As much as I love my filter coffee, I will admit, it took me time to get into it without any sweetener. Lets just just say I had to refine my taste. Now some people are the opposite who have always liked drinking coffee black. Then there are others who try to drink coffee for health purposes.
To the general public black or filter coffee is seen as something strong and bitter. Therefore you need milk and sugar to mask out the not-so-nice-stuff. This is not the case if you drink speciality coffee where you can experience different flavour profiles depending on where the coffee is from and how it was roasted. It is not too difficult to get into drinking filter coffee. There are some steps you can make to make the transitioning to drinking filter coffee easier. You just need to get a good brewer, a place that sells speciality coffee and be open to trying different types of filter coffee.
So lets look into what these steps are to help you get into filter coffee.
1. Start with immersion brewing
Brewing your own coffee is really rewarding. It is also a lot simpler then you might think as long as you know where to start. Now lot of depends on what exposure you have had into the speciality coffee world. But let me just say to get into black coffee, start with immersion brewing instead of pour-over. Immersion brewing is where coffee and water are in contact for a period time until the coffee is extracted. The reason why immersion brewing is a good starting point is because it is harder to make bad coffee compared to a pour-over which is more temperamental.
One immersion brewer that you might even have at home is the French Press/ Cafettiere. If you do have one, then read my post on tips to make better coffee using the French Press here and try brewing some coffee. However, the French Press can be a little pain to clear up and sometimes the coffee is a little bit gritty. The alternative brewer I recommend is the Aeropress.
Without a doubt the Aeropress makes great coffee through immersion brewing and is perfect for starters. There are lot of pros including being durable, travel-friendly, light, easy to use and fairly priced. But it also makes good coffee where you can experience different types of brews. You can also use it in different ways and the methods are endless so you won’t get bored. I have talked a lot about the Aeropress but best place to start is by reading this post.
2. Let your coffee cool down
This is a simple tip but it really makes a difference to your drinking experience. Which is to let your coffee cool down before you finish the whole drink. The best taste is not when you take the first sip, which is what caffeine-addicts seem to think. When you brew speciality coffee the natural flavours tend to come out more when the coffee cools down. When the coffee is hot the flavours are really masked out at that point.
Now sometimes you can experience some flavour notes when it is hot. But most of the time, the coffee needs cooling down before best taste comes through. You need to give it at least 5 minutes before you start taking that first sip. If you then drink that coffee then you will notice more changes in the taste up until you finish it. Some coffee will taste similar throughout but other coffee may produce different flavours at different points of the drinking. That’s what makes speciality coffee enjoyable to drink. There is something there then just caffeine. So it goes without saying, give your coffee a swirl, let is cool down, give another swirl, take a sip and take your time drinking it.
3. Buy coffee from a coffee shop
Let me just say don’t buy coffee from a supermarket to enjoy filter coffee. Focus on buying speciality coffee from an online roaster or coffee shops. You might think that is hard work but you will be surprised how many coffee roasters will post coffee too you or how close you live by a speciality coffee shop. Buying the right coffee can be a challenge at first. But I have you covered, check out this guide post here on how to buying speciality coffee.
As mentioned, one of the best ways to buy speciality coffee is going to a coffee shop and asking what the best coffee they sell for filter. This is a great way to understand what type of filter coffee is recommended to drink. It is even more evident if the coffee shops roasts there own coffee. Then it not just a product they are forced to sell but something they sourced, cupped and then finally roasted to get the best tasting flavour.
So google speciality coffee shops in your area and pay them a visit. Look around and ask what they recommend. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.
4. Try filter coffee from a coffee shop
To understand how good black coffee can taste then try it out in a coffee shop. Firstly, note that not all coffee shops do a filter style coffee if that is a manual pour-over or if they use a automated machine. But if you know a coffee shop that does sell filter coffee then I highly recommend you to try it. Not only will you taste good black filter coffee but it is good way to understand how others make it, including baristas.
Now it might be hard to choose black coffee say over a flat white and cortado (my favourite). But know making filter coffee, especially manually, is more time-consuming and requires skill to brew in a coffee shop environment. So that brew is not just a simple black coffee, it might be a really delicious and unique coffee that took time perfecting. The other thing quite cool about filter coffee is that you might have a choice to pick the coffee you want brewed. Just ask the staff what coffee they have on filter and go for what interests you. Maybe go for a coffee you have never tried before.
5. Learn about the coffee Origin, Process and Roast level
One way to really enjoy any sort of coffee especially black filter coffee is knowing where it came from and how it was produced by the farmer. The term we use is Origin, which just means where the coffee was grown and produced. Knowing the coffee origin can give a good indicator about the general flavour profile of the coffee. Again, check out my guide post where I state all the Origins and the flavours they are known for.
The Process is just as important too to understand what type of coffee you are getting. For beginners washed coffee is the place to start as its easier to drink with clear tasting flavours. But you should give Natural processed coffees a try, your palette may need time getting used to the wilder, funkier flavours but overtime you might really like. Then you can try some coffee that more time spend in the processing like Pulped Natural/ Honey coffee which can give both washed and natural characteristics.
The last thing which you should know about before buying coffee is the roast level. Roasters apply lot of skill and knowledge when trying to figure out which roast level will produce the best tasting coffee. So you should also know what type of roast level you prefer for when you brew your coffee. If you want to drink light body coffee, with lots of fruity and floral flavours notes then you want to go for light-roasts. If you prefer more richer coffee, chocolate, nutty with body then medium roasted coffee is the way to go. Generally the darker you go then it is less suited for filter and harder to brew with. However, there is no rule to say you can’t brew dark roasts on filter. But ultimately you want to know the roast level so you know how to brew it.
Going Forward: Experiment or Consistency
So the last point is more to do with your approach. I have already discussed what equipment you need (post here) and likely is you won’t need to be changing these equipments, unless you have to. But once you have everything set then you have two approaches. Either you can stick with what works once you are happy with the black filter coffee you are drinking or go and experiment with different coffees and brewers.
I would say you should try different coffees regardless but note you may need to adjust things like grind size and methods. But lets say you have used the Aeropress but want something different, like a pour-over. Well I would advise the next ideal brewer to buy is the Kalita Wave. The Kalita Wave is the perfect entry level brewer as it does lot of stuff that helps you brew delicious coffee. read my review here to know what I am talking about. With the Kalita you can get into pour-over style coffee whilst not having your skills scrutinised. For me the Kalita Wave gives you that perfect filter style coffee like you would get from an automated machine.
However, if you have done some researching and you are looking into experimenting with coffee. Then go for the Hario V60 to learn your pour-over craft. It may take more time to make delicious coffee but it will 100% be the most rewarding thing once you get into it.
I have been wanted to talk about getting into filter coffee for years. Especially my transitioning into drinking just black coffee took some time. I thought this is a nice introductory post into the whole filter coffee drinking. These steps I mentioned worked for me especially when I bought the Aeropress. I highly recommend you buy it if you are looking to try brewing your own coffee at home. If you are interested in it then you can buy the full set from Amazon, check the pricing here.
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