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Really good coffee is much more than a bit of ground coffee with scalding water poured over it. Not only is the raw product celebrated in really great coffee bars, but also precision craftsmanship. Filter coffee is making a comeback, and a new playing field has been opened up by cold brew and cáscara.
Whichever type of coffee ends up in your cup, the set-up is always the same: a glass jug on the scales, a ceramic filter on top of the jug, paper in the filter. Into the filter goes exactly 18.2 grams of coffee, over which 300 millilitres of water heated to 97 degrees is poured, slowly and regularly in a circular motion. The preparation of filter coffee at Aniis is a work of precise craftsmanship. It takes two minutes and ten seconds for the coffee to drip through. In order to tickle out all of the aromas, it should rest for two minutes, as Rachid El Ofairi knows.
The native Moroccan planted the Aniis two years ago in Ostend in Frankfurt. The unusual name does not allude to the liquorice-like spice, but instead comes from the Arabic, meaning ‘good friend’. Moreover, the concept stands for a ‘place for coffee culture’, as El Ofairi’s subtitle expresses. With this, he pours out in a few words what’s so important in the so-called ‘third wave’ of the coffee movement: the enjoyment, the pursuit of outstanding quality. This includes the circumstances in which the coffee is made, including values such as transparency, ecological consciousness and fair prices for the coffee farmers.
This third wave started in the USA, but has been spilling over into Europe for the last ten years. You can find third wave places in Copenhagen and London, Amsterdam and Berlin. The first wave dates back significantly further. In the post-war years, large scale roasters brought filter coffee to supermarket shelves, ground and vacuum packed and affordable for everyone. In the 90s, with the second wave, the career of the coffee specialities began – coffee and milk as a congenial duo. One freshly brewed quickly under high pressure, the other frothed up voluminously with steam, then combined together in glasses and cups behind the counters of the first coffee bars.
Not only did the diversity in drinks and devices grow during the third wave, but it gave filter coffee a surprisingly aromatic comeback. The old fashioned coffee machines that would keep the bitter coffee warm for hours on a hotplate have about as much in common with the new taste sensation as a microwave dinner has with a carefully composed meal from a top chef. The filter coffee that Frank Glier and Dirk Puchta pour in Filterhouse in Berlin-Kreuzberg is both intense and mild at the same time. Real coffee lovers enjoy it straight. Milk or sugar would simply cover up the subtle range of aromas.
The pair have three to four types of filter coffee on offer, plus speciality coffees with an espresso base such as Caffè Latte, Americano or the Cappuccino-like Flat White, with its creamy almost liquid milk cap. It is both a matter of quality as well as honour that all the beans are organic and Fair Trade: the two Berliners obtain their selected products from two small roasters, for whom sustainability is sacred. That Glier and Puchta are just as passionate about music as they are about coffee is given away by the DJ desk. On the weekend, the relaxed coffee place becomes a cool bar, where gin plays an important role.
How well coffee and alcohol go together is demonstrated, for example, with cocktails such as the Cold Brew Old Fashioned. As the name reveals, it is based on cold brew coffee. Instead of being brewed with hot water, water at room temperature is poured over the coffee grinds. It then infuses for several hours, after which the mixture is filtered. This it is why it is more of an extraction than a brewing process. The acquired concentrate contains around 70% less acidic and bitter compounds than conventional filter coffee.
‘Cold brew coffee contains caffeine, but despite this is gentle on the stomach’, says Rafet Aydogdu. In his bar, Kaffeesapiens, in the Reinhallen in Cologne, he extracts coffee using his own construction, the Cold Drip Tower. Since pursuing a career in the world of speciality coffee, he now serves the liquid that slowly drips through the glass apparatus as a cool, refreshing drink on ice, or he uses it to create a cold drip soft drink or an ice cream on a stick with the flavour of caramel granola. The beans for Aydogdu’s coffee blends are roasted traditionally at the Schamong roasters in Cologne.
It is not only the beans, their origin and handling that decide how the coffee will taste; whether, for instance, the flavour has an acidic or more fruity tone, is floral, spicy or chocolatey, or has hints of oranges, lime or walnut. The roasting process, the water and its temperature, and the tools used all have an influence on the end result.
For some time, attention has even been given to what was once carelessly disposed of during the harvest: the peel and the fruit pulp of the coffee cherries. Together they make up 30 percent of the crop yield. When hot water is poured over them, it makes cáscara, a hybrid of tea and coffee. This beverage, which has been drunk in coffee producing countries such as Yemen, Bolivia and Panama longer than we have known about and been roasting coffee, is gradually making its way into the more creative coffee bars. Those who appreciate coffee as a pick-me-up and quick energiser are even better served by cáscara. A glass contains approximately six to eight times more caffeine than a cup of coffee. The infusion is also versatile. Well chilled and mixed with juice or lemonade, it makes a perfect summer drink with a delightfully tangy note.
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