BREWING COFFEE WITH A STOCKING AND ITS ENVIROMENTAL IMPACT
August 26, 2020
By Olga Hernandez
Even though there is not a lot of written history about this method of brewing coffee, its origin goes back to Northern Europe during the last years of the XVIII century. Since there was no sophisticated machine to brew coffee, stockings were used due to their low prices, commonality and accessibility. Soon, this method was mass produced as the official method to brew coffee and eventually came to the Americas. It became popular in countries where the cultivation of coffee was abundant.
This method is composed of a wooden base and a hanging stocking that acts as a filter. The stocking is an organic filter made of cotton that can be reused over and over again. It was popular up until the invention of disposable coffee filters in 1908. This antique way of brewing coffee is still popular in some Latin American countries and is known by many different names: café de media (Puerto Rico), café chorreado (Costa Rica), café de calcetín (México), and café de tela.
I had the opportunity to see this method of brewing coffee for the first time in a restaurant in the countryside of Moca, Puerto Rico. After ordering a coffee to finish off my lunch, they brought a wooden artifact with a cotton stocking hanging from the base to my table. I had never seen an artifact like this. I was fascinated. Like the “millennial” I am, I had only seen coffee makers, espresso machines, and automatic machines.
The process was simple, you insert the grains of ground coffee in the stocking and you pour hot water over it, little by little for around 1-2 minutes. The magnificent aroma of coffee began to drip, and it was a beautiful experience to see the coffee brewing in front of me. I shared this moment with my mother and in that moment it made her remember that her grandma made coffee this way in her house in Mayagüez. My mom began telling me about the beautiful memories she had in the kitchen with her grandmother, and that coffee was brewed this way during the time of our jíbaros (countrymen of Puerto Rico).
Today there are many ways to brew coffee with very sophisticated machines, but none of it brews the same way as through the stocking. Since its invention, it has always been reusable and had a very small impact on our environment because it eliminates the amount of trash we generate with disposable filters. Despite being such an old and simple method, it tells you, with its nostalgic aura, of the land you come from and who prepares it. It allows us to travel to the beautiful countryside of Puerto Rico and back to our conversations with grandma. What stories will it tell you when you brew Cafe Ama Love?
Video taken by Olga Hernandez, December 29, 2019 in the Restaurant Ajibarao inMoca, Puerto Rico: https://bit.ly/3je258w