Or "How To Make The Best Cup of Coffee You've Ever Had"
There are many different ways to brew coffee, and everyone has a preference. But the humble pour over is, in my mind, the most perfect way to extract the best flavour from coffee. It allows you to experience all of the subtle flavour notes, aroma, body, and acidity of each origin, and how it was processed and roasted.
It also allows you control of all of the variables, like water to coffee ratio, temperature, and time, which makes it easy to reproduce. This means that you consistently get the same amazing cup of coffee every day, which is what you want. It's a very easy process to master.
Pour Over Equipment
There are a few different brands of pour over or drip coffee equipment, such as the Hario V60, the Kalita Wave, Chemex, and many more. We're going to focus on the Hario V60, due to the fact that it's inexpensive, easy to use, and produces a really good cup of coffee.
Other Equipment You Will Need
To go with your V60, you will also need:
- A digital scale such as this Hario scale
- A pour over kettle such as the Hario Buono
- And some filters
You will also need some freshly roasted coffee
I'll be using some of our freshly roasted Costa Rican Grand Peaberry coffee, which makes a wonderful pour over. I highly recommend that you use fresh whole beans, and grind it yourself just before brewing for the freshest taste.
For a V60 pour over, use a medium grind setting, and around 22 grams of coffee for one large cup (360ml/12floz).
Step 1 - V60 Set Up
Put your kettle on to boil. Put your V60 on the scale, and a filter in the dripper. Fold the seam of the filter over to make it sit flush.
Step 2 - Rinse Your Filter
Once the kettle has boiled, rinse the paper with hot water. This reduces any papery flavour from the filter, and also warms the V60 server.
Step 3 - Add Your Coffee
Pour the water out of the V60 server and put it back on the scale, tare (zero) the scale. Pour in 22g of medium ground coffee. Give the dripper a tap to flatten the coffee bed.
Step 4 - The Bloom
Tare the scale again, it should be all zeros before you start pouring. Your water should still be very hot, but not boiling. If using a temperature controlled kettle, aim for 200F/95C. Slowly pour the water over the grounds in small circles to make sure you hit all of the dry grounds. Use a ratio of about 3:1 water to coffee, so for 22g of coffee I'm aiming for around 66g of water. Don't worry about going slightly over or under.
This is called the bloom, and it ensures all the grounds are wet for the main pour. This gives a much more even extraction of flavour.
You will see bubbles of air and CO2 start to be released, this is when the water hits a dry spot. To speed this process up you can use a teaspoon to turn over the grounds in the middle of the coffee bed, or give the brewer a gentle spin. You will also find that the fresher the coffee is, the more CO2 will be released.
This is why if you fill up a filter / electric drip coffee maker with really fresh coffee, it can sometimes overflow as the water hits the grinds.
Step 5 - The Main Pour
After 45 seconds all of the bubbles should have stopped and your grounds will be wet. Slowly pour another 150g of water in a smooth circular motion, which is up to about 1cm from the top of the V60. After a minute, repeat this in the other direction until you have added the rest of your water. I aim for a 16.5:1 ratio of coffee to water, so around 360g of water and 22g of coffee. You can alter this ratio to suit your taste, most pour over recipes are at a ratio of 16-17:1.
Use the left over hot water to warm your favourite mug.
Step 6 - Drawdown
As the coffee draws down through the filter, give it a stir with a teaspoon or a gentle spin to swirl the grounds. This helps to increase coffee extraction by keeping the coffee in the centre of the filter where the water is, and not stuck to the sides.
Step 7 - Done!
Usually the process takes around 3-4 minutes from when you started the timer at the bloom. If you are seeing brew times closer to 2 minutes, you may be grinding too coarse. If you are seeing longer brew times, you may be grinding too fine. Although some coffees such as Ethiopians can tend to take a little longer to draw down.
Ideally what you want is a fairly flat coffee bed, with the texture of wet sand. If it looks like mud then you are grinding too fine.
Step 8 - Drink!
Dispose of the grinds and filter, and pour your amazingly fresh coffee into your favourite mug, and enjoy!
The Hario V60 is a simple pour over process that will give you a truly wonderful up of coffee every time. It gives a very clean cup, but also allows some of the oils and other flavours through, that the thicker filter of a Chemex won't.
Good quality coffee, and a good burr grinder are also key to this. A pour over made with poor quality coffee will give you a perfectly bad cup. If you find your coffee tasting sour or salty, then you are probably grinding too coarse. If you find you coffee to be bitter or astringent, then you are grinding too fine. The best way to calibrate a grinder for pour over is to start on a medium setting, and then keep adjusting finer until you hit that bitterness and astringency, then back the setting off a couple of notches.
If you don't want to buy an expensive electric grinder, then something like the Porlex Tall Grinder II can make an amazing coffee both at home or whilst travelling or camping.
Good, specialty coffee is like fine wine, or a good scotch. Once you've tried it, it's hard to be happy with cheaper alternatives. The pour over process is so simple, yet creates a really good cup of coffee, and the entire process only takes up 5 minutes of your day. It also allows you to sample all of the different flavours that coffee has to offer.
What is your favourite brew method? Leave a comment below.