By Beth Lipton
There are two kinds of people in the world: People who love their coffee, and people who are wrong. (I say this with love; somehow I ended up married to one of the latter.) If you are not wrong, as I suspect is the case if you are reading this post, allow me to convince you that right now is the perfect time to start making pour over coffee.
Here’s why: You don’t need a ton of equipment, what you do need doesn’t take up much space, it’s inexpensive, it’s quick and easy, and it makes fantastic coffee. Boom.
I’ve been making pour-over every day for years. I work from home (even under normal circumstances), so there’s no occasion to pick up a cup on the way to the office. Plus, as I mentioned, I’m the only coffee drinker in the house (until my daughter is old enough to drink coffee, at which time I will lure her over to my side), so making a whole pot is unnecessary. Finally, though I’m not a big coffee snob — really, more of a minor-league one — pour-over tastes better than drip.
Convinced? Here’s how to do it.
How to Make Pour-Over Coffee
What You Need
- A cone brewer. I prefer porcelain or glass to plastic. Those materials look nicer, plus I just have a thing about not pouring hot water through plastic and then drinking it. The one I use every day, and have for years, is this porcelain one by Hario.
- Filters. If you use paper filters it requires tabbed ones like these; I buy two packs of 100 paper filters at a time, and I’m good for a while.
- Ground coffee. If you don’t have a grinder at home, you’ll need to buy pre-ground coffee. For pour over, use a medium grind, about the consistency of sand, i.e. not too fine, which will give you bitter coffee, and not too coarse, which will give you sour, acidic coffee. (If you want to geek out on grinds, read this.) Start with about 3 tablespoons for a 12-oz. cup, and adjust the amount to suit your tastes.
- A kettle (or some other means of heating and pouring water). You want the water to be just below boiling for pour-over, so around 200ºF. Along with the texture of the grind, the water temperature affects the extraction, which affects the flavor of your end result. If the water is too hot (over 205ºF), you’ll end up with over-extraction, which equals bitter coffee. Too cold (under 195ºF) and you’ll get under-extraction, which leaves you with flat, sour coffee. So it’s worth getting the temperature right. But don’t worry, you don’t have to break out a thermometer: Bring water to a boil, then let it sit for about 20 to 30 seconds to cool a bit.
You May Also Want
Are you the type of person (you know who you are) who has a particular region of the world whose coffee you prefer, and/or you’ll walk or drive the distance for the better coffee place, and/or planning for how you’ll have good coffee when you’re traveling doesn’t sound weird in the least? If this is you (hi, me too!), you’ll need all of the above, items, plus:
- A burr grinder. Blade grinders will net you inconsistent grinds, which will affect your coffee’s flavor. Burr grinders crush the beans, making the grounds more uniform, which is what you want. Confession: I have a hand-crank conical burr grinder. In my defense, I used to have an electric one, but I found it challenging to clean, and it was REALLY loud, like an airplane landing in the kitchen. As an early riser, I was not making any friends within my family or among my neighbors. I have this one by Kuissential. It’s really straightforward and simple to use, easy to clean, doesn’t take up much space, and you can adjust the grind size.
- Good, fresh beans. Now, about the beans. If you’re in this category of coffee lover with me, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you why you need good, fresh beans, or why it’s worth the extra step to grind them fresh. Get the freshest ones you can, and aim for organic. And always, always choose the beans that you like. My two favorites are the organic fair-trade Sumatran beans that I buy at Trader Joe’s ($8 for 12 oz.), and the organic dark roast that I buy at a local store here in Brooklyn called Sahadi’s. Both happen to be inexpensive, delicious, rich and smooth. Coffee snobs have told me they aren’t good, which has almost always led me to buy more expensive, fancier beans, which I pretty much never like as much as my two favorites. Ultimately, you like what you like, and there is nothing wrong with that. You do you.
How to Brew
Put the grinds in the filter and level them. Pour the water over them slowly. Allow all the water to pass through before adding more, and make sure you hit all the grounds. In other words, don’t just pour through the middle, get the sides as well.
And that’s it. One very excellent, barista-grade cup of coffee will be yours for the drinking.
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