Mecca Espresso is offering pour-over coffee at their new cafe on Harris Street. But what is it?
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When you think filter coffee, it's hard to not think of the classic American diner where glass jugs of percolated coffee are poured into bottomless cups and topped with creamer. But look past that, because what we're talking about here is a different way of drinking coffee.
Is filter an alternative to espresso for most Aussies? Probably not - this method takes a lot longer than an espresso and isn't really something you can dump into a takeaway cup. But the pour-over style has been exciting enthusiasts for a while now. Mecca Espresso co-owner Paul Geshos is a fan. "In America, coffee's brewed by the vat-load and stews there for hours and hours. The whole idea of per-cup brewing has been popularised by espresso. You order the coffee, and someone goes and makes it. It's not just poured out of a jug." Pour-over coffee, or filter coffee, is just a different method of getting coffee and water to talk to each other in pursuit of making a tasty drink. There are quite a few different methods to get basically the same result, including one particular device that looks like it could double as something you'd find in a meth lab.
Without getting bogged down in the really scientific stuff (and it gets very lab-like at Mecca when they're doing their weekly classes and talks), it goes a little something like this. A measure of fresh roasted and ground coffee beans is placed in either a ceramic, metal or paper filter. The filter determines how quickly the water drips through to the empty receptacle. Boiling water is then poured in a circular motion over the coffee. "We want to fully saturate the coffee and draw everything out evenly," says Geshos. "Because we're not agitating the coffee like an espresso, we're letting the water do all the work. Now we let gravity take over. We can adjust the flow rate by the different coarseness of coffee. If you wanted the flow rate to go slower, you'd grind the coffee finer and vise versa. It completely changes the texture and the flavour of the coffee." It's basically what Geshos describes as a gentler way to make coffee as opposed to the violent acts of tamping and expressing - forcing the water to come out via pressure. "You've got to find that balance - it's the same for all brewing methods."
The resulting brew doesn't have any of the tang and twang you might in an espresso coffee and yet has far more caffeine, given the water has more time to party with the coffee. With an espresso, it's more like a wham, bam, thank you ma'am.
But does the technique make a good coffee? Well, it's certainly a different coffee - different notes, flavours and yep, even textures are evident and could almost be described as more like a herbal tea. And would we drink another one? Sure - it might not be an everyday thing, but it's definitely worth a go.