This is a question I get asked very often: how do Costa Ricans make their coffee? The traditional and most folkloric method to make coffee is with the “chorreador”. It’s by far my favorite way of making coffee and it brings back memories of my childhood, waking up to a coffee smell that would penetrate the entire house!
This equipment consists of a wooden (or sometimes metal) stand holding a cloth filter that we call “la bolisita” (little bag) or “sock” as my (British) husband calls it. You place ground coffee in the “sock” and pour over hot water. The wooden stand can be decorated with traditional colors and designs, similar to the famous Costa Rican ox cart used to transport coffee beans in the mid-nineteenth century from the central valley to the ports (see the photo).
It’s a simple, quick, delicious, and cheap method (you can get this fantastic coffee maker for less than £5). If you ever visit my beautiful country, I would recommend trying a cup brewed in this traditional way.
The method is as follows:
- Prepare and Preheat: put a small container below the cloth filter (the stand usually comes with a small wastewater pot) and pour some hot water through the cloth filter to warm it up and to clean any impurities left from previous brews. Once that “dirty” water has dripped into the container, remove it.
- Measure: place your coffee jug or cup below the filter and insert your ground coffee in the filter. I recommend two tablespoons of ground coffee per cup of coffee. In barista language, this means 10 grams of coffee per 150 ml of water.
- Pre-infuse: pour a small amount of hot water to soak the coffee and leave for 30 seconds. This will release deeper coffee notes creating a well-rounded cup of coffee.
- Pour water: start pouring the water slowly and in a circular motion making sure the water is being poured on the coffee and not the filter. Once the water reaches half of the filter stop and lets it percolate and drip through. Don’t let the water reach the top of the filter. Repeat and allow the coffee to percolate and drip into your jug or cup. The pouring and dripping should last approximately 3 minutes to 3.5 minutes.
- Enjoy: once the desired quantity of coffee has dripped through, remove your jug or cup and enjoy! And remember to replace it with the wastewater pot to collect any stray drips.
- Cleaning: to clean the filter, wait until it has cooled down and turned it inside out over a bin and shake or scrape the coffee grounds off, then run under cold water until clean. Squeeze the water out and place it somewhere to dry, ready for your next cup!
- Preheat: pour some hot water into your container and your cup to warm it up. Pour the water away just before the process begins.
- Measure: always measure your coffee for consistency. You can do this using a volume measure with a tablespoon are a weight measure with a scale. The aim is to replicate the same cup of coffee you made and liked. The way you like your coffee is very personal, so if you are following the measurements, you have a base and from there you can play with the taste until you make that perfect cup of coffee. If you like it lighter you can put less coffee or, if you like it stronger, you can put more in.
- Grind your beans: where possible grind your coffee beans just before making a cup of coffee – this will take your coffee to the next level, keeping the coffee fresh and maximizing those delicious coffee notes. I recommend using a medium ground setting for this method.
If you ever visit Costa Rica, give me a shout and I will gladly recommend my favorite places to try this delicious coffee method and buy your own “chorreador”. Enjoy! Know more about coffee drinks.