted and ground at a roastery and sold in packaged form, though roasted coffee beans can be ground at home immediately before consumption. It is also possible, though uncommon, to roast raw beans at home.

Coffee beans may be ground in several ways. A burr mill uses revolving elements to shear the bean; an electric grinder smashes the beans with blunt blades moving at high speed; and a mortar and pestle crushes the beans. For most brewing methods, a burr mill is deemed superior because the grind is more even and the grind size can be adjusted.

The type of grind is often named after the brewing method for which it is generally used. Turkish grind is the finest grind, while coffee percolator or French press are the coarsest grinds. The most common grinds are between the extremes; a medium grind is used in most common home coffee-brewing machines.

Coffee may be brewed by several methods: boiled, steeped, or pressured. Brewing coffee by boiling was the earliest method, and Turkish coffee is an example of this method.[47] It is prepared by grinding or pounding the beans to a fine powder, then adding it to water and bringing it to the boil for no more than an instant in a pot called a cezve or, in Greek, a bríki.

Coffee percolators and automatic coffeemakers brew coffee using gravity. In an automatic coffeemaker hot water drips onto coffee grounds held in a coffee filter made of paper, plastic, or perforated metal, allowing the water to seep through the ground coffee while extracting its oils and essences. The liquid drips through the coffee and the filter into a carafe or pot, and the spent grounds are retained in the filter. In a percolator, boiling water is forced into a chamber above a filter by steam pressure created by boiling.
Coffee may be brewed by steeping in a device such as a French press (also known as a cafetičre or coffee press). Ground coffee and hot water are combined in a cylindrical vessel and left to brew for a few minutes. A circular filter which fits tightly in the cylinder fixed to a plunger is then pushed down from the top to force the grounds to the bottom. Because the coffee grounds are in direct contact with the water,
all the coffee oils remain in the beverage, making it stronger and leaving more sediment than in coffee made by an automatic coffee machine. The coffee is poured from the container; the filter retains the grounds at the bottom.

The espresso method forces hot (but not boiling) pressurized water through ground coffee. As a result of brewing under high pressure (ideally between 9–10 atm), the espresso beverage is more concentrated (as much as 10 to 15 times the quantity of coffee to water as gravity-brewing methods can produce) and has a more complex physical and chemical constitution.

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