04 January 2011

Hario V60 02 [Coffee At Home]

I had the pleasure of attending a "Better Brewing At Home" class at Four Barrel last night, where I learned of the many ways to prepare coffee at home (as well as how to fuck up coffee at home). I've made plenty of coffee in a French Press (good enough) and a few times from a Mr. Coffee (blech). The methods demoed where the Chemex, the Clever Dripper, a French Press, and Hario V60. Of the methods, I thought the Chemex and the V60 tasted the best (given the beans and my coffee preference of "bitter, fruity, nuanced" and not "full bodied, hearty"). For reference, that is much closer to espresso than normal drip.
 Before I go into details, the most interesting part of the class was probably the "how to ruin" coffee bit, namely the tasting of bad drip. The under-brewed coffee was not so bad - it was like a very weak tea; I could drink it easily and if I was served it in a restaurant I would probably finish it. In fact, it tasted like most restaurant coffee you get. The over-brewed was a different beast. It waged a war against the moisture in your mouth. In wine terms, it had a huge tannin. It was barely palpable, let alone drinkable. Do not want (except, maybe, as an experience).
The V60 uses a somewhat fine grind - on the advice of the teacher of the lesson, I got a Hario Mini Mill and set it to three "clicks" from closed. This is a burr grinder - while it does require some manual labor and a bit more time than a push-button Kitchen Aid or other non-burr grinder, it won't destroy your beans and it won't create an uneven mixture of coffee chunks. Get one, they are cheap. I'm using 20g of coffee and 300g of water for this batch, as 15-1 was the recommended ratio. A kitchen scale is also something you should own.
To prep the coffee, you first warm everything by pouring hot water over it (of the temperature you prep at, so 195-205 degrees). While the water was heating, I poured the grinds into the filter and formed a divot in the middle by rotating a spoon around in it. For the V60, you are supposed to pour ~10% of your water, by weight, into the filter starting from the center and then working out to bloom the coffee (release the gases in the beans, let it settle), then slowly pour the rest of the water in so you finish pouring around the 2.5-3.5 minute mark (adjust as needed for taste). This pour should be in the center of the filter and a very slow rate. You can see in the above photo the divot shape and the blooming coffee, which appears to have water that is too hot (it shouldn't be bubbling like that but rather foaming).
 On the left is the finished pour, on the right is the filter/grinds after the water has drained. This cup of coffee was a little off - it didn't have the full fruitiness the one poured by a master barista had. I think the cuplrit is a combination of water that was a bit too hot and a brew time that was wrong, in some way. It wasn't quite bitter or tannind, but it was definitely moving in that direction. For a first cup in a new method, this wasn't bad. Hopefully this won't turn into an obsession, but it looks to remain cheap with this equipment.

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