Photo by Jerry Baldwin
Please excuse my absence these last few weeks. Early rain threw the grape harvest-winemaking schedule into high gear. Now, seemingly without warning, Thanksgiving has past and cold, windy weather is upon us. It's time for hearty eating, red wine, and hot coffee. What else do we need?
As much as many coffee professionals talk about press pots and espresso, more than half the coffee brewed at home is in drip pots of one kind or other. And there are many: electric drip machines, cone filters in two shapes, flat bottom filters, café filtre, Neapolitan flip-drip, and the flat-bottom metal pots that were prevalent in earlier years--so much diversity that we'll have to divide the topic just to make some sense of it.
Whether to use a paper filter divides one group clearly from another. Filter papers are their own complicated subject; different papers filter differently and taste different from one another, affecting the flavor and texture of the coffee. For a later post.
As you might guess, given my preference for hearty press pot coffee, I prefer making drip coffee without a paper filter. As industrial processes developed, several alternatives to paper filters were created too. Gold-coated and nylon mesh filters are used today as green alternatives to paper filters and for the fuller taste I prefer and come in many shapes and sizes as replacements for paper. Gold filters are a bit more expensive, but are easily washed in soapy hot water (rinse thoroughly) or run through the dishwasher. Nylon mesh filters do an excellent job, but are not as easily cleaned; coffee oils tend to build up. Both of these permanent filters allow the flavorful oils and minute sediment into the cup to preserve the flavor.