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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hario 'woodneck' design and some thoughts on hand pour

The Hario woodneck is one of those brewers that is near and dear to my heart. It's not dissimilar to the v60 in it's benefits. Well, a v60 using the cloth filter, that is. The woodneck may look a bit like a Chemex but do not be deceived, there is nothing between them that is common beyond the carafe like shapes.

Woodneck spout
I have been rethinking how something as delicate and simple as the spout on the woodneck is created. The technical skill it takes to make something in this shape, consistently, with high quality glass, to exacting standards in quantity is an elegant piece of engineering. It's something we could easily miss in a North American coffee scene dominated by paper and plastics.

The problem is, we don't have a base for many of the manual coffee brewing methods. As we (re?)discover them, there seems to be an almost ridiculous assumption that we are the first person to ever brew with them. Seeing reviews written on these manual brew items by people using them for only a week or two reinforces this though not nearly as depressing as it is to read coffee pundits decrying the blasphemy of 'new' brew devices they seem to have little understanding of.

The v60 itself is actually one of the newer brew devices, only three years out of the Hario design labs but it's brew concepts are based on decades of experience in a culture that does a lot of hand pour (aka pour over) brewing.

I have experienced that a good kettle brew takes the same kind of investment and practice espresso does. That is to say, it is not something you pick up in a few brews and relies a lot more on repitition and user input than do most of the pour and fill methods we are used to. In the last two years of using woodneck and v60, I have come to appreciate them as much as Syphon. It was not until I had spent a year working with them in the shop and serving on them daily in the last half year that I really got to understand these items better and grasped the do's and don'ts in relation to our coffees using hand pour methods.

The woodneck specifically is elegant in it's own right but it is unique because it is a cloth hoop brewing device which are pretty rare in the US coffee culture right now. It requires the same skill set as we have discussed with v60 but produces a slightly different taste profile. Cloth is depth filtration and produces not only great clarity and oils, it gives a very layered and complex cup when done correctly. Take care of the cloth and rinse it well, use it often, clean it with coffee detergent as needed, and it will never 'taste like cloth'. Store it wet in a ziplock bag in the fridge but don't freeze it or dry it out. It will only 'taste like cloth' when it is either rinsed poorly, stored poorly, or allowed to dry out. A good boil in water is often enough to get the filter ready to brew again in short order. These are the facts as we use our cloth filters daily in shop.

So take a moment to enjoy a couple of videos on wood neck. One was forwarded to us from the folks at Hario and the other is a one cup ~6 ounce woodneck video by our own Chris. Catch him on bar in at the shop this Sunday or Fri.

'Jamie lynn will say OMG when she sees this.'

Quote Chris: '2 minute brew plus pre-infusion, 18 gram dose (of light roasted Kenya), 90.5c water temperature. Produces 5.5~6 ounces. Keeping an even small stream of water is very important for this short continuous pour.'