The market for brewing coffee is flooded with pricey brewers. Embodying advanced technology and micro-modifications that a person wouldn’t even think they needed for just a cup of coffee. If you go to your local and trusted coffee shop however, you can still find coffee that is brewed by hand. Careful consideration goes into every extraction.
Spending over a hundred dollars on a coffee maker that offers a one cup option is not unheard of. If we look at the price of the machine, and then the price of the coffee per cup, it can get hefty.
We all know the popular Keurig. A k-cup can bring the price of coffee up to almost $50 a pound! That’s a lot for coffee that’s already been ground and is not at its full potential.
Still beloved by many baristas the pour-over method is tried and true, as well as, a still growing favorite of brewing coffee.
The pour-over method of brewing is for anyone, and can be done by anyone. Pour-over brewing can be done if you need coffee for more than one person, but is most popular if you just want a single cup in the morning, noon, or even a pick-me-up at night. If your standards for coffee are rich, bold, or bright, this is for you.
You will need a special brewer for the pour-over method, but fortunately they are very inexpensive. No need to spend a hundred or more dollars on a specialty brewer. They range from no hassle or fuss, into a full chemistry lab full of the utmost technical coffee brewing accessories.
If you HAVE NEVER tried pour-over coffee, I suggest you head to your local coffee shop and try it. Pour-over brewing is not just a cup of coffee but a memorable coffee experience. Pour-over brewing allows the coffee to be fine-tuned to whatever specifications you like.
If you HAVE tried pour-over brewed coffee, then I know you need this information stat. Don’t worry! We will have you set up in no time, your next undeniably awesome cup of coffee is only moments away.
Your pour-over coffee brewing arsenal
Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to make the perfect pour-over cup of coffee. If you are on a strict budget or just don’t want to go and buy a whole new set up, stay tuned for some hacks and cost-effective alternatives. These suggestions may require a little more skill, but can give you the same results.
Besides your brewing device you are going to need the coffee of course! Fresh roasted if available, otherwise fresh ground is ideal. The grounds don’t have to be powder fine, somewhere near medium ground and fine. This can be altered later for taste, but it’s good to start somewhere in the middle.
Grounds that are too fine will result in bitter coffee, and grounds too course will make a weak brew. Which brings me to the next device. The coffee grinder.
Every Day Should be a Burr Day
A good coffee grinder is very beneficial. The plus side of pour-over brewing is you can fine-tune your coffee any way you like. The process will be a lot easier with evenly ground coffee which can be achieved using a bur grinder.
- A burr grinder can be found for under $50. Such as the Secura Electric Burr grinder. Then there are also some hand burr grinders for a little under $20. Such as the JavaPress Manual burr grinder.
- A burr grinder is recommended because it will mill the coffee instead of grind it. Other coffee grinders leave the grounds inconsistent.
- If you are a coffee lover in general, the burr grinder is a good investment for any and every method of coffee brewing.
Some other accessories you may need to consider is a good timer (you’re smart phone works great), scale, and preferably a goose neck kettle with exact temperature control or a thermometer for sure.
For the brewers that have a wider area for the water to go through, which we’ll discuss in a moment, a goose neck kettle will be very helpful. You don’t exactly need to go and replace your favorite kettle. If you’re working with the pour-over method a goose neck kettle will make the water pouring easier to do and easier to control.
A wide spout kettle can be used, but the problem is the water flow. Without a steady hand too much water can agitate the coffee grounds more than you want.
A good budget option is a thermometer or digital thermometer to substitute for a temperature controlled kettle. If you don’t have a kettle either, I’m sure you have some kind of kitchen product for pouring, a measuring cup for instance. Measuring cups are also a good budget suggestion in place of a scale. Get the measuring cups out and the handy thermometer.
Go ahead and boil the water on the stove in pan. Going this route you will want to strike while the kettle is hot, or pan shall I say. Keep an eye on the temperature. The constant temperature is very essential for this method of brewing and will effect the flavor.
Ready, set, brew
So what’s the secret to pour-over brewing? How do we accomplish this tedious and challenging task? It is easier than you think.
Start off with your brewer of choice.
Coffee should be ground with medium coarseness, about the size of salt or sugar granules.
The coffee and water ratio are very important. It’s recommended to do one part coffee per sixteen parts water. For an example 60 to 70 grams of coffee per liter of water
Better Water Better Coffee
- Tap water is not recommended. Going through all the work for an amazing cup of coffee it wouldn’t hurt to purchase filtered water. Buying by the gallon is the more cost-effective route.
- What’s wrong with tap water? Well, depending on where you’re from, the tap water can contain a very strong chlorine flavor. This will effect your coffee substantially. Distilled water is also not recommended because it is completely stripped of any minerals. Filtered water is ideal because it contains some minerals. The minerals are essential for the proper chemical reaction during brewing.
Water should be coming off a boil, about 195 to about 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
Have the brewer out with your filter of choice set into place. For paper filters it helps to fold where the seams meat to help them settle down. For a paper filter you are going to want to rinse it with your water. This does a few beneficial things, such as getting the remaining paper dust and flavor out. It also helps the filter adhere to the sides of the brewer. Let the water flow down into whatever you decide to brew your coffee in. Whether it’s your cup or carafe, you’ll want to prime it with this hot water.
Prime Time Essential Tip
Priming means letting the water sit for about a minute, maybe even swirl it. Priming is essential to help with maintaining the temperature of the final brew. You really don’t’ want your coffee brewing into a cold carafe or cup. Remember to discard this water after you do this before starting to brew.
If you are using a metal filter, utilize the same process so that it is heated before adding the coffee.
Whatever you decide for your coffee amount, when using a pour-over brewer you don’t want the coffee to fill more than 2/3 of the filter. You’re going to need that extra room for the water to get a consistent brew. Any extra coffee beyond that you run the risk of the water not getting through the bed of grounds and being absorbed into the coffee. Adding more water does not remedy this as it will brew too slow.
Measure Your Coffee Beans
Start with measuring the coffee beans before grinding. Let’s do 25 grams of coffee beans. Measure these out on the scale. We are going a little over in case some gets caught in the grinder. Once those are ground, or milled, re-measure to get 24 grams of coffee.
If you have extra and think you want extra coffee go ahead and use the remaining. If you are not using the remaining gram, discard it. Once coffee is ground it will become stale very quickly.
Put these grounds in your brewer. Give the side a little tap to make allow the grounds to level out. After that, use a spoon or your finger to put a slight divot in the center of the grounds to assist the water to flow through. Put your whole brewing set up on the scale and tare it, or zero it out. Now it is time for the water.
Now, start the timer and start pouring the water slowly. Add just enough to wet the coffee grounds, around 40 grams. Don’t start in the center but in between the outside and the center.
After you have done that, let the coffee seep in the water for about 30 seconds. This helps the CO2, or carbon dioxide, escape from the roasted grounds. This part is essential to help with better absorption and dissolving of the coffee when we continue to pour after the time is up.
- If your coffee is not coming to a bloom, or is not bubbling, this is an indicator your coffee is not fresh. Keep this in mind if this happens. If the coffee you purchased was already ground you may not get that reaction either. This will effect the final flavor of the coffee, and no amount of technique will resurrect the fresh flavor of already stale coffee.
- If this is the coffee you have chose to work with, and the results are less than favorable, I encourage you to try with fresh coffee before thinking your technique was wrong, or before you decide this technique is not worth it.
After about 30 seconds continue to slowly pour the water around the sides of the filter, barely getting any in the center. Don’t go completely to the side, somewhere between the complete outside and the center. Gravitate a little towards the center. This helps with evenly distributing the water on all of the grounds.
This is where the coarseness of coffee will dictate the water flow and coffee strength. A courser grind, or mill, will allow for the water to flow faster since there are less of the smaller particulates for it to dissolve. The coffee from this will have less body and more of a bright flavor. Finely milled coffee will take more time for the water to flow which will make for a strong cup of coffee with more body.
Getting all of the water through the filter in less than four minutes at the most is the goal. The longer the water is in the coffee the more chance of the bitter particles leaving notes in the final brew. Roughly three minutes is the ideal brewing time.
Don’t rush the process though. Keep the pour consistent without agitating the coffee grounds too much. Pouring water and letting it settle before pouring more is also an approach you can take, and is often suggested.
Once all the water has been poured, let it continue to brew. Before the four minute mark, discard of the filter and remaining water, which should be barely any. If the water is all the way through at the three minute mark then that is great. That’s it! You’re left with an amazing cup of pour-over coffee! I didn’t even mention how easy the clean up will be.
The Coffee of Tomorrow
Now, if the final brew is exactly how you want it, then you’re done, no more trial and error. If the cup is not exactly how you want your coffee, then don’t worry. There are ways to tweak the technique. First off, when trying to change the final flavor, don’t change too much the next go around, only one thing at a time, leave everything else the same.
Here are some suggestions to help with getting the right flavor
- If the coffee is too strong, use courser coffee if your grounds were too fine. Also, sometimes using a metal filter will allow more particulates through. That’s not a bad thing, but the particulates will continue to brew while in the final cup of coffee. Either drink the coffee faster, (Which is not very enjoyable) or you can use coarser grounds as stated above and also utilize a paper filter
- Coffee that’s too weak. You could start with a somewhat finer grind, but not too much, go a little at a time. Also, you could try keeping the same grind size and utilize a metal filter to get more body in your coffee.
- Make sure the water stays a consistent temperature
- Also watch that you don’t agitate the water too much during the pour, slow and steady
- For clear, lively, and bright flavors use a courser ground and heavy paper filter. This eliminates a lot of body if that’s not the flavor you want
Lets talk about some products that are available and which one might be right for you. The more advanced the product the more room there is for error, however, there is also more room to create your everyday fave.
What’s flow restriction?
Some flow restrictive pour over brewers are recommended for newbies. Why? Because the hole is smaller in these products which lets the water flow at its natural rate. It is a helpful way to also recreate results.
It is easier to make the same tasting coffee over and over, as opposed to other products with a larger hole for brewing which is up to the user skill to recreate the flavor of coffee, even if you use all the same equipment, technique will play a larger role in the end flavor result.
With the user friendly products, the coffee will have a lot of body, no mater how you change the technique. The reason for this is the water is in contact with the coffee for a set amount of time and a lot longer than other, less restrictive products.
If you like a full bodied cup of coffee than this won’t be a problem, the flavor is still excellent. If you are looking for a crisper cup of coffee than you can try your hand at a less water restrictive product.
The first user friendly device is the Bonavita. The Bonavita is flow restrictive product that also gives you the option of closing the water flow off completely. This option allows for a wider water flow or you can completely cut the water flow to allow for full immersion brewing.
The porcelain design allows for the brewer to absorb and help with sustaining heat. It allows for a french press flavor while the filter of your choice, either paper or metal, filters out the particulates. Coming in at about $30 to $40 it is a somewhat pricey option.
This product is a great start if you want to try your hand at pour-over brewing. For under twenty bucks, the Melitta pour-over brewer is simple and effective.
It looks like a coffee cup in itself, and is also made of porcelain. The dimensions being about 4.8” tall and 4.8” wide. The Melitta pour-over brewer can be placed right over your coffee cup for a single cup of coffee. It utilizes paper cone filters which the company also has available. They come in unbleached, natural brown, and with a guarantee not to burst or break. The Melitta is also dishwasher safe, however it is pretty easy to clean.
This is a good intro and gateway product to pour-over brewing. Starting with products like these take out some of the frustration while learning good technique. There are other products on the market that look and work like the Melitta.
If the full body and almost full immersion concept isn’t appealing, consider these next products and look closely at the technique of how to use them. A lot of consumers give up on the products thinking they’re faulty. The learning curve is what will sway the flavor of the coffee.
Starting off into the more advanced realm of pour-over brewers is the Hario V-60. Sounds like a technical piece of equipment but is actually a simple product.
The Hario is very similar to the Melitta with the main technical difference being the hole available for the water to flow. This is where fine tuning is needed for personal preference. The flavor will be dictated by the grind size, pour-rate, and how much coffee you’re wanting to make.
The Hario is in the $20 dollar range and has different sizing, limited colors, and materials available. The Hario also has filters available in natural and bleached. The Hario has a drip station, sold separately, so you can place the product on that instead of directly on your cup to better watch the water flow. This drip station can be used for your other brewing products as well, such as the Melitta if you want.
Then there are pour-over brewers such as the Chemex. The Chemex comes in different sizes to allow for larger brewing quantities. The Chemex is highly recommended for brewing coffee for more than a couple people.
The other products will work for that too although it would be very slow going. Depending on the grind of the beans, the Chemex offers less body and more of a bright flavor.
The paper filters for the Chemex, when unfolded, are a flat circle. The filter is meant to have three leaves of the paper facing the spout and the single leave towards the back for stability. There are also mesh and metal mesh filter options that can be used for any of these products.
Stainless steal filters are available too. The stainless steel filters are reusable and can fit most all of these products. As mentioned above, metal filters will allow for more particulates and body, such as what you get from a french press.
Maybe a cheaper alternative to the Chemex, the looks are similar. The Bodum is made of borosilicate glass, which is tempered and heat resistant.
It comes with a stainless steel mesh filter that can be reused. It has a rubber and silicone collar that is attached around the smallest part of the brewer. This is where you can handle it while it is hot. This also comes in a variety of colors.
With the Bodum being a bigger brewer, you may be able to skip on the goose neck kettle. The brewing techniques are otherwise just the same. Just remember not to fill the filter more than 2/3 to keep the water running smooth through the grounds.
Some final thoughts
Pour-over brewing can be very simple, but the results reflect anything but.
The ability to personalize your coffee at home is a reachable accomplishment you can enjoy every day. Coffee preference can be very personal. If you feel like the coffee you’ve made, bought, experienced is less than desirable, maybe this is the brewing method above all brewing methods, just for you.