Filter coffee, not caffè americano

V60, Chemex, Aeropress, Cold Brew and Syphon: alternative extraction encompasses various, increasingly interesting techniques

When a person enters and sits down, the classic “I’d like a coffee” can receive different replies, including this one: “Strong and intense or delicate and fragrant for you to slowly enjoy?”
Indeed extraction is an art that not only affects flavour but also enjoyment of coffee: an espresso should be consumed within one minute from being served in a cup, since after that time it loses up to 60% of its aroma. By contrast, a coffee extracted using alternative methods is most fragrant between five and ten minutes after filtration. We are not referring to caffè americano, which is literally an espresso diluted with boiling water, but rather to American-style coffee, known as filter coffee, produced through filtration.
The technique is different and extraction is an artisan process, as demonstrated by Davide Roveto, a young barista who specialises in brewing and teaches courses on the subject. He has transformed the Cognetti family Café into a successful micro roastery in the centre of Bari, which has been reviewed by Gambero Rosso as one of the best places to sample tea and coffee. For Davide, it is a dream come true. He decided to leave the faculty of economics to dedicate himself to the café with a very clear idea: to create a place where tea and coffee are high-quality products.

Alternative extraction

Davide, a Faema enthusiast (he has an E71), gradually became passionate about different types of alternative extraction and infusion because, he explains, “over time, filter coffee becomes more aromatic and is therefore perfect for people who enjoy spending a long time in a café and for those looking for more flavourful tastes than those of espresso, using beans that are less toasted and have floral scents.” Here you can find a periodic selection of single-origin specialities and micro-lots (very small productions) of pure arabica both for espresso and for filter coffee produced using various techniques: from V60 percolation to Chemex, from Syphon to Cold Brew to Aeropress, which is becoming a big hit online thanks to its practicality and versatility.

V60, good and comforting like in days gone by

Filter coffee, freshly ground and extracted, is a method that was invented in Germany in 1908 and is technically known as “v60 percolation”, the expert tells us. “You simply put a paper filter in a dripper, which is a sort of pierced cup at an angle of 60°. After soaking the filter to remove any hints of paper, you add the coarse ground coffee and make an infusion from above with water at 93/95° C for around 2 minutes. The resulting drink has a mild, but lingering flavour that should be slowly savoured.”

Chemex: so cool

Another manual extraction technique is Chemex, which is very fashionable among “coffee lovers” and American designers (hence why it is called “the American coffee maker”): indeed, the original model is still on display in MoMa’s permanent collection. Its defining feature is the hourglass shape of the glass flask with a wooden collar handle around the neck tied by a leather strap in which you insert a very thick, porous paper filter (the thicker it is, the more it holds back the coffee oils, producing more liquid coffee). The angle is different from the V60, Davide explains, and this also changes how the coffee is extracted. Though the resulting flavour is less full-bodied, Chemex produces “clean” coffee for multiple cups, making it suitable for sharing coffee with friends.

Aeropress: alternative and cheap

“Curious, fun and simple: Aeropress is a kind of syringe,” the barista explains, “in which you leave water and ground coffee to infuse for as long as you want, depending on the result you want to obtain, and then press down on a sort of piston with a filter made of paper, metal or rubber, extracting coffee with unusual aromatic characteristics.”

Cold Brew, drop after drop

“Equally fascinating,” Davide tells us, “is the Cold Brew method, in which coffee is extracted cold using a process that lasts for several hours in which drops slowly land on the filter, eventually producing a coffee with delicate roasted notes. Naturally, you need to be very patient or order it in advance, but in summer, when cooled to 4° C, it is a true elixir and a perfect base for coffee-flavoured cocktails.”

The Syphon never ceases to amaze

Syphon makes the coffee-making process spectacular since the percolation tool resembles an old still and it produces mesmerising full-bodied coffee. It looks like an alchemist’s instrument: two glass globes separated in the centre by a cloth filter and tied by a steel chain. “In this case,” Davide clarifies, “the extraction process involves decompression. Water that has already been measured is added to the lower globe and heated.” The steam pushes the water into the upper chamber that holds the ground coffee, infusing it for a controlled amount of time. When the heat is removed for decompression the drink is filtered and descends to the lower chamber. “Thanks to cloth or steel filters, more oils pass through, so the extracted coffee is more full-bodied. And that is not all: the longer it is heated, the longer the infusion, so you can customize the extraction and if you want,” the expert concludes, “you can flavour the water when it is in the upper chamber by inserting delicate, intriguing citrus peel before the coffee.”