Art of Making the Pourover Coffee – A Complete Guide
The art of pourover coffee has increasingly become popular for so many coffee lovers who desire a deliciously satisfying cup of coffee. Many critical steps can make or break this method that aren't always covered in full detail. If you're looking to learn about the importance of each step involved, this process will help you learn more about each of these steps and why they contribute to making better pourover coffee.
To set the stage for how the pourover process is done in a sequence is just a matter of steps that you follow one after another. Just like following a recipe used for cooking or baking, these steps must be followed so you have a better consistency. Imagine what would happen if the steps for making a cake or making bread dough weren't followed? The results not only would be disastrous, but the results would also become just as awful.
Here is what the essential steps involve for making any pourover coffee:
- Slowly begin to boil your water
- Measure the total amount of coffee bean you intend to use
- Grind your beans to the appropriate grind setting
- Place a filter into your pourover vessel
- When your water is heated, pour this over the filter to wet it out before using it
- Pour out the water from inside your pourover vessel
- Add your coffee grounds inside the filter and place the vessel onto a readied digital scale
- Using a digital timer, begin your initial coffee bloom based on the appropriate coffee ratio
- The remaining water is added based on what your scale measurement says
- The coffee inside the upper vessel is allowed to seep down into the lower section
- The filter and grounds are removed and the finished coffee is served immediately
Pourover Brewing Phases
The thing to remember is that all coffee brewing methods include three phases. These include Wetting, Dissolution, and Diffusion, with each of these phases directly linked to each other. The outcome of each has an effect that's important for coffee brewing, which is why pourover coffee steps are so critical. The most important of each step is the pouring times that link each of the phases of how your coffee brew turns out.
The Pouring Method
The science behind the pourover method is all about control of the water that's poured over your coffee grounds. This has a lot to do with the final taste of your coffee since this relies on pacing, timing, and control of where the water is poured onto the grounds. Every professional barista will have more than a few tricks up their sleeve for achieving the perfect technique.
Sadly, there just isn't enough information that's being mentioned on this topic that allows everyday people to perfect this at home. Many of the critical steps are glazed over without explanation or reasoning why each step will affect the next, and so on... But to be honest, the pouring technique isn't squarely placed at hands of experienced baristas, since any beginner can learn very easily how the concept of controlled pouring makes a big difference.
You'll be glad to know that the reason for specific timing during a pourover allows your coffee grounds to be in contact with hot water to release specific flavors. The contact with hot water also determines which flavor molecules are released or not. This is why you might see some techniques requiring you to agitate the coffee grounds to extract more or less flavor. The careful pacing that goes into a pourover coffee can make or break your coffee.
Even the type of kettle you use will help control this easier, which is why many home brewing fans like to use a gooseneck kettle. This limits the flow of hot water and ensures that you're not pouring too much (too quickly) onto the coffee grounds. Electric kettles are more problematic since their pour spout isn't set up like the gooseneck. As you gain the confidence you can also gain that control and direction of where hot water is poured.
To be honest, within the coffee community which is full of self-proclaimed professionals, they all constantly argue over the correct pouring methods. The largest complaint is the issue of continuous pouring Vs pulsed pouring. These are disguised strawman arguments meant to confuse readers away from the truth. The real truth often settles on the amount of coffee ground agitation there is, and the height that you pour your water over the grounds.
Wetting isn't just part of the initial pouring phase, it's actually the term used to describe what happens to your coffee grounds. They go from dry to wet, however, something magical happens when you apply hot water onto coffee grounds. Not all coffee will react the same way, which is why your grind setting and the coffee roast will all react differently to being wet-out.
Coffee grounds need to be roasted so they can produce coffee that has a selective taste. Each roast level determines the amount of time it takes for carbon dioxide to escape when hot water is poured onto the coffee grounds. This is why you always start with freshly ground beans which preserve the flavor for longer periods. Preground coffee will lose that flavor despite releasing carbon dioxide.
If you've ever tasted stale coffee, it's because the coffee grounds were sitting around too long. Lighter roasted coffee beans take longer to release carbon dioxide whereas darker roasts tend to release their gas faster. It's due to the roasting process that makes the pourover method work faster when darker roasts are used. This is easier to explain if you understand what roasting does to the coffee bean.
The longer the roast takes place will change the cell structure of a coffee bean internally. The heat used for any roast begins to turn the inside of a coffee bean into a series of micro-holes all throughout the cells of a coffee bean. Lighter roasts will still have carbon dioxide trapped inside while the darker roasts have less. This is where the conflict of gas escaping versus water getting into the coffee grounds will affect the time you need to wet out your grounds.
So when you hear that your grounds need agitation, it's always because the grounds have more carbon dioxide trapped inside and are likely a lighter roast. You don't need more water to solve this problem, but merely allow the grounds to degas under the heat. This allows the initial gas to escape and can be solved within 30 seconds after you first wet-out your grounds. This is what's called the "bloom" and is essential for the wetting process.
After your coffee grounds release their gas and settle back down from this rapid expansion, the dissolution now allows the coffee grounds to be dissolved easier. You can now start adding more hot water to dissolve what's been wet out inside the coffee bean cells. These solutes' are essentially the smaller particles that are dissolved in the water faster and deliver the flavor that most people enjoy about coffee.
Other flavors take longer to wet out and are parts of the coffee bean 'solutes' that don't taste very nice. This is why the timing of pouring water onto your coffee grounds needs to end at a precise moment. This does not rely entirely on what the brewing ratio says, since it's more about timing to pour the remaining water until a stopping time is set on your stopwatch.
If you go over this point, the greater the chances are that you also begin to dissolve bad tastes in your coffee grounds that will ruin a good cup of coffee.
While this sounds more like a military expression, this is simply a scientific method of transporting dissolved liquid and allowing it to pass through a membrane that delivers a cleaner version of that liquid.
This is also called osmosis and creates an effective pressure that forces filtered coffee ground sediment to push the liquid out from under its own weight. Gravity does the rest when the liquid is collected at the bottom of a pourover vessel.
Since a filter helps create a barrier, the larger particles are left behind within the coffee grounds. Incredibly enough, the coffee grounds also act as a filter under the heat and weight of the grounds to trap smaller particles from clogging a paper filter.
Types of Pours
As mentioned earlier, many coffee forums like to include the argument for what is best when pour over coffee is being made. Each of these methods is covered to give you a better understanding of how and why these methods would be used.
Continuous PouringThis is the most standard practice that you'll find with the pourover and sounds exactly like it's done. The reason it's used is very simple since the idea is to keep the stream of hot water consistent from start to finish. The height that the water is poured is also important for two reasons. The first is to create as little surface tension for your coffee grounds as possible. The second reason is to hold your kettle comfortably for the amount of time pouring the water.
It's a balance that anyone will have to learn since this isn't always easy to hold a kettle at the same height for more than a couple of minutes. This not only helps you to create what most professionals call a barista muscle but trains you in becoming a human statue for a short period. We recommend that you find a ledge that you can perch your arm onto something handy to help support the kettle weight.
Try placing your pourover vessel onto a table that's lower so the center of gravity around your waist isn't causing your arms to become strained. Additionally, this method is better controlled using a gooseneck kettle because you can easily get a controlled stream. And though this method is ideal for pourover methods, it's more effective for finer ground coffee as well.
There is a bit of agitation that will happen if you hold your kettle too high and this is causing the grounds to become more agitated from the water flowing in. In the case of full-immersion brewing, some enthusiasts prefer to use a mixing stick to agitate their grounds a couple times. However, this may cause flavors that you don't want to release into your coffee that can affect the flavor in a good or bad way.
It comes down to practice that will enable you to have coffee that is produced that is meant to taste good. Depending on your flow rate, lower agitation will always yield the best results.
The other contenders that advise a pulsing method are simply breaking up the continuous pour method in short bursts of water that are added during the dissolution stage. Instead of pouring as much as 250 to 400 grams of water (depending on your ratio), these amounts are poured quickly in batches of 50 to 60 grams of water per pulse. It's almost the same as adding water and letting it drain through and adding more water when you see the slurry is nearly drained.
The total pouring time remains the same but needs to have water that's added quickly to make up for the lost time in between pours. The only problem with this method is the unexpected agitation that will move your coffee grounds around more than you might want so it all comes down to having very steady flow control to prevent this. Pouring your water closer to the coffee grounds will also lessen this effect.
As you already might know, this is the initial wet out of your coffee grounds. It's meant to release the gas that is trapped inside your grounds. Finer grounds and darker roasts will release these gases sooner than course and lightly roasted ground coffee beans. The most important aspect to remember is how much water to add for this stage. It all starts with your base measurement which needs no more than double the amount of water for the bloom.
If you have 14 grams of coffee, then the appropriate amount of water should be 28 grams. Do not go over the doubled amount since you want to saturate your grounds just enough to make the bloom release the gas effectively. By adding more water, it will trap these gases and end up getting into your coffee. This makes your coffee taste bitter because the carbon dioxide in the extra liquid now has a chance to drip into your coffee carafe.
The time it takes for your grounds to bloom (and obviously off-gas) can take 30 seconds or more. For lighter roasts, this will take longer so you need to be patient before the bloom has finished bubbling. At this point, you'll notice that the aroma wafts in the air and is very satisfying, but this is also a big danger. If too much of this aroma is escaping it can affect the flavor of your finished coffee.
This is why you need to act quickly as soon as you see the bubbles have stopped and then begin your next dissolution phase of pouring the water. You want to keep that aroma in your coffee instead of steaming off into the air.
Dialing In Your Coffee Brew Method
This expression started to be used at some point by coffee enthusiasts since the art of brewing pourover coffee has many modifications and adjustments that are made to perfect a brewing method. Dialing in a method can take several attempts before you find the right combination that works for you. Since there are so many variables that you need to consider, each step that you make needs to be adjusted carefully and often.
Since brewing in pourover coffee vessels is an art, this is similar to a live performance that is constantly being tweaked to improve the conditions as they present themselves. Even the subtle differences in room temperature and humidity need to be carefully considered. Just like a pilot has a specific number of landing procedures, a home-based barista will continually adjust and modify the standard steps to brewing their coffee.
The process of dialing in your method starts long before the coffee is brewed. You need to inspect your beans and determine how fresh they are. Knowing what grind setting would be best- based on their roast, and if the humidity within the room you're in would create a grind that is considerably denser due to the increased water vapor. The same would apply to freshly roasted beans that have more carbon dioxide within them.
These little details will all present more problems while you're brewing which may not seem important at the time but ultimately can ruin a cup of coffee if you aren't paying attention. Much of this process is more or less troubleshooting on the fly with a bit of thoughtful investigation on your part as a coffee brewing enthusiast. It may seem like a laundry list of extra steps, but that's the difference between an amateur and a next-level noob.
By paying attention to your surroundings, the temperature, the humidity, the freshness, or the specific roast of your beans, you are essentially becoming the Sherlock Holmes of coffee brewing. All of these clues that your beans are telling you will help you dial in the next step in your process of preparing pourover coffee. As you discover more clues through a resulting bloom, you can adjust further to complete a brew without encountering mistakes.
As a wise man once said "Failing to prepare, is the result of preparation to fail", but the actual words once spoken by Benjamin Franklin couldn't ring more true when dialing in your effort to prevent mistakes when it comes to pourover coffee brewing.
By the very definition of what a coffee filter does is to separate fine sediment that can otherwise get into your brewed coffee. But we do not live in a world that exclusively offers ceramic or metal filters. The innovation of paper filters refined this process much further by collecting more than loose sediment since it would also capture the suspended sediment such as essential oils that add robust flavor to your coffee.
The issue of coffee oils (known as Caffeol or Diterpenes) are essential oils that are viewed bilaterally as beneficial and unhealthy depending on which camp you subscribe to. On one hand, you can consider that coffee oils add flavor that gives coffee a distinct taste, while another negative view is that these oils are dangerous to your cholesterol. Regardless of these argue points, your choice of filter will affect the outcome of any brewed coffee.
Metal And Ceramic Filters
The very first filters that were invented were made from metal and obviously ceramic sometime later. These were innovations that were created for full-immersion brewing such as the French Press and the ceramic filter used for the Walküre coffee maker. There are advantages to using metal filters that are specially designed for modern brewing including the Aeropress, the Moka pot, and some select versions of mesh pourover coffee makers.
Metal filters are easy to clean and easy to replace all thanks to a coffee industry that supports replacement filters like these. These are especially popular for those who enjoy the coffee oils that will make a fresh cup of coffee bright and full-bodied. This can also work against you if your brewing time releases too many of these oils making your coffee taste like rubber and burnt.
As for ceramic filters, the most famous is seen used in the pricy Walküre coffee maker and uses an innovative cross-hatch filter. This filter is stacked one on top of the other creating a seemingly ineffective method for filtering coffee. The science behind how it works is impressively simple since the chamber where the hot water is poured slowly drains into a lower chamber where the coffee grounds are stored.
These coffee grounds are then acting as their 'own' filter working as a mass to prevent any loose particles from getting into the finished coffee. The one exception is that the Walküre is a very pricy item that most folks outside of Germany are probably not going to spend over $100 for a porcelain coffee maker that needs careful cleaning and a delicate touch since it is made from porcelain.
The Kyeumon (Loca) ceramic filter is a single bowl filter that is made from an interesting type of ceramic that bonds ceramic particles together. Originally, it was intended for gardening due to its unique ability to drain out water through its fine cell structure. This does have a downside since repeated use eventually clogs the filter with micro-sediment. It needs to be exposed to fire to burn out the sediment left behind, sometimes after a single use...
On a historical note, paper filters have only been used for filtering coffee since 1908 back when Melitta Bentz put a patent on a paper filter for the Melitta cone. Before this, it would have been common to use cloth filters. However, this innovation led to what many of the coffee filtration systems rely upon for obvious sanitary reasons. The filter itself first appeared as a cup-shaped design.
Later this was improved to introduce the now-iconic cone shape filter and was also the very first to offer unbleached natural paper filters. Now you might be asking yourself why this is a big issue? Well, the idea that how bleached paper was processed in those days is enough to make your skin crawl. They used chlorine to bleach paper to make it white which would obviously leave a very unpleasant taste.
But if you thought that natural unbleached paper was any better, you might be shocked to find out a little-known secret. Yes, it seems that natural brown paper tastes pulpy with an obvious woodlike flavor when you use this as a coffee filter. So this in itself sounds like there are hurdles that you'll need to figure out to avoid that smell of old books in your cup of coffee. Luckily, this is why the reasoning for wetting out your paper filter comes into question.
The Importance Of Wetting Out Paper Filters
We'll all see this done and often wonder why these coffee pros are wetting out the filter before adding coffee ground. You could say it helps to prewarm your pourover vessel and also keeps the filter from slipping out of place by sticking to the inside of the brewing vessel. The actual answer is two-folded since there must be a completed seal between your paper filter and your brewing vessel.
This assists with the capillary action that helps draw the liquid from your brew through the paper itself rather than trickling down the spaces in between. Many pourover designers try to improve on this design by adding grooves and channels to speed up this filtering process. It's basically all hype and does nothing for what is really going on. The paper is acting as a very effective filtering system that uses both gravity and capillary action.
This is also the reason why a cone filter works more effectively than a cup-shaped filter since the cone is angled at such a degree to allow filtered coffee to drain rapidly into the carafe below. This still has one more trick that you haven't learned about yet, and this is all part of the sterilization of your paper filter. By wetting out the filter using 200 degrees Fahrenheit water, you're not only changing the composition of the paper, but you're also clearing out unwanted tastes.
These tastes include the paper pulp which is notoriously responsible for making coffee taste strange. Even by today's standards, paper is still made from wood fiber and other additives to make it hold up to being handled. Hot water is poured over a paper filter and helps rinse out the initial pulpy flavor you might notice right away. It's also a good idea to sterilize your filter which will kill off anything microscopic that might be living within the paper itself.
There are plenty of folks that like to argue that white paper and natural brown paper has a taste difference. Even with the methods that are used to make coffee filters, many professional coffee enthusiasts will settle for white filters over natural brown paper filters. The reason seems to do with how white paper is processed today. Since these filters are whitened with oxygen, this seems to remove the paper taste that unprocessed brown paper filters have.
A seasoned professional will be able to tell the flavor that's detected from wetting out your filter and then repeat this to taste only the filtered water. If there is any taste coming from your filter it's a clear sign you need to change your paper filter to a better brand. Many coffee enthusiasts are starting to select bamboo paper hybrids that reduce the paper flavor from getting into the coffee.
Buying cheap knock-off brands may or may not be a good idea since you don't know how these coffee filters are produced. If you have to pay a bit more for quality coffee filters, the easiest way to test how well they work and have less papery flavor is a matter of your tolerance to this problem.
One of the more problematic methods for filtering your coffee will include using cloth filters. The main problem has to do with keeping your filter clean and properly sterilized. There is nothing more natural than using cotton as a filter and is just as effective for filtering out unwanted coffee oils and particulates. The only requirement is that you need to boil your filter each and every time before using it.
If you prefer using this method, the best way to keep your filter in between coffee brewing is by storing the filter in your fridge inside a cup of water. This is then rinsed out and then hot water poured over the filter before adding your coffee grounds. A cloth filter will work effectively just like a paper filter would. These are ideal when you want to use the Chemex and Hario V60.
Many coffee gurus in Japan will insist that your filter is cloth since their brewing techniques for pourover often reach Zen level proportions. Cloth filters will need regular boiling to clean and sterilize them every so often. The last thing that you want is a cloth filter that is starting to collect coffee buildup that needs to be purged.
Tips for Great Pourover Coffee
They always say that practice makes perfect, but when it comes to pourover coffee, sticking to this procedure isn't always the best-case scenario. You'll need to stay on your toes the entire time, adjusting to little changes that make a big difference for achieving a great tasting brew. Here are some excellent pointer tips to always remember:
Don't Overflood Your Coffee Grounds
If you've ever watched a pourover method before, they never seem to mention that timing is everything. By this, we have to stress that brewing time is set to a length of time that water is added to your coffee grounds. Your goal is to not drown your grounds on purpose, since you are extracting and dissolving coffee flavors from your coffee grounds. This is why a slow and steady stream of water allows you to add water into your grounds as you need.
Flooding your grounds will ultimately weaken the flavor and prematurely cause bitter flavors to be extracted too quickly from this agitation. Only fill the grounds as the amount of time allows (for extraction), and according to the total water weight you're shooting for. It's a careful dance that only allows so much water to pass through your coffee grounds as needed.
Stay Centered In The Middle
Another thing that the so-called professionals like to bring up, but never clarify, is why you need to stick to pouring your water centered in the middle area only. Your filter has already created an effective seal that allows coffee to pass through this seal using gravity and the vacuum that's been created to pull brewed coffee through the filter. If you get close to the edge of your coffee filter, you risk breaking that seal and allowing fines' to slip downward.
As you add water, fine particulates typically gather at the top rim of your coffee grounds. The last thing you want is to allow them to slip under this seal and clog your filter. This immediately affects your contact time for extracting the coffee and will lead to releasing flavors in your coffee you don't want in your finished cup. You'll know you have the right-centered pour by looking for a thin ring of fine sediment along the entire filter edge.
If there is a clean spot that has washed away, this is called "balding" and this is a sign that you got too close to the edge of your filter.
Distribute Water Evenly
Everyone has their secret pouring method and doesn't like to share how they're doing it out of fear and pride. There is a little secret about how to pour your water if you think of your coffee grounds a bit like quicksand. You want to add water slowly and continually allowing the coffee grounds to remain flat as possible- like quicksand! Not too liquidy like mucky mud, but a continuous flowing mass that has an even texture at all times.
To achieve this you should carefully adjust your water flow and movement so you aren't sticking in the same spot for very long. Use a 'circle eight' pattern as if you're making doodles onto your coffee grounds. This slow and steady motion shouldn't pass in the same spot for too long, so change your pattern angle very often to prevent a repeated pattern. This is so you can prevent slopes and divets that form if you aren't making the grounds leveled out.
In the previous section for water distribution, you will encounter the fines that form along the edge of your filter. This is what you want to see since this is a natural effect that happens when lighter sediment floats upward and sticks to the filter's edge. What you don't want to see are larger dunes that are starting to clump around the edge of your filter. This is a sign that you've interrupted the flow of water unevenly.
This is why you always need to keep your slurry constantly moving so the surface and edges aren't becoming separated. Always keep in mind that any clumping may appear to look similar to clumpy boulders, and are yet another sign you haven't added enough water to evenly distribute the surface tension and keep it from turning into slurry dunes. If you are starting to see these forming, it doesn't hurt to run the water around the edge a lap or two.
After this so-called victory lap, go back to balancing out any slush that is appearing uneven and keep your coffee grounds as level as possible.
Pace Yourself While Pouring
Keeping your coffee grounds even while you're pouring is always considered good form' for the proper distribution of water over your grounds. There is also the time that is required for dissolution that's important for extracting and dissolving your coffee. It's essentially the brewing time that counts the most for pourover brewing. If you aren't paying close attention to a set brewing time, which is the time that you add water after the bloom, over your grounds that is crucial.
You cannot go over the total weight of the water that is needed for your coffee ratio and the time that's allowed for that brewing period. It will also depend on your grind which will change how quickly or slowly the coffee grounds are being saturated. You'll find that making slight adjustments to your grind setting and paced pouring of your water will start to match the final outcome of a properly brewed cup of coffee.
Timing is Key
The science behind roasted coffee beans is relying heavily on the fact that your beans are going to have a select mass that is actually soluble. This means that you have 2/3rds of the material inside the bean that can not infuse with the water. It's primarily cellulose that's left behind after water dissolves the remaining 1/3rd that you want to extract from your grounds. This small portion is what makes your extracted coffee combine with the hot water.
And though the stuff that's dissolved includes various organic acids and sugars, there is the danger of bitter astringents and longer-chain molecules that may also be released. This is why the timing of extraction plays a big part in reducing these unwanted flavors within the mass of your brewed coffee. The exact percentage is centering around 19 to 20% according to the total mass of your coffee.
We understand that this might not technically make sense, but this does have a lot to do with uniformity. Grinding your coffee grounds will affect the timing that flavors are released. It's not so easy to control the grind of your beans since they are roasted and shatter and splinter according to their roasting level. Even though you might have bought the best coffee grinder, there are always going to be inconsistencies within that grind.
Smaller bits will start to release bitter flavors sooner than the larger bits. This also applies to the roast if you have lighter roasted coffee beans which take longer to extract flavor aside from dark roasts which take less time to brew. Just be more cautious with finer grounds as these always tend to slow your extraction time due to the size and fineness of your grind. This is where you need to refine the correct size grind combined with the brewing ratio.
This decision to dial in your ratio also will determine the total brewing time but not exclusively to how much coffee is being brewed either. You also have to consider that the bed depth is going to impact how long the extraction takes place. The bed depth is the exact amount of coffee grounds determined by their weight. This will then have a lot to consider for determining the water ratio, and ultimately the total brewing time after that.
It's much to consider, which is why brewing coffee comes down to keeping track of your various brewing ratios that include measurements and brewing times. Almost like keeping a journal versus a recipe book, as you'll find you make lots of adjustments along the way. Trust us when we say that trial and error are all part of the experience, even for experienced coffee brewers!
As with any other trick of the trade, buying a kettle that gives you the best pouring control is going to be a big plus for you. The drip-brew coffee machines are simple enough to operate, the advantage of a pourover is that you can see everything that's going on within the brewing vessel itself. You have more opportunities to make the most of coffee grounds and bring out the flavor that comes from them.
And even though this is a technical process, the reward of better-flavored coffee is all the more reason to learn how the brewing process is controlled. The real satisfaction is sitting down and enjoying what you've made is worth the time and energy it takes to make a superior cup of coffee.
The Grind Size
Grinding coffee beans plays an essential role when it comes to brewing, so buying the right kind of coffee grinder helps you to solve many grinding problems. The first step is to buy a good quality burr grinder. A burr grinder is different than most electric coffee grinders since there is a setting that lets you control the size that your coffee grounds are set to. Pourover coffee is mostly centered around medium to medium-fine grind settings.
These will vary from the type of pourover vessel you decide on using, so therefore you do need to experiment further to see which setting works best for different models. The Hario V60 is best when medium-fine is used whereas the Chemex is better suited for medium-coarse. To get the best grind size for your pourover coffee vessel, here is what you should know beforehand.
The Right Grinding Setting
There are simply three important things that you need to know about grinding coffee beans. This is a lot like how a good story is written and includes the: who, what, and when. In this case, the narrative that you always follow is: When, How, and Grind Size. There's no exception to the rule since these questions will enable you to determine a lot of history about your coffee beans at that point.
You can't always check when your beans were roasted unless there's a date you've attached to your storage container. You have to understand that all coffee beans will start to oxidize and give off carbon dioxide slowly over some time. This is why many professionals will vacuum-seal their beans until they need them. But in regards to grinding your beans before you start brewing, this process of oxidization speeds up as soon as you grind them.
Selecting the correct grind setting is not haphazard since you also need to know what level your beans have been roasted. Lighter roasts trap carbon dioxide inside the mass of the bean which will take it longer to extract when brewing. Darker roasts can immediately give you faster brewing times since the contents of the bean will have better solubility and carbon dioxide bloom.
The exact grind size is crucial to getting coffee bean granules uniformly the same. A burr grinder is used to grind your beans since this is using a series of shaped blades that rotate and grind beans into uniform granules. Standard blade grinders shatter and splinter the bean into uneven pieces that are all different sizes. A good burr grinder will allow you to control the size of your coffee grounds so you have higher percentages of immersion control.
Coffee is subjective to all sorts of tastes when it comes to what people like and expect from their morning brew. No two people have the same opinion when it comes to coffee and will become the bain of your existence trying to satisfy everyone's tastes. What you should pay attention to when brewing any coffee using the pourover method is perfecting your brewing methods- period!
If you've never experienced the perfect cup of coffee before, then you've gotten used to poorly made coffee. Some tastes will be more interested in darker roasts, while some enjoy subtle fruity notes only found in lighter roasts. It's all a matter of personal taste as far as the list of coffee flavors and roasts is concerned. It's important to experiment with grind size and level of roasting.
These minor differences may seem as if you'll get the same result, but the truth may just knock your socks off just by playing with different grind settings. It also gives you a chance to research which type of roast you enjoy more and which kinds are providing an outstanding flavor that doesn't need sugars added to improve.
You'll start to hear a lot about brewing ratios when it comes to brewing coffee using the pourover method. This is merely connecting the dots for how much coffee grounds are used to the amount of water that is used. What they don't tell you is that the amount of water used for the bloom is part of your total brewing ratio. So if you have a total of 14 grams for your coffee grounds, you'll need to use 28 grams of water used for the bloom.
This however does not include the actual brewing ratio for the remaining water that you'll use. This amount is based on the grams of coffee used. The general rule is to consider that by the weight of each gram of coffee grounds, you'll need to add the appropriate brewing ratio. This can be anywhere between 1:15 to 1:17 for brewing ratios. It also depends on what the recommended ratio is best for specific pourover vessels.
So for the 1:17 ratio, 14 grams of coffee multiplied by 17 to give you 238 grams of water that's needed using the 1:17 formula. You only need double the amount of water used for the bloom so this is multiplying 14 grams twice to get 28 grams. After this, you'll have 210 grams of water that are needed to make a single cup of coffee. The ratio always changes depending on the amount of water used.
You can play with these ratios to get different levels of coffee strength or weakness and always needs to be adjusted by the total gram amount of your coffee and the ratio that's used.
Always Use Filtered Water
It's one of those golden rules that cannot be stressed enough to make the point that good coffee starts with clean water. If you don't have a water filter, buy a portable water filter that uses charcoal filters. You'll immediately notice a huge difference with how your coffee tastes using water that doesn't contain minerals or additives that can make your coffee taste terrible.
The filtration systems that cost a bit more for home use are much better for filtering out more unwanted junk for tap water, but it's certainly worth the cost savings over portable filter units. The reason this is better than using bottled water is to get the right amount of oxygen that's added while your water is filtered, which also helps your coffee flavors stand out better. But whatever you do, don't settle for ordinary tap water at all costs!
How to Make Pourover Coffee
This might not be your ideal recipe but this is how we recommend making your pourover better. Always start with the essential tools that will make this process easier for you from start to finish. Make sure to have a digital scale and a stopwatch. Your stopwatch function on a smartphone is just as accurate so use this to keep track of your brewing time.
Select your grind size and use a burr grinder to get the best results. Keep in mind that medium to medium-fine looks like sugar or rough table salt for granule size. A quick test placing your grounds onto a white piece of paper works best to see the different sizes. Now you can select your brewing ratio and measure your coffee grounds to match how much coffee you want to make.
Multiply the gram amount of your coffee by the brewing ratio you prefer. If this is 1:17, then multiply the grams of coffee by 17 and this will give you the total amount of water you need for brewing. This will change for each ratio so always use the larger ratio number as your multiplier. Your water used for bloom amount is always twice the number of grams for this initial blooming!
Warm your kettle water and monitor the temperature carefully. Don't let it reach a rolling boil but rather allow it to reach the temperature slowly. Water temperatures can range between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit, which all have different reactions for pourover methods. Lower temperatures are often reserves for Hario V60 and Chemex brewing, while everything else is usually 200-205 for general pourovers.
Wet out your filter first to get the filter nice and sterilized but also rinse out any weird paper taste. Remove this water from the carafe quickly and then add your coffee grounds and turn on your digital scale. Be sure to tare off the measurement to zero. This is when you start your timer and start your bloom. As you start pouring, it will foam up and bloom but stop when you've reached your initial water bloom by the appropriate grams added.
Let your bloom bubble and burn off the carbon dioxide that's coming out. As soon as it stops (around 30 seconds give or take), reset your stopwatch to zero and tare off the scale again. You're now ready to start the immersion pour. Choose the style you want to pour no matter if you like using the pulsing method or continuous. The point is to start getting water filtering through your coffee slowly and steadily. Make adjustments to keep your grounds level and not getting near the edges of your filter's edge.
As soon as you've reached your water target weight on your scale, you need to stop pouring and let the coffee drain until it's barely dripping. The pouring times will range between 2 to 3 minutes for dark roasts and a bit longer for medium and light roasts. You have to experiment with these times to get the best results. There are plenty of coffee recipes that give you approximate times but nothing concrete.
Remove your upper vessel from the carafe or mug as soon as you can see the coffee is no longer pouring from the upper vessel. This will prevent bad tastes that could be seeping through caused by the length of immersion. At this point, you can now test your coffee to see if this has the right flavor you hoped to get. It will be necessary to make grind adjustments and water ratio changes to get the best results.
If your coffee is too strong, add a bit of water and adjust your brewing ratio so you'll correct this the next time. For weaker brews, you can refine your grind setting or add less water to see how this turns out. Good luck.