July 22, 2015

Hario V60: The History & Brewing Guide


They say the soul of the perfect cup of coffee is in the brew, and the V60 dripper really does make a beautiful brew. So what makes it stand out from the crowd?

SEE ALSO: Everything a Coffee Geek Needs to Buy in Japan

The story of Hario, the designer of the V60 dripper, brings together chemistry, glass products, and coffee. In fact, if you’ve read Chemex – The History & Brewing Guide, you might recall it was designed by a chemist. Hario, founded in Tokyo in 1921, started by producing and selling physical and chemical-use glass products. After almost 30 years of research, they produced Hario Glass. It uses 100% natural minerals to refine heatproof glass, making it environmentally friendly. And then in 1949, Hario launched its first home product: a glass filter coffee syphon. By 1957, this had become a cloth filter coffee syphon.

Hario has received hundreds of design awards, yet it’s the V60, launched ten years ago, that’s become its most famous invention. The name comes from vector 60, the 60º angle of its cone. The V60 was first introduced in ceramic and glass, then plastic, and finally in metal.

The ultimate edition of the Hario V60 is the Copper Coffee Dripper. It was designed for high thermal conductivity which, due to better heat retention, leads to a better extraction.

Hario V60

The classy copper edition Hario V60 and matching Hario kettle. Credit: @joshuavasko via @thedailypressclt

What to Expect From a V60

The V60 is responsive to numerous variables—more, in fact, than many other drippers on the market. This is because of three design factors:

1. The cone shape (60º angle): this allows the water to flow to the center, extending the contact time.

2. A large single hole: this enables the brewer to alter the flavor by altering the speed of the water flow.

3. Spiral ribs: these rise all the way to the top and allow the air to escape, thereby maximising the expansion of the coffee grounds.

So going back to the variables, the two most important ones you can play with are grind size and water flow. If you slowly add water, the result will be a full bodied coffee, but if you add water more quickly, it will end up with a weaker extraction and a lighter-bodied coffee.

The grind size can also affect the body. If you have a small grind size (about the size of table salt), the water won’t pass through as easily. This means that:

  • Constant water flow + small grind size = medium bodied coffee
  • Slow water flow + small grind size = full bodied coffee
  • Constant water flow + medium grind size = light bodied coffee
  • Slow water flow + medium grind size = light bodied coffee

Warning: a fine grind can lead to choking. If that happens, you need to grind more coarsely.

Plastic V60

Travel light and worry-free with the elegant plastic V60.

How to Brew Like a Pro

With this dripper, feel free to play! As long as you follow the basic steps, you can choose any combination you want.

To prepare:

1. Boil high-quality water until it’s between 90º to 96ºC (if you don’t have a thermometer, wait 30-45 seconds).

2. Fold the filter (bleached or natural) along the seams.

3. Rinse the filter thoroughly, taking particular care if it’s a natural filter. Rinsing helps to not only remove the papery taste but also heat the V60 and the server. If they aren’t heated, the water’s temperature will dramatically decrease and the coffee won’t be properly extracted.

4. Grind your fresh coffee beans, and you’re ready to go.

To pour:

Due to the V60’s cone shape, you really need a gooseneck kettle. Otherwise, it’s difficult to pour in circles, which is important for controlling the water flow (which, as mentioned above, is very important).

Start by pouring double the amount of water as there is coffee in your V60, and then let it bloom. This is always my favorite part because you can see how fresh your grounds are. After waiting for 30-45 seconds, start pouring in circles. Your grind size and water flow will affect the pour time, but ideally it should take between 2 to 4 minutes.

V60 pour

Pour-over stands and V60s were made for each other. Credit: @wellscoffees

V60 Brewing Tips

  • The V60 won’t get clogged unless you use a very fine grind size. Water flows quickly, so you can go finer than you might be able to with other drippers.
  • Since the V60 comes in 4 different materials, take into account the material you will be preheating. It takes longer to heat the ceramic model than the stainless steel, glass, plastic or copper editions.
  • Pour counter-clockwise. This will create more turbulence in the coffee bed which will cause better extraction.

Edited by T. Newton

Feature Photo Credit: Matthew Mon

Perfect Daily Grind.