When choosing a filter, there’s always a sacrifice made. Paper filters provide the best clarity, but remove many of the oils. Metal or cloth filters improve the body, but leave sediment at the bottom of the cup. Here at the the Coffee Compass we’re unapologetically biased towards clean coffees, so we’ve always chosen paper as the lesser of two evils. But recently we encountered a type of filtration that seems to offer the best of both worlds: The Kyuemon Ceramic Filter. This porous, reusable filter comes with a white ceramic shell. Although it looks something like a spherical Hario V60, the resulting brew couldn’t be more different.
Our first brews with the Kyuemon ceramic filter demonstrated remarkable potential. Although our brew times were on the long side (five minutes plus) we found a wonderful combination of clarity and body. More so, we found it easy to reach high extractions without the dry mouthfeel or astringency we associate with over-extracted brews. When brewing this El Vendavel, Costa Rica from London’s Square Mile Coffee Roasters we encountered the a sweetness and nectarine tasting note that was noticeably absent with other brew methods.
But just when we were about to order two more and start planning our 2016 Brewers Cup routine, things got really weird. The instructions indicated that coffee fines can build up within the filter over time. With each resulting brew we watched seconds being added to our brew time. Soon, it was impossible to make 300 ml. in anything less than eight minutes. Even sifting the fines did little reduce the brew time.
The instructions recommended baking the filter under high heat to burn any residue away. We were immensely skeptical, but after numerous hot water soaks we were willing to try it. Unfortunately, the oven bake seemed to have the opposite effect and now even water won’t drip through the filter.
Ultimately, these problems keep us from being able to recommend the Kyuemon ceramic filter. We will, however, continue to experiment with it, chasing that complex clarity and body of its first few brews.