How to Make Pour Over Coffee
Brewing great coffee is a game of variables. The more control you have over the variables, the more delicious a cup you can brew. On one end of the spectrum you have automatic drip brewers that only allow you to control two variables: the amount of coffee and the grind. At the other end of that spectrum is the pour over, which gives you control over every variable: amount of coffee, grind, temperature of water, and brew speed. It is arguably the best way to brew coffee, though it does require time, and a skilled hand. Perfect practice makes perfect, so let's get started.
Pour Over Coffee Ratio
- 8 ounces water
- 2 tablespoons (10.6 grams) coffee
Begin with your drip device positioned over the vessel you will brew into. If you are making a single cup you can brew directly into it. Place a paper filter into the dripper. Though not necessary, if the filter has a thick ridge, you may want to fold it over to create a smoother fit.
Note: There are many different types of drippers. A cone shaped filter such as the Hario V60 requires the most skill to navigate, due to the speed at which water can move through it. A flat bottom dripper like the Melitta No. 2, or one that uses a thick filter like the Chemex, are more forgiving.
Bring 8 ounces (250 grams) of water to 200° F (93.3° C). Slowly pour it over the empty filter, careful to saturate the entire thing.
Note: Rinsing paper filters is an important step for removing "papery" flavors from your coffee, and preheating your cup prevents your drink from cooling too quickly.
Bring another 8 ounces of water to 200° F. Meanwhile, grind about 2 tablespoons (10.6 grams) of coffee beans. The grind is the most important variable for tuning the flavor of your pour over. For a flat bottom dripper, start with a medium grind. For a cone shaped dripper, start about halfway between fine and medium.
Place the ground coffee in the wet paper cone. Give it a slight shake to even out the grounds.
Slowly pour water onto the grounds until they are saturated, and then a bit more. You want to use about twice as much water as you have coffee in the dripper. Start your pour in the center, and move outwards in a circular motion, being careful not to pour down the sides of the filter.
Let this slurry set for 30 seconds. If your beans are fresh, you will see a beautiful, bubbly foam rising from your grounds. This is known as the "bloom" and is caused by CO2 being released from the hot water interacting with the coffee.
Note: The bloom actually traces its origins back to the when the green coffee bean was first roasted. Like all organic matter, CO2 and other gases is released when coffee is exposed to extreme heat. The beans continue to slowly release CO2 after being roasted. That's the purpose of those one way vents you've probably spotted on bags of coffee - it lets the gas out. However, these same gases are also important for the flavor of coffee, which is why having fresh beans is so important.
Adding hot water to your grounds speeds up the release of CO2. During this time, the pressure from the escaping gases is working on the molecular level to push water away from the coffee. This is why we let the bloom set for 30 seconds. If we didn't, our water would rush by the grounds and reduce extraction.
Now pour again, this time using about 1/3 - 1/2 the remaining water. Start by slowly pouring into the middle, and work your way out in a circular motion. Be careful not to pour onto the sides of the filter - this will cause water to bypass most your grounds. Pouring onto the side will also pick up some of the "fine" grinds that naturally float to the rim of the coffee, which we don't want because they would over-extract.
Continue this process until you are out of water. For a single cup you want the entire pouring process to take about 2.5 - 3 minutes. If it went too fast, you can adjust the time by pouring slower and/or using a finer grind. A coarser grind will lead to a speedier brew.
You are ready to enjoy your cup. If this is your first pour over, chances are there are a few things you know you can improve on. Proceed back to step one when you're ready for your next uniquely personal cup of coffee.