Coffee has become one of our hobbies over the past couple years. When we still lived in Peoria, IL, a new coffee roaster opened up downtown at the end of 2011. The taste of their coffee was so different than the Starbucks coffee that we were used to. Each sip had so much more flavor. This sparked an interest in learning more about the different coffee roasts available and using the pour over method.
First of all, let’s talk about selecting what coffee you’re going to make. You’ll find that when you’re shopping for coffee, often you’ll see different geographical origins on the bag. This is something that you should look at when deciding which to choose. The beans will either be from a single origin or a mixture. For example, a bag labeled “Honduras” would be considered single origin.The bag of coffee that we will be using for this post is called “Halsted Blend” from Intelligentsia Coffee, a Chicago based roaster.It’s not a single origin but a mixture of beans from different Latin American countries.The reason why the origin is important is that the soil in which it is grown will give it hints of different flavors. On your coffee package you might see wording like “hints of chocolate, plum, honey”. The Halsted coffee for today says that we should notice “a full, earthy body with chocolate tones, hints of fruit and toffee”.
Other important things to look for are roast types and roast dates. You might not see either on the package though. Some common roasts that you might see are light, medium, dark, and espresso. For those that patron Starbucks, you’ll be familiar with a darker roast (although they do offer a light roast now – blonde). The flavor is smokier, less acidic, and more bitter. I’ve (Mr. P&F) come to really appreciate a light or medium roast. In my opinion, it lets much more of the flavor in the beans come through. However, my wife (Mrs. P&F) prefers dark roasts. If you prefer a certain roast type and it’s not listed, either ask your barista or check the company’s website. As for roast dates, most smaller roasting companies will put a roast date on the package. This is also very important because, like most food, the fresher the better. Within the first few weeks, the flavor is fullest. This is the biggest problem that I have with buying “big box” coffee. The coffee may have been in a warehouse for the last month or two and then sat on the shelf for another month. With smaller roasters, I can walk in and usually get beans that were roasted within the week.
Before we actually make a cup, a word on shopping local. Supporting local business is great for your community. It keeps money and jobs in your local economy and adds to the culture in the community. Coffee shops are a great place to meet with your friends, read a good book, or listen to a visiting music artist. So search online for your local coffee roaster and buy some beans!
Now we’re going to actually make a cup of the Halsted Blend coffee. Here are the things that you’ll need:
Burr Coffee Grinder (if not ground already)
Kettle or Tea Pot (Hario Kettle is shown in pic)
Hario V60 Pour Over Cone
V60 Paper Filter
Your Favorite Mug
Scale with grams
First, you want to measure out your coffee beans to be ground. I use a Jennings scale that allows you to measure in grams. A general rule that I go by is 230g of water for every 14g of coffee. I usually make 12 oz and keeping those proportions gives us 305g of water with 18g of coffee. Your bag may have recommended amounts, feel free to fiddle with these measurements.
Now, grind those beans up in your coffee grinder. As a general rule, you want a medium grind setting for a pour over. The best type of grinder to use is known as a burr grinder. We have a Bodum burr grinder which is shown on the far right of the picture at the top and it actually has a setting for pour over coffee. It does a better job of actually grinding the beans and delivering flavor as opposed to a blade grinder which slices them. It’s best to grind your beans as you use them. Again, it will help to give you the best taste possible. At this point in the process, it’s a good idea to start boiling your water. If you have a water softener hooked up to your tap water, that is going to affect you taste. If you can get purified water, it will be your best bet. We have a purifying water pitcher that we use for drinking water. For your water kettle, the industry standard is to use the Hario Kettle shown below.
The reason that this kettle is preferred is the spout. As you can see in the picture, the spout is curved and slim. This allows for a controlled pour when we start the actually pour over. Of course, you can always use a tea pot to start out.
While the water is boiling, you can get your V60 ready. Place your V60 cone on top of your mug then grab a V60 paper filter. Locate the side with the raised grooves and fold the filter at the groove as shown below on the left hand side.
Dump the water from the mug and pour the coffee grounds in the filter. I like to pat the grounds down to compress them a bit and then use your finger to make a small indent at the center of the grounds. The ideal water temperature is about 195 – 205 degrees F. There’s is no need to actually use a thermometer unless you really want to. If you wait about a minute after the water boils, the temperature should be about right. That’s why I just wet the filter immediately after the boil. While doing this, the water is cooling slightly. Now you can begin to pour. Place your mug w/ V60 on your gram scale and begin to pour the water over the grounds slowly. If don’t want to get a scale, you can eyeball the water level but the scale is going to be best for keeping track of how much water needs to be poured.
You want to just pour enough water to wet the grounds (above). It should take about 10% of your water; in this case ~30g. This is known as the bloom. By wetting the grounds it allows the coffee to release CO2, which you will see as little bubbles coming up. Note: the fresher the coffee, the more air bubbles you see come to the surface. This is because the CO2 level is highest immediately after roasting. The idea is that if we didn’t allow some of the CO2 to be released, it would block some of the water from soaking the grounds, lessening the flavor. Let it bloom for about 45 sec, then begin pouring again. You want to pour in a circular pattern, trying not to touch the sides, so that you evenly distribute the water. Do not pour too fast, the entire pour should take about 2:30 mins or so.
Keep an eye on how much water has been poured so far. The amount that we’re going for is about 305g of water (~12 oz). This is including the initial 30g used for the bloom stage. Once you get to your desired water level, let the filter fully drain before removing. It’s now time to enjoy your fresh cup!
The Halsted Blend from Intelligentsia turned out to be very flavorful. I’d say it’s a medium to dark roast. The hints of chocolate, fruit and toffee definitely come through. The fruit flavors really hit your tongue. Acidity level is fairly low which is the main reason why I believe it leans towards a darker roast. If you want stronger flavor, you can always start with more than 18g of coffee. The whole process of getting everything together, boiling the water, and pouring only takes us about 7-8 mins. If you decide to get a Hario pour over, you will find a V60 01 & 02. The 01 is smaller and is best for making one cup at a time. I have an 02 which is a little bigger and allows you to pour more than one cup at a time if you want. If you plan on frequently making multiple pour overs for your friends/family, think about starting with a 02. It’s well worth the little extra time and effort it takes. Also, if you have a space available, you can compost your coffee filter and grounds. The grounds are also good to put in plant soil as they are rich in nitrogen.
– Mr. & Mrs. Polished and Frayed