Excerpt from "Reg'lar cawfee" January/Febuary issue of Boughton's Coffee House magazine
Why is filter coffee still the poor relation to espresso?
In the UK, filter coffee is served in many pubs, restaurants and hotels. It is not seen in takeaway coffee bars, or areas of high footfall. This seems reasonable, because the usual filter methods of cafetieres and pour-overs simply won't cope. And yet filter coffee must be a worthwhile takeaway seller, because Starbucks has always shifted the stuff by the tanker-load, even in its British stores.
No other big British high-street caf name has shown much interest in filter (apart from Esquires, who achieve around nine per cent of their hot beverage sales with it).
But there is now a growing body of opinion which says that filter coffee is the caf operator's very best option. It is the truest, cleanest and most refreshing way of serving the world's very finest coffees and it really does work in high-footfall, quick-service cafe business.
One of the very biggest specialist brewing companies for filter coffee is Bunn, of America, where Randy Pope, director of the Bunn Beverage Technology Centre, is convinced that it can work here.
Is Bunns technology fitted for the high-speed, high-volume market?
"Yes, we have a very big experience of filter/drip ideas for the coffee-house market," he told us. "We have come a long way from the original cowboy method of putting beans into a sock, banging it against a rock, and boiling it for a while...
The potential for high volume of filter sales exists in Britain, he says. The big drawback is being absolutely sure of the quality of what is being served.
"When in Europe, I have found that most caf owners just can't see past espresso. In the UK, you're 95 per cent espresso and five per cent drip in many coffee houses in the States, you'll find the inverse proportion. I am told this is because people stopped drinking filter so much in Europe because it wasn't good enough.
"Certainly, filter/drip brings you many more options in flavour than espresso does, and so you do have to look very seriously at your quality. The major difference to work on, he says, is the concept of holding coffee.
"Espresso is a 'not holding' coffee - you grind it, pull it, serve it. Filter coffee is always held for a time, whether you brew two litres or sixteen litres.
"So what you must look at is your serving sizes and your holding options. We have recently done a lot of work on this, because here in America, the 20oz size has really taken off, and where we used to talk of a brewer holding so many ten-ounce cups per hour, now we have to talk of gallons per hour!
"You may need to hold two litres in stock at some times of the day and sixteen litres at others, so how do you do that? We suggest the British coffee-house market could look at our Brew-wise range, which helps with all the variables.
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