Want to get into filter coffee? Here's everything you need
It's a small price to pay for a lifetime of pleasurable mornings
In the last couple of decades, people have really started giving a damn about coffee. Now, all over the world people are ditching the dark roasts, swapping scoops for scales and choosing flavour over economy.
This change has been dubbed the 'third wave' of coffee – a phrase that refers to a modern demand for exceptional quality coffee, both farmed and brewed to a significantly higher standard than average. It comes from Australia and New Zealand, rather than Italy, but it's quickly becoming the norm in countries across the world.
The beans that this new coffee movement uses are called 'specialty coffee' beans. To achieve this title, they must be independently graded 80 points or above on the 100-point Coffee Review scale. Coffee scoring from 90-100 is graded Outstanding, coffee that scores 85-89.99 is graded Excellent, and coffee scoring 80-84.99 is graded Very Good.
The brewing of these beans is done with a close attention to detail. The main goal is to bring out the complexity of flavour that has been developed in these high quality beans. The goal, when brewing specialty coffee, isn't strength, sweetness, bitterness or any other single attribute – rather, it is 'clarity'.
When seeking clarity, few methods can rival a simple filter coffee, be that from a V60, Chemex or Aeropress. Fortunately for us, these are all easily attainable domestic brewers, meaning you can launch your own exploration of flavour within the confines of your kitchen.
But if you really want to do things properly, there's one or two other bits and bobs you need.
You're going to need a brewer
To get started at all, you're going to need a brewer of some kind. There's a whole host out there, but the ones that make the clearest (and, subsequently, tastiest) cups of coffee are usually paper filtered cone brewers, the most popular of which are the Chemex and the V60. Popular also is the AeroPress, which was designed as a travel brewer but has been taken in by the specialty coffee world as a superb brewer.
Many people love a French press, but I've always struggled to make a coffee that isn't silty at the bottom. Furthermore, I can never find the brightness that paper filter brewers achieve with the metal mesh. It's probably something to do with my method, I know.
Regardless, it is widely agreed that any one of these three will stand you in good stead to begin making coffee.
If you've got a kettle, it'll do – but if you really want to get some control over your pour, then a specifically made pouring kettle can work wonders. These have a spout designed for a slow, controlled flow, and often have a digital temperature control.
For old-timey style points, go for an on-the-hob one like this Hario Kettle, costing £47.81.
The crème de la crème of kettles surely must be this, the Fellow Stagg EKG, costing £152. Not only is this a beautifully simple design, but it has variable temperature control and a pouring spout.
Yep. This might be a tough one to swallow, but making good filter coffee requires a grinder that can grind evenly to a variety of coarsenesses. Coffee loses its flavour about 30 minutes after being ground – that's why coffee shops grind every shot to order – so getting the whole bag ground when you buy it isn't going to cut it.
And when it comes to grinders, you should look for one that uses burrs, not blades. Burrs grind, but blades chop and hack. Also, consistency of grind is very important. A bad grinder will have a large variance between its biggest and smallest pieces, meaning some grounds will brew very quickly and others will brew very slowly. This means that some of your coffee will be over-extracted and some will be under-extracted. I know, what a nightmare.
If you're the old fashioned type, go for a hand grinder like this one from Hario, costing £35. They take a while, but you'll feel like you've earnt your coffee every time. Also, they're great for travel due to their small size and manual operation.
If you prefer things the modern way, go for this Krups Expert Burr Grinder, costing £44.99. This is a grinder that's well-loved by home-brewers, with ample choice of coarseness and quantity, and a good set of steel flat burrs.
If you're the kind of person who wants nothing but the best, then feast your wallet on this hand operated HUANXI Italian All-steel Superfine Coffee Grinder, yours for just £2000 plus shipping.
If you don't know why you need scales, then have a quick read of this and return promptly. Fortunately, scales can be bought for almost no money at all. Many more expensive ones come with timers, and even companion apps showing extraction curves and so on. Personally, I think a standard set of scales, accurate to .1 of a gram and the timer on my smartphone does the job just fine.
I've been using these £16.99 scales for the past few years with no issues whatsoever.
If you fancy giving the companion app scales a go, then try this Acaia Lunar Coffee Scale, costing £279.99.
Be on your way
That should be everything you need to be on the way to making truly delicious coffee. All you need now is some amazing beans, perhaps from one of these subscription services, and some nice, soft water.