Let’s Talk About the 4:6 Method

Making a good hand drip or pour over coffee demands good understanding of coffee bean, grind level, coffee to water ratio and various pour over techniques, etc. Beginners or average coffee brewers like me will probably overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of information, jargons and techniques available over the Internet.

So before getting lost, let’s take a look at the easy 4:6 Method developed the 2016 World Brewer Cup (WDC 2016) Champion, Mr. Tetsu Kasuya (粕谷哲).

4:6 Method

Tetsu’s method rides on one simple idea:

“Everyone can easily brew delicious coffee”

There is no complicated procedure or hard to grasp technique, simply follow his guidelines to prepare your own cup of coffee.

The method is based on the following principles:

  1. Amount of water – for coffee extraction
  2. Coarse grinding level – for better flavour
  3. Slower extraction – to compensate for the coarse grinding level and to improve the extraction efficiency

Amount of Water

Water for extraction is divided into two parts as below:

  • Initial 40% to adjust the taste for a balanced acidity and sweetness
  • Remaining 60% to achieve the strength desired

Tetsu’s method further breaks down the total amount of water into five portions. The first two portions form the initial 40% while the remaining portions contribute to the rest of of the water.

Elapse time between each pour is 45 seconds and with a total brew time not exceeding 3.5 minutes.

Taste Adjustment

Why 40% for the taste setting?

Tetsu said that he had conducted numerous testings, anything beyond 40% did not have a clear taste!

To further fine-tune the acidity and sweetness, adjust the relative size of the first two portions according to the chart below. Less water for the first portion to emphasis the sweetness of the coffee.

Chart was reproduced courtesy of Hario Official Youtube Channel.

Strength Adjustment

Similarly, adjust the relative size of the remaining three or more portions to set the strength of the coffee.

For example, if you would like to have stronger coffee, divide the remaining 60% of water into more trunks, 15% for each of the four trunks as shown below.

Chart was reproduced courtesy of Hario Official Youtube Channel.

Coarse Grinding Level

The key is “Coarse” grounding of the coffee bean. This will help to bring out the flavour without over extracting those bitter taste.

The recommended grinding level is similar to what we have for French Press method.

Slower Extraction

The dripper used by Tetsu Kasuya in WDC 2016 is the V60 Dripper KASUYA Model (KDC-02-B), a V60 variant specially made by Hario under the supervision of Tetsu Kasuya.

Image was reproduced courtesy of Hario Global.

By comparing with the normal Hario V60 dripper, it is obvious that the ridges and the bottom opening are significantly different.

The Hario V60 Dripper KASUYA Model has been customised so that water flow is slowed down for better extraction, making it possible to brew stronger coffee with the same level of the grinding.

My Walkthrough of the 4:6 Method

In addition to the principles outlined above, one should also take note of some other considerations that will affect the overall coffee extraction.

I. Type of Coffee Beans

The coffee bean used by Tetsu in WDC 2016 was Panama Geisha from Ninety Plus. I definitely don’t have the luxury to use this high quality (and pricey too) bean and instead I just picked up one of my available beans to practise the 4:6 Method.

The one chosen is the high grown Estate Brazil Mandheling blend (Mamba coffee) from one of the famous Taiwan coffee roasters. This is a dark roasted bean giving a full-bodied coffee with a dark chocolate and spicy aftertaste!

II. Amount of Coffee Beans & Extraction Ratio

The recommended extraction ratio is 1:15.

As usual, I am using 15g of coffee with 225g of water.

III. Grinding Level

My bean grinder is the Coffee Grinder 610N (小飛馬 610N) from Taiwan Yang-Chia Machine Works. The grinding level I used is “6” and will probably be adjusted as appropriate.

IV. Water Temperature

For light roasted coffee beans like Geisha or Yirgacheffe, you may consider to use high temperature of around 94°C for better extraction. However, in my case with the dark roasted Mandheling, I opted to use a lower temperature of around 85°C to prevent over-extraction.

If possible, use a digital thermometer to measure the water temperature.

V. Dripper

Rather than buying the Kasuya barista version, I used my Kalita 102 Ceramic Dripper instead. This wedge shape dripper offers a slower and smoother extraction that hopefully should be in-lined with the principle of the 4:6 Method.

VI. Taste / Strength Settings

In my initial walkthrough, I strictly followed the basic settings as suggested in the above official demonstration video, ie.

45g of water for each the first two portions to create a balanced acidity and sweetness

45g of water for each the of remaining three portions

As expected, the cup of coffee extracted using this method gave a balanced acidity and sweetness as well as the full-bodied mouth feel. However, I also noticed there is some noticeable bitter taste. I suspected that this may due to over-extraction during the strength setting stage.

I repeated the same 4:6 Method again but stopped after part two of the strength setting stage (ie. ~ 180g water).

Instead of continuing with the last 45g of extraction, I removed the dripper and pour the remaining 45g of water directly into the extracted coffee to adjust the strength.

Tasted much better now & I’m sure there are other fine-tunings to be explored in my pursuit of the best pour over coffee.

In executing the 4:6 Method, I also observed some practice that may help to streamline the extraction workflow.

Have a simple dedicated timer – Since you need to repeat the pour & wait cycle a number of times, you will get lost easily if using the built-in timer on the coffee scale.

Fill in your kettle for the two parts separately – Temperature of the hot water will drop while you are waiting. My preference is to fill up to 50% just for the taste adjustment stage. Refill the kettle slightly before starting the remaining extraction.

Any others?

Anyway, relax and enjoy your cup of coffee.

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