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Filter coffee: a ritual that tastes so good

Monday 11 September

Coffee is a daily ritual for many people. For some it may be by simply dropping a pod or capsule into a machine, for others it is carefully grinding, tamping and extracting a short and intense espresso. But for many the ritual is a little more time consuming, as they follow one of the various methods to make filter coffee.

Not Espresso, not even Americano, it's Filtered coffee

There is often confusion around filter coffee: it is neither an Americano nor an espresso. Let's find out the differences between them:

  • Espresso coffee, initially only popular in Italy, is now consumed worldwide. A method which requires skill, precision and an espresso machine. Generally, 7-10 grams of finely ground coffee are enough: they have to be infused for 20-30 seconds to create the short, intense and rich drink which can be consumed as is, or used as the basis of many other beverages, such as a cappuccino or flat white.

  • American coffee is prepared with a shot of espresso, then thinned with hot water.

Then, what's filter coffee?

It is an extraction method obtained by percolation or infusion.

  • Percolation consists in slowly pouring hot water over ground coffee, collecting the beverage underneath through a filter made of paper, fabric, metal, etc. With the technique called "pour-over", hot water uses only the force of gravity to extract the coffee components.

  • Coffee infusion, on the other hand, is obtained by pouring hot water into a container and letting the ground coffee soak for a few minutes. After the infusion time, the liquid part is separated from the ground coffee using a filter.

To each his own brewing method (and filter coffee maker)

That said, among filter coffees there are many differences, mainly due to the brewing method and filter coffee makers. Let's have a look at the main ones:

  • The Aeropress was created in 2005 by Alan Adler, an aerodynamics expert and inventor of a coffee maker that uses the principles of pneumatics, so extracting coffee through manual air compression. This is a hybrid brewing method and the result is a combination of espresso and filter coffee: ground blend is infused in hot water, then it passes through Aeropress filters. An ideal method if you are an on-the-road-coffee-lover as the aeropress is practically indestructible.

  • Chemex coffee is made with a pour-over equipment created in 1941 by chemist Peter Schlumbohm. With its hourglass shape, this coffee maker is a true icon of modern design. It needs its own Chemex filters, which have a special size, and the extraction system is the classic pour-over: the filter contains the coffee and hot water is slowly poured in circular movements. The force of gravity will extract the flavours, resulting in a full, round, satisfying taste.

  • The Kalita Wave uses the pour-over method as well, but employs flat-bottomed, wave-shaped filters: this allows the beverage to stay at a distance from the walls of the dripper, thus creating an air cushion keeping a constant temperature during infusion. The flat bottom keeps the ground blend at the same height, so the extraction is more uniform and consistent. And you'll get a very balanced beverage.

  • French Press is quite common in Europe. This method resembles the one used for tea: ground coffee is left for a few minutes in hot water, thereafter it's filtered from the beverage by a plunger with a mesh filter. Unlike the pour-over method, this system produces a fuller-bodied coffee with a complex texture, due to the oils that can pass through the filter.

  • V60: according to some, this is the best method to prepare filter coffee and comes straight from Japan. The name comes from the angle created by the dripper, which is exactly 60°. V60 filter is conical and must be first soaked in hot water to warm up the brewer; only after this step ground coffee is put in the filter and hot water is poured starting from the centre, until all the coffee is covered.

All these methods allow for a little room for technique and adaptation. Flavours in the cup can change a little depending on the coffee used, the grind size, the temperature of the water, the quality of the water, the time of extraction or the flow of water, the method of filter and of course the equipment used.

And you, have you already tried all these methods? Which is your favourite one?
Tell us about your filter coffee love story...