You’ve probably seen it before, maybe in a movie or TV show with a scene in an American diner. The waitress walks up to a patron with a steaming mug of black coffee. “Want a refill, hon?”
America loves filtered coffee. Everywhere you go – from hotels, diners, restaurants, offices and everywhere in-between – coffee is served in filters. Starbucks, naturally, has a fresh pot of whatever’s going that day.
But why is filtered coffee so popular in the US of A and not so popular in other cultures, such as Italy or even Australia?
And why do we tend to look down at filtered coffee, placing barista-prepared beverages at the top of the pack?
It’s not so much that Americans love filtered coffee as it’s just, well…everywhere. Placing coffee in a filter and preparing a pot is cheap. Which is exactly why it’s become so ubiquitous – a cup of coffee prepared in the most least expensive method possible is always going to be the most accessible. You might not have $5 for a cappuccino, but scrounging up 50 cents? That’s a different story.
Which is exactly why filtered coffee is everywhere. Diners, offices, hotels – you can’t go far without finding it. If you’re exposed to something often enough, it’s easy enough to like it. Or at least, put up with it until you become addicted to the coffee.
But that’s where the assumptions should stop. Filtered coffee isn’t terrible just because it’s made in a filter. A lot of factors contribute to a good cup of filtered coffee – so what are they?
Did you know that coffee beans need to be ground differently depending on the type of filter they’re in? If you’re using a paper filter, or a metal filter, the process differs – and even that difference can change how the water reacts to the beans.
And by the way, your choice of beans will naturally result in a better or worse brew – whether you’re using freshly ground beans or something instant out of a jar.
Quality of water
Using regular tap water? That’s probably why your filtered coffee sucks, especially in places like diners or office buildings. Some cafes use spring water for this reason. You need good, clean water in order to make a filtered coffee taste good.
A pot of coffee made through a filter should never sit more than an hour. (Looking at you, McDonald’s). If it’s sitting out for any longer, then you need to make a fresh pot.
A clean machine
It can’t be said enough. A clean machine makes better coffee than one mixed up with grit and grime. If you’re operating a filtered machine, then you need to make sure it’s nice and clean. Otherwise your brew will be tainted with the scorched grounds of cups gone by.
So the next time you see someone offering filtered brew, don’t turn up your nose. You might be turning down a fantastic cup of coffee.