Make Your Best Pour Over Coffee in 2017

Curious about pour over coffee but confused over the different methods? Find out the big differences, they're not as bad as you think. From Chemex pots to Kalita Wave drippers, get on board and check out one of the most popular coffee making gigs in 2017. This might be performance art in the brewing.
Getting a great pour over coffee isn’t hard. Do it at home and skip the barista.

 

 

Ready to slow down a bit? Really make the coffee making process personal? Then learn how to make pour over coffee. It just might be your ticket to really stop and smell the, well, coffee.

Pour over has become one of the more popular methods of making coffee. It has a huge following and really does make a pretty good cup of coffee. It even shows up at the local big name coffee shops.

So it’s not entirely a snob appeal kind of thing.

Depending on the equipment you choose, it can be quick and easy or nearly a celebration of art form.

Some of the popular pour over/manual drip coffee making equipment are the Chemex, Hario V60, the Clever dripper, and the Kalita Wave.

If you know what you’d like to find out, click one of the links in the menu below. Or, scroll down and keep reading.

 

While these aren’t costly coffee makers, they’re under $100 with most below $30, you can buy an inexpensive Melitta which should run you around five or six dollars plus the filters.

Speaking of Melitta…

Who Invented Pour Over Coffee and Where Did It Originate?

Melitta Bentz is considered to be the person who discovered the drip coffee method. Out of a need to get rid of coffee grounds, residue and bitterness in the morning brew, she came up with the Melitta process.

You simply pour coffee in the filter, fill it to the brim with water and let it drip.

The process gained popularity and she started the Melitta Company in 1908. It’s still in business and offers several variations on the pour over filter holder and filters.

Over time and with a lot of tweaks, this lead to pour over which was stylized in Japan.

What Is Pour Over or Manual Drip Coffee Making?

It means manually pouring water over coffee grounds in a filter situated in a filter holder, oftentimes called a dripper. The dripper sits on top of your cup. The coffee flows through to drip down in your cup.

The Melitta process is that simple. But…

Over time, as I said, the process got a tweaking here and there. Now there are a number of similar but slightly different methods and equipment. Some add an interesting level of complexity to make the coffee, that’s for sure. Those tweaks do make a much better cup of Joe though.

Why Would You Choose Pour Over Coffee Over Any Other Method?

First off, you don’t need much in the way of equipment. A dripper, a filter full of fresh ground coffee, a kettle of hot water and a cup.

But here’s why you might want to drink pour over coffee. It gives you the ability to individually control all of the variables of your coffee making. Since the whole process is out in the open, you can control:

  • The coffee grind coarseness.
  • The temperature.
  • How much water you use.
  • How the water interacts with the coffee grounds.

 

This lets you take advantage of the unique characteristics of the coffee beans that you buy for just the exact cup of coffee that you want.

This also lets you have fun with your coffee making experience by getting to experiment and discover new ways and new flavors. It could even become your own style of performance art as you’ll soon learn.

A big difference between manual and auto drip makers

One of the big differences of quality between a manual drip/pour over coffee and automatic drip is that in the manual drip you have a single pour spout. In the automatic drip, you have a showerhead with a number of holes that spray water over the coffee.

With the single pour spout and hand pouring, you can do a better job evenly covering the coffee grounds. Whereas the showerhead doesn’t necessarily get all of the grounds covered as well.

In fact, one of the “secret” tricks of the Technivorm Moccamaster is to take the lid off of the filter housing and stir the coffee grounds for better coverage while the water is spraying. You won’t want to try this with your Mr. Coffee though.

How Long Does It Take to Make a Cup of Coffee with the Manual Drip Method?

For brewing the cup of coffee, if you’re doing the pouring method correctly, it should take about 2 to 4 minutes for your coffee to get through the brewing process. Figure about a total 10-15 minutes to prepare and make the coffee.

With that said…

Manual drip coffee makers have their place, but you may not want to take the time and/or make the effort every time you want coffee.

If you’re in a rush, not gonna happen, amiright?

For you, this may be a way to make coffee in addition to your auto drip or super automatic. And that’s ok, never mind what the purists say.

Save it for those lazy weekends and the newspaper.

Or when friends come over. You may ask…

Is There a Way to Make More Than One Cup of Coffee at a Time?

There is! If you decide that you want to make pour over coffee for a crowd, it’s easy to do. Just take a look at one of the pitcher coffee makers like a Chemex, Bodum, or the Hario V60 with its brewer pot.

These come in various sizes and can make it pretty easy to make a larger pot of coffee. Then, once the coffee is made, just pour it into a thermal carafe to keep it hot.

Or, you could get all DIY creative though and use a 32 oz. Mason jar…


Bear in mind, these larger quantities are going to require a little more technique on your part because you’re going to be pouring for a longer period of time. The Chemex is the more forgiving of the three.

How Do I Make the Best Cup of Coffee with a Dripper?

Just put you at ease, there aren’t any major secrets to pour over coffee. But, there are some things you want to make sure that you follow through on. In pour over, time and technique are really going to make the difference.

You will need a few things that are common to every kind of coffee making and then some that are particular to the pour over method.

So, make sure that you:

  • Use the right amount of good quality, freshly ground beans. Make sure they’ve been roasted within the last 10 to 14 days.
  • Use the right amount of fresh water. Filter it if necessary. See my water post here for more info.
  • Rinse out the filter before adding the grounds. This rids the filter of any paper residue and makes it stick to the inside of the filter.
  • Fully saturate the grounds and let them “bloom” for 10-30 seconds to release the CO2 gases.
  • Slowly and fully keep the grounds covered with water while brewing.

 

Later on in the article I’ll go into detailed instructions using three of the more popular types of pour over brewing systems.

Some helpful tools and extras

I also recommend that you look into a burr coffee grinder, good measuring scale, a gooseneck kettle like this one on Amazon for easier pouring, and a thermal carafe to hold your fresh hot coffee. Not necessary right off the bat though. Try the methods out to make sure you like the results, then have fun and go all “purist” on us.

One of the most important things to make sure that you get right is to have consistent grinding of your coffee beans. For this reason, I really recommend that you get a good quality conical or flat burr grinder.

Stay away from blade grinders.

A good quality grinder will serve you well through any kind of coffee making. If you don’t get any of the other recommended equipment, make sure that you get this. You can read more about burr grinders here.

If you don’t want to buy one yet, see if you’re coffee shop will grind a batch for you. On THEIR burr grinder.

“Nuff said…

Pour Over Coffee for Beginners: Any Special Technique to Using Any of the Methods?

Yes and it’s all in the pour. Essentially, this is what you’re going to be doing. The very first pour is going to be just enough to saturate the coffee grounds and let the coffee bloom.

By bloom, we mean that the grounds are going to start releasing the CO2 gas that is inside the beans. As it blooms, you’ll see it start to rise and slightly bubble. This is where the aroma of the coffee comes from.

There are two really important reasons to let your coffee bloom:
Carbon dioxide has a sour taste that can be left behind in the coffee. Don’t want that.
CO2 has to escape the bean to let the water rush in and do the proper extraction. Definitely want that.

The next pour can either be the remainder of the water at one slow time keeping the grounds covered or a combination of pours, sometimes called pulse pouring.

A pulse pour is just enough water to cover the coffee grounds as it drips through the filter. Once the water is halfway through the coffee you do another pour to cover the coffee grounds again. Do this until you’ve used all of your water.

Which to use is detailed out in the coffee making instructions coming up.

Here’s the thing. When it comes to making your coffee using pour over, don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come out perfect the first time. This is a method that requires some practice. But, it’s worth it.

Gotta tell you, I still don’t do it very well and my coffee, while it tastes good, would probably get better once I really get the hang of the pouring technique. But, I don’t always have the time, so the auto drip wins a lot of times.

A note: The aforementioned slow pouring kettle is considered by many to be essential to get the right pouring time and technique.

How to Brew Your Pour Over Coffee

Each dripper or pitcher will have a slightly different method but essentially they’re the same. I’ll list three of the most popular ones here.

Each of the following offers advantages that warrant attention.

The Chemex is found by many to brew the cleanest tasting coffee. It’s also a little slower due to the thickness of the filter, but that’s good because it also filters out the bitterness. Once you get the folding of the filter down (easy), the coffee is easy to make and great stuff.

The Hario V60 is popular for being available in many different materials. Glass, plastic, ceramic and metal, like this copper one. Plus, it can be used with a wide range of stands. It uses a thin, textured filter. Probably one of the most used units in the coffee houses, but pretty demanding in technique.

The Kalita Wave is popular for its more forgiving coffee making technique. Just make sure you keep the coffee covered with water and move the stream around. The flat bottom helps give a more even extraction as well as a slightly longer brew time.

For all methods, start with these basics on hand:

  • Fresh ground coffee, preferably from a burr grinder. 2 level tablespoons per 6 oz. cup.
  • Fresh, clean water at 195-205 degrees. This is water that has stopped boiling vigorously. You’ll need this immediately after pouring in the coffee grounds.

 

Chemex:
You can use any size Chemex. The dot or dimple on the front of all but the pint size is the half-filled indicator. On the pint size, that is the full mark. Medium-coarse grind the coffee to kosher salt in size.

  1. Put the filter in the top of the brewer. The triple fold portion of the filter faces the pouring spout. Rinse the filter with hot water. Pour it along the inside to get the filter to stick to the glass. Swish the water around and then pour it out, keeping the filter sealed against the glass.
  2. Pour coarsely ground coffee in to the middle of the filter. Level the grounds out by giving the brewer a gentle shake.
  3. Pour enough of the boiled water to just cover the grounds. Let them bloom for 30 seconds.
  4. When 30 seconds has passed, start to slowly pour the remaining water over the grounds. The aim is to keep the water level about a quarter to a half inch below the top of the brewer.
  5. Pour the water over the grounds in a circular, spiral or back-and-forth motion. Whichever is easiest for you to control. Make sure that you keep the grounds evenly covered.
  6. Once all the water has been poured, let it brew and drip the rest the way into the pot.
  7. Now you can toss the filter and enjoy your coffee.

If you want to keep the coffee warm, pour it into a thermal carafe.

Fun note: Invented by Peter Schlumbohm. It’s the only coffee maker to show up in the Museum of Modern Art.

Hario V60:
With the Hario V60, you can use the dripper on a cup or you can use it on a brewer pot. Here’s the one made by Hario on Amazon. Medium-coarse grind the coffee to kosher salt in size.

  1. Fold the filter along the seam and form a cone. Pop the filter into the top of the dripper. Rinse the filter with hot water. Pour it along the inside to get the filter to stick to the holder. If you’re using the Hario brewer, swish the water around and then pour it out, keeping the filter sealed against the dripper. Otherwise, just dump the water out of the cup.
  2. Pour coarsely ground coffee in to the middle of the filter. Level the grounds out by giving the dripper a gentle shake.
  3. Pour enough of the boiled water to just cover the grounds. Stir and let them bloom for 15 seconds.
  4. When 15 seconds has passed, start to slowly pour the remaining water over the grounds, pouring every 10-15 seconds. This is called pulse pouring.
  5. Pour the water over the grounds in a spiral motion.
  6. Once all the water has been poured, let it brew and drip the rest the way into the cup.
  7. Now you can toss the filter and enjoy your coffee.

Same thing here, keep the coffee warm by pouring it into a thermal carafe.

Kalita Wave
An advantage of the Kalita is its flat bottom. This helps cure some errors because it helps get a more even extraction. Medium-fine grind the coffee to table salt size. You can use a cup or pot to hold the dripper.

  1. Put the filter into the top of the dripper. Put the dripper on your cup or pot. Rinse the filter with hot water. Pour it along the inside to get the filter to stick to the holder. Swish the water around the pot and then pour it out, keeping the filter sealed against the dripper. Otherwise, keep the water in the cup to warm it. Dump the water just before brewing the coffee.
  2. Pour the coffee in to the filter. Level the grounds out by giving the dripper a gentle shake.
  3. Pour enough of the boiled water to just cover the grounds. Stir and let them bloom for 10 seconds.
  4. When until 10 seconds has passed, start to slowly pour the remaining water over the grounds, do this for 45 seconds.
  5. Pour the water over the grounds in a spiral motion. Then, intermittently, do this every 10 seconds or so to keep the water level above the grounds.
  6. Once all the water has been poured, let it brew and drip the rest the way into the cup.
  7. Now you can toss the filter and enjoy your coffee.

Can You Use a Permanent Filter with a Pour Over Coffee Maker?

Yes, you can and here’s an interesting specialty filter that fits into a filter holder. It’s called the Kone, appropriately enough.

Made in the US, it’s reusable and easy to clean. According to the manufacturer, you get a fuller bodied cup of coffee. This is because it passes more of the coffee’s natural oils that get soaked up by paper filters. It’s kind of expensive, but it should earn it back in not having to buy filters.

Troubleshooting:

Why is my coffee too weak or brew too fast?
The brewing time should be between 2 to 4 minutes depending on your pouring choice. If your coffee is weak or you find that the water is going through the coffee grounds in less than two minutes, use a finer grind of coffee.

Why is my coffee too strong or brew too slowly?
Conversely, if the coffee is taking more than four minutes or is too strong, use a coarser grind of coffee. You can also use a little less coffee or add a little hot water to the final cup.

Why is my pour over coffee sour?
If your coffee is tasting somewhat sour, the water isn’t spending enough time extracting coffee. In fact, some of the water may not be going through the coffee at all.

In that case, the problem is more than likely water leaking through the sides of the filter, causing it to skip the coffee completely. Make sure the filter is sticking to the holder by rinsing the filter.

Another issue may be too coarse a grind letting too much water through. Slow it down by using a finer grind on your beans.

Why is my pour over coffee bitter?
If your coffee is getting a bitter or astringent flavor or taste, it’s probably because the brewing is over extracting the coffee.

You want to make sure that the water is getting through a little quicker into the cup or pot and not sitting too long around the coffee grounds. Use a coarser grind.

There’s no bloom on my coffee.
The coffee beans probably aren’t fresh, meaning all of the CO2 is gone. This happens when they aren’t sealed properly to prevent oxidation. Or, they could be over roasted.

Which of These Dripping Methods Is the Best One to Use?

At first glance, they seem to be pretty much the same. But if you’ve read the directions to make coffee above, you know there are a few things to take into account.

Things like:

Do you tend to make one cup a majority of the time or do you prefer a pot of coffee? A dripper like the Kalita Wave or the Hario V60 is perfect for the one cupper. The Chemex and Bodum are a better choice for a few more cups to go around.

How patient you are in learning how to make the coffee this way? If you’re willing to practice and get to be the best you can be, the Hario V60 is your choice.

Then again, if patient, not so much, the Kalita Wave goes on your list.

What f you’re not sure? I suggest you start out with a Kalita. Then, if you really develop your pour over style and coffee, buy the Hario V60 or one of the pitcher models. Have fun practicing on friends and family while you get your technique down pat.

Either way, it’s a good time to get personal and make up a great cup of coffee. Pour over will pull out more of the flavor notes and aromas in your coffee.

It’s worth the wait.



Find out if pour over coffee making is for you.
From Chemex to the Kalita Wave, learn the ins
and outs. It’s fun and the coffee’s great. C’mon in!

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