Of all the hot beverages, coffee seems to steam up the most controversy. If caffeine is your fear and enemy, don't even bother with the drink. If it's your friend for providing that surge of pep and energy, join coffee colleagues all over the world.
Still the beverage stirs up various arguments and one controversy involves taste. What method makes the best-tasting coffee? What type of beans? How coarse should they be ground?
Among coffee makers, the drip unit, although the most popular, has drawn the most concern. One worry is the paper filter. Environmentalists have expressed concern over possible pollution from the manufacture of bleached paper or the presence of dioxin.
However, according to measurements taken by the Federal Health Ministry in West Germany, the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, the American Paper Institute and Melitta Co., the dioxin levels are not unsafe and they can only be measured in parts per trillion. These agencies have concluded that this level is too low to pose any health threat.
To ease the concerned, some coffee-maker companies have come up with permanent gold filters as a solution. The newest direction comes from Melitta. The international company has just rolled out Natural Brown coffee filters from unbleached pulp. Made to the standards of its existing filter line, the pure and rigid brown, unbleached version has the same high extraction texture that filters out unwanted oils and sediments.
No taste has been imparted from the unbleached process, but we agree with some consumers that the brown filters produce a somewhat milder taste in the finished brew.
The Melitta filters are available in three popular cone sizes for use in many different coffee makers: No. 2, No. 4 and No. 6 in 40-count or 100-count packages.
The quality of water can affect the taste, odor and clarity of coffee, not just in drip coffee but in any method.
The new Pure Drip Water Purification Coffeemaker from Melitta (from $80) is equipped with a system that removes most of the impurities found in water. To rid it of contaminants, ordinary tap water travels through a high extraction filter cone before it streams through the coffee filter basket. The presence of a treated activated charcoal in the system also reduces chlorination, which affects the taste and color of water.
Available in white (soon in black), the Pure Drip appliance features a built-in warming plate and internal, graduated cup measuring system. It has a 55-ounce drip-free glass carafe (12 cups) with safety pistol grip handle. Another model ($109) offers a timer.
You can get a good cup of coffee from a simple non-electric drip coffee maker that uses a very fine mesh filter, a style that has been very popular in Europe for a number of years. Boneco is a patented personal-size, four-cup coffee maker ($20) that was created in Switzerland and manufactured in the Orient. This portable, no-fuss system eliminates the need for paper filters because it uses a permanent filter that's made of micromesh 18/8 stainless steel.
Made with two million perforations, the filter is so fine that it eliminates the bitterness associated with most coffee blends. Available in color selections of red, white and black, the Boneco system includes the cuplike container with a spout, an adaptor for making a full carafe of coffee or as a little as a single cup, a lid and a measuring spoon.
The Melitta Brown Unbleached Coffee Filters will soon be available at Ralph ' s, Von ' s and Lucky. The Pure Drip Coffeemaker is available at Von ' s Pavilion, selected Broadway stores, Adray's. Boneco is available at Bullock's.