The Carvetii Guide to the V60 April 17 2020
The V60 is a pourover coffee brewer developed by Hario, a Japanese glass company, and released in 2004. While many other brands and styles of pourer brewer exist, the V60 has become one of the iconic brands of the specialty industry, and a whole gamut of accessories has grown up around this relatively simple concept.
The basic principle behind the V60 is simple – you hand brew a filter coffee by pouring water through a bed of coffee grounds and then a paper filter. In reality, there are multiple variables which come into play allowing you to craft a coffee to your particular taste.
The popularity of the V60 is likely due in part to its aesthetic appeal and in part to the principles behind the design. The cone shape is angled at 60º and is a true come shape; this lets water flow to the centre allowing it to stay in contact with the coffee grounds for longer. The ribs on the side of the dripper prevent the filter paper from sticking and allows the coffee grounds to expand properly. Finally the single, large hole at the bottom allows for the unrestricted flow of water and gives the user the opportunity to change the style of coffee by adjusting grind setting, depth of coffee bed and how the water is poured.
The V60 produces a clean style of coffee with a bright, crisp character, much favoured by the specialty industry. The paper filter absorbs oils which results in a coffee with less body than a cafetière but with more clarity of flavour. If you enjoy bright, fruity coffees then this is definitely a method to explore.
The Essential Kit List
You will need a V60 dripper and the corresponding filter papers. We would also suggest you use a set of scales to make brewing a little easier. The V60 comes in multiple sizes, colours and materials: the single serve plastic V60 is probably the most cost effective brewer on the market and the recently launched metal versions add a bit of class to your brewing set up!
The Optional Kit
When you first start using the V60 for brewing coffee you’ll likely be pouring water direct from the kettle or possibly a small jug. If you start to enjoy using this method you will probably want to invest in a dedicated pouring kettle, which gives you a lot more control over speed and direction of pour.
We also prefer brewing directly into a thermos serving jug. This allows us to brew larger quantities of coffee at a time so we get a second cup later on.
Coffee to Water Ratio
We would suggest using 60g coffee to every litre of water.
For the single serve 01 dripper you will need 15g coffee to 250ml water.
For the 02 dripper we suggest 30g coffee to 500ml water.
The Grind Setting
You use the grind setting to control the flow of water through the coffee bed. This in turn determines how long the water is in contact with the coffee and influences the amount it dissolves as it passes through.
We find a 3 to 4 minute brew time produces the best coffee.
If your brew time is too quick you will need a finer grind setting.
If your brew time exceeds 4 minutes try a coarser grind setting.
These are only guidelines; the aim of brewing coffee manually is to produce a beverage which meets your personal tastes.
Typically you want the coffee to be brewing in the 93º to 97º celsius range but it is important to understand this is the temperature of the water in the brewer itself. To achieve this you need a higher starting temperature as the action of pouring and the temperature of the equipment will all have a cooling effect. This is particularly true if you are decanting from a hot water source into a pouring kettle or jug.
Cooler water will draw lighter flavours out of the coffee but might struggle to achieve the full extraction and you might miss out on some of the sweeter tones in the cup.
In a little test we pre-warmed all the brewing equipment and poured water at 100º into the brewer, keeping an eye on the temperature throughout the brew cycle. We were only just able to maintain temperatures in the 91-92º range. This would suggest the best advice is to use water as hot as possible.
The Method for a 2 Cup V60
The first thing you need to do is pre-warm the brewing equipment and thoroughly rinse the paper filter. This is particularly true if you are using unbleached filters. Use plenty of water for this exercise.
Get rid of the water you used to rinse and pour 30g ground coffee into the V60. Place the whole set up onto scales so you can measure the quantity of water used.
Start a timer.
Use a small amount of water to wet the grounds and to generate a ‘bloom’. When water comes into contact with the coffee it releases gases which are a bi-product of roasting. This pre-wetting of the coffee allows time for the gases to escape. If you master this technique you will be able to wet the grounds without any brewed coffee passing through into the serving vessel.
We tend to wait around 40 seconds before continuing.
Now start adding water to the brewer. Do this quite quickly so as to saturate the grounds thoroughly and to determine a maximum water level. Once you’ve set this water level you will need to keep subsequent pours below this level.
With a pouring kettle and good technique you will be able to maintain a consistent level of water in the cone. Alternatively a technique which ‘tops up’ the level is also acceptable and might be easier from either a traditional kettle or jug.
Pour a steady stream of water and in a circular motion.
Keep pouring until you have added the appropriate amount of water, in this case 500ml and then allow the last of the water to drain through the coffee bed.
If your brew time is too long it is better to remove the V60 from the server at this stage and get rid of the remaining water.
Now it’s time to enjoy your efforts!
Some variations to try
There are a few variations which you can try to adjust the style of coffee you create.
The first is to alter the maximum level of water in the V60. Try filling the brewer almost to the top and compare it with a brew where the water level is maintained part way up. You should find the lower water level produces a stronger coffee and also increases the brew time. This is a particularly useful technique if you buy ground coffee as you can adapt the brew time by raising/lowering the water level.
The benefits of grinding coffee fresh are numerous but the ability to adjust the grind setting for a V60 really helps you create a coffee which matches your own preferences. Try a slightly coarser grind and then a slightly finer grind. Which do you prefer?
Try to pour water into the V60 at a consistent rate throughout the brew cycle (it takes a bit of practice). Then try a ‘top up’ approach in which you allow some of the water to drain through the coffee before topping it back up to the maximum level.
If you have any questions and/or comments about V60 brewing please feel free to get in touch. In the meantime, happy brewing!