Coffee Brewing 101: The Pour Over Method

There are many coffee brewing methods, but none hold as much prestige as the pour over method. The pour over method is hailed as superior by many of the world's best brewers because of the intimate control you have creating the best cup of coffee. The factors that lead to a great cup start with choosing the best coffee and finish with the right technique.

Light, Medium, or Dark Roast?

Before we start to look at the different brewing techniques, let's briefly address the different coffee roasts. There's a lot to be said about the characteristics of each blend and how roasters use various methods to build unique flavor profiles. But, we'll address that later. For now, we want to summarize what you can expect from three of the basic coffee roasts.

Light Roast

The characteristics of a light roast are the light coloring and body. There is no oil on the bean lending itself to a grainy taste and more acidity than the other two. It's "light" because it's not roasted as thoroughly which means it retains more of the caffeine.

Medium Roast

With a slightly deeper hue than the light roast, a medium blend has a fuller body. However, it also does not have oil on the surface. You don't get the grainy taste in a medium roast. Instead, you experience a full-body flavor, balanced aroma, and acidity. The caffeine is somewhat decreased due to the slightly longer roasting time.

Dark Roast

A dark roast can be chocolaty in color to almost black. There is a light sheen of oil on the surface which can sometimes transfer to the drinker's cup. The properties overshadow the original, unique flavors of the coffee bean during the roasting process. The character of a dark roast is often described as bitter, smoky, or burnt. It's worth noting the caffeine level is significantly decreased.

What is Pour Over Coffee?

The method is pretty simple. Pour over coffee utilizes hot water poured over coffee beans to produce a beautiful cup of coffee. This particular method allows more control over the strength and the taste than other brewing options. It does require some patience. We'll talk about the technique in a few, but it will be worth the wait. All you need to get started are:

  • Coffee

  • Coffee Grinder

  • Filter

  • The dripping mechanism or filter holder

The Secret Weapon: The Coffee Grinder

Getting the most out of your coffee bean begins and ends with the grinder. You'll want more control out of the coarseness of your bean. The finer the grind, the slower the water passes through the bean. That being said, if it's a coarser grind, the water will move through much quicker. Invest in a coffee grinder rather than purchasing pre-ground coffee.

The Pour Over Method

There are four stages to getting the best pour over coffee.

  • Getting the right temperature

  • Rinsing the filter

  • Blooming your coffee

  • Consistency each time

Getting the Right Temperature

Achieving the perfect temperature is critical to the brewing process. Too hot and you'll rob the beans of flavor. Too cold and you won't be able to extract enough. The ideal temperature is 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring your water to a boil then either remove it from the stove top or let your electric kettle switch itself off. After about 30-seconds to one minute, the water's temperature should reach the ideal range for brewing.

Rinse Your Filter

If you don't rinse your filter, you run the risk of having your coffee taste a little like paper. Cleaning your filter is pretty straightforward. Grab your brewer and put your filter in place. Get your hot water and slowly pour water over the bottom and up the sides of the filter. Once you've coated it in water and let it drip through, you can discard the water in your carafe. This step helps improve flavor and keep the filter in place during the pour over process.

Bloom Your Coffee

A by-product of the coffee grinding process is the build-up of carbon dioxide. It's not an unhealthy amount that should cause concern, but you do need to remove it before the water will penetrate the beans and extract all that beautiful flavor. This process is called "blooming" or "wetting" the coffee. Start by adding enough water to get all the grounds thoroughly wet. Once they are wet, stop for 30-seconds to allow the carbon dioxide to escape. You'll know you're successful when you can see the coffee expand in the water.

Consistency for a Beautiful Cup Every Time

You'll want about 60 grams of coffee for every liter of water. You can adjust the ratio for subtle and pronounced differences. Pay close attention to the steps you flow through that produce your favorite cup of coffee. Use a scale to measure out your beans, invest in a decent coffee grinder, and follow the brewing guide on the bean’s packaging. Who knows, with enough practice you might become The World Brewers Cup Champion and invent a new brewing method.

Pour Over Brewer Options

There are a few brewer options that help you achieve the best pour over. Lot's of models and styles exist on the market, but we have highlighted below the ones we like most.

V60

A cone-shaped dripper with a spiral design on the inside wall that keeps the filter from sticking. You'll want to set your coffee grinder to fine or medium. V60 filters are thinner than others which means you don't risk a paper taste. If you pour correctly, the ridges inside the dripper will help extract more flavor.

Chemex

A combination of a pour over filter cone and a glass carafe. You will use a thick paper filter flush against the wall. Hugging the sides in this way means the water passes through slower giving a better flavor. Grinds for the Chemex should be medium to coarsely ground.

Bee House

The Bee House is a ceramic dripper with a wedge-shaped filter cone and ribbing on the inside. It's considered a "cone dripper" although the bottom is flat. Grind your beans a little coarser than the V60 for a perfect cup. If you're just starting out the Bee House has a flexible learning curve.

Kalita Wave

A flat bottom dripper with three triangulated holes at the base, the Kalita Wave encourages more flavor extraction than other flat-bottom drippers. Medium to coarse coffee beans works well. The filters are wavy helping with temperature stability and insulation.

For an example of an excellent pour over, come and visit us at The Tin Cup. Visit our website for more information.