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Filter Coffee Explained

Filter Coffee Explained

We drink loads of filter coffee here at Rumble, both at home and all-day in the roastery. But if you are new to the coffee world, then you might not know much about filter coffee. 

Sweet Science filter coffee blend from Rumble Coffee RoastersSweet Science Filter Blend

What is filter coffee?

All coffee is filtered, right? Unless you make it in a Turkish style. But when people say filter coffee most of the time, they are referring to the brewing method, coffee that passes through a paper or metal filter at the end of the brewing process. 

Or, it can also refer to a roasting method, as in a ‘filter roast.’ You may find when buying coffee that the label says filter coffee. Most of the time, a ‘filter roast’ will be lighter than a roast used for espresso. Lighter means that the coffee hasn’t spent as long developing in the roaster and the colour of the final coffee isn’t as dark. 

Rumble Coffee Roasters single origin filter coffee beans

At Rumble, for example, we roast our filter coffees for around ten minutes, while our espresso roasts can get up towards the twelve-minute mark. As espresso is such a unique method, with its short brew time under extreme pressure, it needs the coffee to be developed further to extract all the flavour you need within thirty seconds. Filter coffee is brewed for longer, at least a minute for Aeropress (more like 1:30), two minutes or more for pour overs and longer again for batch brew. 

It’s never been easier to find filter coffee at a cafe. Many cafes now have a batch brew on the menu, with some offering single-serve filters like a v60 pour over. The filter coffee you get at a cafe will probably be different to how you might make in a plunger at home. 

Pourover filter coffee from Rumble Coffee Roasters

Many people have terrible memories of filter coffee because they think of a drip coffee they had years ago. Don’t worry, filter coffee has come a long way and probably tastes nothing like the one you got 20 years ago at a cafe chain. In this article, we’ll break down what filter coffee is, the methods of brewing and some things to look forward to in a good filter brew.

The two principal methods of brewing filter coffee, manual and automatic.

Manual filter methods are the Aeropress, V60 pour-over, Chemex, French Press and even the almost forgotten syphon. Manual brewing is easy to do at home and doesn't require a coffee machine or other expensive equipment. All you need is fresh ground coffee, hot water and your brewing device. But it requires skill and the knowledge of how to make good filter coffee.

Filter Coffee made using an Aeropress

Automatic methods use a machine, often called a batch brewer to brew larger volumes of filter coffee. We use a Moccamaster Thermoserve at our cafes but Fetco and Breville also make good options.

How do you make filter coffee?

That depends on the brew method and equipment you have. Check out our Brew Guides section for advice on how to get the most out of your coffee beans when brewing with different filter methods. Things like your grind size and brew time will change, but you always need good coffee beans, a grinder and fresh water.

Is filter coffee the same as espresso? 

No. The coffee has been roasted for less time and is brewed differently. While you can use an espresso roast, it will not taste as clean and sweet and clear as a good filter coffee.

Is filter coffee stronger than espresso?

The age-old coffee brewing question. First, it depends on what you mean by strong.

Filter contains more caffeine than espresso. Which makes sense when you think about it. Your brew water spends two minutes or more in contact with the coffee grounds when brewing filter, while in espresso it flushes through within thirty seconds. 

But in terms of flavour, espresso will taste ‘stronger’. The espresso method of extracting at pressure means it draws out more body and flavour.

Do I need to rinse the filter paper?

Yes, you do. Giving the paper filter a rinse before brewing will wash away any papery taste and allow for a better cup. Make sure you use fresh water in your kettle too. Filtered water might be needed, but that depends on the water in your area. Melbourne water is generally great, so doesn't always need to be filtered.

What water temperature do I use for filter coffee?

Great question. If you are using a light roasted coffee or filter roast, then fresh boiled water straight from the kettle is best. Don't worry about burning the coffee, it's already been roasted to over 200 degrees and some boiling water won't hurt it. But if you use the wrong coffee, it might not help.

For a darker roast, to avoid extracting any burnt or ashy flavours, try cooler water, say 90 degrees C. The easiest way to do this is to leave your kettle for thirty seconds before pouring. For a full investigation, watch this video from the mighty James Hoffman.

Rumble Coffee Roasters pouring filter coffee

What coffee do I use for filter coffee?

This is the fun part. Filter coffee is one of the best ways to experience and learn about the world of coffee, all while drinking as much deliciousness as possible. We roast two fresh coffees for filter each week and these change throughout the year as fresh coffee arrives. Have a look at our Twin Pack to see what's fresh right now. 

How long can I keep my brewed coffee?

It's best to drink your coffee straight away as it oxidises from contact with the air and lose its sparkle. That doesn't mean you need to neck it while it's scalding hot, but it won't be as delicious two hours later.

If you want to store your brewed coffee, put it in an airtight container in the fridge and then drink it within 24 hours.

Agitating coffee grounds of a v60, made using Rumble Coffee's single origin

Can I add milk to filter coffee?

Of course, you can do whatever you like. If you are always adding milk, then try using an espresso blend and see how you like that. Oat milk also works well, but soy has a tendency to curdle.

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