Thanks to some research done recently by Matt Perger & friends at Barista Hustle, a nice improvement to preparing V60 coffee just came to my attention (see my first blog post for the full details on preparing V60 coffee).
In my previous post, I indicated that one of the steps in preparing the coffee bed when brewing coffee with a V60 is to dig a small trench with a finger so as to quickly wet the coffee bed more uniformly at the bloom phase. I mentioned that I had not seen a convincing demonstration that this actually helped, but because it’s easy and makes sense, I ended up adopting the practice.
Well, thanks to Barista Hustle, now the tests have been done, and it turns out it does help. They even found a better way to do it, which they describe as preparing the coffee bed into a “nest” shape, in other words into quite a deeper and larger trench.
They achieved this roughly with a spoon, but I find it easier by sticking a chopstick in the center of the coffee bed through the bottom of the filter (taking care not to pierce it), and rotating it around in circles that slowly increase in radius. I posted a video of this method below.
[Edit January 11, 2019: Scott Rao pointed out to me that the chopstick method I present here could potentially be compressing some coffee, which could lead to more channeling. I think this is a valid worry. However, the alternative (used by Perger and Rao) is to dig the nest with your fingers – I remain agnostic as to whether one compresses the coffee bed more than the other, but I find it harder to replicate the same nest shape every time using my fingers. Please keep this in mind if you use the chopstick method, and use a chopstick that has a pointy end if you can (make sure you don’t poke a hole in your paper filter). I will explore this more in a future blog post.]
Here you can find a PDF with an updated version of my first blog post, that includes this “nest” technique.