When you think of speciality coffee, filter coffee or pour over then you think of the V60. It is undoubtedly the most recognisable manual brewer for speciality coffee lovers. It is also used between a wide spectrum of people from beginners to brewers champions. This is the peak of brewing delicious filter coffee by yourself. But there is one thing that happens to many that is very frustrating. The V60 sometimes has really slow drawdown issues. Well in this post I will give my tips and solutions on how to avoid that from happening.
The V60 is the quintessential pour-over brewer but the drawdown issue is quite common. What tends to happen is that during the brewing process, the water in the V60 just seems to take forever or at times stops filtering through. Common brew times of 3- 4 minutes end up taking 7 minutes or more resulting in coffee that is over-extracted and dry.
Now if you have this problem then read on as I will be getting into why this happens. Obviously it is absolutely if you are happy with the taste of coffee even with a slow drawdown. But for me, it just feels wrong and I don’t like the dry aftertaste that comes with it. So let me explain how I first experienced the slow drawdown problem.
Why do you get slow drawdowns on the V60?
So I remember when I first bought the Hario V60 and my life changed immediately. I was about to manually brew my own coffee. I felt cool and sophisticated and I have talked about my initial feelings about the V60 which you can read here. The Aeropress was put aside and I used the V60 everyday. It produced light body, sweet, flavourful, clear and good tasting coffee and made me happy. Then one day, I ran out of the cone-shaped filter papers that came with the my V60 purchase.
No issues, right? I only got 40 papers a small box so I just need to re-order new ones. The V60 papers were available on Amazon and even sold by Hario. With Prime they came the next day however it was not packed in a box but a crinkly packet. They did have 100 papers inside which was good. So within minutes I was pouring hot water onto a ground coffee bed. But after I finished the first big pour, I noticed the water just stayed in the cone. I did some swirling and slowly added the rest of the water. But the water was filtering very slowly, like slow motion slow. After what felt like 1 hour (it was 8 minutes), the V60 was done. A whole 5 minute longer then what I was used to. The coffee also tasted over-extracted, dry and not as good.
That was my descent into the nightmare of using slow V60 papers. So let me now explain the reason why this happened and solutions to avoid it.
So what happened? Well what I found was the first V60 papers I had were completely different to the second ones that I bought. They were different materials, slower ones have tabs on them and the V60 logo embroidered onto the paper. After some research I found the papers were produced in different countries by different manufacturers. The originals were obviously made in Japan but the second ones were surprisingly made in Netherlands. This is the reason there is a big difference in performance between the two papers.
My troubles did not end there. I decided to try and buy the original Hario papers from Amazon. The images showed a boxed version so to me it looked like the same papers. But they sent me a third version of Hario Papers. Now these were produced in Japan but by another company. This version was slightly better then the Netherlands version but still resulted in slow drawdown and clogging. So the lesson here is don’t go to Amazon to try and find the original papers.
How to identify the Original Hario Papers
- 40 papers comes inside a box
- No tab
- Surface material feels same on the outside and inside
- Does not have a distinct papery smell
To buy, look to see if roasters or coffee shops are selling them. Currently Square Mile and Ue Coffee Roasters have them available on their website (UK Only).
What I always find everywhere online are cheap coned-filters. My advice is do not buy them. If the newer Hario papers were bad then the cheaper ones will be terrible. I didn’t make this mistake as I scrounged around on coffee forums and YouTube to find others warning not to buy unknown papers. Cheaper papers are known to produce clogging issues and horrible paper odour.
The coffee itself
It is important to note that some coffee can also cause slow drawdowns or even clogging. There obviously is no way of knowing if the coffee will do this beforehand. But it will be good to think this is something that should be pointed out by roasters too. However, from my experience I have never really come across coffee causing slow drawdowns. Many have mentioned certain lighter-roasted Ethiopian coffee can cause slow drawdowns. But again, it is not a common occurrence.
Tweaking your method
So lets say you now know that you need to get the original V60 papers. But what do you do with the current V60 papers that you have? Throwing them away means money lost. So how can you use them more efficiently?
The first action you should try is grinding your coffee coarser. In general, coarser coffee will allow for more space in the coffee bed to allow water to flow faster. Finer coffee is known to cause clogging due to blocking the passage way. If the coffee you are experiencing is over-extracted then change your grind setting to go coarser. The downside is the coffee can be bit too weak so adding extra gram or 2 of coffee may help.
Brew in smaller doses
Sometimes I love brewing a big pot of coffee. But when I had these slow V60 papers I found better results by brewing in smaller doses. So instead of brewing 30 grams coffee with 500ml water, I would only do 15 grams coffee with 250ml of water. It does not completely stop the slow drawdown but there is less water hanging around in the slurry. Another thing I did was just take the V60 off the carafe if there was only a little bit of water left. That last bit of water will be too strong anyway so stopping the brewing earlier is better.
When using slow Hario papers, I used to pour faster to get quicker brews. Pouring faster and harder opens up the coffee bed and allows the water to go through qucker. Generally this could mean under extraction but with the slow papers it all balances out. Along with the faster pour, I focused my pour on the centre to ensure the pressure forces the water through more. Just be careful not to disrupt it to the point there is splashing. The pour should be controlled so start slow then fast and then finish slow.
The 4:6 method
Now all the things I have recommended trying does mean changing up your method quite a bit. So to make it easier, there is a well known method you can use right now that requires the coffee to be coarse. This is the 4:6 method by Tetsu Kasuya who won the 2016 World Brewers Champion with this recipe. This unique method is an article within itself and there are plenty of videos about it online. But the idea is you split up your pours over the course of the brew to have more control of acidity, sweetness and then the strength. Again, I used this method a lot when I had slow papers and got decent results.
Here is a a break down of the method and the way I used it:
20g Coffee (coarse)/ 300ml Water
- 0.00 – Pour 50ml water – Ensure you cover all the coffee with water
- 0.45 – Pour 70ml water
- 1.30 – Pour 60ml water
- 2.15 – Pour 60ml water
- 3.00 – Pour 60ml water
- Let all the water drain through or stop the brew by 4.15
Alternative faster conical papers
One thing I found frustrating is that the original V60 papers were quite hard to find couple of years back. But there were other cone-shaped filters produced by different companies. They are not all easy to find but occasionally end up on a roasters website for sale or in a coffee shop. But below are some recommendations for alternative faster conical papers.
Sibarist and its conical papers were brought to coffee drinkers attention through James Hoffman’s Clever Dripper video. He spoke about the Hario papers having a slow flow rate and recommended conical papers from Sibarist. They claim to extract 40% faster and eliminate the papery odour.
Sibarist papers come one large size and you only get 25 in a pack. Each pack costs £12.50 and it is available on Square Mile’s shop page. They are pricier then other filter papers. But these are premium quality known to provide really good results for tasty filter coffee.
Origami conical papers
Another type of papers that have come into light is the Origami Drippers Conical Filter Papers. I accidentally came across this on Hasbean’s website and was surprised how cheap they were. A pack of 100 only cost £6.00.
I honestly did not like these when I first opened them. They felt cheap and this might sound weird but floppy. However, they produced a real fast drawdown and did not produce any weird odours. I have used them in many brews and got good results. You don’t want to go with coarse coffee with these papers as it will give you weak coffee. But generally I am quite happy with them and they do a great job. These might get really popular in the future, so you heard it here first.
Cafec filter papers
Another set of papers which are getting some attention are the Cafec filter papers. Now I am putting an invisible asterisks here because there is not much information about Cafec and how well they work. But the unique thing about Cafec is that they have a filter paper for each type of roast. Yes, papers for light, medium-dark and darker roasts. Each paper has different thickness and density.
That makes sense as different roasts means you may want different ways the water to flow. But strangely, the lighter roast papers are purposely made to slow down the brew by having higher density. Their aim is to develop more aroma and a cleaner cup. The medium roasted papers are known to be the quicker ones. So that is definitely one to look out for. Then you can just forget about the darker roasts because apparently it does both fast and slow!
But the reason I added these papers here is the unique way they are produced to get the best out of the roasts you have. So even if they say the light roasted papers are slow, they still might produce good tasting coffee. Which is all that matters end of the day. I will need to do some research into these papers but they are definitely interesting.
When I initially had these slow drawdown issues with the V60, I actually started planning on my next brewer. That came in the form of the Origami Dripper and then the Kalita Wave. The V60 then got lost a bit in the background until I found the Origami Coned Papers and then the original V60 papers. Recently I have been using the V60 quite a bit and I have not been experiencing the same issues as before.
My honest recommendation would be just to get the better and fast filters. I just enjoyed using the V60 again by have a faster flow rate. Even if the coffee tasted okay from slow drawdowns, I don’t want to wait ages for coffee. I did read some coffee experts say it is all about the taste which is true. But the brewing process is also important for me as I find it enjoyable and therapeutic. When the coffee is flowing nicely and there is something satisfying for it to finish in a timely manner. Waiting 8 plus minutes for a pour over is like watching paint dry. You must agree, right?