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Pour over coffee is probably one of the trendiest manual coffee brewing methods. It is more and more popular, even in places where convenience supersedes taste. The tutorial on "how to make pour-over coffee" was my projects for a while, and as a manual brewing enthusiast, I should have written this earlier.
Anyway, today I shook off the lethargy and I am going to show you how to brew the perfect hand drip coffee. This is mainly because of a recent coffee date that I went on. I ordered my standard cup of pour-over-filter-coffee while my friend had a latte. After a few minutes of chatting, she noticed that the coffee was taking longer than normal. I told her that the pour over brewing method takes a little more time to prepare than espresso coffee. She looked over to the bar where the barista was bent over the pour over coffee equipment and said: “But it looks so easy!”
Yes, as a matter of fact, it is easy to brew with a manual coffee dripper. But if you make a little mistake your coffee will be ruined. You have to be precise, and respect the recipe and the technique. I spent the rest of the date talking about the specifics of pour over coffee brewing and wondering if other people thought that pour over brewing was easy.
Automatic vs Manual Drip
Drip coffee has been popular in the U.S for a long time now. Lately, manual ways of brewing filter coffee are being used more and more. Manual coffee makers are great because the barista can manage and adjust all the variables in coffee making. In contrast, with an automatic drip coffee maker, a lot of these decisions are left up to the machine. There is no tweaking possible, and this will favor certain coffee beans during extraction, leaving a small error margin. However, for special beans and roasts, the standard temperature and time for extraction of automatic drip machines will not work.
Checklist for Manual Drip Coffee
- Freshly roasted coffee beans
- Drip Cone brewing device
- Coffee filters - cone-shaped
- Timer to avoid under or over extraction
- Scale or a scoop to measure your quantity
- Grinder - a good grinder is mandatory
- Kettle - a pour over kettle helps a lot
Firstly you need your pour-over coffee brewer. These are normally cone-shaped devices with a hole in the bottom, that are placed on a stand with a cup or carafe placed underneath, although many manual drip brewers stand by themselves.
You then need the right filter for your device, which sits into the cone. The filters can be paper filters or metallic screen filters. That is entirely up to you, and the filter will affect the aroma and taste of your final cup.
As with any other brewing method, you will need a scale to measure out your dose. At the very least you can use scoops to measure volume instead of weight. But it is important to use the same measurements every time for consistency. Many baristas use a scale to measure everything, including water. You'll see later in the page why.
You need a timer for timing your brew. If you brew too short, the coffee will be under-extracted. Brew it too long and you could have a bitter over-extracted coffee or a cold beverage.
The grinder is essential as with any other brewing method. You need to freshly grind your beans, and the grind needs to be very uniform. A decent grinder will help you achieve that grind consistency for a perfect extraction and a clean cup. Having the option to easily adjust your grind size might be essential for your cup. A nice article by Maddie at Kicking Horse shows you how the grind size affects extraction.
I strongly recommend you to invest in a pour over or gooseneck kettle with a narrow pouring spout. This allows much more control over pouring when you are making your coffee. It is almost impossible to make a perfect pour-over brew with a traditional kettle spout. All that is left then is your freshly roasted coffee of choice.
In manual drip brewing, the coffee and filter are in the open air and the water is added by the barista, not by a machine. Pour over coffee makers can be glass, plastic, ceramic or metal. Glass and plastic pour over coffee makers are popular because it’s possible to see the whole process as it happens.
Best Coffee Beans for Pour Over
The best pour over coffees are lighter, brighter and fruitier coffees. Darker, more full-bodied coffees are not generally considered good coffees to use with pour-over brewers. This is because the brewing time isn’t as long with pour over coffees compared to the French press and so lots of the fuller flavors and oils are not extracted from the bean. I recommend a light to medium roast coffee with light, bright and floral notes. Coffees from Ethiopia and Rwanda are always a good choice here. But Brazilian beans are a great option for a delicate palate.
Chemex Coffee Maker
Chemex' jug is one of the most sought after manual coffee makers. It's a great looking glass pot with a wooden collar to protect from heat. They have several models, from 3 cup to 10 cup, which makes them appropriate for bigger families. I personally like the 6 cup brewer, I believe it's the best size. There is also a version of the brewer without the wood collar. This one has a handle. I find the former on better, I find it more elegant.
The Chemex brewers come with thick paper filters, which allows for that clean, smooth cup of joe so specific to drip brewing. The flavor is unbeatable though, comparable with only Technivorm and Bonavita.
How to Make Pour Over Coffee - Grind Size, Dose, Recipe, and Instructions
Pour Over Coffee Ratio
Pour over coffee brewing is a passive form of brewing coffee that relies on gravitation for extracting.
A medium grind is recommended for optimum extraction which is coarser than espresso grind but finer than the grind for French pot coffee.
The best ratio of coffee to water is 60g of coffee to 1 quart, (liter), of water or roughly speaking 1 tablespoon of coffee beans to 1 cup of water. Pour over coffee makers are generally single serving devices so this ratio is divided by four to achieve the quantities for a single serving of coffee.
If you like weighing your beans, our ratio is 15 g of coffee to 250 ml of water. I personally like to use 16g of coffee and 233 ml of water. This allows for some of your dose being left in the grinder and for a slightly stronger cup of coffee, but this is just personal preference. As a general rule, the mass ratio should be around 1:16 to 1:14.
I have read a few other tutorials on "how to make pour over coffee", and to be honest I was surprised by the conflicting information. What you need to remember is that the water temperature needs to be adjusted for different beans, and different roasts. Your taste plays a role too.
As a safe starting point, water should be around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, a few degrees under boiling temperature. Water should be fresh and filtered.
As I said mentioned, brewing temperature can be slightly changed according to your taste.
For a dark roast 200 °F is perfect, but for lighter roasts, you need to increase the water temperature a few degrees up to 207°F.
For finer grinds, you need to lower the brewing temperature. For instance, for a fine grind, dark roast, your water can be as low as 196°F. But experimenting with various grinds takes a special dripper, and a special technique not discussed here.
In general, hotter water will help for a better dissolution, but this is not always a good thing when we talk about making coffee. A better dissolution will dissolve more compounds from the ground coffee, including the ones that impart bitterness. So, if your coffee has too much bite, you know the water was too hot. This is what baristas call over-extraction.
Pour Over Coffee Instructions
- Place a fresh filter into the cone of your equipment.
- Bring your water to 200 degrees.
- Pour some water through the filter and then pour over dripper. The water will pass through the filter and the cone into your mug underneath. This step has several functions. Firstly it serves to rinse the filter. Paper filters need to be rinsed before they are used. Otherwise, some qualities of the filter find their way into the cup and your delicious coffee ends up tasting like paper! The other function of this process is to preheat all of the equipment. If coffee is prepared with cold apparatus the coffee will be cooled down by the equipment and it won’t be nice to drink.
- Throw out the water you used for preheating.
- Grind your coffee beans with your coffee grinder set to medium.
- Place the ground coffee into the filter and level it. Now we are ready to start pouring.
- Start your timer and at the same time start pouring 30 ml of water. Firstly we need to pre-infuse our coffee to let it bloom. Pour evenly and gradually over the coffee bed for an even extraction. For pre-infusion, it is best to use twice the amount of water as coffee.
- Pour 30g of water onto your coffee bed and leave the grounds to bloom for 30 seconds.
- After thirty seconds continue your pour. At this time you can pour in phases or continuously. I personally like to pour in phases. At 30 seconds I continue pouring another 100 ml of water. I then finish pouring my water at the one minute mark. Whichever way you choose, the process should be completed in two minutes. If it takes more or less time than this your grind needs to be adjusted.
More on Brewing Time - Tweaking the Manual Drip to Perfection
The 2 minutes brewing time ensures a light-bodied coffee, cleaner. If you want a strong cup, grind slightly finer, so that the dripping takes a little longer. According to this post on seriouseats.com, the total brew time should be 3 minutes for dark roasts, and 4 minutes for light-roast beans.
The finer grinds will allow a better dissolution and diffusion of the sugars and caffeine in coffee. But will also result in more fines in your cup. As a result, the coffee will taste better and will be stronger but will have a lot of silt. If you are preparing more than one serving at one time, every number needs to be multiplied by two.
Remember, whenever you adjust one factor, every other factor needs to be adjusted. Also, as I always mention, filter coffee should be taken black in order to enjoy all the individual flavors in your coffee. I like to add a bit of sugar to mine. Finally, take your pot of delicious coffee, pour it into your favorite mug and enjoy!
When you learn how to brew with a drip cone, is smart to begin with the paper filters. This is the safest way to get a great tasty and flavorful cup of drip coffee.
If you love a full-bodied cup, however, it is a good idea to invest in a metallic, permanent filter for your pour over coffee dripper. Metallic filters have several advantages.
- Firstly, there is much less waste with a metallic filter and it saves you money in the long run.
- Secondly, the metallic filters are not as fine as the paper filters. This means that more of the flavors and oils can pass through the filter and into your coffee cup.
- If you are using a metallic filter for your pour over coffee maker, however, you probably need to grind your coffee a little coarser. This way coffee grounds don’t pass into your mug.
- Finally, with a permanent filter, you never have to worry about the taste of paper in your coffee cup!
Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper
Hario V60 is one of the best manual coffee drippers. What makes it special is the profile inside the drip cone. The ridges in the cone are shaped and directed perfectly to allow coffee to seep through the whole filter and not only at the bottom. This allows a uniform extraction and will allow finer grinds.
Hario V60 comes in three sizes, 1, 2, and 3, and are made from ceramic, glass or metal. I like the glass and ceramic the best, they are neutral during brewing, whereas the metallic cones impart a little taste to your coffee.
Advantages and disadvantages of Manual Drip
As I've already mentioned, I love manual coffee makers and in particular this method of brewing coffee. This is because it is, by nature, lighter bodied. This gives lots more opportunity to taste individual flavors from the coffee.
If something isn’t quite right with your coffee you can look at the recipe and adjust a factor until your mug of coffee is just right. The downside, as always, is time. Pour over coffee makers are generally designed for one cup at a time. From start to finish, including preparation, the process takes four or five minutes. This is not ideal when a whole house of people is in need of the morning caffeine fix.
A lot of coffee drinkers aren’t in favor of the pour-over coffee brewers because people generally prefer fuller, more robust coffees, especially in the morning when the main goal is to wake up and get a kick from your coffee.
What I would say to finish off is, even though it might not sound appealing to you, I would strongly recommend that you try brewing or having your coffee brewed in this way. You never know, it may just change your life!
The Best Gear for Pour Over Brewing
In my experience, the best manual drippers are Hario, Melitta, and Chemex, in no order. The three drippers will give you slightly different results because of the filters and drip cones. We'll write a post on this soon.
The best kettles are the "swan neck spout kettles", because of the great control over the pouring. As we said earlier, we need to pour water all over the coffee bed, evenly. A swan neck spout kettle will facilitate to wet evenly the coffee bed so that the extraction is perfectly uniform. Because water temperature will determine the taste of your manual drip, I prefer to use a variable temperature kettle, which ensures the right brewing temperature.
The original filters are the best for each method. This only if you don't want to try a metallic filter, which gives you a full-bodied coffee.
Don't skimp on the grinder. You probably heard this over and over. I'll say it one more time. Here is an article that teaches you how to choose a good, inexpensive domestic grinder.