Outside of drinking instant coffee, the pour over brewing method is one of the quickest ways of getting coffee into you when you need it most.
Without the time constraints of waiting on a slow-moving auto-drip machine, the pour over is quick, easy and delivers an amazing cup of coffee. The only problem being, there is an ever-so-slight learning curve that can quickly turn into an obsessive disorder.
As you begin to play with grind size, water temperature, ingredient freshness and pour time, you’ll not only be treated to a great cup of coffee, you’ll take complete ownership of that cup of coffee.
Let’s chase that rabbit right down the hole.
Over the past 12-18 months, this brew method has picked up some serious steam around the world. Whether we attribute it to the rise of independent roasters, YouTube coffee aficionados or the fact that we’ve been locked up and forced to experiment during the pandemic, it’s likely some sort of combination of all of the above.
The truth is, the method has been popular for a few decades now, but was developed over a hundred years ago.
Enter Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz.
She resided in a small town in Germany and led a traditional early-20th-century life. Coffee was a staple in the Bentz household as she was credited with making her husband a cup of coffee each day as he was on his way out the door.
Using an old pot as a percolator, she grew tired of her daily ritual of painstakingly scraping the sludge and grinds left in the bottom of the brass pot she used to brew. While cloth filters were on the scene at the time, it was a luxury Melitta simply could not afford.
Before that old brass pot could dry, she took it upon herself to experiment with a new solution. Hammer and nail in hand, she punctured the bottom of her pot and turned to her son’s school notebook, ripping a piece of the blotter paper from its pages. She took the paper and used it to line the bottom of the punctured pot before placing her daily grinds inside. Creating what would be the world’s first known paper coffee filter, she also unknowingly kickstarted a passion for pour over coffee that still remains today.
If her name sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The Melitta company still manufactures and sells paper coffee filters and accessories around the world, doing over $1 billion in annual sales.
How to Pour
There isn’t a lot that goes into it, but you will need some sort of pour over contraption. This could be a Chemex, a variation of one or a portable dripper that can be placed over a coffee mug. In most cases, you’ll need some paper filters (some systems feature reusable filters), a kettle (goosenecks work great) and your ground coffee.
- Bring your water to a boil. Aim for about 205 degrees and make sure the water is clean and fresh. For example, if you drink filtered water, use that to make your coffee.
- If you are using a paper filter, make sure you prime it. Use some hot water to wet the filter, it takes away any unfavorable flavors that can be transferred into the cup.
- Getting your grind right. This is a BIG step that can make or break your pour over cup. Firstly, make sure it’s fresh. We’ll always try and grind right before brewing. If you don’t have a grinder at home, don’t fret, just ensure the grounds you have were recently ordered. You’ll want a medium-fine grind for just the right amount of extraction.
- Place the grounds in your filter. There are some rules of thumb here in terms of grounds-to-water ratios. We’ll aim for about a 1:18 ratio of coffee to water. We know, so technical. But if you have a scale, it’s worth some quick calculations.
- Begin the pour. We’ll start in a clockwise motion, spiraling the pour to wet the grounds and get a good bloom going. Don’t pour all of the water in at once, you’ll want to let this process go for about 30 seconds. Pour in about a quarter of the water on hand and let it bloom. This process allows the coffee to ‘breathe’, letting all the gases escape.
- Finish strong. For fun, we’ll spiral in a counterclockwise motion for the remainder of the pour over. It matters not which way you spiral, so do as you please. Pour slowly and enjoy the process.
- Let it brew. It should take about 3 minutes or so to complete the brewing process. Let it happen.
- Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy what should be one of the best tasting cups of coffee you’ve had.
It’s worth noting that you might not hit the nail on the head the first time around. That’s ok. Rome wasn’t built in a day and good coffee takes time and experimentation.
If your coffee ends up with a weak or sour taste, adjust your grind settings to be a little finer the next time around. If the cup is overly bitter, do the opposite and lead with a coarser grind.
Be sure to check out our Guide to Grinding if you need any additional guidance.