I’ve studied the commerce side of coffee for two years, and consider myself reasonably well versed in the ins and outs of supply and demand. However, I’ll be the first to admit – I’m not the most well versed member of the PC team when it comes to coffee preparation. I’ve been practicing at home how to correctly brew a plunger coffee, and now I’ve graduated to the V60. Yes – three months ago I may have thought a V60 was some kind of ab workout machine, but luckily for you reader, I have access to some of Wellington’s leading authorities on the complex world of coffee – and also, google. So – even if you are as ignorant of grinds and blooms and pouring techniques as I was, by the end of this post you will be fully equipped to embark on a V60 brewing adventure at home.
Why should you? Well because, despite the technical sounding name this is a relatively simple and affordable way to get the most out of your coffee beans. The V60 design includes interior ridges which reduce contact with the paper filter and allow the water to run more freely. It also has a large exit hole meaning you control the extraction time – using pour technique and grind size. All of this basically means that the V60 will produce a light-bodied brew, with clearer, more nuanced flavour than you would get with immersion techniques. It’s easier to control and more forgiving than the chemex. It is fast and precise, as long as you get the basics down… so scroll down for the basics.
First, you’re not going to get away with skimping on the scales or timer. You need them. Coffee is chemistry, and chemistry is precision. For a 2 cup V60 you want to use 22 grams of freshly ground coffee to 350mls of water, for a 1 cup V60 use 13 grams coffee and 210mls water (a 1:16 ratio).
Poise your V60 cone atop a drinking vessel (aka mug). Place a paper filter inside the cone. Make sure to pre-wet your paper filter with near boiling water to get rid of any papery flavours, and to warm your vessel/mug, empty just before brewing. Dose your ground coffee into the wet filter. The grind should be medium to coarse – a sandy consistency but slightly finer than a plunger grind.
Now for the bloom, which looks as delicious as it sounds. Boil the water and allow to cool for around 60 seconds. It should be about 94 degrees. Preferably using a jug that allows for a slow, controlled pour, pour in an amount of water that equals twice the weight of the amount of coffee you have in your cone, depending on its size. (OK, I’ll break that down – use 30mls of water for a 1 cup V60, and 50mls for a 2 cup.) Make sure you wet all the coffee. This should be enough for the coffee to start to absorb the water, without letting it extract, and drip into the vessel. It will expand (or bloom) slightly. You may now pause to take in the glory of the bloom for 20 – 30 seconds.
Now you can start pouring the rest of your water. There is some debate over whether it is best to pour all the water at once, or to pour smaller amounts at 30 second intervals. This often depends on the type of coffee you are using but there is no consensus as to what is best. I’m afraid I must leave it up to you to experiment here… take some time to find out which technique produces the best flavours for you (if it tastes good – stick with it, practice makes perfect!) Pour slowly in circles, wetting all of the surface evenly. A couple of gentle, circular stirs can help prevent clogging.
Once the brew has slowed to a drip, and the top bed of coffee is just starting to dry out, remove the filter, take a deep breath, and survey the fruits of your labour. Mine were in this fancy glass jug (below). But I promise it will taste just as good in a cup.
Now, enjoy. You may find that new flavours develop as the coffee cools, so take your time over it. We’ve provided general guidelines as to brew time, grind size, and ratios here – but all you home chemists (not in a Breaking Bad way) should experiment to find your own perfect V60 technique. Also, if you’re looking to acquire any of the equipment, you will find all you need here.
August 13th, 2014