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5 Things Every Pour Over Coffee Lover Should Know
Written by: Garrett Oden
Pour over coffee is everywhere. In the last decade, it’s gone from a micro-niche in the coffee world to one of the most preferred ways of making coffee. Ten years ago, Seattle, America’s coffee mecca, didn’t have pour over coffee. Now, every coffee shop in the city serves pour over coffee as a primary offering.
If the world’s new fascination with pour over coffee has grabbed hold of you, there are a few things you should know when you bring this brewing method home. These little tidbits aren’t just few newcomers, even coffee veterans need to be reminded of these things every now and then.
Whether you use an antique Chemex, an original ceramic Melitta or, or our own JavaPresse Dripper, these tips and tricks will help you along your pour over journey.
1. Skipping The Bloom Stage Is A Mistake
I’ve heard the question so many times: “Can I just skip the bloom and pour all the water?”
Short answer: no!
The bloom stage is an integral step in your pour over brewing routine. Skip it, and you’ll be left wondering why your coffee tastes so bad all the time.
The bloom stage is a sort of “prep” stage for the coffee grounds. See, thanks to the roasting process, they’re full of carbon dioxide and other gasses that are desperate to fly out and away from the beans.
When you pour hot water on the grounds, the gasses are rapidly released from the coffee cells. This quick exit keeps water from getting into the grounds and extracting yummy flavors.
Imagine what it’s like when the doors first open on Black Friday at a popular store. Everyone rushes in like crazy! Now imagine trying to exit the store when all the people are flooding in. Not gonna work.
That brief waiting period, the bloom phase, is very important. Without it, all the water you pour at first wouldn’t be able to get into the grounds. It would just flow right on down into your mug, still just water (and not liquid coffee).
Since this water doesn’t contribute to flavor, it literally just waters down your coffee.
Don’t skip the bloom! It’s critical to rich, balanced pour over coffee.
2. A Gooseneck Kettle Really Is Worth It
When I managed a coffee shop, I had dozens of people ask me to help with their bad tasting pour over coffee. One of the first questions I always asked was this:
Do you have a pour over kettle?
The answer was almost always “no”.
A gooseneck kettle isn’t just a gimmick for snobs and prosumers. It’s a legitimate tool that enables you to brew better pour over coffee with control and consistency
The small, gooseneck spout helps you pour exactly where you want, exactly how quickly you want. Regular kettles just throw water all over the place at varying speeds, and they make it really hard to brew balanced coffee.
Think about it: you’re pouring water into a bed of coffee. That water is quickly draining into your mug. If you’re not able to pour in a way that evenly saturates all of the grounds, you’re not going to end up with balanced coffee.
I realize a gooseneck kettle is another thing to invest in, but your coffee will thank you for getting one. You’ll find yourself a lot less confused and frustrated when you brew.
3. Metal Filters Aren’t Just For French Presses
I remember being confused when I first saw a metal pour over cone. I couldn’t figure out why someone wouldn’t just use a french press if they wanted to use a metal filter.
At the time, I didn’t realize that metal pour over cones produce coffee that’s different from french press coffee, even though the filters are similar.
Yes, like a french press filter, metal pour over cones let the coffee’s natural aromatic oils through. And yes, the coffee’s flavor and body are boosted by this.
However, they’re typically much finer than french press filters, which means much less grit and sludge in your final cup. And since the pour over method is fundamentally different than immersion brewing, the end result still has the crisper acidity, brighter flavor, and lighter body we love in pour over coffee.
And there are other benefits to using a metal pour over filter:
- You don’t have to buy paper filters
- You never produce paper waste
In the end, I believe this is the #1 benefit: your coffee finds a middle-ground between pour over and french press coffee that’s full-flavored without being too clean or overly bold.
4. The End Goal Is A Level Coffee Bed
When I first started brewing pour over coffee, I thought the end goal was to have giant walls of coffee grounds caked to the sides of the brewer (looking like a volcano) when draining was complete.
I couldn’t have been more wrong, but for some reason this myth is still commonly believed.
Here’s the thing: as the water drains from the pour over cone, it’s still extracting things from the grounds. The grounds that are left “high and dry” first get less extracted from them. The grounds that at the bottom of the cone have the most extracted from them.
Even if there’s only a ten second difference in how long those top and bottom grounds are in contact with water, there is a noticeable fault in flavor that most people can taste.
The goal is for all the grounds to fall and make a level bed at the bottom of the cone. No towering volcano walls. No uneven landslide walls.
And even bed lets you know that all the grounds had just about the same amount of contact time, which leads to an even extraction and indicates you poured water with precision.
Now, this doesn't guarantee flavor balance. However, it does guarantee that, if you coffee does come out imbalanced, it wasn’t because you didn’t pour with good technique.
5. Iced Pour Over Coffee Is Great
Cold brew coffee comes to mind when most think of iced coffee, but your pour over brewer can make a mean glass of iced coffee as well.
Unlike cold brew, iced pour over coffee (sometimes called “flash chilled” or “flash brewed”) is made with hot water, so it still pulls out those crisp acids and low bitter notes that make a full-flavored mug of coffee. The liquid coffee then drains immediately onto ice.
This rapid chilling keeps the dissolved coffee ground solids (small coffee particles in the liquid) from continuing to brew in the hot liquid, preserving a bright, crisp, and clean flavor.
The result is refreshing and full-flavored iced coffee.
You can see our guide to making iced pour over coffee here.
Pour over coffee is a rabbit hole in itself - a fun, meditative, and rewarding one! But you have no hope of enjoying the riches of pour over coffee if you don’t use specialty-grade, freshly roasted beans.
Never doubt the quality of your beans again with the JavaPresse Coffee Club. We roast coffee beans and send you to them the same day so you know you’re getting coffee that’s uber-fresh.
We source our beans from the best coffee farms in the world. Our farm partners are eco-friendly, ethically-minded, and love great coffee as much as we do. See how our coffee subscription will transform your daily mug.