Filter coffee which is becoming more popular in coffee shops is, in it’s simplest form, hot water poured over ground coffee. The grounds are then filtered out, leaving a deliciously clean and complex brew.
We explore the differences between filter coffee and espresso and dive further into what makes an Australian International Coffee Awards (AICA) winning filter coffee.
First of all, it’s important to have the right beans. Espresso beans won’t produce a tasty cup of filter coffee. The two key reasons being the roast and the grind. Coffee beans intended for filter coffee are lighter in roast, in order to preserve acidity and fruitiness, as opposed to espresso roasts which are much darker.
The second characteristic to consider is the grind of the coffee. Filter coffee requires a courser grind which allows the water to pass through the coffee quicker.
At the AICA, there are two methods of filtered coffee being judged, pour over and immersion.
This method involves pouring 50ml of hot water (preheated to 94 degrees) over 15gm of ground coffee that has been placed in a conical-shaped filter and allowed to soak for 30 seconds before the remaining 200ml is poured in a circular motion. The water is then allowed to drip through the filter into the vessel below.
Unlike the pour over method which uses gravity to filter the coffee, immersion coffee is produced in a method that is more similar to the brewing of tea. Fifteen grams of ground coffee is placed in a vessel, then 50ml of water is poured over and allowed to settle for 15 seconds. After that, 200ml of water is then poured over the coffee and allowed to brew for two and a half minutes. The coffee is then decanted and served.
For the judging of the Australian International Coffee Awards, coffees are blind tasted by a panel of industry experts. Once the perfect cup of coffee is brewed in the preferred method, it is presented to the judging panel for assessment. Entries are allocated a tasting order number, separate from their exhibit number to ensure the integrity of the judging process.
The judges use a 60 point scoring system, with any gold medals awarded by a panel checked by the Head Judge for consistency. Any coffee awarded 54 - 60 points will be presented a gold medal, 49 - 53 points is a silver and 44 - 48 a bronze.
What do the judges look for?
In the AICA there are three classes in which filter coffee is judged:
- Pour over, single origin
- Immersion, blend
- Immersion, single origin
Each of these classes are judged using the same criteria which include points for:
- Aroma (6 points)
- Flavour (12 points)
- After Taste (6 points)
- Acidity (6 points)
- Body (6 points)
- Balance (12 points)
- Overall (12 points)
A fine example of a gold medal-winning filter coffee is the ‘Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere’ from New Zealand roasters, Chiasso Coffee Co. which took home the trophy for Champion Filter Coffee (the best filter coffee across all three classes). Their award-winning coffee was judged by 2018 AICA judges to possess notes of dark choc, maple syrup and mixed spice on nose, complex dried fruit with milk choc, malt and caramel. The judges described it as clean, sweet lingering aftertaste with notes of buttery shortbread.
With the judging of the 2019 AICA taking place in March, can Chiasso Coffee Co. defend their crown or will there be a new champion?