What Is A Dirty Coffee?

by Scott Deans | Last Updated: December 30, 2020

Have you just heard of a Dirty Coffee and wondered, “what the heck is that?”. You’re certainly not the first.

Turns out, even when you think you know what a Dirty Coffee is, someone comes along with a whole new, completely different thing, called a Dirty coffee.

There are a few different types of coffee that are all called a Dirty Coffee. One kind is an espresso poured over cold milk, another is essentially just French Press coffee because it can be gritty. Any non-coffee with espresso in it is also dirty; like a Dirty Chai is just a Chai Latte with espresso.

While you would still have a dirty coffee if you just didn’t clean your mug, it’s not quite the same thing. Although I have met people who don’t clean their coffee cups. I just can’t get on board with it.

What is a dirty coffee?

What Is A Dirty Coffee?

French Press Coffee

Coffee that has been made in a French Press is also sometimes known as a Dirty Coffee.

If you’ve ever chugged the last of a French Press brew (I’m sure you have) then you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s that little bit of sediment at the end.

Some people love it, some people can’t stand it. Others, just leave it at the bottom of their mug, indifferent.

Personally, I kind of like it. Sometimes I like to chew my coffee. That’s why chocolate coated coffee beans are a thing after all.

It gets into your mug because the metal mesh filter in your French Press can let little dusty bits of coffee grounds through.

The difference that a mesh filter brings, compared to paper filters, is it lets far more oils into your cup. This adds to an extra nuttyness to it. It even brings an extra smoothness to the flavor, although of course, an extra roughness gets into the texture too.

How Do I Make French Press Coffee With Less Grounds?

The first trick to letting less coffee grounds through your French Press is, make sure that thing is tight. The mesh filter can usually unscrew to let you clean it (do clean it). If it’s loose and wobbly, it will let grounds through around it.

Don’t push the plunger down all the way. If you push the filter all the way down, you will create a little bit of pressure that will push fine grounds back through the mesh. Push it to about one-third of the way from the bottom; that’s a safe place that’ll keep the grounds out of the way without letting them back through.

Lastly, just let them settle. Pour your brew out slowly and gently. The grounds will have settled to the bottom and you will have a very silt-free cup of Joe.

Espresso on Cold Milk

Another coffee that’s known as a Dirty Coffee is a double shot of espresso that has been poured directly into cold milk.

If you add some vanilla to it, then it’s called an Undertow.

Really, just the sight of this kind of Dirty Coffee is a delight. It kind of resembles a Dalgona Coffee in a way, the colors are similar although not at all the same texture.

You will never get it particularly warm. It is, after all, a small amount of hot liquid going into a slightly larger amount of cold liquid. This definitely belongs along side the iced coffees on the menu.

There is a lot of potential to turn this brew into a piece of art.

As you pull your espresso shot into the cup, hold a spoon just over the surface of the milk, and direct the espresso flow so that it lands gently on the surface of the milk. Try to prevent the two from mixing.

Serve up this two-layered majesty to guests and they will be damn impressed.

Then again, it looks amazing without the spoon-layering trick. The tendrils between the coffee and cold milk mixing is really neat.

Anything Non-Coffee, With Coffee

Take absolutely any drink. Take a shot or two of espresso. Dump the espresso in your drink.

You just made that drink dirty.

The Dirty Chai is possibly the best known version of this. It’s just a Chai Latte (also known as a Masala Chai) with some espresso loaded in there for extra kick.

You can make absolutely any drink dirty by adding some shots of espresso to it.

Dirty beer? You know it.

You really have to be careful with this one though. While some combinations are wonderful, others are not so great. A regular black tea with milk, mixed with coffee is not a good time; trust me, I’ve tried it.

Final thoughts

Clearly, there is no one true dirty coffee. How you make it dirty is down to your imagination.

Really, what we can see here for certain, is that however you make it dirty, is just whatever gets you going. Something that isn’t dirty for someone, is the dirtiest thing ever for someone else.

Related Reading

Does Chai Latte Have Coffee In It? And Is It Considered a Coffee?

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Best Coffee Makers For Hard Water

Can you guess what keeps me up at night? You guessed it! Copious amounts of coffee beans. What? I brew them first.