This is the first post in our series on coffee extraction methods, so I decided to start with a classic that most of us have probably kept in the kitchen cupboard. The first time I became aware of this method was at my grandmother’s house when I was a child, and decades later I can still remember the smell of that coffee that perfumed the whole house. I’m talking about the very traditional coffee made in Melitta filter holder.
It is very likely that the first filter holder similar to the one we have today was invented by Melitta Bentz, a German who lived in the early 20th century. His life story was sensational and would make a Hollywood movie with many twists and turns, but we will not go into details. For now, it is interesting to know that Dona Melitta was dissatisfied with the coffees of her time, thinking that some coffee makers such as the Italian one, for example, over-extracted or even burned coffee, producing a drink with a bitter taste and a lot of waste.
Looking for a solution to produce a coffee of better taste, the housewife made a filter holder with a pierced brass with nail on base, so that the coffee could drain slowly. And, personally, the part I like most about this story: as the cloth filters were bad to wash, Melitta decided to use a piece of blotting paper (a highly absorbent paper) from her son’s notebook to filter the coffee, and in 1908 invented the paper filter! I’m a fan of this woman!
Much has changed since then, but Melitta filters and filter holders still allow you to extract clean, very tasty coffee today. If you have one of these at home, you probably already know how to use it and have your favorite recipe. Even so, I selected here a step by step for those who may be starting or want to have a starting point to do their experiments with Melitta:
Proportion: 70g / l (approximately 1:14 ratio). This proportion is an average between some methods in which water is poured over coffee and some methods of infusion.
Coffee grinding: medium to medium-fine.
- Grind the coffee just before you start preparing the drink. Remember to weigh it before preparation, so that you can repeat or correct your recipe next time.
- It is a good idea to scald your paper filter with boiling water before putting coffee powder on it. This serves to reduce any unwanted smell or taste that may pass from paper to coffee, in addition to preheating your container (teapot, mug or thermos). If the water you are going to use has boiled, let it rest for a minute before using.
- With the coffee powder already inside the filter, add enough water to wet all the powder and let it degas for up to 30 seconds (this step is called blooming);
- The next step is to add the rest of the water over the coffee and wait for it to drain through the filter holder. Depending on the quantity you are preparing, it may be necessary to repeat this step a few times.
Extraction time: between 2:30 and 4 minutes, depending mainly on the grind used.
One last curiosity about this method: it is difficult to define a single extraction method for the Melitta filter holder. This is because everything is very similar to filtration in which water is poured over coffee (or pour over, remember?), but the shape of the filter holder allows the coffee to brew for a longer time than other methods. You can tell then that this is a hybrid method between that of the French press, for example, and that of Hario, Chemex, Kalitta (which fit the pour over method – but calm down, soon we will talk about each one of them! ).
Sources: Pts Coffee, Wikipedia, Blue Bottle Coffee (cover photo)
Have you had your coffee today? 😉