The Way to the Perfect Filter Coffee

Making a cup of coffee can't be all that hard, right? Just put the grounds in the filter, pour hot water over it and wait. Our author Ricard Tessmer has gathered four tips to help you brew the perfect filter coffee.

The Way to the Perfect Filter Coffee

For a long time, I wasn't a big fan of classic filter coffee, and especially not without any milk. My tactic was always to drown coffee, often too bitter for my taste, in plenty of milk, so it never really mattered exactly how I brewed it. As it turns out, there's a bit more to making filter coffee than pouring in water and hitting a button. When prepared correctly, coffee barely tastes bitter at all and can be a real treat (even without milk!). 

If you'd also like to play barista and try to brew the perfect filter coffee, then check out my guide on how to make the best possible coffee at home

If you follow these four steps, you'll be on your way to pure caffeinated bliss.

Coffee Grinder

A traditional coffee grinder filled with beans

Coffee Grinder

1) The Grind Size Matters

Freshly ground coffee beans have a more intensive flavour than powdered coffee; even the smallest change in grind size can make a clear difference in taste. Each preparation method has a specific ideal grind setting. Whether you're using a french press, a Moka pot, or just making filter coffee, you should also consider how finely or coarsely the coffee beans are ground. But why is this such an important factor?

How coarse or fine the coffee beans are determines the flow rate and steep time of your coffee. Most importantly, though, is that all the coffee grinds have the same size. If that's not the case, then the water doesn't flow at the proper rate through the grinds. The different flavour notes are then distributed unevenly and the coffee is at risk of tasting sour or bitter

The same problem could occur if the coffee is ground too finely or too coarsely. The water could either go too quickly or too slowly through the grinds, which can alter the steep time and potentially ruin the proper distribution of all the flavour notes.

For normal filter coffee, we suggest medium-ground coffee between 4 and 5 (1 is very fine, 10 is very coarse). With a proper handheld grinder, you can always grind your beans fresh at home as coarse or fine as you like, depending on your preparation method. However, most handheld coffee grinders have one disadvantage: you can't always see the grind size on the grinder itself. In this case, you just have to practice using your coffee grinder until you know exactly how to set it to get the desired coarseness. Though this process might seem a bit tiresome at first, the price and performance of the Hario Coffee Grinder were convincing enough for me. It is now a permanent part of my personal coffee station at home.

Hario Skerton: Hand Coffee Grinder with Ceramic Burrs

Hario Skerton: Hand Coffee Grinder with Ceramic Burrs

Brewing Filter Coffee

A person pouring water from a kettle into a coffee filter

Brewing Filter Coffee

2) Water Temperature: Patience is Key!

Since water forms the basis of your coffee, it makes sense that the choice of water has an effect on the taste of the drink. Whether tap water or mineral water, the less the water has its own taste, the better for your coffee. However, more important than the choice of water is the temperature. The ideal water temperature for coffee is around 93.3 C. Many filter coffee machines don't heat the water up enough, so the water flowing through the ground coffee is often too cold. This prolongs the steeping time and is often responsible for sour tasting coffee. Anyone who brews by hand and uses a kettle should be patient. When the water begins boiling, take it off the stove and wait a minute until you pour the coffee. This should cool the water to about 93 C. A stove-top kettle with a long curved spout is well-suited for this purpose.

Stainless Steel Hario Buono Coffee Drip Kettle

Stainless Steel Hario Buono Coffee Drip Kettle

Brewing Coffee

Coffee being poured into a filter

Brewing Coffee

3) The Perfect Pouring Technique

To ensure an even flow while brewing, the hot water should not simply be poured onto the coffee grounds. Before filling the filter with grounds, rinse it out with water. This should prevent the filter from having its own taste. After you have filled the coffee into the filter, press it down lightly so that the surface is even. Next, wet the coffee grounds with water until they are completely wet, but before they float around in the water. Let it all steep for a moment until continuing to pour the rest of the water slowly in a circular motion.

Hario Ceramic Coffee Dripper

Hario Ceramic Coffee Dripper

Barista weighing coffee beans

Coffee beans being weighed in a bowl on a scale

Barista weighing coffee beans

4) The Golden Ratio (of Brewing!)

The brewing ratio describes the optimal ratio between water and coffee grounds. A rule of thumb applies here: 60 g of coffee per 1 litre of water. Milder coffee varieties may also be increased up to 5 more grams. Be sure to always adjust the ratio according to the coffee roast type. In order to weigh the coffee precisely by gram, we recommend using a digital scale, but any normal kitchen scale should do in a pinch.

The Coffee Gator Digital Timing Scale

The Coffee Gator Digital Timing Scale