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If you’re like me, and want craft quality at Keurig speeds, then I have some good news: for around $200, or the equivalent of 70 drip coffees purchased from your local roaster, you can achieve incredible brews from your own kitchen (provided you’re using the right beans). What you need is a scale, a solid burr grinder, a V60 dripper, some filters, and a gooseneck kettle. Oh, and a spoon, but you probably already have one of those.
Scale: Probably the most overlooked, yet most important, element in any brew set up (home, commercial, or otherwise) is a scale. Great coffee is a science/art of ratios between coffee and water. Like any recipe, the end result is greatly affected by whether or not it was followed correctly.
In order to experience a coffee in a form that will likely yield the best tasting result, it is very important to follow the recommended guidelines a roaster or knowledgeable shop, gives along with a particular coffee....or at least some general 'best practices'
Metrics are key in achieving an accurate result when brewing coffee, so it is paramount that both coffee and water are precisely weighed/measured when initially brewing a new coffee or working with a new setup. This of course can be streamlined, memorized, and/or short-handed once consistency and familiarity with the process that yields your most ideal cup has been established.
The brand of scale is far less important than the features it offers and of course its accuracy. At a minimum, you want to use a scale that ideally weighs accurately (to 0.1g) in metric/standard units and has a built in timer. The gold standard for pour overs has been the Hario V60 Drip Scale, and the one we prefer just due to its consistency, accuracy, and simplicity. If you want even more precision and features (especially if you're brewing espresso), then the Brewista Smart Scale II. And if you want all the above, plus an incredible sexy design, then the Acaia Pearl is your choice.
Grinder: I recommend a Baratza Encore burr grinder or a manual Hario Skerton Pro Burr Coffee Grinder. It’s inexpensive, reliable, produces a pretty consistent grind quality, and is incredibly easy to use.
Coffee Dripper: The Hario v60 Coffee Dripper is the industry standard for a reason. It's simply the best dripper out there, and it's been the tried and true dripper for decades now. The main question I get regarding the v60 is do you want to use the plastic or the ceramic version. I use ceramic at home; however, plastic V60s surprisingly will retain heat in the brew better than both ceramic and metal style drippers. I know it sounds crazy to advocate pouring 200 degree water onto a plastic cone, but it works. The difference between plastic and ceramic is pretty hard to detect, but metal drippers like Kalita Waves retain heat poorly in comparison.
Filters: For filters, I use size 02 Hario paper filters, and they've been determined by many coffee professionals to impart the least amount of taste to the coffee out of all of the most popular 02 filters/Hario paper filter knock-offs.
Kettle: This is going to be the hardest purchase to stomach for most. Why do I need to spend more money on something that I just use to pour water out of? I can just use a pot or pour from a cup. No matter how good you are at pouring water, you’re better with a gooseneck. And no matter how accurate you think you can guess the temperature of boiling water, you can't even come close without a gauge.
The water temperature and pour are the crucial steps in the process, so you need to have the right equipment to get a nice consistent flow and temperature coming in contact with your grounds.
We think the Stagg EKG 1.0L Electric Pour Over Kettle by Fellow is the best bang for the buck. Not only is it easy to operate, accurate, and durable, but it has the nice feature of being able to easily set and hold specific temperatures. It's also beautiful. Specific temperatures are important for different origins/roasts of coffees, and even more so for different types of teas.
Now that you’ve got all your materials let’s talk about procedure:
1. Fill your gooseneck kettle with filtered water and turn on the heating element
2. Weigh out 22 grams of your favorite Docent Coffee (see what we did there)
3. Grind the coffee on a medium-fine grind setting (table salt) - I turn my Encore to the 16-18 mark, but every grinder is calibrated differently so this will likely need to be determined by your own unique setting
4. Pop a filter into the V60 and wet with your ~200 F water, using enough water to soak the filter and warm up the V60
5. Discard the water in the mug
6. Toss the grounds into the filter, shaking the filter to ensure there is a smooth, flat surface at the top of the grounds
7. Tare the scale and start a timer
8. Begin by pouring 60g water directly on top of the grounds (not on the sides of the filter), ensuring to saturate everything you can see
9. Use the spoon to gently agitate/stir the slurry - do this for about 10 seconds or until you stop seeing bubbles come to the surface of the slurry
10. At 45 seconds, slowly pour the remaining 290g water into the V60, keeping the kettle at a constant height above the top of the filter (about 2-3 inches). Make sure you do not pour the water towards the sides of the filter as this can cause it to dive under the grinds and not reach proper extraction
11. Once your scale reads 350g, grab your spoon and gently stir the slurry to begin a spiral
12. The brew should finish around 3-3:30 minutes, but this should not be your main determinant if it was 'done properly' or not, as many factors affect the speed at which a pour over finishes.
If your finished grounds look like mud and the coffee tastes bitter, turn your grinder to a coarser setting. If they look like small rocks and the coffee tastes sour or watery, make the grind size finer. Always make small adjustments and keep all other variable constant when doing so.
Some of you may be wondering what the purpose of spinning the slurry. Without going into scientific detail, it basically allows you to extract more flavor from your coffee. Although it isn’t paramount that you stir your slurry like a professional barista, it bumps your morning joe up to a new level, so why wouldn’t you? The other thing I love about pour overs is the cleanup process (or lack thereof). I usually brew straight into a mug or tumbler, so all I have to do is toss the filter and rinse off the V60. That’s it!
In summary, ~$200 can upgrade your home coffee experience tremendously from a K-cup crime scene, to a very precise (and mindful) manual coffee brewing practice. I can promise you you'll be glad you did. And if you don’t believe me, come on by Docent and I bet I can change your mind!
Head Roaster - Docent Coffee
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