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Observations on the Hario V60

Published on under the Coffee category.

A turqoise Hario V60 on a black cup in a kitchen

This is the second post in a three-part series on my adventures learning how to use the Hario V60.

I’ve made a few more cups with the Hario V60, the latest addition to my home brew bar, and as I’ve been brewing I have noticed more about the device. I bought this device to see how different pour-over devices could affect the cup and at the moment I am just experimenting to see how I can make a delicious cup of coffee.

My first lesson came after I noticed how difficult it was to use the Hario V60 filter. The filter seemed to be a bit big for the device. The filter papers were definitely the right size – they came in a Hario V60 kit – but something was amiss. I messaged a fellow home brewer on Instagram to find out what I might be doing wrong and it turned out that I was indeed missing something. I had to fold the Hario V60 filter at the ridge.

In my first two brews, I did not fold the filter. I knew that you needed to fold a Chemex filter but I thought the Hario V60 filters were ready for use straight out of the pack. This morning, I folded the ridge over and the paper seemed to fit much better into the device itself. I am no longer worried about whether the paper is positioned correctly in the brewer.

Not only do you need to fold the filter, I have noticed that more water is needed to soak the filter. This may be because the filter is a bit taller than the Kalita Wave. I suspect the big hole in the bottom contributes to the need to use more water. Because there is a big hole at the bottom of the filter, water can drain through quickly. That water has less time to be absorbed into the filter paper. In the Kalita Wave, the water takes longer to flow through. The filter paper seems to absorb a lot more of the water.

This was not the only thing I’ve noticed. When I started brewing with the V60, I got an urge to spin the device. Such a spin is called the Rao Spin, named after Scott Rao. Although, interestingly, Rao did not invent the spin.

Whoever invented the technique, it was designed to stop grounds from getting stuck to the side of the filter. This technique came to mind because I noticed that some grounds were adhering to the filter, more so than I had seen on my Kalita Wave brewer. These grounds, if they were not saturated in water, would not extract flavours as much as the other ones. I employed the spin to see what would happen.

The spin was not very effective on the Kalita Wave, perhaps due to the ridges in the filter. The Hario V60, on the other hand, is more receptive to a spin. The spin washed grounds away from the sides of the filter and helped to keep them in the coffee slurry – the mixture of coffee and water in the brewing device. I opted for a spin at the start to ensure all of my grounds were coated in water. Then, I spun after my last pour to make sure no grounds got stuck to the edge of the brewer.

As I brew with the Hario V60, I am noticing that grind size is a big factor to manipulate. This is because the device has a big hole at the bottom which does not regulate the water flow effectively. Thus, I need to change the grind size to get my desired flow rate. Flow rate is important because it determines how the water interacts with the coffee. If too much water gushes through the filter, it will not extract much from the coffee. If the water flows too slowly, the water may extract more of the compounds from the coffee that you do not want; the ones that take longer to extract.

I tried a slightly finer grind with some success. But, the coffee had a bitterness that I did not like. The coffee was still drinkable but I knew I could make a better cup. I went back to my slightly coarser grind and enjoyed the cup a bit more. But, I still feel like there is a lot to learn about this brewing device.

I looked through a few of my coffee books and websites whose brew guides I read and noticed a lot of them have a recipe for “pour-over” rather than a specific device. I find this interesting because my Kalita Wave recipe has actually served me well on the V60. However, I feel like there are subtitles to this device that I need to learn. My cups taste good but not as good as they have tasted on my Kalita Wave. Like learning any new skill, I just need to practice.

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