1. What is the Sowden SoftBrew™
SoftBrew™ is an infusion coffee making system invented by Milanese design pioneer George Sowden and based on the simple ‘cupping’ method used by all professional coffee tasters. It was invented to cut through the fussiness of specialty coffee, from capsules whose contents remain an obscure mystery to fragile glass siphons and plastic tubes, and instead bring you into as direct contact as possible with the incredible flavours and aromas of quality freshly roasted coffee.
The SoftBrew™ uses cutting edge technology, in the form of its stainless steel micro etched filter of up to 150 000 holes, not to make coffee making more complicated but instead to facilitate an extremely simple and direct method of preparing and drinking coffee. The pots themselves are made from the pure porcelain and new bone china of Chaozhou, the Imperial Chinese porcelain capital, and their forms communicate the ‘no-nonsense poetics’ which have characterized the work of George Sowden throughout his 40 year career.
2. How fine are the perforations on the SoftBrew™ filter
The Sowden SoftBrew™ stainless steel filter only allows through particles smaller than 150microns. To put this in perspective just think that the finest coffee is ever ground, for espresso, is to 200micron particles and that metal filters currently on the market for pour-over coffee and infusion methods never have perforations smaller than 300microns.
The perforations of the SoftBrew™ filter are thus twice as fine as that of any other existing coffee filter and represent a technical evolution in filter manufacturing for the entire kitchenware industry. Our proprietary laser assisted chemical etching process was developed by George Sowden together with a factory specialized in micro-engineering and is the mature fruit of George Sowden’s unique work process, developed over the last 40 years and which has always prioritized direct exchange of knowledge between designer and manufacturer and hands on experience in factories.
In terms of your coffee drinking experience this means that your cup of coffee will still contain the natural flavor carrying oils of coffee (absorbed by paper filters) as well as a small amount of fines (though less than French Press or any other metal filter coffee making system) which give the coffee body and fullness of flavour AND that you can grind your coffee as fine or coarse as you like (and enjoy their relative different flavours).
3. What kind of coffee grind should I use with the Sowden SoftBrew™
Unlike almost any other coffee making method on the market the SoftBrew™ allows for the use of any grind size you like, from Espresso, to the medium grind used for the French Press, all the way to hobo style mortar and pestle smashed beans. Each grind size will produce a different tasting cup of coffee.
Please note that changing the fineness of your grind will not alter the amount of grounds which pass through the filter. The grounds which pass through the SoftBrew™ filter are all smaller than 150 microns thus smaller than almost any ground coffee particle. These particles, technically known as colloids or fines are the suspended particles of coffee solids that are too large to dissolve fully and are what gives coffee its depth and body. They are crucial part of the flavor of a sophisticated cup of coffee.
4. How much coffee should I use
The Sowden scoop included with the pot contains roughly 7g of ground coffee (the same amount used in a shot of espresso).
We recommend starting by using:
- 2 to 3 scoops for the 2 cup MAX 0.4L – 13.5 oz
- 3 to 5 scoops for the 4 cup MAX 0.8L – 27 oz
- 6 to 8 scoops for the 8 cup MAX 1.3L – 44 oz
- 10 to 12 scoops for the 12 cup MAX 1.8L – 61 oz
and adjusting accordingly to suit your own preferences.
5. How hot should the water be
It is generally agreed by industry experts that coffee should be brewed at somewhere between 93-95°C. If you do not have a variable temperature kettle we simply recommend waiting a small amount of time before pouring the boiled water over the coffee grounds. Using water very slightly cooler than 100°C will help avoid preparing an overly bitter cup of coffee.
Please note that SoftBrew™ is conceived as an extremely direct and also gentle way of treating coffee so do pour your water in slowly if you can spare the time, watch it bloom… We believe that slow pouring benefits the overall flavor of the brew.
6. Do I have to stir the coffee after pouring the water
It is not necessary to stir the coffee but if you see clumps forming it will improve the extraction process to gently stir the grounds into the water, guaranteeing even saturation.
7. How long do I have to wait to drink my coffee
We have conducted considerable amounts of taste testing and found that almost all types of coffee roasts and all grind size taste best after having infused for somewhere between 4-8 mins. If you use a finely ground coffee the reduced surface area of the particles will allow for a faster extraction while a more coarsely ground coffee, with its larger surface area, will take longer.
8. When do I need to take my filter out
There is generally no need to remove the filter from your Sowden pot when preparing coffee. Unlike tea leaves, which continue extracting even at low water temperatures, coffee extraction, which is what can cause unwanted bitterness and less varied range of flavours, slows to an almost negligible rate once the water temperature drops below 85°C. If you are using an extremely finely ground coffee and do not intend to drink it all immediately you might want to consider removing your filter once the coffee is ready to drink but otherwise we do not believe it to be necessary.
9. How long will my coffee remain hot
All Sowden SoftBrew™ pots are made from ceramic (pure Chaozhou porcelain or new bone china). These materials have been used since time immemorial for preparing hot drinks and with good reason! No other material insulates as well and as consistently. Below is a graph which shows how coffee maintains its temperature inside the SoftBrew™ Oskar porcelain pot. Keep in mind that the hottest temperature you’ll drink your coffee at is about 80°C.
If you want to keep your coffee hot over a longer period of time we recommend using a candle warmer which gently keeps the coffee warm without ever reaching a temperature that would create notable amounts of extraction and make the coffee excessively bitter.
10. What is the best way to clean the SoftBrew™
The SoftBrew™ is incredibly easy to clean. Its perforations have a completely different structure to those of mesh filters and have been designed in such a way that coffee particles will never block them up but will instead rest on their surface.
All you need to do is turn the filter upside down and run water through it before giving it a quick wipe on the inside. If you really want to make it sparkle put the filter in the dishwasher and it will clean up to like new again.
11. Can the SoftBrew™ be microwaved
The SoftBrew™ pot can be microwaved if you first remove the stainless steel filter. As explained in question 5 we recommend using a candle warmer to keep the coffee warm rather than reheating it.
12. Is the Sowden SoftBrew™ dishwasher safe
Yes, both the ceramic and the stainless steel components may be put in the dishwasher.
13. Are there spare parts available for the SoftBrew™
Yes, the lids and filters are available as spare parts but not the pot.
14. Why is the SoftBrew™ advertised as ecologically friendly
It is ecologically friendly because it does not use paper filters or any other disposable material. Treat it with care and it will forever continue to work as well the day you bought it, probably even better.