Pour Over Coffee Guide: Brewing, Your Way
The breeze wanders into the room as I lazily roll out of bed. Luckily it’s Sunday or I’d be behind schedule. But that doesn’t matter today. Morning means brewing coffee time, whether there’s a schedule to follow or not! I go into the kitchen and grab a glass coffee pot. I then grab a mahogany colored ceramic filter, place the paper filter within it, and after grinding perhaps too much, pour in ground Brazil Cerrado. I let the water in a kettle boil before pouring the contents evenly over the now steaming filter. Wafts of aroma rise up as the steaming water and the dry grounds come into contact. And this is just one way to enjoy the style known as pour over coffee. The beauty of pour over, besides all the cool different types of machines and filters available, you can brew your coffee exactly the way you want to brew it. This Pour Over Coffee Guide will show you how!
Our Pour Over Coffee Guide will first explore where pour-over came from, so we can better grasp its history and where it may be going. The first paper coffee filters were invented by the German entrepreneur Melitta Bentz all the way back in 1908. Over time her paper filters and different techniques and ways to utilize them would develop and grow all over Germany before finding their ways abroad. The system of using paper disposable filters made its way to Japan.
From here, it would appear Japanese baristas applied a similar level of meditation, emphasis on detail and ritual solemnity that the Japanese tea ceremony possesses, to the preparation of coffee as well. For those who have had the pleasure of experiencing either a tea ceremony or a classical pour over coffee at a cafe in Japan will see the similarities and shared spirit of both of these activities. Japan is still a leader in producing ceramic filters and glass for pour over pots today. The techniques of the pour over method made their ways to Korea and USA, where the style is further embraced and enhanced. And following the simple guide below, you can try your hand at preparing a marvelous cup (or 3, or 5) at home, too!
Water and Beans
These two items are crucial for a great cup of coffee. Many coffee masters suggest using filtered water and as for the beans, anything is fine, depending on your personal tastes. However, freshly ground beans are favored over pre-ground beans. This is because the pre-ground beans often lose a lot of their aroma and can even taste flat or stale from being exposed to air much longer than freshly ground beans. When it comes to grinding, the ideal size of each grain is between the size of table salt and sea salt, erring more on the sea salt side. Many coffee masters also suggest a ratio of 1 gram of coffee to 17 milliliters of water for brewing. This is scaled to how much coffee you’d like to brew in a sitting. Only grind as much coffee as you plan on using during that brew!
Getting the right water is also a problem that is a bit more complicated than it would initially seem. Tap water has a variety of ions and minerals that you do not want in your coffee (sub-optimal taste) and distilled water will make your coffee taste too flat. See our "Best Water for Coffee" Guide for tips on re-adding the correct minerals back to distilled water to provide coffee with the optimally balanced profile.
Now that you have your favorite beans all ground and your water ready to get boiling, let’s take a look at some of our equipment for brewing! The beauty of pour over coffee is that this too, is based on preference. Many trendy cafes will use the Chemex, with it’s distinct glass body shape and the wooden neck grip that allows for easy pour when the pot is hot. There are also many ceramic filter systems, such as the Japanese style one I used this morning before writing this!
Let's get ready to brew it!
The next step in our pour over coffee guide is the fun part: a guide for how you can prepare some pour over coffee at home. Pour over is great because all the different factors of coffee preparation are determined by you. While the main steps to preparation are to be followed, other variables can be improvised or altered based on the drinker’s personal taste and choice. So let’s get started. Once you have chosen your preferred type of beans, water and pour over coffee maker, it is time to get to brewin’!
Boil your water in your kettle- preferably a gooseneck kettle - with at least 20 ounces in your kettle. Then let it stand for 30 seconds. This should bring the temperature to 200 degrees F.
Grind your chosen beans. You want to grind the coffee to the coarseness of sand. Remember to grind your beans fresh and to prepare as much grounds as you are going to use in a brewing.
Place a paper filter into whichever type of coffee maker you have chosen. With many types of coffee makers it is usually suggested to dampen the filter slightly before placing your precious grounds.
Fold down the seam of the paper filter and place it into the pour over cone so it lies flat.
Put the pour over onto your scale if you are using one (reservoir attached if you are using a V60 style). Pour your grounds into the paper filter and then zero/tare the scale. I usually tamp the surface down with a spoon to make sure it as even as possible. This way all the grounds get an equal distribution of the hot water.
Now, evenly and slowly, pour the water over the grounds. You will then experience the magical effect known as the coffee “bloom”- the grounds will rise up like a muffin and usually release a fine aroma. This is the carbon dioxide being released from the beans. Wait 30 seconds to begin pouring again.
After 30 seconds are up, start pouring slowly starting from the center of the grounds in a spiral motion around to the sides and rim of the filter. Make sure to keep pouring slowly and evenly over the grounds. Go too fast and the coffee maker may flood!
When you have poured your desired amount of water over the grounds, wait another one to two minutes for the last of the water to filter through the rich grounds into your mug, pot or carafe.
Remove the coffee maker and filter. Clean the coffee maker and dispose of the paper filter and grounds properly (you can save the grounds for the garden, composting or as an exfoliate!).
My favorite part! Enjoy your fresh and delicious pour over coffee!
Coffee for you, your way
One of the best parts of pour over is the sense of individuality that comes with each brew. You can prepare an iced or cold brew style, a hot style, any style you’d like. You can make yours with aromatic Yergacheffe, a vivacious Guatemala, or a robust Indonesia. As for the Brazil Cerrado I prepared with my little brown ceramic filter, it was a fun from beginning to end. From the grinding of the beans to the “bloom” to the last drop of the coffee itself. It was superb. And what made it so good, was it was coffee just the way I wanted it to be, exactly my way! Hopefully this Pour Over Coffee Guide encourages you to go try it yourself!