A ​noob's guide to filter coffee

​Having your barista know your daily coffee order is great customer service, but it's also kind of monotonous. Keep him or her guessing by ordering a filter coffee next time!

If you haven’t noticed, there are more types of coffee available at your local café than ever before - and cafes themselves are starting to look more and more like they’re getting ready to film a scene from Breaking Bad.

The reason behind this? The popularity of filter coffee is on the rise (and while you might joke about their overgrown beards, flannelette beanies and love of typewriters, we do have hipsters to partially thank for this…), meaning that brewing methods such as V60, AeroPress, and Chemex are working their way into public consciousness.

The thing is, as a regular Joe ordering your daily cup of Joe, it’s hard to understand what filter coffee’s all about just by looking at the menu – so we’ve put together this quick beginner’s guide for you to read next time you’re waiting for your pour-over.


1. What is filter coffee?

The easiest way to understand filter coffee is actually to understand how espresso coffee is brewed.

As you probably know, espresso machines use a high amount of pressure to force hot water through the coffee grounds, resulting in a more intense flavour and the ‘crema’ you get after an espresso shot is pulled.

Filter coffee, at its simplest, is drip coffee – pouring hot water over ground coffee, letting the water absorb the flavours and oils of the coffee, and letting it drip through the filter into a mug or container below.

2. What does filter coffee taste like?

Filter brewing methods produce a clean, sweet delicate brew that can show off the complexity of a coffee. Because the flavours are quite subtle, filter coffee is almost always served black.

On the other hand, espresso brewing exaggerates the acidity of a bean and amplifies the body, sweetness and finish of a coffee. 

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3. Can I use the same coffee for espresso and filter?

​Not really. There are a couple of ​key differences in the coffee used for espresso and filter:

Coffee beans are specifically roasted with the brewing method in mind. Filter-specific roasts are much lighter, which preserves the acidity in the bean; while espresso roasts are usually much darker, giving them a richer flavour that allows them to retain their flavour profile when combined with milk.

Filter coffee uses a coarser grind compared to espresso coffee. Since gravity is the only force pushing the water through the coffee grounds, you don’t want the grind to be too fine, otherwise the water will be in contact with the coffee for too long (which affects the flavour) – and it’ll just take too damn long to brew your coffee!

Because espresso machines use upwards of 9 bars of pressure to force the water through the grounds, espresso grinds are much finer, and are tamped (compressed down).

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4. So which filter coffee method should I order?

The magic of filter coffee is in the process. While there are lots of machines that make filter coffee, most of the methods currently available see are completely manual, which gives your barista ultimate control over the brew; and if brewed well, results in a better-tasting coffee.

Here at The Streets, Dukes and The Precinct by Toby’s Estate both offer a range of manual brewing methods, including AeroPress, Kono pour-over, V60, Chemex and Kalita – so we recommend having a chat to them (just maybe avoid the 8:30am rush!), finding out what the subtle differences between each method are, and seeing which works one tickles your caffeine-loving fancy.

Happy drinking, and let us know how your filter coffee journey is going by posting your pics on Instagram and tagging #thestreetsofbarangaroo!