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Filter fanboy and my rocky relationship with espresso

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Does anybody actually enjoy a black espresso? I’m not saying it's bad, well most of the time I am.

A swift morning punch to the face and tongue for that matter isn’t quite my cup of tea.

Ok ok, I know I’m being a little extreme but even after being a barista for over 4 years now, I’ve had very limited excellent, enjoyable, smooth, and flavour-nuanced espresso.

You may say that’s my dialing-in skills or barista expertise but I understand extraction and know what balanced-tasting coffee is. This isn’t exactly a taste problem, it's just my heart will always go for filter-style coffee and I tend to drink black coffee 90% of the time.

man making filter coffee outdoors v60 on a clifftop beach
Nick's adventure brewing

For me an espresso is like a heavy metal rock band, it’s loud, noisy, and filled with distractions shouting at me at every corner of my mouth. Overpowering in every department. I know these flavours are there (even if they’re great) but they’re screaming at me and I have trouble enjoying them individually. Whilst together they’re too much and my brain just can’t compute this in a way to simply enjoy sipping on an espresso.

Maybe it’s a great way to throw some dynamite into your face, loaded with caffeine to start your day but, this doesn’t sit well with me as I came to coffee for the sensory experience it allowed me to enjoy.

Coffee began for me like most coffee drinkers with some unknown coffee and cow milk. And so I couldn’t taste the espresso. I slowly in my coffee life moved to lesser milk-based coffee drinks, from Cappuccino to Flat white, flat white to cortado. The milk helped smooth out the flavours as I slowly understood more and more about how coffee tastes. Also, how it can be intriguing and fascinating in terms of flavour experience. However, a macchiato was still a little much for me.

During this time I started experimenting with making V60 pour-over style coffee and as I became accustomed to the taste flavours, I realised this was my cup of tea, ermm coffee. All of a sudden all these flavours that had been shouting down my ear holes when drinking espresso had softened and become more delicate and intricate. My brain could now differentiate everything I was experiencing in the taste and flavour profiles, my brain could compute the layers and pick out more nuances in the coffee. Plus it was enjoyable for me, it didn’t make me want to screw my face up, contortionist style whilst sipping. (However, this can still occur just less often). I could take longer to appreciate the sensory experiences and notice how they changed over time with temperature and my current external conditions.

Coming around in full circle, I can appreciate the value of espresso and how it can make milk-based drinks taste amazing by adding flavours and complimenting the milk. And I have to admit that occasionally when I spontaneously order an espresso for some unknown reason, I have had 1 or 2 which has been thoroughly enjoyable.

Yet this is my love letter to filter.

I am a fIlter fanboy, it has a delicate, flavourful sensory experience that allows me to reach all the flavours and areas of the coffee world through taste. I can enjoy slowly and mindfully all the flavours the skilled farmers and passionate roasters have wanted to showcase. This is my go to, this is my way to experience coffee and I hope you find your favorite way of enjoying coffee too.

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