Paper coffee filters are disposable, so they should always be clean, right? Well, sort of: Despite their box's tamper-evident packaging, paper filters come with a host of taste contaminants all their own. From the basic papery flavor they can contribute themselves to the slightly dirty or woody taste that can come from any dust that might settle inside them, paper filters are a subject of much discussion and disagreement among incredibly discerning coffee lovers: To rinse or not to rinse?
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This week, our correspondent Brian Yarvin writes to us from London instead of his normal bureau in New Jersey. Thanks for the transatlantic update, Brian! As a long-term observer of the British hot drink scene, I've noticed how mechanized the experience has become. Places that used to sell loose tea twenty years ago, now serve it from a bag and get the hot water from an espresso machine. The ubiquity of espresso machines in Britain is disturbing, especially when sheep farmers and pickup cricket players are drinking double mochachinos. While thinking about this and walking through London's Borough Market, I spotted a jam-packed, tiny shop called Monmouth Coffee making filter coffee. Yes, there was an espresso machine in the back—for...