The pour over is the simplest and most delicious coffee you can make at home. With a little bit of know-how, you can get it right every time, and never be disappointed by bad coffee again. Many home-brewers complain of bitter or sour coffee, and have no idea where they’re going wrong. The truth is, there are many factors that determine the flavour of your coffee. They include the beans you’re using, the temperature of the water, your grinder, and more.
With remote work becoming the new norm, you can incorporate great coffee into your at-home routine. Do you want to make a cup of coffee that’s perfect every time and leaves you savouring every sip? Follow these steps, and before long, you’ll be an expert at making the perfect pour over.
What You’ll Need for the Perfect Pour Over
For starters, source some decent quality coffee beans. Decide what flavour profiles you like. Do you like a bright, fruity cup of coffee that gets your senses going? Go for a light or medium roast coffee. Or do you prefer mellow, toasty flavours with less acidity? Opt for a darker roast.
Light roasts tend to get a bad rap for being acidic and acrid. However, an acidic or sour cup of coffee is an indicator of a poorly brewed cup. When brewed to perfection, light roasts can be absolutely delicious, with delicate citrus, berry, dried fruit and floral notes. Most great coffee roasters offer medium and light roasts that will make you never go back to dark roasts.
-Ground coffee of your choice
-A pour over dripper
-#2 or #4 pour over filters, or a reusable cloth filter
-Clean drinking water/bottled water
Tools for a Better Pour Over
A pour over requires a steady, directed stream of water for optimal extraction of the grinds. Most people have a regular electric or stovetop kettle, which isn’t the best choice for a pour over. The water will flow far too quickly through your coffee grinds, under-extracting your beans (the main cause of that bitter taste). It can also potentially tear your filter and ruin your cup of coffee.
Gooseneck kettles allow for control of the amount of water going into your grinds. A little at a time is best for perfect extraction. If you don’t have a gooseneck kettle, simply transfer your boiled water into a heat-proof container or pitcher with a spout.
Burr grinders are ideal for achieving consistency. They grind the beans in such a way that all the grinds are roughly the same size. Most burr grinders designed for the home include a grind dial if you want to go coarser or finer, and most of them have timer or stop/start functions so you can get the amount you want. For a pour over, you’re going to want a grind that’s slightly finer than what you’d use for an automatic drip machine.
While you can get away with grinding your beans in an electric handheld grinder, it’s not recommended. Handheld electric grinders leave you with an inconsistent product–grinds that are both too coarse and too fine. Neither leads to tasty coffee. While you can have your beans ground for you on a burr grinder at your local coffee shop or grocery store, this isn’t recommended either. Once ground, coffee begins to go stale in just 45 minutes. It’s best to keep it whole-bean until just before you need it.
While a weight scale isn’t essential, it will save you some guess-work and give you a reference point. Using a kitchen weight scale for a pour over can help you tweak your recipe for a great cup of coffee, so that you know the drill for next time. If you made a pour over that wasn’t enjoyable, don’t fret. How many grams of coffee did you use? Tweak the amount for next time, and record your trial-and-error process in a notebook to fine-tune your recipe.
If you’re not interested in using a weight scale, you can ensure some consistency by measuring your grinds with a tablespoon. Most people enjoy two tablespoons per cup of coffee, though you may prefer two-and-a-half or three.
High-Quality Coffee Beans
Most major cities in North America have several excellent coffee roasting companies. Find a good local one and purchase the beans from local independent coffee shops, or order them online directly from their website. The more money you spend, the higher the grade of coffee, and the better your coffee will taste. Be prepared to spend at least $20 on a pound of roasted beans.
Try to purchase beans that have been roasted within 14 days, and if possible, source fair trade, ethical coffee. Avoid generic, pre-ground coffee from the supermarket–they don’t have fresh roast dates, and they’re sometimes over-roasted.
Now that you have all the tools on hand, it’s time to make a great pour over!
Grind and measure your beans for an eight-ounce cup of coffee. If you’re using a weight scale, measure approximately 14 grams of coffee; if you’re measuring by volume, measure out two level tablespoons of grinds.
Boil your water. Use potable tap water or bottled water only. Your water should be 93-96 degrees C. Once your water has come to a boil, let it sit for one minute to achieve this temperature.
Rinse your paper filter or reusable sock filter. This will avoid a papery tasting coffee. Gently pour your water over the filter, let it run through into the cup, and discard the water.
Put your grinds into your filter and “bloom” your coffee. Pour a little bit of hot water on all of your grinds, and wait 20-30 seconds before proceeding. Blooming helps some of the carbon dioxide from the beans to escape, improving the flavour of your coffee.
Once your grinds have bloomed, slowly and gently pour your hot water into your grinds in a circular motion, starting from the centre and working outwards. Avoid hitting the very edge of the filter, as this will cause the water to rush through, resulting in a bitter tasting coffee. This process should take between three and four minutes. Using a stopwatch will help you keep track of the time.
Enjoy your delicious, handcrafted cup of coffee!
Coffee is brewing too slowly
Your coffee is ground too fine. Make the grind a little coarser.
Coffee is brewing too quickly
Your coffee is ground too coarsely. Make the grind a little finer.
Coffee tastes bitter
If you’ve followed every step and your coffee still tastes bitter, try mixing your coffee-water mixture in the filter with a spoon. Once you’ve added all your water, very gently incorporate the grinds stuck to the sides to the middle so that they can come in contact with the water. This will help get all the grinds extracted.
Coffee filter is tearing when pouring water
Avoid directing the water to the sides of the filter, especially in the blooming stage. Many pour over drippers have a wide hole at the bottom, and this is a common error.