These suggestions are meant to provide a starting place for beginners. Our recommendations are dependent on batch size, pour rate, roast level, processing method, and more, all of which vary. Experiment and adjust to taste!
Begin with 60 grams of coffee for every 1 liter of water. Adjusting this ratio will affect other factors in ways both obvious and subtle, so pay close attention. Changing any single parameter will also require change elsewhere. As a starting point for the Hario V-60, we suggest 20 grams : 300 grams coffee. Adjust to taste as you want to how you want to experience the brewed coffee.
Most people find that when 20% of soluble solids are extracted from the coffee grounds, the brew has the best flavors. Different flavors found in brewed coffee have different levels of solubility. Some flavors dissolve quickly into the cup, whereas others take much longer. Ted Lingle identified four main groups of solubility- see attached picture:
Imagine that these different groups of flavor form a systematic and patient line, waiting to be dissolved by water. Only after the previous group has been fully dissolved can the next group start. So the first flavors that enter the cup are ‘delicate’, then ‘mid-tone’, followed by ‘sweet’ and finally ‘bitter’.
Unsurprisingly the bitter group is full of undesirable flavors. Hence, bitter tasting coffee is called over-extracted. The cause of over-extraction is often using too little coffee and too much water.. The higher the ratio of water to coffee, the quicker the first three groups of flavors wash away and dissolve. By using more coffee you effectively minimize the opportunity the bitter group has to dissolve, as it is now stuck at the back of a longer line behind desirable flavors.
The opposite of over-extracted is under-extracted. This is when only the first two groups of flavors have dissolved. Under-extracted coffee lacks depth of flavor and can taste sour or astringent as it lacks sweet flavors. Under-extraction is often caused by too much coffee.
2. The Equipment
Make sure that your equipment is thoroughly cleaned after each use by rinsing it with clear, hot water and drying it with an absorbent towel. Check that no grounds have been left to collect on any part of the equipment and that there is no build-up of coffee oil. Such residue can impart a bitter, rancid flavor to future cups of coffee.
3. The Coffee
A fresh roast date is critical. Purchase your coffee in small amounts—only as much as you can use in a given period of time. Ideally you should purchase your coffee fresh every 1-2 weeks. Once coffee is exposed to air it is game on. The coffee's aromatics will begin to fade as each day passes. And yes, for the love of Kaldi, whole bean is a must. Don’t unlock the aromatics of a coffee bean until you are ready to enjoy it.
4. The Water
The water you use is VERY important to the quality of your coffee. It is 98% of what is in your cup! Use filtered (like Brita) or bottled water if your tap water is not good or imparts a strong odor or taste, such as chlorine. Be sure to use cold water. Do not use distilled or softened water. Your brewer should maintain a water temperature between 195 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction. Colder water will result in flat, underextracted coffee while water that is too hot will also cause a loss of quality in the taste of the coffee. If you are brewing the coffee manually, let the water come to a full boil, but do not overboil. Turn off the heat source and allow the water to rest a minute before pouring it over the grounds.
5. The Grind
You’re getting closer and closer to creating the best coffee you’ve ever brewed! You’ve got your geeky “coffee water”, your super fresh and delicious Flight coffee, and now you want to grind away so that you can brew it. Use a quality burr grinder. This will ensure an increasingly consistent grind and even extraction — or, in other words, a tasty cup of coffee! Anything from Baratza or Mahlkonig will serve you well.
One coffee question that I have been asked a lot has to do with grinding your own beans. Yes it is better to grind your beans as you consume your coffee, just like it is better not to open your cold, refreshing soda days before you are ready to drink it. There are two different kinds of grinders: burr grinders and blade grinders. What you chose does impact the taste of your coffee. Blade grinders (usually hand held and pulsed to get the blade to spin) merely chop the beans. The blades can also slightly heat the grounds. But the uneven grind will preclude a great brew. You will sacrifice smoothness and life is too darn short to drink subpar coffee. A conical buur grinder is a much better option. The revolving tearers crushes the beans into a very even grind. The result is better aroma, better brew, better enjoyment. Don’t unlock the flavor of your coffee until you are ready to enjoy it. Grind right before you brew!
So which grind setting should you use?
A simple saying: the longer the dwell time, the coarser the coffee.
You need to make sure that you use the appropriate setting for your brewing method because each method requires your coffee to be in contact with the water in a different way and for a different length of time, so a different size granule of coffee is required. If the coffee is ground incorrectly, the coffee will be either very thick and bitter or very thin and astringent.
Finding the right grind for each brewing method will most likely involve some experimentation to see what works best. With every brewing method there is a degree of flexibility. You can usually go a touch finer or coarser and still be within a good range. If you’re doing everything right and you find your coffee is weak (or brewing too quickly, especially for pour-over methods or espresso), try grinding a little finer (and vice versa: if your coffee is thick and taking a long time to brew, you should coarsen the grind).
Before using the coffee, try rubbing some of the grounds between your fingers so that you can ‘feel’ the grind and become acquainted with the differences in size.
And now for the shameless plug: Baratza grinders are the best in the universe!
6. Brewing Time/Dwell Time, A Little Agitation & The Beautiful Bloom
Here is where the magic happens. YOU WANT TO COAX OUT ALL OF THE WONDERFUL AROMATICS FROM THE COFFEE. The "bloom" phase of the brew sets the stage for beautiful aromatics. The bubbly effervescent of fresh roasted coffee, is a beautiful thing to behold. “Bloom” the coffee by saturating it with water for between 30 and 45 seconds. Note the bubbles as the coffee expands like foam. This is carbon dioxide escaping, The amount of time that the water is in contact with the coffee grounds is another important factor affecting the taste of your coffee.
7. The Here and After Brew
Pour it into a warmed mug or coffee cup so that it will maintain its temperature as long as possible. Brewed coffee begins to lose its optimal taste moments after brewing so only brew as much coffee as will be consumed immediately. If it will be a few minutes before it will be served, the temperature should be maintained at 180 – 185 degrees Fahrenheit. It should never be left on an electric burner for longer than 15 minutes because it will begin to develop a burned taste. If the coffee is not to be served immediately after brewing, it should be poured into a warmed, insulated thermos and used within the next 45 minutes.
Never reheat your coffee.
8. Enjoy Your Coffee!
Coffee sweetens as it cools! Take your time, sipping and enjoying. Remember this: lovely coffee is a total pleasure trip! Enjoy the ride and experience the cup!