My favorite drink from Starbucks when I was a sophomore in college was definitely a Java Chip Frappuccino. It's sweet (66g of sugar in a 16oz frap) and refreshingly cool on a hot Riverside day. I knew there was more to coffee than that, but I couldn't be bothered to get into it.
As I grew older in college, I also grew tired of studying at the library and on campus. Too distracting, and you see too many people you know to before you can get in the zone. Then a friend showed me this awesome place called Lift Coffee Roasters. Please, if you were that friend, let me know because I forgot who you were. I need to thank you properly because I miss going to this place regularly.
I love working in this cafe. There's no natural light, the music always bumps, and the baristas are super friendly and approachable. I'd be excited to come here on weekends to work on side projects and Leetcode.
As the name implies, Lift Coffee Roasters roast their beans in-house. This is important because freshly-roasted coffee beans tend to go stale about a month after their roast date. Roasting in-house reduces dependency on another company to ship beans to the cafe. Of course, it probably won't get you sick if you make stale coffee, but it won't taste nearly as good as when it's freshly roasted.
Anyways, working in this cafe all the time means that I drank a lot of their coffee. Oat milk lattes and mochas are approachable to someone like me who was accustomed to sweet coffee, but I learned how to truly appreciate a coffee bean's quality through drinking pourovers. Just coffee beans and water. It surprised me when I'd taste the same pourover made with different beans and they'd taste wildly different.
The V60 pourover is a simple-looking device. And it is simple.
Recognizable by its ridge and large opening on the bottom, the V60 is a versatile pourover brewer whose outcome is heavily influence your brewing technique. In contrast to the Kalita Wave brewer that can consistently produces a nice cup of coffee (even though you might have poured too much water, grinded too little coffee, etc), the V60 rewards your constant attention-to-detail with an amazing cup of coffee. It can also make a terrible cup of coffee if you mess up your timings or ratios, but this was a challenge I was willing to take on.
I've got it down to a science now. After watching other people on YouTube do it, I'll share my favorite way to make a classic pourover with the V60.
Dude, just buy a Keurig
Yes, you can buy a Keuring and move on with your life. But that's not fun.
While it is faster and gets the job done, the Keurig makes pretty bad coffee. This article from BusinessInsider covers it pretty well. To summarize:
- Coffee in K-cups are pre-ground prior to being cupped. Ground coffee oxidizes (read: loses its distinct tastes) much faster than whole bean coffee does due to higher surface area in contact with the air.
- For reference, I grind my coffee beans within 3 minutes of it coming into contact with hot water. The smell of freshly-ground coffee is amazing.
- Keurig brew its way too coffee fast. From clicking "Brew" to having a filled cup takes less than a minute (if I remember correctly). Keurig achieves this by shooting pressurized hot water through your K-cup. While this is an extremely simplified version of how espresso machines make shots of espresso, the Keurig is trying to do this for pourover coffee. Grounds in the K-cup are not tamped down, probably because it would slow down brewing time drastically. This results in an under-extracted yet overly bitter cup of coffee.
Barring the taste, it's a lot more enjoyable brewing coffee yourself, similar to how a fish (probably) tastes better when you catch, clean, and cook it yourself. It's a small part of my day where I'm mindful about what goes into my cup of coffee, and it's an opportunity to critique my own technique and take note on what to improve on for the next brew.
Brewing with the V60
- Gooseneck Kettle - This kettle comes with a temperature gauge at the top, which is useful since I try to brew my coffee with water at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The gooseneck spout allows for finer control of how I pour my water.
- V60 Paper Filters - These are designed specifically for use with the V60.
- Digital Scale - A simple $9 scale. Its accuracy is spotty when dealing with low-gram weights, but it suits my needs otherwise. Some people suggest getting a scale with a timer built in. I just use my phone's timer.
- Cuisinart Burr Grinder - I'm gonna be honest, I hate this thing. I got it since it's a cheap electric burr grinder, and the grinds come out to be really uneven. Sometimes I find whole chunks of bean that make it to the container. However, this is still much better than using pre-ground coffee.
- V60 Brewer - The star of the show. I got it in ceramic, but the plastic one is just as good.
- V60 Coffee Server - I put the brewer on top of this thing. If I make more than 1 cup of coffee, it's a good container for serving.
I start with boiling filtered water. I fill my kettle up a little more than halfway. It's okay to put a little more water than you think you need, since we're going to measure how much water goes in the brewer anyways.
Preparing the Filter
The V60 paper filter is pretty easy to set up. I simply crease the edge of the filter and open it up.
Place the filter inside the V60 brewer, place the brewer on top of the glass server, and place all of that on top of the scale. It should look like this now:
Grinding the Beans
I use 25g of coffee per brew. This is enough for one person + a top-off of your original cup.
When brewing coffee, size matters. Different brewing methods require different grind sizes. Espresso is typically grinded incredibly fine to increase the strength of its flavor. Cold brew requires a coarse grind since it is extracted over a long period of time (>12 hours). As a general guide, finer = more extraction and coarse = less extraction.
For our V60, I like to grind my beans a little bit coarser than a medium consistency. It should look like coarse salt.
A grinder's quality can be determined by how consistent the grind is in a batch. This is not good quality, but it's good enough for me.
Don't add your grounds to your V60 yet!
Pre-wetting the Filter
Paper filters have a paper-y taste when wet, but we can pre-wet the filter to remove it.
Once your water has boiled, you can pre-wet the filter and toss the water in the glass server out.
This serves two purposes:
- Removing the paper taste, as mentioned above
- Pre-heats the server, so temperature is not lost when the coffee initially comes into contact with the cold glass
Remember to toss the paper water out of the glass server!
Brewing - The Bloom
Every single V60 method starts with the bloom step. Blooming is a term used for de-gasing the coffee beans of the carbon dioxide built up inside the beans. We do this because the water cannot properly extract flavor from the beans until all the carbon dioxide has been purged. To bloom is to add a small amount of water to the beans, just enough for the grounds to become saturated with hot water. See this post from Driftaway Coffee for an explanation.
I typically do a 1:2 ratio for coffee to water for blooming. Add your 25g of coffee, then add 50g of water for the bloom.
Notice how bubbles start forming at the surface. This is the carbon dioxide escaping the grounds.
Let it bloom for about 30-45 seconds, and then proceed immediately to the next step.
Brewing - First Pour
After blooming, I start my 2 minute 30 second timer and start pouring 150g of water.
The goal is for all the water from this pour to be at the bottom server at around the 1 minute mark.
Brewing - Last Pour
Once all the water has been drained from the first pour, I make my next pour of about 200g water.
If you did things right, the water should be completed drained by 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
After the second pour, remove and dispose of the filter and grounds. Your coffee is now ready to be served.
Plant not included.
What can I improve on?
As I mentioned before, the V60 is a versatile pourover brewer. It gives you total control on how you like your cup of coffee.
There are multiple variables that come into play, including:
- Water temperature
- Brew time
- Grind size
- Type of coffee bean
- Roast of coffee bean
Each of these variables change your technique. For example, I typically brew darker roasts more course than lighter roasts.
Every morning I brew coffee is a learning experience. I view coffee as a skill instead of a chore now.
I hope this informal blog post helps you appreciate coffee just a little more. Until next time!