The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Pour Over Coffee
What is Pour Over Coffee:
In simple, pour over coffee is pouring water through coffee grinds to extract flavors. There are three phrases in making coffee, Wetting, Dissolution, and Diffusion.
- A Pour over Cone
Consider checking out Prima Coffee’s guide of Pour Over Cones to use. They do a great job on breaking down the advantages and grinds you should use for each type.
- The Odds and Ends
Pour over coffee is heavily dependent on weight and having the right amount, now you don’t need any fancy equipment. But brewing with a scale allows you to have the accuracy and the right amount of water etc.
Now, depending on which type of cone you go with, a scale could allow you to walk away from the coffee with confidence. One thing we recommend is making sure you have a good pouring kettle, this is so you have total control over the water for reasons concerning agitation, water-to-coffee contact, and even extraction.
What is the Difference?
Pour over coffee promotes a faster brew and efficiency. Pour over coffee extracts more from the surface layers of the grounds. Pour over coffee continuously replenishes the water supply, promoting a faster brew. By pouring one stream of water versus several smaller streams creates an environment that is higher in temperature. Temperature and water quality affects the overall reaction rate creating a faster brew.
Why Pour Over?
- Your coffee will always be fresh, brewing by the cup (pour over) allows you to make the right amount every time. Your beans are ground fresh, and you can brew the right amount to enjoy right then!
- The experience of coffee most the time is based on smell not taste. Pour over coffee allows you to truly experience the aroma when the water hits the grounds. These smells set the stage for an awesome experience.
- The timing of pour over coffee doesn’t take any longer than an automatic drip process, while your beans are being ground work on boiling the water. If you’re waiting the four minutes for it to finish brewing then work on making your breakfast.
Wetting is one of the most important phases of coffee brewing. When roasting coffee, one major byproduct is carbon dioxide gas, lighter roasts have this gas trapped into every cell versus a dark roast that has released most of the Co2 already. his is why using a dark roast for pour over is what we recommend most of the time, because it can brew faster. When you hit the coffee grounds with hot water, CO2 is able to escape and it bubbles out. Now, if the carbon dioxide gas is going out, then no water can get in.
As you start your pour over brew, you'll want to add just enough brewing water to wet all of the grounds, then it's good to stop and let the gas escape for about 30 seconds or so. You'll see the bed of grounds swell and expand, resulting in what coffee professionals call a "bloom."
Once the grounds are fully wet, the hot water will start to dissolve the solutes of the coffee cells. Part of what makes great coffee brewing difficult is that the complex cocktail of organic substances in coffee includes both pleasant and unpalatable types. This is why getting a tasty brew you have to make sure you stop it at the right time, after you've dissolved the good flavors but before those nasty flavors start to dominate.
Diffusion is about taking that dissolved stuff and transporting it out of the coffee grounds via that term you might not have heard since school: osmosis.
Time and Adjustments:
Timing makes or break your coffee brew, to make a good brew you need to get in between that 19-20% mass of the coffee, the happy balance is usually between here. More than that and you'll find those astringent and bitter flavors start to dominate. Less than that and you'll find the resulting flavors thin and unbalanced, and with lighter roasted coffees, sour.
One problem you face is the fact that these grounds aren’t uniform, causing the bits to be too fine or too large, leading to some getting the nasty-flavor before others. This problem can disappear based on the quality of your grinder.
Finding the Happy Medium
Tuning your pour over brewing means finding the right combination of grind size (coarser or finer), recipe (ratio of coffee to water), and brew time. More coffee or finer-ground coffee will result in a slower flow, and the opposite is true as well. One of the downsides of pour over brewing is that the flow of liquid is so inextricably linked with both the grind size and bed depth. Most of this can only correct through trial and error.
An advantage to pour over coffee versus an automatic drip is the control. In a pour over coffee style you can see and control everything that is happening. Having a narrow-spout kettle helps maximize control, and direct water right where you want it to go.
Another thing to look out for is the temperature, a higher temperature keeps the chemical reactions happening at a quicker rate. To monitorthis you need to have a fully wet bed throughout the whole process, otherwise it can result in a 5 degree difference or more if you let the grinds dry out.
Final Tips for Brewing at Home:
- For a darker roast, you will want it to be between 2.5 to 3 minutes.
- For a lighter roast, it should be between 3 to 4 minutes.
- All times are based off of after you stop adding water.
Don’t be afraid to make adjustments and experiment with the result you want. If it tastes too weak consider creating a finer grind for next time.
In the end, pour over coffee is for you to better get attuned to your brewing experience, fancy equipment and accessories are not needed to enjoy the experience. Experimentation is encouraged! If you find a cool method and feel like sharing please comment down below!