The way you like to make coffee best.
A couple of day ago I knocked over the 'Bodum' and it smashed. I dug out the old aluminum steamer. http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-37377... l had used this old timer twenty+ years ago. I tried it and WOW! what a good cup of coffee. Maybe way back when, when we used to buy Maxwell house in gallon tins the quality of the coffee meant we never had a descent cup. Now we buy small amounts from a local coffee roaster who imports all sorts of beans in small amounts. Is it the coffee or the way it's brewed? Opinions please.
I think it's both. I prefer espresso (actually, Milchkaffee), and I have one of these cute little stovetop espresso makers for the purpose: http://www.amazon.com/Bialetti-Expres... I also drink American-style coffee, and have a Technivorm Mokkamaster for that purpose.
As for beans, I buy whole bean (from any number of sources - Costco has a great Guatemalan dark roast, Starbucks Sumatra and Komodo Dragon are good, Fairway carries a couple of interesting roasts, and there is an independent coffee roaster just down the street from me where I can buy small batch beans) and grind them fresh for each pot. I think this makes a HUGE difference - I was blown away when I switched from pre-ground. If you have quality, fresh-ground beans, I think you can get away with just about any brewing method and still get a decent cup (not that I am advocating a sub-par brewing method!).
To me the freshness of the coffee overshadows everything. But, assuming it is fresh, I'll take a dark roasted Sumatra done in a press if I am drinking it black. For a cappa or a latte something French roasted, either Bialetti or espresso. In a drip I like something lighter and brighter, like a Guatamalan. But you asked for "best" so I vote for press.
My favorite way of "making" coffee is ordering it at the DD drive thru.
My second is a blonde roast from SB
My least favorite but still good (and greatly appreciated!) is when my husband makes it for me. Standard old cuisinart grind and brew machine. Coffee from BJ's-usually some kind of "breakfast blend".
if its just me at home I'll have tea until I can hit the drive thru
My taste buds tell me it takes a while for fresh coffee in the can to go bad. I think the whole "small batches" hype from some of the roasters and coffee companies is at least more hype than we consumers will admit.l
I have had coffee, though, that was significantly past its prime, so I know there is a limit.
I am finding that whole bean vs. already-ground is the make-or-break factor for me. I gotta grind it fresh every morning, and just make enough for what would be used in the next 1/2 hour to 45 minutes or so. Method? Just your basic "Mr. Coffee" drip routine for me.
I have 3 flavors from a small Seattle company, sealed up in bags in the cabinet as we speak. Not all the flavors are my favorite, so obviously you learn your favorites and go back to those. Just reading a post from tim irvine where he mentions Sumatra, I automatically go to the tape it my head that says, "I could drink it if I had to, but it's so strong!" You'd really have to go some to find a "brewing method" that sold me on Sumatra.
And seriously, sometimes the standard that foodieX2 sets, is just what hits the spot- good old Dunkin', at their place.
re: Florida Hound
Just a terminology note: 'strong' refers to concentration, i.e. the amount of coffee dissolved in water. It doesn't make sense to say that Sumatra is strong, because you can brew Sumatra, or any other coffee, as strong or weak as you like.
A lot of people misuse the word 'strong' -- even people who label commercial coffees. Usually, they mean that the coffee is bitter. This can be a result of over-roasting or faulty brewing, or both. Sumatras are often roasted darker than other coffees, to the point of bitterness; this might be why you associate them with 'strong'. Medium roasted, well-brewed Sumatran coffee can be a beautiful, rich, syrupy drink, almost like hot chocolate. Doesn't need milk or sugar.
As for brewing methods, I like a simple Melitta-style pour-over. I used to have a Mr Coffee machine, but it just doesn't get the water hot enough. There are a lot of other threads about different brewing methods and the tradeoffs between them. There are some good drip machines, but they are generally not cost-effective for home users.