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How to Use a V60 Properly (Step By Step Guide)

Image: V60 with ground coffee and filter paper sat on top of glass cafare on a kitchen counter.
Image: V60 with ground coffee and filter paper sat on top of glass cafare on a kitchen counter.

The V60 stands out as a beloved tool cherished by coffee lovers worldwide. It is such a simple yet effective coffee brewing tool that can make outstanding coffee with a clean, fresh and delicate flavour. 

The V60 is great for preserving the underlying flavours of freshly roasted coffee beans, whilst also offering plenty of body and robustness in the cup. 

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll delve into the essence of the V60, its origins, variations, and most importantly, how to master its use for crafting fantastic pourover at home.

What is a V60?

The V60 is a manual pour-over coffee brewer designed by Hario, a renowned Japanese glassware company. Its name, “V60,” originates from its characteristic V-shaped cone and the 60-degree angle of its walls. 

This cone-shaped dripper can be crafted from various materials, including glass, ceramic, plastic, and metal, each offering distinct aesthetic appeal and heat-retention properties.

The most popular V60 is the simple plastic coffee brewer, which is the easiest to clean and maintain. 

Where Did the V60 Come From?

Hario introduced the V60 in 2004, drawing inspiration from traditional pour-over brewing methods like single serve filters and the Chemex. The design emphasises optimal water flow, extraction, and control, resulting in a clean, nuanced cup of coffee. 

The key characteristic of V60 coffee is fresh, clean and relatively ‘thin’ mouthfeel compared to less well filtered brewing methods. 

This is thanks to the paper filters used in the V60, which let hardly any sediment through. By contrast, the French press and Moka pot produce a more full bodied cup of coffee, with more sediment and silt ending up in the cup. 

The V60’s inception marked a pivotal moment in the evolution of home brewing, revolutionising how enthusiasts engage with their coffee rituals. V60 coffee is brewed in a more relaxed and purposeful manner than espresso or the Aeropress for example, which are generally made with speed in mind. 

V60 coffee is associated with careful technique, precise preparation and a cup of coffee that should be savoured rather than gulped down quickly. 

Different V60 Types

The V60’s versatility extends beyond its design. It comes in a range of materials, sizes, and configurations. 

From the classic plastic dripper to the sleek metal and ceramic variants, each type of V60 offers unique characteristics that cater to diverse preferences and brewing styles. 

Classic Plastic V60

The most popular version of the V60 is the clear plastic brewer. Not only is it the easiest and cheapest to make, but it is also very straightforward to clean and maintain. 

Whilst there are a few other iterations of the V60 coffee brewer, the clear plastic version is the most commonly used. 

Hario Drip Decanter 

Hario also produces an all in one drip brewer with a built in decanter. This compact and convenient design combines the classic V60 filter with a sleek carafe for collecting your freshly brewed coffee. 

Glass V60

Hario also offers a classy and sophisticated glass version of the V60. Whilst it is not as robust or practical as the hard wearing plastic version, it is an elegant collector’s item that coffee lovers enjoy. 

Metal V60

For a more robust and unique design, the metallic V60 by Hario might be for you. It is a great heat conductor so will deliver exceptional brews. 

Ceramic V60

The classy ceramic V60 is another great coffee collector’s item that will sit proudly on your kitchen counter. 

How to Use a V60: Step by Step

Image: Blooming coffee grounds swelling in V60 on top of electric scale
Image: Blooming coffee grounds swelling in V60 on top of electric scale

The V60 coffee brewer is a simple device to look at, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to use. This is because grind size, pouring technique and water temperature all need to be controlled to maximise coffee extraction. 

The reason this is more difficult with the V60 compared to other methods of brewing coffee, is that there is a lot of human intervention involved. You have to add the ground coffee to the V60, pour the hot water over yourself and agitate the slurry in the right way, all of which brings human error into the equation! 

To make things easier, here’s a step-by-step guide to harnessing the full potential of your V60. 

 

  1. Grind Your Coffee: Start by grinding fresh, high-quality coffee beans to a medium-fine consistency, resembling coarse sand. This should be more coarse than that coffee used for Aeropress or Moka pot, but finer than French press. Also, you should grind lighter roasted beans a little more finely, and darker roasted beans a little more coarsely. 

 

2. Prepare Your Filter: Place a paper filter in the V60 dripper and rinse it with hot water to eliminate any paper taste and preheat the brewer and vessel. Let the water drain out completely and then place your V60 on top of your cup, jug or carafe. 

 

3. Add Your Coffee: Add the ground coffee to the filter. This can be done using a level bed, or a slight divot. There are different schools of thought behind which of these will ensure a more even coffee extraction, so I recommend trying out both methods and seeing which works best for you. 

 

4. Boil Your Kettle: now it’s time to boil your kettle and start pouring. I’d recommend using freshly boiled water for lighter roasts to ensure you get a good extraction, whereas if you’re using darker roasts, you may be better off waiting for 30-60 seconds before pouring the hot water. This helps reduce the chances of you burning the coffee grounds. 

 

5. Bloom Your Coffee: Begin the brewing process by pouring hot water evenly over the coffee grounds, saturating them entirely. Allow the coffee to bloom for 30 seconds, releasing trapped gases and initiating the extraction process. You should pour between 2-3 times the weight of water as coffee in the blooming phase, and give the slurry a gentle stir. 

 

6. Pour Technique: Gradually pour the remaining water in circles, starting from the centre and moving outward, maintaining a steady stream and avoiding too much agitation. Make sure to capture as much of the coffee grounds as possible, even the ones that have risen up the sides of the V60. 

 

7. Agitate Your Coffee Slurry: Adjust the pour rate to maintain a consistent water level, promoting even extraction and optimal flavour development. Give your V60 a gentle swirl and a stir to ensure all of the coffee grounds are completely soaked in water. 

 

8. Serve and Enjoy: Once the desired volume of coffee is brewed, and the coffee slurry has run dry, remove the V60 from the vessel. Give your freshly brewed coffee a stir to ensure it is evenly distributed and enjoy! 

Check out this comprehensive Youtube video from James Hoffmann, detailing his iconic V60 technique:

V60 Top Tips

Here are a few top tips to help you get the most out of your V60 coffee brewing experience. 

  • Use freshly roasted, high-quality coffee beans for optimal flavour.
  • Experiment with grind size, water temperature, and pour technique to refine your brewing process.
  • Maintain a consistent pour rate to ensure uniform extraction and balanced flavour.
  • Keep your brewing equipment clean and free from residues to preserve the purity of your coffee.
  • Don’t skip the blooming phase. Pouring all of your hot water onto your ground coffee at once will ensure you get an uneven coffee extraction, and a bitter or sour tasting brew. 

V60 Alternatives

While the V60 shares similarities with other pour-over methods, such as the Chemex and Kalita Wave. Its distinctive cone shape and large single opening offer unparalleled control over extraction and flow rate. This control allows for the customization of brewing parameters, resulting in a cleaner, more nuanced cup compared to other methods like French press or drip machines.

Chemex

The Chemex is a larger and more tricky brewing device than the V60. whilst it is more artistic and elegant, it is also harder to nail the technique. The Chemex als requires a slightly longer brew time and coarse ground coffee due to the larger volume of coffee brewed and thicker filter papers. 

One Cup/Single Serve Coffee Filters

Single serve filters offer a convenient way to brew great tasting coffee in no time. Whilst the coffee is not freshly ground, it is an easy way to get a better tasting cup of coffee than your standard instant brew. However, the V60 offers much more control variety and ultimately a more delicious cup of coffee as a result

Kalita

The Kalita is a flat bottomed coffee brewer that is also cone shaped like the V60. However, due to the increased contact time between the coffee grounds and water at the bottom of the Kalita, there is more opportunity for agitation. The end result is a more full bodied cup of coffee from the Kalita than the V60. 

Summary

Overall, the V60 is a simple looking coffee brewing device that seems straightforward to use, but requires a bit of love and attention to get right. When you nail the perfect pour, the results are well worth the effort. 

V60 coffee is delicious and well balanced when done right, and it is a very rewarding way to get the most out of freshly roasted and ground coffee beans. 

V60 Frequently Asked Questions

What grind size is best for V60 brewing?

A medium-fine grind resembling coarse sand is ideal for V60 brewing, allowing for optimal extraction without over-extraction.

How much coffee should I use in a V60?

A general guideline is to use a ratio of 1:16 (coffee to water) for a balanced cup of coffee, adjusting to taste preferences accordingly.

Can I reuse V60 paper filters?

While some enthusiasts may attempt to reuse paper filters, it’s generally recommended to use a fresh filter for each brew to maintain purity and flavour clarity.

Embark on your V60 journey today and discover the artistry and precision of pour-over brewing.

Frequently Asked Questions

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