Coffee. There are so many ways to make it and even more opinions by coffee experts about which way is the tastiest, caffeiney-est, and just flat out bestest. The most widely-used brewing method by a huge landslide of course is "drip" coffee: insert water, insert coffee and filter, and outsource the rest to a little machine on the counter. This post is not about that machine.
This is about the pour over method, basically the predecessor to the modern drip machine. It's basically taking the filter basket off the machine, sticking it straight on top of mug, and doing the whole process in-house instead of getting that electronic device involved.
|Note from Lilly: Markus agreed to write this high brow coffee post if he could use his disappearing fig leaf coffee mug. |
For the sake of a wide audience, no images of the mug post fig leaf fading will be used for this tutorial.
There are two huge reasons for going pour over instead of drip: control and low-tech coolness. They're both so huge it's almost impossible to tell which is more important.
In terms of control, you're only making one cup, it's for you, and you get to choose the exact strength of the coffee. You want high-octane, sludge-infused rocket fuel? Knock yourself out. You want something on the lighter side? The power is all yours. No need to run with the rest of the caffeine-addicted pack, this is all about customization. It's also about freshness. The coffee you are about the enjoy was made just moments ago, not hours ago.
In terms of low-tech coolness, the pour over brew is a return to the basics. Nothing is automated, the only technology involved is gravity, you can literally use this method anywhere. In the office, on a road trip, camping, even on an airplane.
Here's what you need:
- a pour over brewer
- a mug
- ground coffee beans
- a tablespoon or coffee scoop
- a number 2 filter
- hot water
- a measuring cup
The process of using a pour over brewer is simple and straightforward it's hardly a process at all:
1. Begin heating water
2. Place pour over brewer on mug, insert filter, add ground coffee
3. Fill measuring cup to desired level, then slowly pour water into pour over
4. Ohhhh... So THAT's why it's called a "pour over"...
That's it. There are of course finer points about all the materials that aren't so obvious and that coffee
snobs aficionados debate continually.
How hot should the water be? My experience is that water just off a boil makes the best-tasting pour over to me. Some opinions argue to wait a few minutes or else the coffee may be slightly bitter. Give it a shot and see what you like. The overwhelming consensus is that the water should be no hotter than boiling. At that point you would be using steam, not water. And steam-coffee has already been declared illegal by the FDA so don't even try it.
How fine should the grind be? Generally slightly finer that a standard drip grind, certainly no coarser than drip. For the first few months of using a pour over I ignored this guide - and loved the coffee results I was getting with normal drip grounds. A slightly finer grind adds some more flavor to the brew, play with the grind and see what you like. The important thing to note is that if the beans you have are pre-ground from the store, they are totally OK to use and will give you delicious results.
How much coffee should you use? The number one rule of coffee of course is that more coffee is better. If you don't know this rule then chances are you've never had coffee before. The package the beans come in will say something like "1 tbsp of grounds per 6 oz of water". This is a good starting point. Try this a few times and once you're comfortable with the pour over routine, add an extra half or full tbsp to the mix and see what you think.
There are really only two things that you can screw up using the pour over method, they both involve spilling hot water all over everything, and I should know because I've done them both. At work. What the pour over demands of you that the drip machine does not is attention. There are two areas that you must watch: how much water you use and how fast you pour.
It's not rocket science and it should seem pretty obvious but the amount of water you pour into the brewer must be less than the amount of water the mug will hold. The universe won't stop you from using more water and neither will the pour over. If you keep pouring, the water will keep flowing. In my case it flowed right through the pour over, out of the mug, over the counter, and onto the floor. This is where the key pour over technology that I mentioned early (gravity) really kicks in. If your cup holds 10 oz, measure out 10 oz of hot water and pour only that amount. About 1 oz will soak into the grounds so you should OK and not overflowing. If you want extra room, use only 8 oz.
The pace of pouring the water isn't crucial to the finished product. But, you can't pour faster than the pour over can drain. When my mind wandered and I outpaced the pour over's dripping capacity, the water again flowed over the counter and onto the floor. This time it skipped the mug entirely.
So the pour over gives you customization. You get YOUR CUP at home, at work, wherever. Even at most coffee shops. Wanna make sure your brew is fresh? Ask for a pour over. Want a specific roast of beans? Ask for a pour over. Want your cup a little stronger? Pour over. Wanna earn some hipster street-cred? Pour. Over.
Give it shot. You'll find your own perfect cup.
...Thanks, Markus! Now the fun part - win FOUR bags of mucho delish Seattle's Best Coffee, your own pour over, a cup to take your java on the go and a coffee scoop by entering the giveaway. Rafflecopter is below to get the party started. Best of luck!