How To Make Pour Over Coffee (And Why!)

How To Make Pour Over Coffee (And Why!)
16/01/2020 sam

How to Make Pour-Over Coffee (And Why!)

Are you passionate about your coffee? Then this article is for you!

You may have heard about pour over coffee, but in this article,  I’m going to tell you how to make pour-over coffee (to a basic standard!) and, more importantly, why you should be taking advantage of this simple and satisfying technique.

I’ve also outlined the kit that I use on a daily basis, and if you are still wavering as to whether it’s worth the enormous lifestyle change of pour-over coffee, there’s a very honest account of how cynical I was and why I am now converted.

Let’s start quickly with the WHY, just so you know the point:

  1. It’s the best tasting coffee you can make at home (without a very expensive machine)
  2. It creates a nice daily ritual to slow things down in your hectic life
  3. You are immediately more knowledgeable about coffee than anyone who doesn’t know how to make pour-over coffee

How To Make Pour-Over Coffee:

 

  1. Heat the water – get the kettle on the boil so you can prep the rest of the kit. You want the water to be less than boiling, so you can either use a kettle with a thermometer (like this one) or boil the water and let it sit for 30 seconds
  2. Measure your coffee beans – you want to use around 22-25 grams of beans for 2 mid size cups of coffee (or one huge one). 25g is around 5 tablespoons if you don’t have scales. Tip:  Get some scales!
  3. Prepare your kit and rinse– put your filter in the pour-over position and place the pour-over device on the carafe. Pour some of your heated water into the filter and through into the carafe. This heats things up and rinses any paper taste from the fiter. Throw out this water.
  4. Get your grind on – I tried a few settings to get a coarseness that worked for me. I now go for the setting one down from “filter” on the Svart Wilfa grinder. If it drips too slowly for your liking, then you need bigger grains, and if it’s too fast, then go finer. Pour in your coffee grounds, level them out and place your kit on your scales. Tip: A good grinder helps for all types of coffee, so it’s worth the investment.
  5. Bloom – pour in 50 grams of water in a circular motion making sure you wet all the grounds. I’ve found it’s best to do a delicate pour for this to make sure you can wet all the grounds with 50g of water. Wait 30 seconds and watch the grounds bubble out the CO2 whilst you feel like a scientist. Admission: This is a close second favourite part of the process after tasting the coffee.
  6. First Pour – pour in 150 grams of water in a circular fashion making sure you cover all the grounds, try to pour slowly enough that there’s not too much water filling up despite applying a consistent pour.
  7. Second Pour – two pours? I don’t know why, but this seems to be the accepted knowledge and I am not messing with 2000 years (give or take) of history. Another 150 grams of water same as number 6.
  8. Sit back and enjoy your brew. You’ve earned it. People may scoff at the 4 minutes this took you to do, but one day they will understand that you’re an artisan mastering an art, and good things come to those who wait.

 

Top Tips:

Coffee beans:

Whatever you’re going to do with them, the most critical element of any coffee is the beans you use. I am lucky to have an excellent artisan roaster down the road from me, and I’ve tried a lot of different beans from all over the world.  The tastes can be quite staggeringly different, so experiment.  It’s so much better to use freshly ground beans, so a grinder is well worth it.

Ratios:

Aside from the beans, you want to experiment with getting the right ratio of water to beans. I suggest just varying the bean measurement and keeping the water amount constant.

 

The Kit:

Having researched coffee preparation methods quite extensively,  I was really interested to see how a different brew method might impact my coffee drinking at home.

Was all this effort and additional kit going to be worth it? Would I ever sacrifice my beloved espresso for another caffeine hit?

We’ve tried different suppliers of r pour-over coffee at Bear & Bear, but the feedback has been consistent – Fellow is the best! These guys are masters of pour-over and they know exactly what they are doing. As a result most of the kit is from them.

Below is what I ordered from Bear & Bear:

The mugs and Atmos canister are not required, but all the Fellow products work so well together that they complete the kit for me.  The mugs are the nicest ones I own, and the vacuum-sealed canister keeps my beans fresh as possible.

The key kit requirements are the Stagg Kettle and the XF Pour-Over Kit.

I also highly recommend the Svart Coffee Grinder by Wilfa (£105) – but that’s not currently stocked by us!

The combined cost of £300 (including a grinder) is a bit of an outlay, but provides value if you consider you’re paying around £3 a coffee from your local specialty coffee shop (or even CostaNeroBucks).

 

FELLOW COFFEE KIT

San Fransisco-based Fellow are masters of everything coffee (and tea). We discovered them early on and have watched them innovate caffeinated kit with amazement. They cover a whole spectrum of kit for brewing and I only wish I’d taken the plunge with them into pour over coffee at home earlier.

 

Stagg XF Pour Over Kit

This cunning combination will take you from zero to coffee hero in one fell swoop. Containing a double-walled glass carafe, dripper and 30 filter papers to get you started, it is the perfect starter kit.  It has a 600ml capacity and is ideally sized for brewing 2 coffees with etched markings to help you measure.

Stagg Pour Over Kettle

Available in a range of finishes, with seasonal releases of limited edition colours, this stovetop kettle has been designed to make pour over coffee simple. Key features include an ergonomic handle, balanced design and special spout that all increase your pour accuracy. The 1l capacity gives you up to 6 coffees from a single “boil”. There’s no whistle, but the temperature gauge clearly shows you when the water is at the optimum brew temperature.

 

Stagg EKG Electric Pour Over Kettle

If you want your water heated to the perfect temperature without having to watch a temperature gauge then this version of the Stagg is for you! There is a range of superlative features on this outstanding upgrade to the regular EKG, not least an LCD screen where you set your temperature, measure your pour times and play games!

 

A Couple Of Other Bits of Kit:

There are a couple of items we are due to restock at Bear & Bear, but I would highly recommend them:

GRINDER:

At over £100 you might consider the grinder a luxurious non-essential –  but it is actually quite critical to get a great tasting coffee however you make it. Well ground beans to the right coarseness (See this chart) allow the water to pass through the coffee at different flow rates which effect the taste, and freshly ground beans taste amazing. Plus, by having the grinder it means I can purchase beans from my local roaster and grind them to  suit  other brew methods such as the stovetop or French press.

Prior to having a grinder I’d predominantly select Illy Espresso grind to use with my stovetop (costs around £6.50 for 250g). Illy is (in my opinion) the most premium mass-produced coffee that’s widely available, but I’ve driven past the Illy manufacturing plant and it is industrial in scale.

You can usually get good quality coffee ground at a café for home use (if they aren’t busy), and save on the grinder to begin with, but as soon as the beans are ground they start losing flavour rapidly (being bad within a week to 10 days). I also now use my grinder for stovetop coffee as well and you need different grind settings depending on the brew method.

The Svart grinder comes highly recommended (by many youtube reviewers). It was a close call against the Baratza Encore, but it’s a far superior looking machine, and I am very happy with it. Until we have them back in stock, you can buy them from our friends at All Press.

 

SCALES:

My standard baking scales are ok, but they are probably accurate within 5g, and that’s pretty poor compared to the 0.1g accuracy of most coffee scales.

It’s pretty useful to have a timer on the scales as well so you can at least have some idea of pour times.

I’ve looked at a few different scales and these are the three that I recommend depending on how much you want to spend (the website I found for 2 of the scales is priced in Euros!) :

Edo Barista Digital Scales:

At €21 (without VAT) how wrong can you go? I’d be tempted to go for these as they have to be better than the ones I am using, and they are great value.

 

Hario V60 scales:

Going up a notch in price (€57 + VAT) these are thinner and a lot nicer looking.  Plus Hario are well known for their Pour-Over credentials (not as nice as Fellow in my opinion) but these are well-priced scales for all the features.

 

Acaia Pearl Scales:

Top of the range is Acaia who specialise in scales and have an app that lets you save settings. You can check them out here. If you’re willing to spend over £100 on scales, then these could be the ones for you. They do look very smart indeed.

 

 

Is it all really worth it? An honest account of the trials and tribulations of experimenting with how to make pour-over coffee:

Background:

I struggle to start the day without a cup of coffee, and I’ve become more passionate about flavours and sources of food in recent years. It finally feels like you can be a self proclaimed “coffee aficionado” without being labelled a “hipster” (which for the record I will gladly accept as it makes me sound younger than 40!).

I’ve always sought out new and interesting coffee equipment in a quest to improve my knowledge. Over a few years my coffee input has developed from a jolt of energy and into a gastronomic experience.

I have always been an espresso fan, but as I no longer live in London or a major city, it’s harder to get a great coffee.  The necessity for a good brew forced me to work out how I can achieve “barista-quality” at home. The cost of a “home” machine that can deliver a high quality espresso is upwards of £1500, so that’s on hold…  (if that’s not a problem for you then check out the Lines from Marzocco or the consumer lines from Rocket).

I started to look at other brewing techniques, and focused in on “pour-over” as I’ve seen people order this in cafes and therightroast swears by it. Whilst the caffeine hit might be less, could this be a way to extract maximum taste?

 

Getting Started: Here follows an account of my journey…

Pour-over coffee is not going to be for everyone, but anyone who’s slightly serious about their coffee (i.e. goes to an independent coffee shop and not a chain) will love the process and taste of pour over coffee at home.

After you’ve practised this method a couple of times, coffee at home is not going to be the same experience. If you’re a regular coffee drinker it’s well worth the fairly minimal investment of effort and money for an enormous upgrade your daily routine.

First Test:

The first coffee I brewed up was not good, it just tasted wrong.  I used the incorrect grind settings, misguided coffee ratios, and it was all just confusion and a mess. It could have ended there as it just seemed like a complete waste of time. I nearly missed out being the best me.

This first failed attempt prompted the recognition that there was possibly some truth in the attention to detail that coffee experts debate with minute precision. I went searching for more detailed information. First time around I had used the printed guide that came with my Fellow kit and it didn’t quite give me the level of detail I needed.

Second Test:

For my next run I watched this video from Fellow:

After watching it a couple of times it all started to come together – it might be worth waiting until you’ve got your kit as it makes more sense – but after following it a couple of times you should be all good to go.

That was literally as long as it took to start making great tasting coffee – two attempts. Now I can make it faster and better, but you will be pouring out incredible tasting brews almost immediately.

Final Thoughts:

To be a coffee purist, you should be drinking it without milk or sugar. Sugar is gone from my coffee, and whilst it took longer to let go of milk, I now prefer the unadulterated depth of flavour provided by the coffee alone.  The coffees I brew using the pour-over method are lighter than an espresso, but the flavour is so much better than what I can achieve using a stove-top. In fact I prefer slightly lighter roasted beans for pour-over, as you tend to get a better taste.

The good news for me is I am completely converted to pour over coffee at home – a lighter kickstart to my day (although I sometimes have 2!) and a feeling of accomplishment and craft to start the day.

The bad news for everyone else is that I won’t shut up about it.  I am that awful new convert – using my little dangerous knowledge to spread the word that pretentious coffee is the new wine.  If you are at all serious about your coffee drinking or getting the best taste out of what you imbibe, then this is the way to go.  If you think anyone mentioning “grind settings”, “coffee ratios” or “brew time” is a pretentious, hipster twat – I am not saying you’re wrong, but you’re missing a trick not jumping on this fast-moving bandwagon.  It’s time to step-up your coffee game.

 

 

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