This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
I cannot claim to be a coffee expert (I’ll leave that to Chris Morocco). I was the person in college who never complained about our dining hall coffee, which I would drink at breakfast, lunch, and after dinner. If it was hot (or even hottish), strong, and caffeinated, I was in.
These days my standards are a little higher—as in I’m the proud owner of a Chemex (for sake of simplicity and ease of cleaning) and I grind my beans at home. But still, there’s really only one thing that can make me inconsolably distressed when it comes to coffee, and that’s when the coffee doesn’t exist. How will my brain, body, or soul function properly? For me the limiting factor isn’t the beans themselves (I would never let that happen), but the paper filters that fit into my Chemex.
After too many days of fumbling around the cabinet at 6 a.m. only to realize that the box that normally contains the filters was tragically empty (I blame my husband), I decided to buy a reusable stainless-steel coffee filter. It saves paper, it saves money (the upfront cost evens out over time), and it saves me from googling “what can I use instead of a coffee filter?” and then seeing how many layers of cheesecloth it will take…. And because it’s dishwasher-safe, it’s not even that annoying to clean.
Full disclosure: There’s much debate in the barista community (of which I’m not a member) about whether a steel or paper filter makes for a better cup. Compared to paper filters, which absorb more of the beans’ oils and strain out more sediment, a cup of coffee that drips through a metal filter will be richer and fuller bodied. I’ll leave the discussion to the experts and say, that as an amateur, I haven’t noticed a difference. As long as I can keep making coffee without a hiccup, I’m thrilled.
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