One of the most delicious coffee brewing methods is also one of the simplest, but don’t be fooled. Any coffee brewing method involves science, consistency, and the right equipment. Want to know why a coffee pour over is so delicious and how to do it yourself at home? Read on, my friends.
What Is a Pour Over?
A coffee pour over is a coffee brewing method designed to create a more flavorful brew by maximizing the effectiveness of the three phases of brewing. This method is fairly simple. All you do is grind fresh coffee beans and then use a brewing system to pour hot water over the grounds to produce a fresh cup or pot of coffee. This method is preferred among coffee enthusiasts because it allows the brewer to control factors such as taste and strength better than other brewing methods. Trust me, once you try it for yourself, you’ll definitely be as enthusiastic about it as we are!
What Equipment Is Needed?
To do a coffee pour over, you will need a few specific instruments. Some are better than others, and we will tell you the science behind it. First here is a list of what you must have to make a coffee pour over.
- Freshly ground coffee
- A filter - paper or mesh
- A pour over dripping mechanism or filter holder
- Hot water
- Mug or coffee pot
Your secret ingredient is your coffee grinder. Why? Because the quality of your grind determines the taste of your pour. If your grind is too coarse, it will produce larger coffee granules and causes the water to flow over the granules at a faster rate. This creates a weak, thin, sour, and acidic taste. The same is for the opposite. If your grind is too fine, the granules are much smaller and the water will saturate the grounds and won’t extract enough flavor. This creates a bitter and salty taste.
Because you need a consistent and perfectly sized grind, we recommend a Burr Grinder. They are one of the best in the market, supported by coffee enthusiasts. The Baratza Virtuoso and Vario are electric grinders that do the grinding for you. Burr’s also offer hand grinders such as the Khaw-Fee Manual Grinder. Remember, the better quality your grinder, the better quality your grinds, the better quality your taste.
Now the tool that makes the pour over method possible: a dripping mechanism. Choosing the right pour over brewer is incredibly important to the convenience, size, and quality of your brew. When browsing your options consider:
- Portability - Do you want to be able to travel with your brewer? Are you a camper, frequent vacationer, or need coffee to get through the workday?
- Serving Size - How much coffee do you drink in a day? Are you making single serve cups or brewing for a group?
- Technique - Are you wanting convenience? Some brewers are easy - just throw in your grinds and water, and wait… much like Keurig. Or are you looking to craft a perfect, tasty brew?
- Accessories - What does the brewer require? All brewers use slightly different tools and techniques. Such as paper filters over cloth filters, carafes or cups, etc.
Some of the best-rated pour over brewers are the Hario V60 and the Kalita Wave because they’re easy to use and proven consistency in brews.
We can’t forget the most essential ingredient: coffee. Three Rivers Coffee Company (TRCC) offers roast-to-order coffee beans, for maximum freshness, if you want to grind your own beans. If you wish to skip this part and go straight to the pouring, TRCC also offers freshly ground coffee. The freshest of roasts create the best-tasting pour over brew. With the pour over method, any roast profile can be used, but you'll need to adjust your recipe for each roast to maximize flavor. Personally, I enjoy the TRCC Dark Roast or House Blend coffee with pour over brewing.
Now that we’ve discussed what a coffee pour over is and what tools you need, it’s time to learn how to make a coffee pour over brew correctly. I’ve broken it down for you in these 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Grind Your Beans
Take your beautiful Burr grinder and pour in your TRCC roast-to-order beans. Remember, you want a uniform, medium-sized grind for the perfect taste. Too coarse and your coffee is weak and acidic, too fine and your coffee is bitter. Blek! If you have an electric grinder, play with the settings until you find the timing and speed that makes you the perfect grind. If you have a manual grinder practice, practice, practice!
Step 2: Rinse Your Filter
If you’re taking the time to do a coffee pour over brew because you want a flavorful cup of coffee, also take the time to rinse your filter to eliminate the taste of paper from your brew. To do this, you want water heated to temperatures between 195-206 degrees Fahrenheit (90-96 degrees Celsius). Pour the hot water in a circle around the paper filter for about 5 seconds. Then discard the water in the cup or carafe that ran through it.
Step 3: Brew Time
All coffee brewing methods involve the same three general phases: wetting, dissolution, and diffusion. These phases are incredibly crucial to the quality of your brew so pay attention folks. I’m taking you back to science class!
The first phase is wetting and is exactly what it sounds like: making your ground coffee wet. Remember how we pounded into your head how important it is to pick the right grinder? The reason for that is not only the size of the grind but also the byproduct of grinding which is the build-up of a beautiful compound called carbon dioxide.
As with any coffee brewing process, you need to pour just the right amount of water to get all grounds wet. Your water needs to be the same temperature as when you rinsed your filter (195-206 degrees Fahrenheit). Once you’ve poured the perfect amount of water, stop pouring for about 30 seconds so you can let the carbon dioxide escape. You will notice that the grounds will expand and swell with the water - this is called blooming. At this point, the coffee grounds will also happen to release a wonderful smell, so make sure you take advantage and get a good sniff. You deserve it.
The second phase is dissolution. Sounds a lot like dissolve right? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening. Once the coffee grinds are thoroughly wetted, the hot water will dissolve the solubles in the coffee beans’ cells. The complex cocktail of organic substances in coffee includes pleasant and unpleasant types. Lucky for us, it’s one of the useful facts of coffee chemistry that the yummy and desirable solubles dissolve in water more efficiently and typically faster than the icky and undesirable substances.
Getting a perfect, tasty brew is all about stopping the brewing at the ideal moment - after the good flavors have been extracted and before the gross flavors seep in. It is recommended to stop at a 19-20% extraction point - that is if you extract the first 19-20% of the mass of the coffee, the best flavor balance will be the result. Experimenting with and establishing consistent brew times will help you fine tune your coffee's flavor.
The third phase is diffusion and is all about osmosis. Bet you haven’t heard that term since high school, huh? The cell walls of our coffee grounds are semi-permeable which means certain substances (water in this case) can pass through the membranes of our coffee while others cannot. Through the osmosis pressure, the highly concentrated chambers of the coffee grounds are driven out to the more watery surrounding environment creating a solvent with delicious flavors.
Fine-tuning your pour over brew involves practice. A pour over requires finding the right combination of ground size (coarser or finer), recipe (coffee to water ratio), and brew time. A good coffee-to-water ratio is between 60-70 grams of coffee per liter of water (a mass ratio between 1:16 and 1:14).
You'll find the target total brew time differs between roast types and your taste preference. Dark roasted coffee is typically 2.5 to 3 minutes and 3 to 4 minutes for medium to light roasted coffees. (This includes drip time after you stop adding water). To improve the consistency in your pour over brews use a scale, and stopwatch, and record your results until you find the perfect combination.
What Coffee Should I Use?
As I mentioned above, any roast profile can be used for this method, but you'll have to adjust your recipe accordingly. Each roast brews differently, that’s the beauty and challenge of a coffee pour over brew. Just remember the basics of coffee chemistry above when making your coffee pour over. And, don't forget, the fresher the coffee, the better the taste! So, what are you waiting for? Time’s a-brewin'.