Food & Drink

How to Talk About Coffee Styles Like a Boss, and Where to Order Each in London

Liquid crack. Life-restoring goodness. Don’t engage without… However you view your morning cup, you’re stuck living in a world where third wave coffee has brought an entirely new jargon onto your local shop’s menu. Don’t be that guy who assumes a long black is “basically filter.” We’re here to help you talk coffee like a boss and then be able to find your favorite pour in London.
 

Syphon

What is it: Also known as the Vacuum Method, syphon coffee is made using vapor pressure though the changing of temperature. The water gets pushed first up through the filter by the increase of temperature. The ground coffee is then introduced and, after less than a minute brewing time, removed from the heat source. As the lower chamber cools, the air pressure changes and the coffee is pulled through the filter creating a coffee that’s super crisp and delicate.  

Where to get it: While you might be tempted to look in a chemistry lab, you can actually watch the magic happen over at Prufrock on Leather Lane. They take things pretty seriously over there, even running a coffee academy for people who really want to jump in with both feet. 

Filter coffee 

What is it: The liquid of choice of a dying breed of petrol stations, diners, and Dave Grohl. Made through a machine, this method involves hot water slowly passed through roasted grounds held in a paper basket and dripped into a pot or carafe. Filter coffee used to have a pretty bad rap -- the flavour goes south mega-quick if left sitting around or if the temperature isn’t spot on -- but recently people have been enjoying the simple pleasure of a pot of coffee actually done right.

Where to get it: The guys over at TimberYard have a few tricks up their tech savvy sleeves. They’ve always got something interesting on their three locations’ rotating filter menus, which is kept up-to-date online. Either get a pot for two, or a 12oz take-away when on the go. 

Pour over

What is it: While on the surface, pour over coffee looks very similar to filter coffee, things get next level geeky really fast. Basically, this is super hot water poured over ground, roasted beans, but it’s the pouring method that makes all the difference. There are various receptacles (Chemex carafes, Hario bee houses, etc.), but the most important element is a slow pouring motion that allows the coffee to “bloom” and release the more subtle flavours that get missed during the process of standard filter coffee. 

Where to get it: While we think people are nuts for queueing for a good 30 minutes for a cuppa Joe at Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market, there is no denying they make great juice. If you want to watch the pouring swirls en masse, pop by on a Saturday and watch their artists handle a a rack of 20 individual cups on the go.

Espresso machine

What is it: This is the coffee most of us are friendly with on a daily (hourly?) basis. Almost boiling water is forced through ground coffee creating a slightly thicker, more concentrated liquid which most people know as espresso. This small, but mighty shot of black goodness is also the base of most of the coffee drinks you sometimes wish you could mainline (latte, cappuccino, flat white, mocha, etc).  
 
Where to get it: The interview process for employment over at the Fitzrovia joint Kaffeine includes questions on milk temperature, dose amounts, grind refinement, and favorite machine models and why -- these guys are really not messing around. Considered by some a holy temple of coffee, this is some mega potent espresso.

Cold brew

What is it: First off, we’re not talking Iced Coffee. That’s an entirely different glass of caffeine. Cold brew is when ground roasted beans go swimming in chilled water for a longer time than you typically manage to sleep (we’re talking 10 hours or more), resulting in a highly concentrated liquid that’s nearly 70% less acidic and less bitter than the usual hot routine. 
 
Where to get it:
While the roasting isn’t done in-house, Nude Espresso really goes that extra mile when sourcing all its caffeinated goodness. Its cold brew is pre-bottled and ready to drink at lightning speed.  

Aeropress

What is it: Although looks might lead you astray, this is not a sex toy (though the way some Baristas get hot and bothered over it, maybe, in a way, it is.). Using air and pressure, this plunger-type instrument creates a coffee similar to a classic espresso but with super short brewing time and a stronger flavour. Bonus: it is easy to make at home.  

Where to get it: Workshop Coffee has most methods of prep and even have collection of Aeropresses just waiting to pump out your morning cup.

French press/cafetière

What is it: This is the “press down and pray” coffee that you see in homes since it’s an easy method for producing great joe.

Where to get it: It’s really not that common a method to see out and about in the wild. The French press generally lives at home or in an office. 

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Haley Forest is a London-based freelancer. Follow her at @HCForest.