What is and how do you brew using the Pour Over method?
It’s the stuff of lazy Sunday morning, sun creeping in the window and hygge slow living. It’s the brewing method that will grace your social media feed with a real coffee aficionado vibe (providing your instagram filter is as good as the one in your brew!). Beyond all this, it’s a wonderfully mindful, pleasurable, and calming process to get to your morning cup of delicious coffee. It’s the ‘Pour Over’ brewing method – and we think it’s well worth knowing about.
What exactly is the Pour Over method?
The Pour Over method has a rich history to it. Prior to the chrome haze of espresso machines, electric coffee grinders and milk frothers, this was your only real option for getting to your favourite cup of coffee. Pour Over was popular in Europe during the coffee craze of the 1900s, though non eurocentric historians can place Pour Over brewing in Latin America as far back as records are held. Want to put down your tech for a while? Save the social media posts for later and utilise this method to get back to simpler days.
Why use this method?
If we haven’t sold you with calming visions of brewing your own coffee in the comfort of your own home, be encouraged by how much this method accentuates coffee taste. If you’re looking to really celebrate your beans (and why wouldn’t you!) this is the one to go for. It’s particularly suited to single origin beans, like those we offer, as an ideal way to experience the full flavour on offer. The slow speed here keeps the coffee clear and consistent due to the dripping water giving the beans plenty of good, sweet time to do their thing. Additionally, the slower brewing involved in this method brings out the maximum extraction of oil from your beans leaving a clean cup. Less washing up!
What do I need to know to really ‘know’ about the Pour Over method?
As with any method, it’s worth knowing what makes the difference between an okay brew, and a fantastic one. We at Seven Districts aspire to be fantastic every time – so make sure to read on to get it right.
Pour Over coffee is supposed to be simple. There’s just two ingredients, and not many pieces of kit. It’s less about the fancy processes but more about the quality of what you’re using. To this end, the two key things that make or break your brew are good quality coffee beans, and purity of water. When coming to technique, other factors include making sure you have a finer grind of coffee (you might want to look into different coffee grinders here, if you have bought your beans whole and fresh), and following the method carefully with exact measurements. It’s also worth considering the settings and cleanliness of your kettle, and the quality of your filter paper. The key items you’re going to need for your brew are:
- Fresh quality beans
- Good quality filter paper
- Access to a grinder
- Water (filtered is best)
- A kettle
- A container for your coffee
Your water quality is determined by whether you use a filter (we recommend, but know it’s not always possible) as well as the kettle you use. With scales, the more accurate the better. Let’s go into the other four in a bit more detail.
Coffee beans for this method are best, as we said earlier, when single origin. This ensures you’re getting the absolute best flavour and utilising this method to its full potential. We would always recommend buying coffee in bean form. This ensures your brew is at its most fresh, as storing ready ground coffee poorly can lead to a stale brew. Get your coffee in bean form and you can also make sure they still look good and smell great! We would always also recommend a lightly roasted bean for this method, as this is likely to accentuate the flavours we’re getting from our single origin.
A quick search of ‘coffee filter paper’ online is enough to bamboozle even the most dedicated coffee connoisseur. What exactly makes good filter paper, and does it really make a difference to the final product?
Firstly – price isn’t necessarily the key decider. There are two real options for you – disposable paper and cloth. Paper filters are undeniably cheaper, with less mess to clean up, though are often argued to leave a ‘papery’ taste in the mouth. Cloth filters are certainly better for the environment, but involve more expense. Our advice? If it’s your first go, buy a small pack of paper filters to limit the environmental impact, and see how you enjoy the method.
Following this it might be worth stepping it up to cloth. Either way, the important part to remember is ensuring the filter is laid well in your coffee receptacle (a jug, tin, or mug) and doesn’t have too many bunches to catch on. Coffee grounds that catch in the folds of a filter are likely to clog up and not release much oil, giving a bitter flavour.
As this method involves extracting the coffee at a slow rate, you want a grind that has enough surface area for the water to soak in before going through the filter. Alongside this, you don’t want your grind to be too big that it doesn’t extract enough oil, creating a bitter brew. It’s a fine line! We recommend a medium grind, about the size of sea salt, for best results. Personal preference is paramount though: if you find that your result is too bitter, you’ll want to have a finer grind next time, and again if your drink feels watery and weak you’ll want to increase the grind.
Most of us have one, but if you’re going pro with this, we recommend as hot as possible a temperature to give clarity to the water you’re pouring. You might see baristas using a copper kettle for this – which is said to produce the best quality boil, but we don’t think it’s always necessary. Our best tip or at home brewing is to make sure your kettle is free of limescale to ensure your boil is as good a quality as possible, and if there are variable settings for boiling, go for the highest heat!
You’ll see phrases like ‘chemex’ thrown around in the Pouring Over method world – which look almost like giant sized tea cups, large at the top and shorter at the bottom. These hold the filter paper really well hence their common use to add to the cone shape that we will turn the filter paper into. They aren’t always available, or feasible, though – so we recommend finding a container with fairly small ‘mouth’ if possible, with a good height to it. Think a tall large mug, a long plastic jug, or even the glass part of your french press.
Give me the method!
Let’s get going! You will need the following ingredients and equipment. We’re assuming you’re going to be making two cups of coffee. If you have your own coffee quantity preference you’re going to want an alternative amount of water and amount of coffee: 16g of water to every 1g of coffee.
- 30g fresh coffee beans
- 600 grams of water (filtered is better, if at all possible)
- A kettle
- Paper filters
- A coffee grinder
- Scales (for that perfect measurement)
- Container for poured coffee (mug, french press glass, etc)
- Measure out your beans. Give them a good sniff, you know you want to.
- Grind your beans to a fine sea salt coarseness. This gives the best chance for a great taste without a watery brew.
- Measure out your water. We try and do this in grams, which can be done by simply placing a jug on the scales, zero-ing and measuring out. 500g of this water is going to go into the coffee, and 100g is going to help the coffee ‘bloom’, releasing carbon dioxide buildup in the bean roasting process. Put the whole 600g on to boil.
- Prepare your filter and receptacle. Turn your coffee filter paper into a cone shape to fit your receptacle (if the paper isn’t circular to start with, you’ll want to cut it to shape). Then pop a small fold at the top of the paper cone to fit the rim of your receptacle, keeping it in place during the pour over.
- Pour about 100g of your boiled water onto the filter paper to prepare it for your coffee grounds. Add your coffee grounds on top, trying to keep a flat coffee bed for evenness, and top with a little more water, just enough to wet the grounds. Leave for a minute or so to let the oils release and ‘bloom’ in flavour.
- Once your grounds have ‘bloomed’, very slowly pour in your water. You want to make sure the grounds are never dry, but that you don’t drown them. Some might pour in small batches, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can do this without stopping – just make sure to keep an eye on how the grounds are getting on and keep the water flow slow and consistent! In total for this amount of bean/water ratio, your pouring time should take at least four minutes.
- Once you have used up all your water, carefully remove your grounds within the filter paper. No need to waste the grounds – they can go on your plants as a great, nutrient dense fertiliser, just don’t add in the filter paper!
- If you are drinking your coffee immediately, pour into your mugs. If you have extreme willpower, or prefer your coffee chilled, you might like to store the receptacle in the fridge. The brew will stay good for 24 hours – and while the cold version isn’t technically a ‘cold brew’, it certainly wouldn’t be harmed by the addition of some cold milk and a few ice cubes for a refreshing summer drink, providing you don’t mind the flavour weakened a little.