Quality can range all the way from bland and stale to award-winning, rich, smooth deliciousness. It’s all in the technique (and having the right tools and beans to begin with).
Making filter coffee involves a few simple steps (pour hot water over coffee, through a filter, into a jug). There’s the commonly known drip coffee, which usually involves an electric machine, with a timer that automatically starts the brew, and keeps the pot warm on a hot plate, so folks can come back for more throughout the day. You’ll most likely see them in aeroplanes, hotels, and other public places.
We like to focus on the pour-over method, which is a more manual style of brewing involving hand-pouring water through coffee and a paper filter. It allows for much better control over the amount of coffee and the overall result.
There are two different bits of kit we prefer to use for our filter coffee – the Chemex and the Hario.
What’s a Chemex?
A Chemex is a gorgeous glass pour-over flask, invented in the 1940s by Peter Schlumbohm, an enterprising chemist in the United States.
It’s recognisable by the wooden neck collar with dangling leather tie attached. It’s a handsome piece of kit and is famously the coffeemaker of choice for James Bond, getting a mention in From Russia, With Love.
Chemex filters are also the brainchild of Dr. Schlumbohm, a special thick filter paper that prevents oils from the grounds getting through into the jug, and encourages ‘blooming’ – we’ll come to that in a moment.
What’s a Hario V60?
This petite beauty is a simple device that can filter coffee directly into a cup, ready to drink – rather than a jug (although servers are available if you’re making for two). It’s great for experimental brewing that brings out different flavours depending on which method you use.
The V60 was invented by the distinguished Japanese manufacturer Hario, who initially made glassware for science labs – so you know they know their stuff.
There are plastic, ceramic and metal varieties, with special ridges in the funnel that let air flow through for a smoother extraction.
The differing filters of the Chemex and the Hario can lead to different tastes, so we encourage you to experiment with both if you can. The entire process takes 3-4 minutes with each.
Fold it into a cone shape, place it inside the dripper. Moistening it ensures the filter stays in place as it should, and gets rid of any papery taste
The origin and blend, of course, is yours to choose. In terms of grind – filter coffee is works best with a medium grind.
Measure out 60 grams of coffee for every litre of water. Obviously, if you’re only using 250ml of water, that’s 15g of coffee. And if you haven’t got any scales, then two tablespoons is of coffee is about ten grams. If you’re really into coffee, you might well have a coffee scoop: a level one of those is about ten grams too.
STEP 3 – Heat your water
Filtered water is your best option, to prevent any minerals contaminating the taste, but if tap is the only option, that’s fine too. If we’re being specific, aim for 90°C to 95°C, or a kettle that’s been let off the boil for 30 seconds.
There’s a bit of technique here. Sloooowly pour the water in a spiral pattern from the outside inwards, letting the coffee and water fill upwards into a bloom, where carbon dioxide bubbles are released from the liquid. You could always give it a stir here as well, to make sure all the grounds are thoroughly wet. We don’t want any dry spots.
After the bloom is settled, pour continuously in small circles around the centre of the dripper, keeping the water level steady.
Once your cup or jug is nearly full, you’re done. Easy as that. The resulting drink should be nice and smooth, not too acidic, and absolutely delicious.
Drink it straight to best enjoy the flavour, or augment with a sweetener or dairy product of your choice.