How to – Brew Filter Coffee

This is the first segment of a new series of blog articles I will be writing to help you get the most out of your brew.

Filter Coffee seems to have inherited a bad reputation over the years. I remember going to gatherings and getting all excited at the prospect of drinking filter coffee only to be disappointed with receiving brown sadness water.

To make exceptional filter coffee you need to pay more attention to the coffee and brew ratio than the actual machine. I use a entry level coffee machine bought at a supermarket. It cost no more than R300 at the time. Don’t be fooled with thinking: the more expensive the machine, the better the coffee.

It is always better to grind coffee fresh. If you don’t have a grinder, make sure the coffee has been freshly roasted and ground correctly to match your brew needs by your local coffee roaster. Grind size does matter. If the coffee is too fine, the coffee will over extract, releasing unpleasant bitter notes, whilst if the grounds are too coarse it will under extract giving a watery tasteless brew. Always use Filter Ground coffee for a filter machine. French press coffee, for example, is ground slightly more coarsely.

Calculate your brew ratio

This determines the strength of coffee. It’s the difference between a rich rewarding brew and the brown sadness water mentioned earlier. I use a fairly strong brew ratio, using 17.5 grams of ground coffee to 250Ml of water. This is a 1:14.2 Ratio, meaning for every 1 gram of coffee use 14.2ml of water. The standard filter coffee brew ratio is 1:17, meaning 1 gram of coffee for every 17ml of water. Now I know many of you don’t have a coffee scale, so for now use your digital kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, use a spoon measure. I can’t recommend how many spoons of coffee you should use because spoon size varies. I have however, tested measuring spoons used in baking, which many of us have and are not that expensive. A level tablespoon measure (15 ml) holds roughly 6 grams and a level teaspoon measure(5 ml) holds roughly 2 grams of coffee. Measuring the grounds allows you to have a record so you can adjust your brew ratio until you are happy with the flavour in the cup.

Paper Filter vs Filter Basket

Most filter machines come standard with a mesh basket, I prefer using a paper filter in conjunction with the basket. Yes, the paper filter actually does affect the flavour! A paper filter doesn’t allow all the oils to filter through thus giving a cleaner cup, using the mesh basket on its own allows more oils and compounds to filter through giving a heavier body. The choice is yours, try both methods and see which is preferred.

So here is Backyard Brew’s Filter Method

Use 35 grams of our Uganda Bugisu to 500 ml of water with a paper filter.

Step 1: Place at least 250ml of water in the tank and allow this to filter through the machine, this clears the boiler of old water, rinses the paper filter, (the paper filter may transfer unwanted flavours to your coffee if not rinsed first) and warms the coffee decanter. Discard this water.

Step 2: Place 35 grams of filter ground coffee into the filter basket.(Remember the paper filter is already in the basket as it was rinsed it in step 2.)

Step 3: Fill the tank with 500 ml of, preferably, filtered water.

Step 4: Switch on the machine and allow to brew. (average brew time may vary)

Step 5: Pre-heat two coffee mugs. Some place their mugs in the microwave for a few seconds, others simply fill the cups with warm water to heat them up. Pouring hot coffee into a cold mug decrease the temperature of the coffee, thus the common complaint – this coffee is cold.

Step 6: Pour the coffee into warmed mugs and add clean water off the boil to taste if the brew is too strong. Remember you can always slightly dilute your coffee but you cannot make it stronger again!

Here are some helpful hints:

Most coffee machines have a warmer plate, I advise you brew only what you need, as applying heat to the coffee over a long period of time will spoil the flavour. The water will start to evaporate over time leaving behind the heavier compounds affecting the flavour of the coffee.

It is also a good habit to run cleaning powders through your machine. I recommend Urnex Cleancaf Coffee Machine Cleaning Powder. It removes coffee residue which can affect the flavour of the brew.

Never reuse the grounds, you have already extracted all the goodness out of the coffee and will just be extracting undesirable coffee compounds and flavours.This may seem odd, but many people have asked me this question.

I hope this article assists you with brewing many a fantastic cup of coffee!

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