Filter coffee VS Espresso coffee

I maestri della tostatura media
Filter coffee is another method of extracting ground coffee.

It is usually confused with the American coffee brewed in classic Italian coffee bars, although it is not the same drink.

We Italians are used to using two, three, or even four types of coffee extraction: mocha, espresso, capsules, and Neapolitan.

Filter coffee, as already anticipated, is nothing more than a different method of creating the beverage we all love so much.

Before getting into the discussion, I wanted to make a premise that is very important to me.

No! Filter coffee is not a watered-down beverage. No! It is not a stretched coffee. And No! It is not true that it doesn’t taste like anything.

I know, now you’re probably putting your hands in your hair and thinking I’ve gone crazy.

Of course, as a good Italian, I could not do without espresso, which has entered everyone’s homes in a similar form, thanks to capsules. As a good Italian, I also appreciate mocha coffee and sip occasionally a delicious coffee made with the Neapolitan.

However, I think there are so many different methods of extractions, each one bringing some new and really special feature to the cup.

In the previous paragraph I listed four of them already, so why not make a fifth one part of our habits as well?

Some general information…

Filter coffee is one of the oldest and simplest methods of preparing the dark beverage.

All you need is a container in which to collect the liquid, a filter holder, a filter, coarse ground coffee, and hot water.

It accounts for approximately 80 percent of the world’s consumption, making it the most popular, well-known and widely drunk coffee drink in the world, especially in the United States and Northern Europe. Over time it has really become a symbol of the American way of life, which is why when you see such “long” coffee it is usually called American coffee.

Beware though!

The American served in our coffee shops, is not filter coffee!

And unfortunately, it is from these places that the idea that American coffee is tasteless hot water slop is born and spreads. And unfortunately in this case I agree with these views.

Americano in Italy is always prepared with an espresso machine: espresso is extracted in a large cup and then filled with hot water. So yes, this is a stretched espresso.

Filter coffee on the contrary is obtained by percolation: due to the force of gravity, water filters through the coffee powder.

I won’t go into too much detail about its preparation, as you can watch a dedicated video by clicking on this button.

In short I will tell you that a higher dose of coffee powder per person is used than espresso, practically double or even triple the grams used.

After that, water is poured over the coffee powder. The water filters through the ground coffee much more slowly than through espresso, managing to extract all the natural flavors of the coffee, as well as more caffeine. The water is at lower temperatures, compared to that used for espresso, making the resulting drink much less bitter.

To sum up: filter coffee is a less full-bodied, much more aromatic, less bitter, and more caffeinated coffee.

Now the point is not to decide whether it is better or worse than espresso, whether we drink better coffee or the Americans, whether we are real coffee connoisseurs or not.

From my point of view, filter coffee is simply another way of drinking coffee.

It is simply different!

It turns out much more like tea, which is why I prefer it in the afternoon or during long study sessions or intense work. I offer it to guests when we all sit quietly around a small table chatting and have some time to sip our mug of coffee.

But not only that! This method, as mentioned above, brings out all the natural aromas of the coffee, as well as the defects. Therefore, it is perfect to be used to more thoroughly analyze the quality of a coffee or to unearth any defects.

For the same reason it is also more delicate. It requires the use of really good quality ground coffee, roasted to perfection, possibly medium roast, which is the roast that is most successful in bringing out the flavors. It is a perfect extraction to use with single-origins, to be able to perceive every aromatic nuance that distinguishes them.

In order to make good filter coffee in my opinion, you need a minimum of selection at the origin, as well as the right size ground coffee. But for this you only need to rely on your trusted roastery!

By far my favorite tool for brewing filter coffee is the Chemex, both for convenience, being one piece, and for aesthetics.

Alternatively, one can purchase automatic machines, which are certainly more convenient and which grind the grains on demand for the required dose and automatically extract the beverage. This option was also chosen for our Torrefazione in Milan, on Corso Buenos Aires, to be able to offer a “real American coffee” to all our customers, varying from day to day the single-origin used.

My favorite? Among the single-origin coffees from Ernani I really appreciate the Colombia Supremo finca la Meseta, very fresh and fruity, with a pleasant acidity.

If you would like to get a consultation to understand even better how to make filter coffee at home or find out exactly what it is and how to appreciate it, write to me at, I’ll be waiting for you!

Martina Mazzoleni

Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager
Coffee Lover


Martina Mazzoleni

Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager Coffee Lover

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