Why should you bother with brewing pour-over coffee? Because it’s the best way to get the most of the good parts of the coffee. If you’ve never used the pour-over method, it may seem a little intimidating. But here you are with a 12oz bag of Hakimson Estate Kenya Peaberry Limited Release that set you back $19. Certainly you’re not going to toss that into a plastic coffee brewing machine. Pour-over coffee brewing is the method of choice for such a fine thing.
Maybe you’ve watched a YouTube video on the subject where a barista was demonstrating his complicated pour-over coffee technique. Or maybe the idea of spending $30 on a Hario v60 cone dripper, another $45 on a gooseneck kettle, up to $130 on a burr coffee grinder, a $40 scale, yikes. It’s all a little much.
Pour-over coffee brewing is about simplicity
Brewing pour-over coffee may be trendy right now, but pour-over coffee brewing is really about simplicity, more than anything else. Just coffee and water to bring out the best in a well-sourced and craft-roasted bean.
I’ve been brewing pour-over coffee since the 80’s. I was not trying to being stuck-up about it; it was a necessity more than anything else. All I needed then was an affordable Melitta plastic drip brewer from the grocery store, paper filters, an inexpensive blade grinder and some good coffee beans and voila, cup of coffee! Back then Mr. Coffee, Brun or Krups were the main makers of coffee brewing machines: Mr. Coffee was considered a joke and Braun or Krups brewers were not cheap for the college student and later under-paid professional.
I had my share of machine brewers and French Presses*, but at some point they get stinky or the beaker would break, and i’d pull good ‘ol cone dripper out of the cupboard. Besides that, I liked brewing pour-over coffee. It was easy and convenient for a single cup. And I was never brewing for the crowd, so manually brewing pour-over coffee was not a hassle.
Pour-over coffee brewing became trendy
Fast forward to the mid 2000’s and suddenly Pour-over is the rage and touted as the method best to extract flavor from a well-sourced and craft-roasted bean. I’m not arguing with that at all, it happens to be my practice now. Being all artisan and precious about it is not the be-all end-all for brewing pour-over coffee.
Pour-over coffee brewing is simple because all you need is coffee, hot water, a paper filter in a cone dripper. That’s it. If you strive for better, splurge on some nice tools and refine your technique. You can brew great coffee with a $10 plastic Melitta cone coffee dripper you purchased from the local grocery store, DON’T LET ANY AFFICIONADO TELL YOU DIFFERENT (99% of whom will drink gas station swill in a fit of road trip desperation). So while the Melitta may not be the ultimate system, it is 90% of what you’ll get with a Hario v60, gooseneck kettle, water perfectly heated and a slow-poured over evenly sized coffee grounds, and light years better than a pot of coffee brewed in a Mr. Coffee machine.
Don’t worry about the hipster pour-over barista with the man-bun at your local to-cool-for-you cafe. Pour-over coffee brewing is the best way to get an amazing cup of joe. So go out and get a Melitta cone dripper, some filters, good beans, rush home and make a cup. It’s a great start, worry about the refinements later.
*I’ve tried to love French Press as my chosen method but I never could get past the residue at the bottom of the cup, too much like bong water for me, blech.
Perfect pour-over coffee is a 3-part process:
Getting perfect pour-over coffee is a process that is a combination of several elements all working together. This outline is a quick overview of the key ingredients. If you are new to pour-over coffee brewing at home, it’s easy to start simply, and as you get more experience and your palate matures, you can easily add complexity by adding equipment, brewing light-roasted beans, etc. Starting with good beans, a dripper and hot water are all that is required.
This outline is a quick overview of the key ingredients.
- Freshly roasted coffee beans (Small batch, freshly roasted, direct trade, beans from an artisan roaster)
- Equipment (Coffee dripper, gooseneck kettle, paper filters, timer, scale, temperature gauge, coffee grinder)
- Technique (how to brew it)
Freshly roasted coffee beans
Taste starts with the roast. Artisan coffee roasters like Intelligentsia Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Espresso Vivace, Handsome Coffee Roasters, Ritual Coffee Roasters, etc., are the best places for crafted coffee roasting. This is not saying they are the only ones, every city will have it’s own local coffee artisan roasters. Look for one in your area and purchase from them. If there are no local roasters, the aforementioned roasters will ship via their online shopping sites. Do not buy ground beans, only whole beans and only grind as much as needed for brewing at the time. Buy in small quantities, 12-16 oz. at a time. Store whole beans in an air-tight container.
- Start with a good quality coffee dripper, Melitta (available in most grocery stores), Hario, Bee House, Cilio, Chemex, etc, are all good, although they vary in method. Hario and Chemex, with a single large hole, tend to extract faster than Melitta and Bee House coffee drippers that have either one, or a couple of small holes.
- A gooseneck kettle is useful and makes pouring hot water over the grounds easier to control.
- A scale with built in timer that measures in grams helps you measure exacts amounts of coffee and water.
- Thermocouple for measuring water temperature.
- High quality conical burr coffee grinder. Small blade grinders work, but the uniformity of the grounds is difficult to control.
Grind of the bean, weight/amount of beans ground, amount of water, water temperature, pour technique all add up to success or failure when it comes to pour-over coffee method.
Article on technique
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Hario v60 Dripper ©2012 Mark LaPoint
I just received a Hario v60 Dripper in the mail, safely ordered from Amazon. For years I have been using Melitta droppers, after reading about the Hario v60 Dripper I’ve decided to make a change and try it out.
Hario v60 Dripper
It was very inexpensive, the plastic vs the ceramic or class are much more in cost. Very soon I am going to conduct a side-by-side test, Melitta vs Hario to see which I think is better. But so far I am liking the Hario v60 Dripper.
The major difference from the old cone dripper it that it has a tiny hole in the bottom which causes the coffee to back up and steep in the cone before passing into the cup. With the Hario v60 Dripper hot water passes right through, at first is was surprised that it brewed so fast, but the first cup it’s sort of nice since I get my cup quicker. I have not noticed a major taste difference, it’s advised not to use too much coffee as you’ll get a bitter taste, but the coffee from the Hario v60 is a little thin, still tweaking the amount of grounds.