Gold mesh will filter out the Fines

A while back, when I had expressed my affinity for brewing coffee one cup at a time in a gold mesh filter cone, someone asked me if it was true that they do not produce as many fines as brewing in a French Press. My immediate response, without any thought, was to say that all metal mesh filter will let fines through. But after close observation I have been noticing that the basis for his question comes from a kernel of truth that lies in the simple design of the cone.

Pour over brewing relies on gravity to pull water through the ground coffee at a constant rate and with a consistently low force. Brewing coffee in a gold mesh filter creates a bed at the bottom of the cone where much of the fine dust particles get trapped. The gentle force of gravity can not pull them through.

At the beginning of the pour, when all the grounds are still floaters, there is a healthy quantity of fine dust that gets through the screen. Towards the end of the dwell time, about the last third is my guess, the liquid comes out as clear as it does through a paper filter. There is already a good deal of oil and silt that have passed at that point, so the flavor profile remains bright with great aftertaste (depending on the coffee), very similar to the French Press method. But with the Press, you add a great deal more force by plunging, even if you plunge slow and gentle. By applying a little extra force by tapping twice on the plate the fine particles can be seen coming through the screen.

All this dust would have come through in a Press, but was held off by the coffee itself. The coffee bed becomes very static towards the end of the brewing, thereby holding smaller particles in place in the spaces between large particles. This also serves the purpose of extending the dwell time, by slowing the flow, to bring out more body in the cup. This means that you can use a much, much finer grind than you would for a Press. This also slows down the dwell time. At a grind size that is just about right for most paper filter settings on most grinders (think Mr. Coffee), you can strike a great balance between particle size and dwell time for an extremely clear, full bodied, brightly flavored brew with oils swirling on the surface.

One more characteristic of the gold mesh filter is the speed and ease with which you can clean up. Tap it upside down in the rubbish bin, give a rinse, and you are ready for the next cup. A regular cleansing with some surfactant will keep it from imparting any flavor to the coffee. I don’t mean this as a replacement for the French Press. It is much faster to prepare and clean up, so I do this at work, where time is money. But I do also enjoy the heavy mouth feel that Press can deliver, or whenever the mood hits me. There is definitely the potential for retail application. If you have the time serve Press pots in a coffee shop environment, you could be brewing these just as easily. It does require a little more personal attention from the Barista, however, because you do have to pour the water in slowly and deliberately, whereas you can set a timer and walk away from a Press pot. But I for one would like to start the gold mesh pour over revolution. Who among you can I count on as my allies?

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