April 26

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Here’s How You Should Be Brewing Pour Over Coffee

By Hanson Cheng

April 26, 2023


In this comprehensive guide, readers will learn about the art of pour over coffee, including understanding its history and core components. The article provides detailed information on selecting the right equipment such as coffee makers, filters, grinders, and kettles, as well as choosing the best coffee beans for a perfect brew.

Furthermore, it covers mastering the brewing process with step-by-step instructions and advanced techniques, as well as tips on enjoying and pairing pour over coffee with various foods. Finally, readers will learn about proper storage and reheating practices to maintain flavor and quality.

Understanding Pour Over Coffee

What is It?

Pour over coffee is a manual brewing method that involves pouring hot water over a bed of coffee grounds in a filter. The water slowly passes through the coffee grounds and extracts flavors, aromas, and essential oils from the beans as it travels into a serving vessel or carafe. This process can be seen as a more hands-on way of preparing coffee, giving you complete control over the brewing process and allowing for the creation of a unique, customized cup of coffee.

Pour over brewing can be performed with a variety of coffee-making equipment, ranging from simple, single cup brewers to more sophisticated and expensive setups. The common feature is the reliance on a slow, controlled flow of water over the coffee grounds to extract the best possible flavors from the beans.

By adjusting factors such as grind size, water temperature, and the speed at which water is poured, you can tailor the brew to accentuate different characteristics of the coffee, ultimately achieving a balanced and delicious cup.

History of Pour Over Brewing

The pour over method can be traced back to the early 20th century. It was first popularized in Germany by Melitta Bentz, who invented the paper coffee filter. She was a housewife who wanted to address the problem of bitter coffee resulting from over-extraction. Bentz discovered that using paper filters could help control the brewing process and enhance the coffee’s taste. She then founded the Melitta company in 1908, which is still a renowned coffee equipment manufacturer today.

Pour over coffee brewing gained popularity in Japan in the 1950s, where it became synonymous with the pursuit of perfection and attention to detail. Hario and Chemex, two Japanese companies, introduced the first glass pour over coffee brewers, which have since become iconic symbols of the method. Today, pour over brewing is popular worldwide, with many coffee enthusiasts and professional baristas considering it the best way to enjoy the natural tastes and flavors of high-quality coffee beans.

Advantages of Pour Over Brewing

There are several reasons behind the popularity of pour over brewing. Among these advantages are:

  1. Control: With the pour over method, you have complete control over every aspect of the brewing process, allowing you to customize your coffee’s flavor to your preference. You can adjust the grind size, water temperature, and pouring technique to fine-tune the extraction process.
  2. Quality: Pour over brewing typically produces a clean and more flavorful cup compared to other manual brewing methods, such as a French press. The filter removes oils and sediments that may cause bitterness, which leads to a crisper taste with more nuanced flavors.
  3. Versatility: The pour over technique can be used with a wide range of coffee beans, from light to dark roasts, enabling you to explore different flavors and profiles.
  4. Accessibility: The basic equipment needed for pour over brewing is relatively affordable, making it an accessible method for coffee enthusiasts on any budget.
  5. Ritual: The handcrafted, slow-paced nature of pour over brewing can be a soothing and enjoyable part of your daily routine or a meditative experience.

Components of a Perfect Pour Over Coffee

Achieving a perfect pour over coffee involves considering several factors, including the following:

  1. Coffee beans: Choosing high-quality, freshly roasted beans is key to achieving the best flavor. It’s essential to use the right grind size, which should be around medium-fine for pour over brewing.
  2. Water quality: Using filtered water will result in a cleaner, more refined taste. Water temperature should be between 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C).
  3. Coffee-to-water ratio: A general guideline is using a 1:16 or 1:17 ratio of coffee grounds to water for a balanced extraction.
  4. Brewing equipment: Having the right equipment, such as a gooseneck kettle with temperature control, a scale with a timer, and a high-quality pour over brewer with the appropriate filter, will help ensure consistent results.
  5. Pouring technique: Begin by blooming the coffee grounds, pouring just enough water to wet them and let them expand. After that, pour the remaining water in slow, steady, circular motions, ensuring the coffee grounds are saturated evenly.

By understanding the pour over brewing method and paying attention to each of these components, you can create a personalized and delicious cup of coffee that highlights the unique characteristics of your chosen beans.

Choosing Equipment for Pour Over Brewing

Pour Over Coffee Makers

When choosing a pour over coffee maker, material and type are important factors to consider. The material of your coffee maker can affect heat retention, durability, and flavor, while the type of coffee maker will influence the brewing process and final taste of your coffee.

Materials (Glass, Ceramic, Stainless-Steel, etc.)

Glass, ceramic, and stainless steel are the most common materials used in pour over coffee makers. Glass coffee makers, such as the Chemex, offer excellent heat retention and a clean, pure flavor. However, they can be fragile and prone to breaking if not handled carefully.

Ceramic coffee makers, like the Hario V60, provide excellent heat retention and are more durable than glass. They can also add a more earthy, rich flavor to your coffee. The downside to ceramic coffee makers is that they can be heavy and more difficult to clean.

Stainless steel coffee makers, such as the Kalita Wave, boast durability and excellent heat retention. They are less prone to breaking and can be more easily cleaned. However, some coffee enthusiasts argue that stainless steel can slightly alter the flavor of your coffee, giving it a metallic taste.

Types (Hario V60, Chemex, Kalita Wave, etc.)

There are several popular pour over coffee makers available, including the Hario V60, Chemex, and Kalita Wave.

The Hario V60 is known for its unique cone-shaped design and spiral ridges, which promote excellent water flow and extraction. It is available in various materials and sizes, allowing you to choose the best version for your brewing needs.

The Chemex is a classic choice, known for its elegant design and ability to produce a clean, bright cup of coffee. It features a thick paper filter that removes oils and sediment, resulting in a smooth, non-bitter taste.

The Kalita Wave is another popular option, featuring a flat-bottom design and wave-like ridges on the filter. These design elements promote even extraction and a consistent brew. The Wave is also available in stainless steel, glass, and ceramic options.

Filters To Choose

Filters are an essential part of pour over brewing and come in various materials, including paper, reusable metal, and cloth.

Paper Filters

Paper filters are the most common type of filter used in pour over brewing. They are disposable, inexpensive, and easy to use. Paper filters can be bleached or unbleached, but it’s crucial to rinse them before use, as this removes any paper taste and pre-heats the filter. These filters help produce a clean, sediment-free cup of coffee.

Reusable Metal/Cloth Filters

Reusable metal and cloth filters offer an eco-friendly alternative to paper filters, and they can be used multiple times before needing replacement. Metal filters, often made of stainless steel, allow more oils and sediment to pass through, resulting in a richer, fuller-bodied cup of coffee. Cloth filters, typically made of cotton or hemp, provide a balance between paper and metal filters, offering a cleaner cup than metal but more body and richness than paper.

Grinders and Grind Size

Manual vs. Electric Grinders

Choosing the right coffee grinder is essential for a successful pour over brew. Manual grinders, also known as hand grinders, are portable, affordable, and often produce a consistent grind size. However, they can be labor-intensive and require more time and effort than electric grinders.

Electric grinders are more expensive and less portable but provide a quicker, more convenient option for grinding coffee. Burr grinders are recommended for pour over brewing, as they produce a more uniform grind size than blade grinders.

Finding the Right Grind Size for Pour Over

The ideal grind size for pour over coffee is medium-fine to medium-coarse. A consistent grind size is crucial, as it ensures even extraction and a balanced cup of coffee. If your coffee tastes too bitter or over-extracted, try a coarser grind. If your coffee tastes weak or under-extracted, try a finer grind.

Kettle Selection

A proper kettle is important for controlled water pouring during the brewing process.

Materials (Stainless-Steel, Glass, etc.)

Kettles are commonly made from stainless steel or glass. Stainless steel kettles offer durability, good heat retention, and are generally dishwasher safe. Glass kettles can be more fragile but provide a clean taste and a visually appealing brewing experience.

Types (Gooseneck, Electric, Stovetop, etc.)

A gooseneck kettle is highly recommended for pour over brewing, as it provides precise control over the flow and direction of water. You can choose between electric and stovetop kettles, depending on your preferences and needs. Electric kettles can often maintain a specific temperature for a more customizable brewing experience, while stovetop kettles offer versatility and can be used on various heat sources.

Scales and Timers

Using a scale and timer allows for consistent, repeatable results when brewing pour over coffee.

Why Use a Scale and Timer

A scale ensures accurate measurement of coffee and water, helping maintain the ideal brewing ratio. A timer assists in controlling the total brewing time and pacing of pours, which is essential for even extraction.

Recommended Scales and Timers

Coffee-specific scales, such as the Hario V60 Drip Scale or Acaia Pearl, are popular choices among coffee enthusiasts. These scales often have built-in timers, which provide added convenience. Alternatively, a regular kitchen scale and a separate timer or stopwatch can also be used for pour over brewing.

Selecting the Best Coffee Beans

When looking for the best coffee beans, there are several factors to consider in order to make the perfect cup of coffee that matches your taste preferences.

Single-Origin vs. Blends

The first factor to consider when choosing coffee beans is the preference for single-origin beans or blends. Single-origin beans come from a specific region or farm, which means they have a unique flavor profile that is representative of that specific area. These types of beans are ideal for coffee enthusiasts who enjoy experiencing different taste profiles or for showcasing specific flavor characteristics that a region has to offer.

Blended coffee beans, on the other hand, are a mix of beans from different regions, farms, or countries. These blends are created to achieve a consistent taste profile that balances various flavors and provides a more uniformed coffee experience. Blended coffee is suitable for those who prefer a familiar taste and are not necessarily interested in exploring the wide range of flavors coffee beans can have.

Ultimately, choosing between single-origin or blended coffee depends on personal taste preferences and how adventurous you want to be with your coffee experience.

Freshness and Roast Date

The quality of your coffee beans plays a significant role in the taste of your final brew. Freshness is key when it comes to coffee – stale beans can result in a dull and lifeless cup. To ensure freshness, check the roast date printed on the packaging. Ideally, coffee should be consumed between one to four weeks after roasting, as this is when the beans will be at their best in terms of flavor and aroma.

To maintain freshness, store your beans in an airtight container away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture. It’s best to buy smaller batches of coffee more frequently, rather than large quantities that will go stale before you have a chance to use them.

Roast Levels: Light, Medium, Dark

Another important factor when selecting coffee beans is the roast level, which greatly impacts the bean’s flavor profile. There are three main roast levels to choose from: light, medium, and dark.

  1. Light Roast: These beans are roasted for a shorter period of time, retaining the natural flavors and characteristics of the bean. This results in a lighter body and higher acidity, making it a good choice for those who appreciate the nuances of different beans.
  2. Medium Roast: Roasted slightly longer than light roasts, medium-roasted beans have a well-balanced flavor profile, with the coffee’s natural flavors complemented by the flavors developed during roasting. Medium roast coffee provides a good balance of acidity and body, as well as a mild sweetness.
  3. Dark Roast: With even longer roast times, these beans develop a stronger, bolder flavor with more bitterness and a fuller body. Dark roasts often have a smoky, roasted taste that dominates the bean’s natural flavors.

Choosing the right roast level depends on personal preferences, so it is worthwhile to experiment with different roast levels to discover which one best suits your taste buds.

Buying from Local Roasteries vs. Supermarket Brands

Purchasing your coffee beans from a local roastery can offer several advantages over buying from a supermarket. Firstly, local roasters often have fresher beans due to smaller batch roasting and shorter supply chains, meaning you’ll receive a higher quality product. Additionally, local roasters are often more knowledgeable about their product and can guide you in selecting beans that cater to your taste preferences.

On the other hand, supermarket brands may have a lower price point, making them more budget-friendly. However, it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons, as cheaper beans may result in poorer quality flavor and a less satisfying coffee experience. In the end, it comes down to finding a balance between quality, convenience, and personal preference.

Mastering the Brewing Process

Step-by-Step Pour Over Brewing

To achieve the perfect cup of pour over coffee, follow these detailed steps covering every aspect of the process:


1. Preparation: Weighing and Grinding Coffee Beans
First, determine the amount of coffee you want to brew. For a single cup, start with 20-25 grams of coffee beans. Weigh the beans using a digital scale for accuracy. Once the beans are weighed, grind them to a medium-fine consistency, similar to the texture of table salt. This grind size is crucial for proper extraction during the pour over process.

2. Wetting and Rinsing the Filter
Place your coffee filter into the pour over cone or brewing device. Wetting the filter with hot water ensures it adheres to the brewer and eliminates any potential paper taste. Discard the water after wetting the filter.

3. Blooming the Coffee
To ensure consistent and even extraction, the coffee grounds must be evenly saturated during the pour over process. This is achieved by “blooming,” the initial step where hot water is poured over the grounds, allowing them to expand and release trapped gases. Pour enough water (approximately double the weight of the coffee grinds) over the grounds in a circular motion, and wait for 30 seconds before continuing the brewing process.

4. Pouring Technique: Continuous vs. Pulse Pouring
To continue brewing, choose between two pouring techniques. Continuous pouring involves gradually and consistently pouring water over the coffee grounds in a circular motion until the desired volume is reached. In contrast, pulse pouring involves adding water in smaller increments, allowing for brief pauses in between pours.
Both techniques have their advantages: continuous pouring may lead to better extraction and more evenly distributed flavors, while pulse pouring allows for more control over the brewing process, which can be especially helpful for beginners.

5. Timing and Evaluation
The entire brewing process should take 3-4 minutes. Use a timer to help gauge the process and note any changes that may be needed for future brews. Once finished, gently remove the filter and grounds, and enjoy your meticulously brewed pour over coffee.

Water Temperature Optimization

Water temperature plays a significant role in the extraction of flavors during the pour over process. Choosing the correct temperature can make the difference between a well-balanced cup and a bitter or under-extracted cup of coffee.

1. Recommended Temperature for Pour Over Brewing
The suggested water temperature for pour over brewing is between 195°F and 205°F (90°C and 96°C). Within this range, water extracts coffee’s essential oils, acids, and aromatic compounds effectively. Using a thermometer helps ensure your water is within the correct temperature range.

2. Adjusting Temperature for Different Coffee Beans/Roasts
To fine-tune your brewing process, consider adjusting the water temperature based on the type of coffee you are brewing. Light-roasted beans typically benefit from higher water temperatures (closer to 205°F), while dark-roasted beans extract better at lower temperatures (closer to 195°F). Experimenting within the recommended range can help you find the perfect temperature for your specific coffee beans.

Brew Ratio: Coffee to Water

Finding the right balance of coffee and water is crucial for achieving the perfect cup of pour over coffee. This relationship is often referred to as the “brew ratio.”

1. Standard Brew Ratios and Adjustments
The generally recommended brew ratio for pour over coffee is 1:15 to 1:17, meaning 1 gram of coffee for every 15-17 grams of water. This range allows for a balanced extraction without overshadowing the coffee’s distinct flavors.

2. Finding Your Ideal Brew Ratio
Experimenting with different ratios can help you discover your preferred coffee strength and flavor profile. Adjust the ratio within the recommended range to find the perfect balance between strength and clarity for your particular taste.

Advanced Techniques and Tips

As you master the basic pour over brewing process, consider experimenting with these additional techniques and tips to further enhance your coffee.

1. Grind Size Adjustment for Better Extraction
A crucial factor in the extraction process is the grind size of your coffee beans. A finer grind may lead to over-extraction and a bitter taste, while a coarser grind might result in weak, under-extracted coffee. Experiment with small adjustments to find the ideal grind for your preferred taste.

2. Agitation and Stirring
Gently stirring the coffee grounds during the blooming process or after the final pour can help promote a more even extraction. However, excessive agitation may lead to over-extraction, so use caution when incorporating this technique.

3. Water Quality and Filtration
The water you use to brew your coffee can significantly impact its overall flavor. Using filtered water can help minimize undesirable tastes from tap water and enhance your coffee’s natural flavors. Consider using a water filter or purchasing bottled water specifically for brewing coffee.

Enjoying and Pairing Your Pour Over Coffee

Tasting and Evaluating Your Brew

As you brew your pour over coffee, take some time to taste and evaluate your cup, paying special attention to the following aspects: flavor profile, aroma, body and mouthfeel, and acidity and sweetness.

To best savor the flavor profile and aroma of your pour over coffee, give it a few minutes to cool down after brewing. Pour over coffee’s temperature can influence the taste, bringing out different profiles and notes as it cools. Hold your cup near your nose and gently inhale to explore the coffee’s aroma, which can range from fruity and floral to chocolatey and earthy, depending on the coffee variety and roast.

These aromatic elements often translate to the coffee’s taste, so take a sip and let the liquid sit on your tongue before swallowing. Explore the flavors you sense, connecting them to the aroma and identifying any potential underlying notes.

The body and mouthfeel of coffee refer to the overall texture and consistency in your mouth. While some coffee has a light and delicate mouthfeel, others might be thicker and more viscous. The body of the coffee can be influenced by the beans’ origin, roast level, and the brewing method. Pour over coffee typically has a lighter body, which allows for a more transparent flavor experience.

Acidity and sweetness in coffee are two vital components that contribute to the overall taste. Acidity, which is responsible for the brightness and tang that contrasts with coffee’s bitterness, can vary in intensity depending on the coffee variety and brewing method. Pour over coffee tends to have higher acidity, as the brewing process highlights and preserves these delicate flavors.

Sweetness in coffee comes from naturally occurring sugars, more noticeable in lighter roasts. When coupled appropriately, acidity and sweetness can create a harmonious and delicious taste experience in your pour over coffee.

Pairing Coffee with Foods

A well-paired food and coffee combination can enhance and complement each other’s flavors and make for an even more enjoyable experience. When pairing pour over coffee with food, consider these factors: complementary flavors and textures, appropriate pairing with breakfast foods, and suitable matches for desserts and snacks.

Finding complementary flavors and textures for pour over coffee can make both the food and beverage taste better by balancing each other’s taste profiles. For instance, a fruity Ethiopian pour over may pair well with a tart berry pastry, while a chocolatey Colombian coffee would complement a chocolate or caramel dessert. While pairing, consider contrasts in texture that can create a satisfying experience, such as crunchy biscuits with smooth, silky coffee.

Pairing pour over coffee with breakfast foods is a common and practical practice. Classic breakfast items such as toast, bagels, and muffins can be paired with delicate fruity or floral coffees, while heartier fare like bacon, eggs, and potatoes work well with bolder, more robust pour over brews.

When pairing pour over coffee with desserts and snacks, aim to find flavors that complement the coffee’s taste profile while not overwhelming it. Light, fruity coffees can work well alongside citrus or berry-infused sweets, whereas darker roasts may benefit from contrasting flavors such as salted caramel or nuts.

Storing and Reheating

Proper storage and reheating techniques are crucial to maintaining the flavor and quality of your pour over coffee. Whole coffee beans should be stored in an airtight container, away from light, heat, and moisture. Keep the coffee at room temperature and consider using a vacuum-sealed container to preserve the beans’ taste and freshness.

If you need to reheat your pour over coffee, the best method is to use a saucepan over low heat, slowly and gently reheating the liquid. Avoid using a microwave, as it can unevenly heat the coffee and alter the taste profile. Additionally, never reheat coffee on high heat, as this can cause the flavors to degrade and lose their appeal.

Brewing Pour Over Coffee – FAQs

1. What factors affect the taste of pour-over coffee?

The taste of pour-over coffee is influenced by several factors, including water temperature, grind size, coffee-to-water ratio, brewing time, and pouring technique. Experimenting with these variables can help achieve the perfect brew according to individual preferences.

2. Which coffee grind size works best for the pour-over brewing method?

A medium-fine grind is ideal for pour-over brewing. This grind size allows adequate extraction of flavors and aromas while preventing over-extraction, which can lead to bitterness. Adjust the grind size based on the type of coffee beans and desired taste profile.

3. What is the ideal water temperature for brewing pour-over coffee?

The optimal water temperature for pour-over brewing is between 195°F (91°C) and 205°F (96°C). Water within this range ensures proper extraction of flavors and avoids scalding the coffee grounds, which can result in a bitter and undesirable taste.

4. How much coffee and water should be used in the pour-over brewing process?

The coffee-to-water ratio commonly recommended for pour-over brewing is 1:15 or 1:17, meaning one part coffee to 15 or 17 parts water, depending on taste preference. Typically, this translates to approximately 22 grams of coffee for 12 ounces (360 milliliters) of water.

5. What is the significance of the blooming process in pour-over brewing?

Blooming refers to the process of wetting the coffee grounds with hot water before brewing. The purpose of blooming is to release carbon dioxide that’s trapped within the coffee grounds, resulting in a more even and thorough extraction of flavors and aromas during the brewing process.

6. Should the water be poured continuously or intermittently during pour-over brewing?

An intermittent pouring technique, where the water is poured in a slow and controlled manner, allows better control over the extraction process, providing more balanced flavors and richer coffee profile. Avoid a continuous pour, as it could lead to suboptimal extraction and an undesirable taste.

Hanson Cheng

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