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Coffee: Sensory Lab
“It was a number of years ago when David Jones welcomed one of Melbourne’s hottest coffee roasters – Sensory Lab. Over the years they fiercely developed their strong brand and this year, as part of Good Food Month, they are revealing the secrets to a good home brewed pour over coffee in their class – ‘Brewing better coffee at home’. We at Brunch Addict HQ were invited to give their course a try, and while Mr LB enjoyed a holiday away, I snapped up the opportunity to learn a thing or two about the crazy cups used to brew a pot of gold.
It was a Friday night and myself and G arrived at 6pm, ready to learn what we could. It’s funny how after so many years of critiquing coffee, tasting flavour notes and searching for the perfect brew I found myself in such unfamiliar territory – behind the counter. Sure we’ve played with coffee machines and frothers but learning how to make a pour over was something very new to me.
Behind the bar at Sensory Lab we were given a little bit of a lesson on how coffee is made, covering the basics such as Region and Varietals. We were then shown the beast of the grinder stored at Sensory Lab that is used to grind coffee only for pour overs. With a large dial used to scale the granularity of the coffee, we grind it at a medium grain. Our hosts went on to explain the golden ratio of coffee to water for a pour over – 60 to 65 grams per litre, or approximately 12 grams of coffee to every 200 ml.
With just over 20 grams of coffee beans been measured out for us, we then re-measure our cup once they had gone through the grinding process to be as close to 12 grams as possible (once the beans had been processed). An odd little fact we learnt along the way was that coffee starts to lose its aroma just minutes after it has been ground. True story!
Next it was time to set up our V60s. The little plastic cups sat atop a clear board, but we were informed that it would be fine to just place on top of a deep cup. It was time to brew and the devil was in the detail.
How to brew using a V60:
- Folding down the join of the paper filter, drop the filter into the centre of the cup wetting the sides of the paper to heat the walls of the cup, priming it for coffee
- Discard of the water used to prime the filter
- Drop the 12 grams of coffee into the centre of filter paper
- Start the timer. Add 30ml of boiling water and use the end of a wooden muddler or spoon to gently push the coffee around to absorb the water. Do this within 10 seconds of adding the water then stop and allow the water to keep draining
- At the 30 second mark, add more boiling water in a gentle circular motion until you have added a total of 75 ml of water
- From then, add 50 ml of water every 30 seconds until you reach a total of 200ml
- Let the water continue to drain. You want an even coffee bed on the bottom so while there’s still water draining, gently tap the bottom of the V60 cup or stand
Pour over coffees are all about quantity, a steady hand and timing. To make our V60 brews we approximately used three to four lots of water pouring, all within a certain time and quantity. It was kind of challenging but strangely fun! Our first coffee was almost like the coffee equivalent of an iced tea – palm sugar and lime came to the forefront of the palate in the gentle blend.
We then practiced our blending skills with a courser blend to compare grinds. It looked and felt like instant coffee and the end product was a bland mixture that didn’t have the same level of punchiness to it. Finally we used a very fine blend of coffee, typically used for espressos. It took a long time to brew a coffee and the result was a coarse, burned flavour that left a lingering and assaulting flavour on the taste buds.
We learned many tips and tricks to brewing our own v60s at home and have in fact been practicing with the little set we received as part of the class.”