Coffee in Denmark has for a long time been synonymous with large quantities of filter coffee. There was practically not a household in Denmark without a filter coffee machine. Unfortunately, filter coffee has gotten a bad reputation in Denmark, despite the fact that it can actually be one of the most pleasant brewing methods.
There’s a tendency in Denmark for people, especially in the specialty coffee world, to look down on filter coffee as simply being synonymous with bad tasting or plain boring coffee.
But why? Simply because most of the coffee brewed this way was and is from very cheap commercial supermarket coffee, it often contains lots of lower quality coffees with many defects. the dominant flavours of which are quite unpleasant: bitter, burnt and rubbery are words that come to mind. Add to that the fact that the supermarket coffee is often ground very finely, to allow you to use a lower dose and still attain some strength in the brew, you end up with a really overextracted and bitter coffee.
Next, keeping the brewed coffee on a hot plate, although ensuring it would be scalding hot so you couldn’t really taste a thing also made the coffee taste even worse if it was allowed to cool in the cup.
The truth is, filter batch brewing can be one of the most consistent ways of brewing coffee and if you follow a few simple steps, it can taste amazing. We’ve written about the 7 steps to better coffee before, but here’s a quick review:
First off, think about your water and how it affects the taste: coffee is 99% water and very important to the final quality of your coffee. Copenhagen city water is about the worst thing you can do for your coffee, so make sure to buy bottled water unless you have a good filter system. Look for mineral water that is low in TDS (Total Dissolve Solids) and preferably a bicarbonate (HCO3−) content under 50 ppm.
Next, get some really good freshly roasted beans that have been carefully roasted to a light degree. Great quality does not come cheap, so don’t expect to find amazing coffees for a low price. But all in all, if you calculate the cost per cup, you will find that coffee is an amazingly cheap luxury.
You might have an idea about which coffees you like, but maybe you don’t know what’s available and how the flavours are different between farms, regions and countries. If you find a good coffee shop, the barista should be able to guide you. You can use the Nordic Coffee Culture guide to coffee shops to find one close to you.
Personally I love some of the light roasted Kenyan coffees, that we find here in Scandinavia. The best Kenyan coffees taste absolutely amazing brewed using a filter method. Most Scandinavian roasters recommend using approximately 60g coffee per liter of water. You hopefully know to grind fresh for each portion, but make sure you really experiment with grind size – It’s the key to getting the right extraction.
Finally brew it into a serving carafe or (clean) thermos. Never apply heat after brewing. Brew smaller portions more frequently than trying to prolong the life of the finished brew.
It’s really not that hard. Follow the few simple advices about and you’ll see that a little bit of effort goes a long way!
What I would hope to see here in Denmark, is that more coffee shops, cafés and restaurant start to realize that filter batch brewing can be really good. It is not the brewing method’s fault if the coffee is no good.
It all starts with the coffee: A great coffee will make a great cup of brewed coffee, but there is no way to make a great tasting cup of coffee with a bad product. When you search out and choose your coffees, don’t just go for what you just think other people might like. Go for something that is interesting and something that excites you, something you would like other people to taste and enjoy as well.
And don’t hesitate to ask your local roasters and baristas for help to achieve that. It’ll just make us happy.