Filtered manual drip into an insulated container Freshly boiled water is poured through the coffee into a filter cone set on an insulated container. Advantages: The water temperature can be controlled, allowing for the release of coffee's desired flavor components, and the coffee stays hot in the container. Disadvantage: This method is less convenient than automatic drip coffeemaker.
Filtered manual drip into glass carafe Boiling water is manually poured through the coffee into a filter cone set over a glass carafe. Advantage: The water temperature can be controlled, allowing for the release of coffee's desired flavor components. Disadvantages: It's not as convenient as an automatic drip coffeemaker, and the coffee must be consumed immediately.
Filtered automatic drip Water is automatically heated, poured through coffee in a filter, and the coffee drips into a carafe or insulated container. Advantages: It's convenient -- some models even offer automatic timers. Disadvantages: The water temperature cannot be controlled and usually does not reach high enough temperatures to release coffee's best flavors. Coffee can develop a burnt taste if it sits on the warming plate.
French press (also called plunger or coffee press) Freshly boiled water is poured over coffee into a cylindrical carafe, then it infuses (like tea) for a few minutes. A plunger filter is pressed through the water, trapping grounds below. Advantages: Produces a richly textured coffee rife with natural oils. No paper filters are needed, and water temperature can be controlled. Disadvantages: Coffee must be consumed immediately. This method allows for some sediment in the brew; some people feel this adds character, and others find the taste bitter.
Electric percolator As water boils, the water is forced up through a tube and sprinkled over grounds in a filter cup. The percolator automatically repeats the process, repeatedly spraying the coffee over the grounds. Advantage: It's convenient. Disadvantages: The water temperature is not controlled, and coffee is recycled through the grounds, thereby creating "off" flavors.