Filtering refers to removing unwanted material in order to add value. In the case of coffee, we’re focusing on the topic of paper filters. Our cupboard is full of brewing tools like the Aeropress, French Press, Moka Pot, and V60 Pour-Over. But how do we choose how to brew in the morning? How does filtration weigh in on our decision and ultimately how does it affect the flavor of the coffee?

French Press

This is one of the simplest brewing forms, relying on immersion of coffee and water, and being quite easy to replicate. A huge advantage of the french press is the lack of waste in the form of paper filters. This not only reduces waste, but has a dramatic effect on the outcome of the coffee. Paper filters absorb oils in the coffee and generally provide a “cleaner” flavor profile with a focus on balance and acidity. Metal filters in a press really just keep the grounds out of your cup. As a result, the french press tends to accentuate the mouthfeel and body as all the coffee oils are intact. There is nothing more delightful than the creamy, frothy layer on the surface of a freshly plunged french press. This morning we brewed a washed Rwanda from The Gihanga Project roasted by Queen City Collective at a 14:1 ratio and the creamy mouthfeel added so much to the coffee. It was truly spectacular. We find that coffees with clean acidity (in this case orangey) perform really well in the french press, because the body and mouthfeel of a coffee are accentuated, providing a beautiful compliment to the already pleasant acidity. 

So, no paper filter waste. A creamy mouthfeel with more body. Easily replicable. Simple. Maybe the french press is truly the answer to all our brewing needs. But what about our beloved V60 pour-over?

Hario V60 Pour-Over 

Lately, the Hario V60 has been our primary go-to. It provides a nice clean and balanced cup and somewhat of a meditation ritual relying on a steady and focused pour whilst waking up. However, the sheer quantity of paper filters that we discard on a weekly basis can be concerning. This leads me to the question of whether to use paper filters or not. They are compostable but they still cost money and running out is never fun. And do they add value to our coffee experience? The short answer is yes, at least they can. Are they necessary for an elevated coffee experience? No, but sometimes the flavor profile is really nice and some coffees perform very well as pour-overs. Our favorite pour-over coffees have a lot of complexity, especially in the acidity department. The removal of oils via the paper filtration tends to create a focus on the acidity of any coffee and promote a clean and balanced profile. The V60 is a sure way to make the acidity stand out and provide a clean and easy to drink daily cup. 

In addition to filtering and flavor outcomes, we’ve noticed that the temperature of our coffee is drastically different between the french press and the pour-over. When doing a pour-over, the water temperature drops significantly when pouring and then even more while brewing. Afterall, the cone is wide open on top! By the time your delicious brew is ready to drink, it’s not very hot. The french press on the other hand is enclosed and retains heat a lot better. A freshly poured french press is piping hot in comparison. If you’re going to nurse your morning cup, it may be a better choice. All in all, our compost pile will always have a few paper filters mixed in, but we might start to use the french press a little more often!