I believe coffee roasters and people writing brew recipes have a responsibility to communicate information about wastage in coffee clearly. What to do with leftover water, your spent coffee grounds, leftover grinds from changing your grind size, for example. Because changing the way we write brew recipes means we are positively influencing the next person who makes a v60 for the first time and realises there are loads of things you can do with coffee grounds, used or not, and leftover water.
Roasters, Lets Do This!
Having worked for a couple of roasteries over the past few years I’ve noticed that people often come to us for advice, much more than non-roaster connected shops I’ve worked at. I personally like to check and read how other companies are writing brew recipes - how they approach describing pouring a v60 for example, and one thing that has stuck out to me is the fact that none of the 30 Australian coffee roasting websites I looked at mentioned anything about sustainability or responsibly brewing coffee. Hell, most of these places even sold keep cups!
Luckily, all it takes is a footnote or two. I wrote four brew recipes after hosting a v60 class and found that I could add less than 100 words to encourage brewers to be more responsible with the way they brew. I wrote the guide below for my partner on how to make plunger coffee and she has consistently kept aside the spare 100mL or so water from her brew aside so we can water our plants or use it when washing up dishes. I have been making coffee with my dad for as long as I can remember and he has always used his spent espresso grounds in his garden (although that’s definitely worth researching, as coffee grounds can change the PH in your soil! But coffee + compost is always a good idea).
A Footnote You Can Copy + Paste
This one's on me. If you know a roaster with brew guides, share it with them as much as you want. This is if you don't want something at each step on your recipe, add this as a footnote, it's less than 100 words and will go a long way:
- Keep the paper-water from rinsing your filter aside, let it cool down and use it to give your plants a drink, or throw it in the sink when you're doing your dishes.
- Throw your spent or fresh grounds from adjusting or spillage in compost with whatever paper you used. Worms love paper and coffee. Research if uncomposted grounds are right for your soil.
- If you must use bottled water, try and find a new life for the bottle, drink from it, make vinegrettes, bird feeders, be mindful.
Sure we’re using our water a little differently, we’re maybe contributing a bit less to landfill, but it’s not gonna save some turtles. I think language like this matters because we are only now seeing the first wave of our wasting coffee movement. We’re using less takeaway cups, we’re writing handbooks on not wasting coffee, lets keep it going! Changing brew recipes means we will be teaching another wave of coffee brewers that they can learn better habits than a lot of us have learnt over the years. We need to change the way we are educating overall. Sure, it’s probably not driving down our water bills, but hopefully approaching brew recipes with slightly different language means we teach someone who’s making v60s for the first time that there is a more conscious way of approaching this, and brew coffee more responsibly.
Example V60 Recipe
The Johnny Method
My old Aeropress coach showed me this recipe and I love its simplicity. It’s good for Kenyan coffees, v60 cones and is fairly quick and failsafe. It highlights the clarity and sweetness you can get from having a hot internal brewing temperature, as it relies on having a 'peak' internal temperature. Ratio: 1:16.6666666 (almost 1:17)
- Grind 15g coffee. If 1 is the finest and 11 is the coarsest your grinder can go, grind around 7.
- Bring kettle to 96 degrees. When hot, rinse your paper filter thoroughly, pouring in a circle 5 times. Do this on top of your server or mug to preheat so your coffee doesn’t go cold straight away. Reserve that water and use it to water your favourite plant.
- Put your ground coffee in the centre of the cone. If you like, give it a tap so it sits flat and centered in the cone. Tare your scale and get a timer ready.
- Press start on your timer. Pour 45g of water on the ground coffee in the cone. Spin the cone gently or stir so the grounds are nice and covered. If you have done this successfully you won’t see any or just very few bubbles forming on your coffee-water mixutre. Wait 40s.
- After 40s fill up your cone so the total on your scales reads 200g. Pour slowly and in circles ensuring the grounds are being evenly covered the whole time. You may like to pour in a spiral motion on an outwards tragectory (if you like, keep an eye out for darker looking grounds and try and soak them while filling up the cone, these are grounds that haven't been evenly covered). Feel free to gently spin the cone or to stir gently with a stirrer once the cone is filled. This will help cover the grounds evenly. Wait 30s.
- After 30s add 50g water pouring gently in the centre of the cone. Once filled, tap the cone.
- Wait for the coffee to drip down fully. The bed should be rather flat. When discarding your spent coffee mixture, throw it in the compost or make a coffee scrub out of what’s left. Worms love v60 papers.
Your timing cues here should look like this:
0’00” introduce 45g water for a total weight of 45g
0’40” introduce 155g water for a total weight of 200g
1’10” introduce 50g water for a total weight of 250g
Total brew time should be between 2'45" and 3'20" or thereabouts, a little on either side of that is fine too. If you're brewing faster than 2'30" grind a bit finer.
You can scale this recipe by keeping the same ratio of coffee to water in each step.
Feel free to share as much as possible, and of course if you have any feedback or things you'd like to say, or know people who are doing it better, hit me up @jamesperrycoffee on instagram or firstname.lastname@example.org on snail email.