Sometimes, coffee can intimidate people. At 1418, we believe coffee knowledge should be accessible for anyone who is interested, so we've started a series called "Demystify" where we walk through some of the ins and outs of the more complicated aspects of coffee. To start it off, we want to look at a few different pour over methods.
The unique look of a Chemex or a V60 can make new coffee fans feel as if something super sciency happens behind the bar that newbies couldn’t possibly understand. On one hand, we do believe coffee is science, but we also believe it is an accessible one. Hopefully these two posts will help demystify the pour overs for you and help you make sense of what really goes on behind the bar. In part one, we will focus on the “true pour overs”: V60, Kalita, and Chemex, but stay tuned for part two where we will talk about immersion methods like French Press and Clevers!
Hario, a Japanese glass making company, uses all natural minerals and have done business for almost 100 years. The companies won many awards, and coffee shops all around the world use their products. The V60 came onto the scene in the early 2000s and truly changed the coffee game.
When you look down into a V60, you notice three unique things: the angle of the cone, a big hole at the bottom and little bumps along the side that make a spiral. Each of these design elements contributes to the overall taste the V60 provides. The cone’s 60º angle helps water flow to the center, lengthening the amount of time the water actually touches the coffee. (It’s also where the name comes from: Vector 60 = V60). The big hole affects the flow of the water, which in turn affects the flavor of the coffee. Lastly, the little bumps on the side help air escape so that the grounds can expand. All of these elements together give the V60 a flavorful, light bodied cup of coffee. The final product emphasizes the flavor notes of the coffee and is a great way to taste the nuances of a well roasted coffee.
The Chemex coffeemaker combines elements of science and design to make a beautiful brewing technique. Even though it can be spotted in cafes all over the world today, the Chemex originated all the way back in 1941 by a German chemist named Peter Schlumbohm. The original design has changed very little since and continues to impress coffee fans everywhere. In addition to its scientific roots, the Chemex has been heralded as a design masterpiece and can be found in museums like the Museum of Modern Art in New York as well as in the background of TV shows and movies like Friends, Mad Men, and Interstellar. As interesting as all of that is, we most appreciate it for the wonderfully smooth cup of coffee it produces.
Not only does the design look good, it also helps the brewing process. Like the V60, the large hole and angle of the cone help the water flow to the center and maintain a proper flow rate. The special Chemex filter also plays a role in the final product. Chemex filters are 20%-30% heavier than normal coffee filters. This allows the filter to absorb more of the coffee’s oils while brewing, resulting in a really clean cup that extenuates the flavors and body.
Also hailing from Japan, the Kalita Wave comes from a family company that has been making coffee equipment since the 1950s. Although it has similarities to the Chemex and V60, it also differs quite a bit. Instead of having one large hole at bottom of a cone, the Kalita Wave has a flat bed with three small holes, allowing the water to spread out a bit more. This makes it harder for water to escape through little cracks in the coffee bed, which is called “channeling.” By minimizes channeling, the Kalita Wave makes it easier to have a more even extraction, giving the coffee a crisp taste and mouth-feel. In addition to the flat bed and three holes, the Kalita also retains heat really well. The filter has minimal contact with the dripper, helping it maintain a consistent temperature and gives it an even dispersion of water.
At 1418, we often recommend the Kalita for an introduction to home brewing. Although one should always strive to brew perfectly, there is more room for error in the Kalita. The Chemex and the V60 can taste amazing when done properly, but they can be pretty disappointing when you don’t do it right. Even a poorly done Kalita can taste pretty good.
At the end of the day, we believe coffee should be accessible for all people. Pour overs can be intimidating and seem complicated, but we hope this list helps demystify some of the aspects that seem unapproachable. We will post a part two soon that covers immersion methods, so keep a look out for that!