A hot cup of specialty coffee is a lovely way to start your day or boost your afternoon productivity. Coffee lovers often pursue the complex layers of flavor you can get from single-cup brewing.
A recent novelty in the coffee world is the Japanese ceramic coffee filter for brewing with the pour-over method.
What Is a Japanese Ceramic Coffee Filter?
Kubota Minoru Ceramics Ltd developed the first Japanese ceramic coffee filter under their housewares brand Kyuemon. They introduced the product as a coffee filter and self-watering planter in the domestic market in 1986.
The Kubota Minoru Ceramics company exists in a region of Japan with hundreds of years of history in household ceramics production. Kyuemon prides itself on its history and experience in making beautiful ceramics.
They didn’t begin exporting the porous ceramic filter until 2007 with shipments to Singapore. You can purchase the original product on Amazon. Kyuemon updated the dripper design for a sleek, modern look that does not make contact with your beverage for better heat conservation.
If you already own a pour-over dripper, you can buy the ceramic filter alone and use it in place of a paper or metal filter. Kyuemon claims that ceramics enhance your coffee’s flavor. Product reviewers are split on this aspect with some calling it an acquired taste.
Beyond coffee, Kyuemon proposes that you use the ceramic filter for brewing tea and enhancing the flavor of wine and spirits by running them through the filter. They also claim their ceramic coffee filter results in far infrared radiation (FIR), which may support cell repair. Research is scant and inconclusive on that point though.
How Does It Work?
Pour-over coffee drippers are familiar to most coffee enthusiasts. This method allows the intricate flavors and aromas to take center stage when brewing single-origin and other specialty coffees.
Slowly pour hot water over the grounds in a single-cup filter to allow the extraction of coffee oils, fragrances, and soluble. The water drains into a carafe or mug through the grinds and filter. You may hear this method called hand brewing or manual brewing.
Paper and metal are the most common media for filters. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages. A paper filter tends to give better clarity than a metal filter. However, it removes more oils. A metal filter results in a full-bodied cup with sediment at the bottom. The ceramic filter may provide the best of both worlds.
The Kyuemon filter comes with a porcelain dripper to set atop your cup. Place the ceramic piece inside the dripper, add the grinds, and pour hot water over the grinds in a circular motion.
The ceramic coffee filter does not have visible holes. The water seeps through the pores in the ceramic. The material feels rough to the touch and delicate in your hands.
You may also add the water quickly. With this method, you get some benefits of infusion and immersion combined. The water stays warmer and contacts the ground coffee longer.
Many reviewers noted that they experienced a clean cup with lots of body. The ceramic coffee filter has the potential to replace paper and metal filters for home-brewing single cups of coffee.
Brewing coffee with a porous ceramic filter has some unique considerations.
Grind size affects the taste and brew time when using the pour-over method. The size of your coffee grounds becomes an issue, particularly with the porous ceramic filter.
As stated, the ceramic filter does not have visible holes for the water to drip through. Reviewers consistently mentioned having a problem with the filter clogging after a few brews. Kyuemon offers several troubleshooting methods for this situation. See the section on cleaning the filter in this article.
Clogging and long brew times may be from grinding the coffee too finely for this filter. A course to medium grind is most appropriate for pour-over coffee and this filter specifically.
You’ll need to evenly distribute the grinds in the filter to help avoid channeling. This is a problem in pour-over brewing where the water finds a path around the grinds.
A quality grinder produces more consistent bean fragments than a cheaper one. Grinding the coffee evenly helps prevent it from clumping. Maximum coffee extraction happens with the right grind, distribution, and pouring method.
Good things come to those who wait, and the pour-over method requires patience. Coffee houses usually outsource pour-over brewing to a Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) approved batch brewer to speed up the process of serving customers. Hand pouring with a Japanese ceramic coffee filter is ideal for enjoying a cup at home.
Mixed reviews abound for the brew time associated with a ceramic filter. It starts with a fairly standard time and gets slower with use.
A standard ratio of 25 grams of beans ground to medium coarseness to 400 milliliters of hot water rendered in about three or four minutes for the first several brews. Some reviewers began to experience slower times (five or six minutes) after the first few cups.
Kyuemon acknowledges the problem of clogging when using the filter for brewing coffee. This is likely what slows your brewing time over several uses.
If you try everything to unclog your ceramic filter and still experience extensive brew times, you may consider using this filter occasionally rather than replacing your other filters completely.
Due to all the factors mentioned, a porous ceramic coffee filter is best suited for brewing one cup at a time. That doesn’t mean you should not explore the potential of the Kyuemon filter.
Part of enjoying specialty coffee is the experience of a single-batch coffee brewed by various methods. 25 grams of coffee grounds per 400 milliliters of water is a good starting ratio. You can tweak your batch size to suit your taste as you experiment with the Kyuemon filter.
The best bean type for your coffee is whatever you enjoy the most. There is no shame in having a personal preference for the beans you use. However, some roasts suit the pour-over brewing method better than others.
Many coffee enthusiasts love tasting flavors from around the world. It’s delightful to experience the subtle citrus notes or the bold nutty palate of various coffee beans. The pour-over method allows unique variations to come through in your mug.
Light and blonde roasts are known for subtle flavors. Because the pour-over method with a ceramic filter intends to highlight understated acidity, a light roast makes the perfect pair for brewing like this.
The Kyuemon company claims that the porous ceramic filter enhances flavors. There are some reasons to believe this is so despite the lack of supporting scientific evidence.
Pour-over brewing is an infusion method rather than an immersion method. The hot water contacts the beans for a short time for efficient extraction of coffee oils and solubles. Immersion methods, such as a French press, can over-extract and cause bitterness. While both methods are popular among coffee lovers, they have distinct results.
Filter materials affect the flavor of your final cup of coffee. Some coffee connoisseurs think that paper filters leave a papery taste. Many people don’t like the sludge at the bottom of their cups after using a metal filter. It seems there is always a quality trade-off regardless of what tools you use.
The ceramic filter provides the best of both when it functions properly. It produces a full-bodied and clean cup of coffee. That means that it extracts the right amount of oils and filters finely enough to keep particles from collecting at the bottom of your mug.
The ceramic may also enhance the subtle flavors already present in the beans. A sophisticated palate might enjoy making a side-by-side comparison of the same beans brewed with different filter media.
Cleaning and maintenance take center stage as the challenges associated with a Japanese ceramic coffee filter.
The manufacturer touts the product as reusable and, therefore, more eco-friendly. However, the amount of water necessary to thoroughly wash the filter after each brew to keep the pores open outstrips the energy output and environmental impact of paper filters.
Thoroughly rinse the filter in warm water after each use. It is difficult to know when the filter is clean because of its rough surface and dark color. Rinse until the water runs clear. Never use dish soap or detergent because it will affect the taste of future coffee.
If you notice the brew time extending, boil the filter in water for about 30 minutes.
Kyuemon also recommends inverting the filter over a gas flame once a week to burn off debris that might clog the pores.
If clogging and slow brew times persist, and you have access to a kiln, you can try re-firing the filter. Although, that is an extreme method to maintain a reusable coffee filter.
A Japanese ceramic coffee filter is a curiosity in the world of coffee. It appears to offer the perfect cup along with a small eco-footprint. Coffee buffs may want to experiment with the Kyuemon filter to capture new hints of flavor from their favorite beans. In reality, many flaws make it impossible to replace other media with a porous ceramic filter.