Beachville has grown out of its love for the South Indian Filter Coffee, and we see it as a form of brewing with immense possibility. Our mission has been to open out the myriad forms filter coffee can take when specialty coffee comes in to honour the much-loved beverage.
We have thought deeply and experimented a fair bit with various blends, single-origin beans and roast levels. Here, we have put together a comprehensive guide to brewing with the South Indian filter in the form of responses to common queries and curiosities encountered by people using this long-trusted brewing method.
Q: I have a bag of specialty coffee beans. How can I use it to brew filter coffee?
A: A fresh bag of good-quality specialty coffee can elevate your filter-coffee experience if you learn to optimise it for this brewing method.
Roast Level: Typically, medium or medium-dark roasted coffee is ideal for filter coffee and will give you a heavy-bodied brew with sweetness that is apt for the addition of milk. You can experiment with light roasts as well, but do expect more acidity and fruity notes. Some roasters may also offer a special blend for filter coffee.
Grinding: If you freshly grind your coffee, the ideal grind setting for filter coffee can be best described as slightly coarser than an espresso grind. You can also take it to a local cafe or roaster to get it ground by making this specification, or asking for a filter coffee grind. (Do note that in countries outside India, ‘filter coffee grind’ refers to pourovers and will leave you with a medium-coarse grind)
Q: What is chicory and should I add it to my beans?
A: Chicory is an edible plant belonging to the dandelion family. Chicory root is used as a ‘coffee substitute’ and has long been used in south indian filter coffee blends. It is said to add thickness, and impart a nutty, malty flavour to the coffee. At Beachville, all our coffees including the Filter Coffee blend are chicory-free and we believe that this is the best way to experience the distinct flavours of specialty coffee. It is also entirely possible to make a delicious, thick, syrup-like decoction without adding chicory powder. However, tastes and preferences are entirely subjective, and you may also prefer mixing in some chicory with your coffee when you get it ground.
Q: Is there an ideal brewing method?
A: We would recommend using a 1:4 ratio of coffee grounds:water. The gram measurements will vary depending on the size of your filter. Use water that is at 93-94°C or just before it boils if you are boiling on the gas stove. Once you pour the water into the upper chamber of the filter, close it with the lid and wait for the decoction to seep through. This should take anywhere between 5-15 minutes.
Q: How can I best experience my filter coffee in terms of decoction-milk-sugar ratios?
A: We would recommend using 30 ml or 1.5tbsp coffee decoction for half a cup or 120 ml of milk. Pour your decoction into the cup, and top it up with frothed milk that is just off the boil. The milk can also be manually frothed by swishing your coffee back and forth in the cup and saucer. Adding sugar (or not) is entirely a matter of personal preferences, and you will be best placed to decide what you enjoy after drinking a few different cups with/without sugar.
Q: Whenever I make the decoction, water gets stuck above the powder and does not drip through the filter.
A: It is possible that your coffee beans or coffee powder has absorbed moisture over time, and you could try buying some fresh coffee and storing it in an airtight container.
If you are using fresh coffee and still facing this problem, check for coffee residue in the holes of the filter and clean them up thoroughly.
Sometimes, it is also possible that a vacuum has formed in the upper chamber of the filter and is preventing the decoction from dripping. In this case, opening the filter's lid and loosely placing it on top will help.
Q: What do I do in case there is a layer of coffee grounds sedimenting with the Decoction in the lower tier of the filter?
A: It is likely that you have ground your beans too finely. Try and opt for a slightly coarser grind setting the next time.