Rocking the V60

Last Christmas Tanya gave me the Hario V60 come filter system and a Hario gooseneck kettle. Together with a scale and timer, you can make damn good (and sour) coffee.These essential coffee nerd components hard hard to use, but with practice you can master how to make a great tasting cup. I usually make my coffee at work using a simpler system, and I enjoy the times that I get to use the pour over at home.

Coffee Blooming

There are a lot of variables with the V60, which complicates the process. The size of your grind, the speed in which the water washes the beans and the temperature of the water. For these reason, the V60 is not for everyone, but if you are will to work at the process, you can make some great tasting coffees.

Learning

There are a ton of resources on the web to tell you how to make coffee using the V60, or any other obscure coffee brewing method. For me, the following were the techniques I used to learn how to brew with this setup:

  1. Unsurprisingly, YouTube. There are hordes of videos that will show you how to make a cup of coffee, the best part of these videos is you learn the jargon.
  2. The Kohi app which is a great time and brew calculator. You put in how much coffee you want to drink, and it tells you how many beans to grind and the rate of flow for the water. This app helps you nail the timing when washing the beans.
  3. Visiting good coffee shops, in Victoria like Hey Happy Coffee or Bows and Arrows. Make sure you get close to the barista while they make your coffee so you can see what they are doing.

sour coffee?

Most people don’t like sour coffee, but I do. After drinking coffee for 15 years, I think my palette is searching for something different, most coffee is boring, predictable, and uninspiring. Slowly I have transitioned to single origin coffee, which provides the adventure that I am looking for. When coffee is brewed through a V60, the coffee is left intact, allowing you to taste the kaleidoscope of flavours surrounding the bean. It just so happens the beans that I buy (mostly Kenya these days) are sour, fruity and acidic,.
Out of all the coffee preparation tools at my disposal, nothing pulls the unique flavours like the pour over. The la Pavoni was harder to master, but the pour over makes the most interesting flavour beans.

This is called riding the bloom.

My Favourite places to buy coffee from

Being on the west coast, Victoria has a lot of great coffee shops. Many roast their own coffee and they create some amazing beans.

  • Hey Happy Coffee is not a roaster, but they do stock a selection of coffee from elsewhere, which can provide you with a distination when you are abroad (when I was in Portland, I went to Heart Coffee because I bought it from Hey Happy Coffee)
  • Bows and Arrows roasts the best coffee (and supplies Habit with their coffee), but their odd hours make it difficult to get there.
  • Drumroaster Coffee has been around forever, and is available all over Victoria. Their beans are top notch and their prices are 1/3 cheaper than the other two listed above.
  • Discovery Coffee and Fernwood Coffee roast great coffee too, I just find they never have anything as bright and acidic to my tastes

Camping on Sidney Island

Sidney Island is an amazing place to visit, with many beaches and a spit, the island is definitely worth a visit. The northern part of the island is protected by the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.

Walking around Sidney Spit

Getting there

From the boat on the way to the island. It looks like it is going to be a good weekend.

The Apline group runs a water taxi that takes passengers to the island. There are no roads or cars but there is a well developed network of hard packed pathways. There are a lot of sandy beaches, a day use area with picnic tables, a campground with pit toilets and a forested section. The water taxi is about $20 per person for a return trip. Since there are no cars on the island, you can only what you can carry. I would imagine the lack of car access and the cost of ferry limits the number of visitors that are willing to make the trip.The low numbers makes for a very enjoyable, chilled out experience, especially if you are camping.

I was glad to see these wheel barrow here. I was expecting smaller one with one wheel.

Luckily, there are a few large wheel barrows to help move your gear from the dock to the campsite. You can pack a lot of stuff into these wheel barrows and I wish I knew that before we left Sidney. We packed light thinking that the transportation situation would be worse on Sidney Island, you could easily bring a cooler.

Oliver loves things with wheels, cars, bikes, trucks and wheel barrows.

The beaches

There are many beaches on Sidney island. We did go to every beach, but the beaches that we did go were covered in sand and were really enjoyable. Oliver had fun with buckets and shovels and we enjoyed watching him play.

What happens if I cover mom with sand?

The spit itself is nothing short of amazing. During low tide you can walk the full length of the spit, which is longer than a kilometre. The weather was great and we enjoyed walking down the spit.

Walking down the spit at low tide, feels like you go walk forever.

Peaceful Evenings, beautiful mornings

The evenings at the campground were very quiet. There are about 10 campsites and everyone that was camping there was quiet. After Oliver was asleep, Tanya and I enjoyed the peacefulness and watched the sun going down.

The boats moored in the distance.

In the morning we did our usual camping routine and then we headed to a nearby beach to eat breakfast and enjoy our coffee in the morning sun while Oliver played in the sand.

Oliver doing his thing.

Great place to camp

We enjoyed camping on Sidney Island. The close proximity to beaches and the beauty of the island make this a wonderful place to camp.

Another view of the spit and the algae that grows on parts of the beach.

Posted from Sidney, British Columbia, Canada
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Even Tanya agrees

Tanya isn’t one for black coffee, but she found to make a coffee suitable to her tastes. Not bitter but very rich.

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Making coffee

The Aeropress is great for making coffee, even when your camping. The simple design and plastic components make it super durable and easy to clean. Making great coffee while camping is easy.

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Bows and Arrows Coffee

Just over a year ago a new coffee shop opened on my way to work. It is called Bows and Arrows.

A roaster first

As soon as you walk into Bows and Arrows it is evident that this isn’t a typical coffee shop. In the middle of the shop is a large coffee roaster, surrounded by what appears to be a minimally designed coffee shop.

The owners are friendly and they know their coffee. On many occasions I have seen them trying different beans to decide which ones to roast and share with their customers.

Never had beans like this

Their beans are fresh and their stock changes weekly. Every-time I visit Bows and Arrows there seems to be new beans available. I like to switch it up, and Bows and Arrows always gives me a different choice of beans.

Tasting notes

I don’t usually pay attention to tasting notes for coffee, but after reading sone of the words that Bows and Arrows use to describe their coffe, I can’t help but notice them. Their notes include:

  • Pink peppercorn
  • Saison
  • Distinct
  • Dynamic

From the specific flavour to a general concept, Bows and Arrows isn’t afraid the stimulate your imagination, and palate.

Bows and Arrows have definitely changes the way I drink and think about coffee.

Learning the La Pavoni

In late August, I purchased a La Pavoni espresso machine. I have wanted one for sometime and when I saw one on usedVictoria, I went for it.

I knew that these machines had a learning curve and it can take a good while before you can pull a good shot. It took me over two weeks and two pounds of coffee to get it right, here are my notes in honing my La Pavoni shot pulling.

2013-08-25 Bought the machine, playing around

My first couple of shots were inconsistent and mostly not very good. I was shown what to do from the guy I bought it from:

  • Grind just courser than 10
  • Don’t tamp too hard, just hard enough to compact the grinds
  • Pull twice, but stop once you see blonding

This produced decent enough coffee, but I knew I had to learn how to use this machine.

2013-08-28 Slightly visible crema, good taste

After watching a few videos, I got the idea to pull the shot based on the colour of the stream, when it looks like it is about to turn (blonding?), slow down. You want to go down at the fastest speed without blonding the shot. Do it twice and when it starts to blond, stop (either refill or drink).

  • Second cup, 20 min wait from first one
  • 7 second at 100% (to fill)
  • 23 seconds to pull down, until about 10% down
  • Slowly up and 4 seconds at 100%
  • 20 seconds, down to about 25% before it looked a little squirelly and blonding

2013-08-29 Visible crema, great taste

An improvement from yesterday. I read that your want to have a 27 second pull to get the best espresso. So I tried to emulate this with two pulls, which means you have to pull the lever really fast. In the end it seemed to work well because I got a better cup than yesterday.

  • 7 seconds at 100%
  • 15 second pull (really fast) to about 20%, the stream was turning blonde, so I stopped
  • Slow up to 100% and wait 4 seconds
  • 13 second pull to about 30%, when the stream was turning blond

2013-09-06 poor/no crema, bad taste

After reading this guy I thought I would try to get a better shot. In the end, it was a fail. Here is what I did

  • Dropped the grind to 10
  • Fill to 12 grams worth of coffee
  • Put more pressure when tamping (not sure how much, but more than usual)
  • At 100% for 10 seconds (below are two different cups of coffee)
    • Pull down at 23 seconds with one pull
    • Pull down at 18 seconds, back up for 4 seconds and pull down at 15 seconds.
  • only at the very end of the pull did the stream turn blonde, the slower pull must account for this.

This produced horrible coffee. It was bitter with no crema and was not great. Next time I should try to drop the grind even more and see what I can do with 12 grams of coffee.

2013-09-09 decent crema, great taste

I think I have found the right combination for a good shot of espresso. I am shaking with excitement as I finish my second espresso in as many minutes. Over the past few weeks I have been fine tuning every variable to get it right, and I am thinking I am getting really close.

  • Grid finely, I have it set around 8 on the Ranchilio
  • Tamp the coffee. On the Internet I have read everything from 10lbs to 30lbs of pressure. I found that compressing the coffee more than I would think is necessary. I don’t know if it is 10, 30 or 100 lbs of pressure, but I feel like it is a lot.
  • Fill the grouphead, which I have found takes between 7 and 10 seconds.
  • From 100% to 0% it should take about 27 seconds, and there should be some resistance. When I was doing a coarser grind there was very little resistance.
  • There was no blonding, which makes me think that am doing it right.

The coffee tastes great and there seems to be the best crema I have seen thus far.

2013-09-10 lots of crema, amazing taste

Ok, I know I am getting closer. This shot had a ton of crema and taste was what I would call perfect. I tamped this one pretty hard and for the first time in two weeks, it was difficult for me to pull the shot. All in all, I think I tamped it too hard, but the end result was good.

  • Ground set around 8
  • Tamped hard
  • Waited about 7 seconds to fill the grouphead
  • Long pull, not sure exactly how much time, probably around 30 seconds. I tried to go faster, but it was difficult, I couldn’t go any faster.
A shot of espresso in a small white mug pulled from a La Pavoni Espresso Machine

Perfect cup of espresso?

Thoughts so far



I don’t think that I have mastered this coffee machine, but I feel like I am getting closer. I think that the finer grind, with the added pressure to pull the shot and the magic 27 seconds will produce the best cup of coffee. The real lesson is that you have to burn a few pounds of coffee before you will figure out how to use this machine.

After looking back on my notes, I am amazed at how changing just one thing a little bit can make a huge difference. For me, it was making the grind a bit finer and packing a bit tighter that resulted in the best cup.

## 2013-09-19 great taste, not so great crema

I am never satisfied and I will always try to do something different. Today I thought I would mix it up a bit, change the ground and change the tamp. I did two cups.

Grind 8, strong tamp

This one worked out pretty good, of the two, the flavour was pretty much the same but this one had less crema. I think that I didn’t fill the group head enough either. It was tasty, but not amazing. The lever came down fairly easily (no too much effort). It seems that the extra effort in the leaver pull means extra crema.

Grind 6, light tamp

I expected that these two cups would be similar. There seems to be balance between the fineness of the grind and pressure of the tamp. This one just like the other was tasty, with slightly more crema. The lever was about the same difficulty to pull down, but I barely tamped it. Moving forward, I am going to set it at 6 and tamp it a bit more to get the cup I am looking for.

2013-09-20 amazing taste, great crema

You get good at things you do every day. I have been making espresso for every day for almost a month, and things are starting to get much more consistent and good.

  • I know the feeling of machine and they way to get adjust mid pull.
  • I am learning the fine balance between grind size and tamp pressure
  • I am starting to taste notes in the coffee that I never noticed before.

Here is my recipe for a good shot:

  • Grid at 6, about 12 -14 grams
  • Tamp at medium low, enough pressure that you are use some muscle, for me this is like 30 -40%
  • Fill the head unit for 8 – 10 seconds
  • Pull down slowly, going for that 27 second pull, and adjust half way through if you need to.

This is creating great taste and good crema.

Morning coffee with Oliver

Oliver hasn’t even been in our house 24 hours we are starting to understand what people mean when they say you won’t get any sleep. Last night was a hard night and we didn’t get much sleep (you can tell by my hair).

As new parents we don’t really know what we’re supposed to do. Oliver has a number of cues that we have yet to learn but I’m confident that in the next couple days we will have a better understanding of what to do. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Posted from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
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Street Cafes

The street cafe pro­vides a unique set­ting, spe­cial to cities: a place where peo­ple can sit lazi­ly, legit­i­mate­ly, be on view, and watch the world go by. There­fore: encour­age local cafes to spring up in each neigh­bor­hood. Make them inti­mate places, with sev­er­al rooms, open to a busy path, where peo­ple can sit with cof­fee or a drink and watch the world go by. Build the front of the cafe so that a set of tables stretch out of the cafe, right into the street. The most humane cities are always full of street cafes.
A Pattern Language

People watching is one of my favorite things to do, and I love sitting down and watching the world walk by while I drink a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, Canada doesn’t seem to have too many cafes like this.

Coffee

Coffee is such an important part of my day, I drink it every morning. Coffee helps me connect what is going on in my brain with what is on my screen, whether that is creativity or logical. I make French press coffee and here in Victoria I have found the coffee that I like.

The beans that I like

I prefer to have something that is rich, bold, chocolately and earthy. I have tried a number of whole beans that are good, but they aren’t great, and now I have narrowed it down to a few that really look forward to in the morning.

The coffees

These aren’t in any particular order, these are the ones that I like to have. I like to skip around and try different coffees, and when I find one that I like, I add it to the list.

  • Cafe Fantistico – Sumantra Mandheling ($3.85/100g)
  • Cafe Fantisitco – Guatemala Antigua Finca Jauja ($3.85/100g)
  • Drumroaster – Monserrate, Colombia oscar medina micro-lot ($17/454g)
  • 2% Jazz – Rwanda ($18/454g)

The beans don’t like

Needless to say, there are some beans that I just don’t prefer all that much. These are the ones that are lighter, less earthy, more fruity. I don’t know, I guess I just want the coffee to smack me in the face, and have an aftertaste that I think long after the pot is finished.

Too Bold?

I didn’t really think that it was possible to be too bold, but every so often I come across coffee which is too bold for pure enjoyment.

  • Cafe Fantistico – Sumantra Mandheling Extra Bold ($5.95/100g)

“French Press” symbol from the Noun Project