Improve your brew -v60
Posted by Kit on April 24, 2017, 8:46 p.m.
The complexity of coffee can be overwhelming.
First comes the farming, then the roasting, then the brewing. Each one of these steps in the seed to cup process contains variables that should be met. Those variables are the key to intentional, tasty coffee. We have talked about farming, roasting, and brewing before. In this post, we'll target some brew variables.
Let's troubleshoot some brew techniques. The v60 brew method will be our focus. If you don't use a v60, no worries! The techniques discussed can be used with a variety of other methods!
The v60 is a pour over brew method. It was developed by Hario, a heat resistant glassware company in Japan. v60 provides the user with an ample amount of control during the brewing process. The "fins" on the side of the glass walls promote heat retention and grind distribution. The 60 degree angle promotes a neutral water flow rate, and the large hole at the bottom of the brew method lets the brewer decide how much water goes out or stays in.
With the proper barista behind this brew method, liquid gold shall shine forth from your cup.
The v60 is a great tool. Well, more than great actually. Many consider it a necessary pour-over method to incorporate into a routine.
Even so, the v60 brewing process can be difficult. The large hole at the bottom and the 60 degree angle of the inner walls provide the brewer with a ton of control... but if that control isn't there, the coffee won't be liquid gold.
It takes practice.
So here are some tips.
This almost goes without saying, but grind is important.
GRIND IS VERY IMPORTANT
We can't reiterate the value of a decent grinder enough. A grinder is perhaps the most important tool in a coffee arsenal. It is the saddle on the horse, the strings on the guitar, and shampoo on the hair. Yes, it's all those things and more.
A good grinder has a decent PSD (particle size distribution). PSD is how much the ground coffee particles differ from one another. If most of the coffee grinds look the same size, you're good to brew! If not, you'll see plenty of fines (small powdery grounds) and boulders (large chunks).
Temperature can be a unique tool used to dial in flavor profiles. While adjusting water temperature isn't as effective as changing grind size, it can be used to fine tune your coffee.
The standard brewing temperatures sit at around 90.5 - 96 degrees Celsius. Staying in this range is your best bet for obtaining maximum coffee extraction.
Lowering temperature decreases the extraction rate, and raising your temperature increases extraction.
So if your coffee is coming out sour and thin, raise your temp. If the brew tastes burnt and toasty, lower the temp.
Maintaining the Wall
As mentioned before, the v60 has glass fins running up the inside of the glass. In order to utilize the benefits of this design, we maintain a "coffee wall."
To do this we need a goose neck kettle for precise pouring.
By the end of the brewing process, the spent grounds should look like a burrowed hole. There should be a centimeter thick perimeter of coffee on the sides of the filter. To make sure this is the case, pour in small concentric circles while brewing. Don't let water touch the sides of the filter.
We sometimes pour straight into the center without any agitation. The results can be surprising.
Many bustling specialty coffee shops utilize the quick brew nature of the v60. The v60's design allows it to brew quickly and precisely, but sometimes this shouldn't be the case.
Different regions of coffee have different densities. The higher the altitude that the coffee was grown at, the more density it has. More density means that it takes water longer to seep into the grinds. This slows the extraction process significantly.
If you are experiencing watery coffee, maybe slow down your pour. The lethargic flow rate may increase extraction and give you full bodied results.
The best way to get better at brewing is to brew often and keep track of results. Keep a notepad on site and write down the process. Here's a template example you can use:
Coffee (Name, region):
You'll come up with your own process, but doing this can be a start. You'll better understand how variables interact.
Consistency is doing the same thing to achieve similar, if the same, results. The goal of learning the science behind the coffee brewing process is to incorporate it. We want to brew good coffee every time.
If we come to better understand the brewing process, we will save time, enjoy ourselves more, and enjoy coffee more.
Head of Coffee (aka bean whisperer)