We are a nation of latte lovers and at the heart of that latte is an espresso. Espresso coffee machines have been around since the 19th Century. Hot water is sent through the coffee grounds under pressure. This brewing method allows us to extract desirable elements, such as caffeine and flavour, from the ground coffee very quickly.
Alternative coffee brewing methods have been used for centuries, we'll look more closely at some of the most popular filter methods in this article.
Filter coffee can get a bad press, possibly because our memory of the drink stems from drinking something made hours previously and left to stew on a hot plate! However, we're going to outline some alternative brewing methods that will bring out the best in your coffee, whether you drink it at home or you are looking to add something new to the menu in your coffee shop.
Making a great filter coffee all starts with picking the right beans. Filter coffees tend to be drank with little or no milk so the beans are often roasted lighter than espresso blends. A light roast is often brighter and more acidic than a dark roast. Our single origin coffees work particularly well as the flavour characteristics of one country's coffee can really shine through.
We have lots of manual brewing equipment at our training centre in Yorkshire. Let's look at three of the most popular methods: the French press (or cafetiere), the AeroPress and the V60 pour over.
For all the methods we recommend using 60g of ground coffee per litre and, if you can, grind the coffee fresh for every cup. Change the size (the grind) of the coffee depending on what you are making; generally speaking filter coffee tends to be more coarse than espresso. As with espresso coffee, use water that is just off the boil – around 90-95°c. Once ready, enjoy the coffee straight away!
The French press coffee maker is familiar to most of us and can be found in many homes. The brewing time for this coffee is between three to five minutes. Compared to espresso it can seem like an age to get your fix! However, patience is key here because, without the addition of pressure, heat is the main contributor in the extraction process. Add coarsely ground coffee to the bottom of the French press then pour over the hot water and gently mix. Keep the coffee grounds wet by pushing the screen of the French press down to slightly submerge the coffee solids; this will aid an even extraction. After around three to five minutes use the plunger to filter the coffee. A few of the coffee solids will always find their way through the filter which results in a cloudy drink with less flavour clarity than the AeroPress and V60 pour over.
The AeroPress is a relative new comer on the coffee scene. It is somewhere between an espresso machine and French press in that it uses pressure and heat to extract the soluble compounds in the coffee. Grind your coffee like espresso and pour over the hot water, gently stir and then plunge after about 30 seconds. Top up with hot water. Thanks to the design of the AeroPress, when we plunge the coffee we will be applying additional pressure and therefore the brewing time is reduced. Also, the addition of a filter paper will results in a much cleaner/brighter taste. It's also much easier to clean than the French press!
Lastly we have the V60 pour over. The pour over is one of the simplest way to make a fantastic filter coffee and the kit required is minimal and inexpensive. Pop a filter paper inside the V60 and place it on top of a pre warmed jug or cup and you are ready to go! Grind your coffee a little coarser than you would for an espresso and pour your hot water over slowly. Allow the coffee grounds to swell up (or bloom) then keep adding water to keep the grounds wet and level. Be careful not to pour the water on too quickly, the key here is to add little and often so we get a steady extraction of flavour. The resulting coffee has a light, clean taste.
So there you have it, lots of ways to enjoy your coffee. Each method will bring out different flavours in the coffee so try them all and see which you prefer!