Basics of the Matsuya Method/松屋式の基礎

Japanese Coffee Japanese Food

Here I attempt to describe the basics of the Matsuya method of brewing coffee.

Note: Throughout my blog, the term “Matsuya method” refers to Nakagawa Masashi’s version of the Matsuya method, not the version of the Matsuya method that is practiced at Matsuya Coffee today.  Nakagawa-san learned the method more than twenty years ago (when he was around twenty) from the previous president of Matsuya Coffee, who developed this method. Now the two versions of the Method are considerbly different.
注: このブログでは、「松屋式」とは、中川さんバージョンの松屋式(現在、松屋コーヒーで行われているバージョンの松屋式ではなく)を指します。中川さんは20年以上前(20歳前後の頃)に松屋コーヒーの先代(松屋式を開発した方)からこの方法を学びました。現在では、両バージョンの松屋式はかなり異なります。

Two main features of the Matsuya method are:
1. 3-minute “murashi” (lit. steaming), which ensures that all gas (carbon dioxide) in the coffee grounds is replaced with water.
2. Extraction of flavorful components based on the fact that flavorful components are more soluble than unflavorful components.

Suppose that you want to get stains out of your clothes, what do you do? You can never get them out unless you soak the clothes thoroughly in water. The same is true for coffee brewing. Matsuya’s original wire-frame dripper is very efficient in releasing gas from coffee grounds and replacing it with water to place the coffee grounds in a state where flavorful components can be extracted easily.

After 3-minute murashi, you have to pour water in such a way to keep the coffee grounds in the “hitahita” state. Hitahita refers to a state where the coffee grounds are barely covered with water.

You can get a general understanding by watching the 4-minute video, made by Nakagawa-san:
Link to the video/ビデオへのリンク

Note that with the Matsuya method, you use a coarse grind. To be more precise, the grind must be so coarse that you can brew 300 ml coffee from 50 g coffee grounds in 1.5 minutes by keeping the hitahita state, described earlier.
松屋式では、粗挽きを使います。正確に言うと、50 gのコーヒーの粉からコーヒー300 mlを、上述したひたひたの状態を保ちながら、1.5分で淹れられる粗さにします。

In the video, Nakagawa-san first shakes the coffee grounds in the dripper, and then digs a hole with the back of a spoon. Without a hole, the upper part of the coffee grounds would bloom before the water reaches the lower part of the grounds, resulting in uneven “murashi” (lit. steaming). The fresher the coffee grounds, the deeper the hole should be.

The water in the drip pot should be 95C. Shake the pot slightly to let out the steam. Start pouring water at the center. After checking that coffee starts dropping into the carafe, move the drip pot in a circular motion. He often use this expression: (Pour water on) the boundary between wet and dry portions. Stop pouring when all the coffee grounds are wet. Put on a lid (preferably a dome-shaped one) and wait for 3 minutes. Remove the lid, and pour water again, starting at a midpoint between the center and the circumference because that’s where the coffee grounds are less likely to crumble. (Nakagawa-san does not reheat the water. The temperature should be dropped to around 90C.) When the water level reaches hitahita, you can start pouring at the center. You should pour water near the center intensively and near the circumference less intensively, because there are more coffee grounds at and near the center and least of them near the circumference. While pouring, keep the hitahita state and keep the coffee grounds from moving about. Letting the coffee grounds move about will cause unflavorful components to be extracted. In about 1.5 minutes, you will get half the necessary amount in the carafe. Be sure to stop pouring water at the center. Now you get very strong coffee. Dilute the coffee with an equal amount of water.

I will talk more about the Matsuya method in future posts.

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