Everything You Need To Know About Pour Over Coffee
Starting the day with pour over coffee gives me time to be intentional about the first decision of the day.
1) Why Pour Overs?
I start each day with pour over coffee. I’ve gotten pretty good at it after making several hundred cups. But the primary reason I keep this ritual going is the sense of accomplishment that accompanies a perfectly brewed cup, rather than the quality of the coffee.
Start with a win
Starting the day with pour over coffee gives me time to be intentional about the first decision of the day. Spending 5-10 minutes to manually brew a near perfect cup sets the tone — if I am intentional with my first decision, it makes it easy to be intentional throughout the rest of the day. Waking up a few minutes earlier than normal is a small price to pay in order to start the day with a win.
Start with great tasting coffee
The ceiling on pour over coffee is higher than any other brew method. It takes a few tries to get the hang of it, but once dialed in, the taste is simply unmatched. Pour over coffee is smoother and the flavors are way more pronounced. The technology for automatic machines is rapidly improving, but I still haven’t had a cup that compares to a pour over that is brewed correctly.
My thoughts above are simply my rationale for starting each day with a pour over. If you love your automatic brewer, keep using it. I have an automatic machine that makes outstanding coffee and is super convenient to use. What I would suggest is trying pour overs out on the weekend to see if the points above come to fruition for you.
2) Tools and Methods
There are a few necessary tools to make pour over coffee: a gooseneck kettle and a brewer. Coffee enthusiasts have strong beliefs over which pour over brew method is best. For those getting their feet wet, my view is this: just pick one. It’s primarily the Indian, not the arrow.
A gooseneck kettle is the pour over’s secret weapon. It allows you to precisely control 1) volume 2) speed and 3) location. A tea kettle is not nearly as precise and should only be used in desperate situations.
Budget option: Amazon
All of the cheap options on Amazon will get the job done. Just make sure there is a thermometer attached.
Premium option: Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle
The Fellow Stagg Electric Kettle is worth the investment for those who care about speed and precision. I’ve found that the water heats up twice as fast compared to using stovetop kettles. Additionally, you can set the water to an exact temperature. This kettle is also great for making pour over coffee in the office.
A scale will help you dial in your water to coffee ratio, which will help you make a consistent cup each time.
Budget option: Amazon
Premium option: Brewista Smart Scale
All of the brewers below will make a fantastic cup. Entering the arena is more important than overanalyzing which methodology is best. That being said, here is a brief overview to help you decide which is best for you.
- Best for those who make multiple cups at a time
- Consistent and easy to use
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Best for experimenters
- High risk/high reward
- Requires more attention that other methods
Other pour over brewers if you want to get fancy
- Fellow Stagg Pour Over
- Kalita Wave
- Aeropress (technically not a pour over but there are many similarities)
What about a French press?
In part 1 we explain why manually brewing coffee sets the tone for the day. This idea certainly applies to the French press. However, I tend to avoid using the French press because there isn’t a paper filter to stop the grounds from getting into the coffee. But don’t let my opinion stop you if that is your preferred method.
Any of the methods above will take your morning ritual to the next level.
3) Perfecting the Pour
I've never had a great pour over from a coffee shop. Pour overs require a few minutes of attention. Unfortunately, baristas are usually pre-occupied with several things and are unable to focus for 3–4 minutes on one cup of coffee. For this reason, most at-home pour overs are much better than the $6 coffee shop ones.
Surprisingly, pour over coffee is still primarily an art rather than a science. Most coffee companies have pour over guides on their websites. While there are several common principles, the websites also differ in many areas. That is the beauty of the pour over. There isn't a playbook everyone is in agreement with. It is up to you to figure out.
Each pour over method is slightly different but the advice below should apply to all pour over brewers. If you are just entering the game, I would suggest using these tips as starting point and adjust as you see fit.
- Dial in the grind size. The recommended grind size for each brew method is different. This is an area where taste preference comes into play as well.
- Use a 16:1 ratio (grams of water to grams of coffee). Others recommend a 17:1 ratio, which will be a little weaker. A $10 kitchen scale is worth the investment to make sure you are squared away. A bad ratio will ruin your cup.
- Set the water temperature to 205 degrees. Some say a bit higher/lower. Water temperature is critical so experiment here.
- Rinse the paper filter. Pour hot water over the paper filter before getting started. This will remove the paper taste from the coffee and heat up the brewer.
First Pour (Bloom)
- Pour 2–3x as much water as coffee. Starting with a light pour will release CO2 from the beans, which negatively affects the taste of coffee.
- Lightly break any clumps with a spoon so that all of the grounds are exposed to the same amount of water.
- Wait 45 seconds.
Second and Subsequent Pours
- Pour slowly. This tip comes from trial and error. Slower pours usually result in better coffee, especially when using the Hario V60.
- Cover the darks spots to get an even extraction. The dark spots are areas where there is more coffee and less water.
- After the pour, keep the grounds off the wall with a spoon or light stir. I do this 1–2x after pouring. Avoid going overboard here or you will over-extract the coffee. Light build up on the walls is inevitable and OK.
- Experiment with one large pour post bloom or multiple small ones. I go back and forth.
- The ground bed should be flat, signaling an even extraction.
- Stir/swirl the coffee, especially if you use a V60 and place your mug underneath the brewer.
- Let the coffee cool for a minute or two. Coffee has more flavor when it’s not scorching hot.
Written by Seth Jorde | firstname.lastname@example.org