Coffee Sock: What Is It and How Do You Use It?
Have you ever brewed your morning coffee in a sock? Odds are, you’d prefer to keep your coffee and socks well away from each other.
But did you know there are cotton coffee socks made for that very purpose? Keep reading to learn more about what it is and how to brew coffee sock coffee.
What Is A Coffee Sock Anyway?
Here at Home Grounds, we’ve covered many different coffee brewing methods and types of coffee makers, but few are as portable, simple, and versatile as the coffee sock. While not as common in North America, they are the preferred brewing method in many parts of the world. The Costa Rican coffee sock is known as the chorreador.
Essentially, a coffee sock is a cotton sleeve attached to a thin, metal wire. After placing coffee grounds into the sock, the coffee is allowed to steep. Once done, the sock is removed from the brew vessel or cup, along with the spent grounds.
Immersion and Dispersion Coffee Brewing
But why is the coffee sock such a popular brew option? In short, it avoids the pitfalls of both immersion and filtration coffee brewing methods.
While the Aeropress, French press, and cowboy coffee brew methods extract coffee through immersion, pour-over coffee and regular drip coffee machines brew coffee through dispersion or filtration.
What’s the difference? In dispersion, a stream of fresh water flows through the coffee bed and filter during the brew. In immersion, the coffee grounds sit in hot water throughout the brew time before being filtered out. While both of these brew methods yield a cup with 1.5% coffee by mass, the resultant flavour is very different. According to Christopher Hendon at Smithsonian Magazine (1):
…The temperature…is higher in the full immersion system. The slowest part of coffee extraction…is the speed at which…flavour moves through the…particle to the…coffee.
In other words, coffee brewed with a Chemex will have a more delicate flavour than the same amount of coffee brewed using a French press. This is because water naturally cools down as it passes through the Chemex’s coffee bed, but the water in a French press remains at a higher temperature for longer. French press coffee will have a heavier mouthfeel and bolder taste.
So as the coffee sock allows the grounds to immerse in water—drawing out bolder, sweeter flavours—the sock also filters out any bitter compounds and oils that impart unpleasant flavours to the final cup.
Check out this video to see why James Hoffmann says the coffee sock is the best of both worlds.
How to Brew Coffee Using a Coffee Sock (+ the Right Grind Size and Ratio)
When brewing coffee with a coffee sock, you’ll want to use 10 grams of medium to medium-fine grind coffee per 175 ml of 88-degree Celsius water.
To brew your first cup, measure your fresh-ground coffee into the coffee sock, and pour the water through the sock and into the brew vessel below.
For the best flavour, it’s a good idea to bloom your coffee and gently stir it to ensure all the grounds are saturated.
Be careful not to submerge the coffee sock itself. If you find the water is reaching the top of the sock, wait until the water level has gone down to pour in the rest. Generally, it doesn’t matter whether the coffee bed is higher or lower as long as the water doesn’t come over the top of the sock.
What Does Coffee Sock Coffee Taste Like?
Coffee brewed in the coffee sock can range in flavour from delicate to very bold—depending on the brewing parameters. Home Grounds suggests trying out different beans, roast levels, grind sizes, brew times, and water temperatures to see what you like best.
However, don’t change more than one variable at a time, and be sure to mark every change you make in a brew log. This way, you’ll be able to brew a consistent cup every time.
The coffee sock is an inexpensive, versatile way to brew your coffee. Despite its simplicity, you can create just about any cup profile you desire by varying the brew times, temperature, and grind size.
Have you brewed coffee with a coffee sock? Let us know in the comments or our Home Grounds Facebook group.
Yes, you can reuse a coffee sock. After brewing coffee, dispose of the grounds, and wash and dry the sock. We suggest hand-washing the sock, as the heat and caustic detergent used in the dishwasher may damage the sock’s delicate fibres.
You’ll know it’s time to replace your coffee sock when grinds make their way into your carafe or cup. With a brand new coffee sock, there should be virtually no grit or fines at the bottom.
Yes, you can make cold brew with a coffee sock. Use a coarse grind and a 1:2 ratio of coffee to water. Steep this for 12-24 hours to yield a cold brew concentrate, which you can dilute to the desired strength.
- Hendon, Christopher. (2017, September 28). The Chemistry and Physics Behind the Perfect Cup of Coffee. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/science-behind-brewing-great-cup-coffee-180965049/