Saturday, May 22, 2010

Going Metal

Vac Pot filtered coffee going to head-to-head.

In Japan, sophisticated syphon bars utilize a type of metal filter in their vac pots that screw together allowing you to use either cloth or paper filters with quick change ability. In America, intrepid baristas have found a way to use a La Marzocco dispersion screen in lieu of the cloth or paper filters. An intriguing idea but an unusual challenge to find a U.S. based source of these seemingly elusive metal screw filters.

Finally got a (small) stack of these filters with the thought of them replacing our cloth filters for vac pot service. Matched with new metal dispersion screens, these contraptions promise the hope of simplicity and ease of cleaning - which should make bar life slightly easier.

Metal filter on the left, cloth on the right.

The experiment is simple enough: take one metal filter and one cloth based filter and brew head-to-head comparison coffees and see which one is best. For the test, we used the Honduras San Vicente Micro Lot from Origins Organic Coffee of Vancouver. Same ratio, same technique, same coffee - different filter. I was surprised by the results.

In a perfect world, the metal filter would produce the exact same results as the cloth filters without the mess or fuss of cleaning between usages. In this world however, the results were surprisingly different.

Looking back in retrospect, it probably should be a surprise since the La Marzocco dispersion screen is not as fine as the cloth filter and one should then expect sediment. Whatever the case, the resulting sediment was unexpected in my mind resulting in a coffee with more body that reminded me of press pot coffee and a distinct departure from the clarity typically found in a vac pot brewed coffee.

My initial reaction is that I didn't like the resulting coffee. I prefer the clarity of vac pot when brewing vac pot. If I wanted the body and murkiness of pressed coffee, I might as well use a french press. That said, some of the Spro baristas liked the alternative results of the metal filter and we're giving it a run this weekend to see how it performs in a service environment and check feedback from customers.

So if you want to see the latest in vac pot brewing by intrepid baristas, have a visit this weekend.

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