Using a sock is one of the simplest ways to make coffee, and one that has been used for a long time in countries like Cuba, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Costa Rica.
It’s hard to say where the method originated, but it’s easy to imagine the idea came to a lot of people separately in different places. After all, it’s a very simple and inexpensive idea.
The brewing equipment comprises a cotton sock attached to a wire hoop with a handle.
In Cuba the coffee sock method is the basis for making a traditional Café Carretero. In Thailand the coffee sock brewing method has been used by street coffee vendors for decades.
There actually two ways to make coffee with a sock filter. The traditional way is to put the coffee grounds in the sock, place the sock inside a cup or pot, depending on the sock’s size, then pour in the hot water and leave it to sit for a few minutes. Then you remove the sock with the wire handle and you have your coffee.
More recently companies like Hario have introduced sock filters as a replacement for paper filters. With this method, you don’t immerse the sock and the coffee in the hot water. The sock is held in place above the pot, and you pour the water through the ground coffee using the pour-over method.
Using a coffee sock to make your coffee is certainly one of the simplest and most environmentally responsible ways to make coffee. After each use you simply rinse or wash the cotton sock and then use it again.
Which brings us to the question of whether you should rinse the sock or wash it.
Here in the west I imagine most people would want to give the sock a thorough washing between uses.
But the photo below shows coffee socks being used by a coffee vendor in Thailand. As you can see, it doesn’t look like the sock has been washed for a very long time!
The argument for not washing the sock is that coffee oils build up in the cotton material and you get a deeper, richer brew as a result.
About the author: Nick Usborne, aka Coffee Detective, is a writer and long-time coffee enthusiast. Read more…