To Wet or not to Wet?

Thursday, 10 April, 2014
So last week we posted a How To video which features Daniel of Colombo Coffee & Tea explaining his particular Hario V60 pour over method.

There was one point that came up in the comments afterward asking why he didn't pre-wet his paper filter, which is a widely accepted practice in alternative brewing.

Daniel has explored this question quite thoroughly and his dry paper filter was very intentional, it's his preferred method! Find out the theory behind his explorations below.

"In a recent brew guide video I did not wet my paper filter. This caused an uproar similar to when Pythagoras said that the earth was round. I promised to write a short blog post explaining my reasons behind doing so, so here it is.

The theory goes that when you pre wet your filter paper it immediately starts to break down making it more soluble. If your filter paper is more soluble it also means that it will have bigger holes in it for water to flow through. This means that the next time you pour water through it (to make your pour over) you will actually get more filter in your brew than if you had left it dry.

Recently Arno and I conducted a series of tests at Colombo using wet and dry filters with coffee and with just plain water. We tested this by making two pour overs at the same time, using the same beans, ground on the same setting with the same weight beans, and water at the same temperature. We poured at the same rate, rising our coffees to the same level and finishing our pours simultaneously. The only variable was that one filter paper was wet and the other was dry. The coffee in the pre wet filter extracted faster than the coffee in the dry filter.

We found that we got much better flavour and extraction times from a dry filter paper and didn’t get any taints or negative flavour notes coming through which is why I stopped using a pre wet filter.

Funny enough in all these tests we could not pick up a “filter paper” taste in either. So I feel that the theory behind not wetting your filter paper still stands to reason. I also believe the quality of the papers you use will definitely have an impact on taste.

But don’t take my word as law. Do the tests yourself and see if you agree with me."

The Colombo Coffee & Tea blog is always posting fun and interesting coffee titbits, go check it out.

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