What is the point of a swan neck kettle?
You’ve probably seen these funny looking teapots in coffee shops before; you know the ones, chrome coloured with the really thin, long spout?
Have you ever wondered what they’re for?
Well, they’re not teapots at all! Shock! Its actual name is a Goose Neck or Swan neck Kettle.
As you may guess, they get their name due to the distinct S-shaped neck. Whichever waterfowl related name you wish to use, it serves the same purpose – to give you a controlled pour and even extraction from your coffee grinds.
The swan neck kettle is mainly used for V60 pour-over or Chemex filter coffee.
So, what is the point of a swan neck kettle? Why can’t I just use a normal kettle to make filter coffee?
Well, in truth, you can. A normal kettle is great for heating water and great for pouring too, but you don’t have much control as to where the water is dumped, and, if it is like our kettle, it is a dump.
This doesn’t matter when adding water over a teabag, but it does when it comes to coffee extraction. For an even extraction, all the grounds need to be wet. This is tricky with a normal kettle, but a breeze with a swan neck kettle!
Try one, and we promise you can taste the difference.
Why is it better?
When it comes to coffee extraction, filtered coffee gives a much cleaner cup of coffee, creating a lighter-bodied coffee than, say, a cafetiere. This allows the delicate flavours of speciality coffee to shine through.
It’s also a super cheap way to enjoy really great coffee at home! For around £25 for a Hario V60 Pour Over Kit, you can’t go wrong! Because this method is gravity fed, it takes a little longer to brew and extract the coffee, however, it’s worth the wait.
To make an awesome tasting coffee this way you’ll need a V60 dripper, some filters and some coarse ground coffee. We use 20g of ground coffee to 320ml of hot water, just enough for a large mug.
Put a filter into the V60 dripper, wet it and discard the water.
Add your pre-weighed ground coffee into the filter and use the swan neck kettle to wet the grounds, making sure you cover all the grounds. At this stage, you should only add enough water to wet the grounds and let the coffee “bloom”. Blooming is when the gas from the coffee beans is released, which is why you get a mushroom effect and bubbles. The fresher the coffee, the bigger the bloom. A lot of the flavour comes from these gases, which is why we hand roast our coffees multiple times each week; so each bag is as fresh as it can possibly be.
If you can, we recommend grinding the coffee beans yourselves too; this way, each cup can be even fresher.
Whether you choose to use the V60 filter or Chemex, they both do the same job. The main difference is the thickness of the filter paper. The Chemex filter paper is 20% thicker than others, resulting in a cleaner coffee as it collects more coffee sediment and oil in the paper.
Whichever filter coffee device you choose, it’s the grind size of the coffee which is the most important factor when determining a tasty cup of coffee, not the brew method. If your coffee grind is too fine, your coffee will be over-extracted and taste bitter because it’s taken too long for the water to drip through.
Alternatively, if the coffee is too coarse, the water will whizz through leaving you with an under-extracted and sour tasting cup of coffee. You need the grind to be just right for the correct amount of extraction.
As mentioned, if you can, we recommend grinding your coffee beans fresh as and when you need them. This will ensure the freshest coffee possible. However, if you prefer to buy your coffee pre-ground from us, rest assured that we only ever grind your coffee on the day of despatch, so it’s as fresh as possible when you receive it. The fresher the coffee beans, the better tasting your coffee will be.
Once your grind size is perfect, (we think it should be the texture of rough sugar) you can make your coffee. Using a swan neck kettle gives you ultimate control of your water flow because of the thin neck. If you pour your water too quickly, you may not wet all the grinds evenly leaving your extraction to be inconsistent.
Being able to pour the water over the grounds in a controlled manner will make a huge difference to the flavour. It encourages consistency as all the grounds release the same amount of flavour at the same time. We want extraction to be as even as possible, which is why water is added slowly. Controlling the flow rate allows you to be precise when pouring the water over the grounds. It also makes brewing so much easier.
How will I know if my coffee is correct?
Firstly, in the taste. If it tastes bitter and burnt, make your grind coarser. If it tastes sour, make your grind finer.
Secondly, it is always a good idea to time your extraction. A cup using the ratio mentioned above should extract in approximately 3 minutes to 3 minutes 30 seconds.
By controlling the water flow, you have control of the extraction too. This assures that you are more likely to end with a great-tasting cup of coffee than if you chucked a load of water onto it in one go and hoped for the best!
A main feature of the swan neck kettle is that it is constructed from stainless steel. This keeps your boiled water nice and hot; however, we never want to use water straight after it’s boiled. We recommend allowing 30 seconds for the water to cool slightly.
Want more? For a detailed guide on using a V60, see our guide on A beginner’s guide to brewing Filter Coffee.
So, ready to taste the difference? Invest in a swan neck kettle today!
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