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Cortado Club - Branching out into pour-over coffee
Posted by Jon Hicken on
For those of you not familiar with Roaming Roads Co. We’re two guys who love riding our bikes, sleeping under the stars and trying to convince others to come along for the experience in the Peak District. The promise of a good coffee (with breakfast) is sometimes the only reason I think some people agree to come on our optimistic adventures.
One of us thinks he’s a better coffee expert than he is… the other is too polite to let him know otherwise. That being said, we do know a thing or two about coffee and we want to create no-nonsense coffee guides that reflect the spirit of bikepacking. Tried and tested methods that simplify the whole process. We believe you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy good coffee. We’re ok with cutting corners… it’s your drink at the end of the day. Do what you like, not what you're told.
Now more than ever is the time to experiment with brewing on the go… because let’s face it. We don’t have many other options for our golden nectar fix. A lot of us have a lot more time on our hands and this creates the opportunity to learn some new skills. This doesn’t mean we expect you to pack up for a multi-day, sleepless trundle into the moors. You can brew a coffee in your back garden if you like.
One inspiration for our local brew ups trips is Alastair Humpreys and his ‘year in a tree’ concept. The idea is this; once a month, you go find a tree, climb it… and enjoy a nice brew within its branches. It’s mega simple, takes little time and helps you break free from the familiarity of daily life. it’s also amazing what a fresh perspective sitting in a tree gives you… it’s not just for kids. (Haribo lawsuit incoming).
There are 101 different ways to brew a coffee. None of them are wrong. If you want, make some instant coffee in a flask, ride to a tree and climb it. That’s a good start. But for those of you wanting to dabble in the world of coffee a bit more, we’ve compiled our V60 Hario pour-over guide below to get you started.
What is a pour-over coffee?
Well, it’s as simple as it sounds. it’s a method of brewing coffee by pouring hot water over coffee… then we let gravity do its thing. Although it’s mainly ordered by hipsters, it’s actually really good, growing in popularity and allows more control over your coffee than most other methods of brewing… at a fraction of the cost too.
Pour overs do require practice and patience. But like all the good things in life, practice makes perfect.
What you bring with you is determined by two main factors. What you possess and then what you can carry. Below is what we’d deem as essential, but for less than £50. you’ll have amazing coffee at home and on the move for a very long time.
Hario V60 pour-over cone
16g of coffee beans (no scale? around 3 Level tablespoons of beans)
260ml of water + some for pre-wetting the filters
Hario V60 filter papers
Method of boiling water
Burr grinder (hand grinder for on the move works best)
Cup - enamel is always best as you won’t smash it.
We cannot stress the importance of grinding your own beans. Hand grinders are cheap and can give you repeatable results. Your coffee will taste 10x better if you grind just before brewing compared to shop-bought pre-ground coffee. We buy our beans from businesses who care. Steam Yard cafe offer the best coffee and doughnuts in the north (Caravan Coffee Roasters) and on the past few brew ups we’ve sampled the fine beans from Dark Arts. Masters in not taking coffee too seriously.
*Skip if you’re not a coffee nerd… Why fresh though? There are 3 main reasons fresh coffee tastes better:
Grinding starts an oxidation process - this means the air reacts with your coffee, dragging out all the flavour and aromas. The longer you wait, the more flavour that’s been lost.
Moisture. Your beans are full of oils. Oils mixing into hot water are what create this delicious beverage. These oils, however, can dissolve into the moisture found in the air. Grinding increases the surface area and speeds up this process. Less oils = Less flavour.
C02 depletion. This gas is stored in the coffee and acts as an agent for transferring the flavour between coffee and water. With the increased surface area from grinding, the C02 is released quicker and the ability for flavour exchange is diminished.
Packing your kit
This sounds very obvious but the more you can do at home before leaving, the less faff and kit you’ll have to carry. We weigh out our beans into individual portions and just stick them in some pill tins. Anything like foil and clingfilm would do though. If you can stick your papers/coffee/lighter/grinder in a box, you’ll be able to pack it all in one handy package.
We tend to stuff all our kit into a Restrap saddlebag. The bag easily handles all the kit we need, doesn't sway and still has room for a down jacket. We tend to pack the jacket at the bottom of the dry bag as it utilises the space better than the rigid brewing kit… just make sure you unpack quickly if you get cold easily.
Heat the water
Get all your water heating up. Most coffee connoisseurs will tell you to measure the temperature… but because we’ve left our infrared thermometer in our other dry bag, we opt for this general rule. Boil it. leave it for 30 seconds before using (Less if it’s snowing). The amount of water should be 16x the amount of coffee you’ve packed plus some for the next step. We find about 350ml is about right for a pour-over like this including pre-wetting. Our Jetboil has markings that allow us to get a rough idea.
The water should be around the 93 Deg Celcius mark when you pour. Any hotter and you’ll get more bitterness, Any less and you’ll lack flavour.
Pre-wet the filter paper
Fold over the seam on your filter and then place your filter in the brewer cone atop of your cup, while the water is heating, rinse the paper with the water. This gets rid of the papery taste and helps warm up the cup below. A consistent temperature is best for achieving good coffee. Don’t forget to pour this away before brewing!
Grind your coffee
So for those of you who are new to coffee. The grind is perhaps the most important part of the entire process. Too coarse, it’ll be weak, acidic and just unpleasant. Too fine, it’ll be bitter, harsh and really unpleasant. You want your grind to be a little coarser than table salt. For those of you who don’t work in the table salt industry, time your brew. If it’s anything over around 2:30mins start to finish, it’s likely to be bitter and the grind needs to be coarser. If it’s less than 2:15mins, it’ll be weak and the grind needs to be coarser.
Aim to finish grinding your coffee as your water starts to boil. Get it thrown in the bottom of your V60 and just tap the side of the cone to level the grounds off. It sounds like a pain… and at first, it can be. BUT please persist. you’ll start to get a feel for what's right and you’ll have some of the best coffee you’ve ever made.
No, we’re not talking flowers. It’s simply a case of wetting the coffee grounds. Pour away any filter rinse water and start your timer! Use just enough to wet all the coffee. You’ll see bubbles start to form and the gases leave the grounds. This should stop after around 45 seconds.
The main thing you want to achieve is an equal amount of water over the grounds. Aim to pour your water over your coffee slowly and equally. We do spirals until our waters all gone. Be careful not to pour too fast as it’ll disrupt the coffee bed and leave you lacking flavour. Also, avoid pouring onto the filter paper as this means the coffee misses the grounds and results in less flavour.
Now all that’s left is to watch the water disappear into the grounds. It should take around 2:30mins but don’t lose sleep on this. Do it to your personal taste… Want it more bitter? Just make it finer.
When finished, bury the grounds and filter paper as they’ll decompose pretty quickly. Grab your brew… and get in a suitable tree to reflect on your transition to a hipster.
This is just one way to brew coffee. If you own a different piece of kit such as an Aeropress or french press, we will be releasing brew guides over on Roaming Roads Co. on them soon. Just remember at the end of the day, you’re making a coffee outside and it’s just a bit of fun.
Go ride, be safe, give each other space.