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5 Common Beginner Pour Over Coffee Questions Answered
Written by: Garrett Oden
Feel a bit lost when you watch your local baristas make pour over coffee? I totally get it. I thought it was a bunch of pretentious rubbish the first few times I saw it. It looked like a waste of time and effort, but I have to admit that I was curious.
But though my curiosity was growing, I didn’t feel comfortable asking the baristas at that coffee shop questions. I had to do a lot of speculating, which led me to some wrong ideas.
I don’t want you to have to speculate - or feel weird about asking baristas questions.
My goal is to educate you to brew stellar coffee like a pro, so I’m happy to answer all of your pour over coffee questions.
Let’s start with these common ones…
Why Spend So Much Time On Pour Over Coffee?
This is almost always the first question people ask when they see pour over coffee for the first time. It seems odd to spend so much time on just one or two cups when a machine could make three times as much coffee in the same amount of time.
But, counter to the skepticism we all feel at first sight, there are very good reasons for it.
- Pour over coffee tastes delicious. That’s the thing that begins to draw us in: the exceptional flavor. Once we discover how good it can taste, we learn about the next few reasons.
- The method is adaptable to each bean. Rather than throwing a coffee into a machine and letting it run its pre-programmed course, pouring over manually gives you control to adapt the brewing recipe and technique to each coffee. This opens up a lot of doors for really “dialing in’ the coffee’s unique flavors.
- It enhances the experience for the brewer and the drinker. The process of pouring over coffee is meditative and calming. It almost puts you in a trance of sorts, helping you wake up in the morning (or slow down after a busy day).
- You can brew just one cup. Most coffee pots require you to brew at least 2-3 cups, but pour over cones allow you to make just one. This helps cafes serve ultra-fresh brewed coffee to customers (and you only make as much as you need at home).
I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it there for now. If you’d like to read some more reasons why pour over coffee is totally worth the effort and time, check out this blog.
What Equipment Do I Need To Make Pour Over Coffee?
Since this style of making coffee is hands-on, it takes a few pieces of equipment to reach that high level of control we love when we make pour over coffee. Aside from a burr coffee grinder, here’s what you’re looking for:
Obviously, you need a pour over brewer. Often called “cones” or “drippers”, these simple devices hold the coffee filter. Sometimes a permanent filter is built into the cone itself, like with our JavaPresse Pour Over Dripper.
You then need a mug to catch the draining coffee. A few pour over brewers include a carafe, but most just sit directly onto a mug or a server.
The next two pieces of gear aren’t essential, but they elevate you to a new level of control and consistency, which ultimately leads to better coffee.
A coffee scale gives you complete control over exactly how much water and coffee you use, which enables you to brew balanced coffee consistently, rather than guessing with tablespoons.
The odd looking, yet very effective gooseneck kettle allows you to pour water slowly and with precision. This helps you brew with a slow, steady stream of water instead of a massive, uncontrolled one with a big-spouted kettle.
Should You Use A Pour Over Stand With Your Pour Over Brewer?
Here’s the thing. Pour over stands are really cool, but they’re more of a visual item than a practical one. Yeah, they hold up your brewer and let you brew into any cup that fits under the stand… but that’s about it.
Unfortunately, most of these stands don’t play super well with coffee scales. They’re too big to fit a scale underneath, so you can’t see exactly how much water you’ve poured mid-brew - which means less controlled and consistent coffee.
Get one if you have the space, but most people don’t need to bother.
What’s The Best Pour Over Coffee Filter Type?
If you’ve spent any time looking at pour over brewers online, you’ve no doubt seen that there are three types of coffee filters: paper, cloth, and metal.
Let me give you a quick rundown of how they differ.
- Paper filters. The classic coffee filter, paper defends your brew from microscopic coffee particles, but it soaks up most of the coffee’s natural aromatic oils. The result is a clean cup with a particularly bright acidity. One-time use only.
- Metal filters. Designed to last forever, metal filters don’t produce any paper waste. They allow a small amount of micro-grounds into your brew, as well as the coffee’s natural oils. This results in a robust full-flavored and full-bodied flavor profile.
- Cloth filters. These filters can last a few weeks each with proper care. The fine fibers keep out the grounds but don’t absorb much of the natural oil. The result is coffee with a velvety body and enhanced aromatics.
Your filter type is completely up to you, but it can be hard to know which one you’ll really love without trying them all.
One direction to go is to get a cone with a built-in metal filter, as well as some paper and cloth filters. Then you’ll always have a permanent filter, but you have the option to use the other with the same device.
So What’s Going On With The Circular Water Pouring?
The water pouring technique is what sets off the skepticism alarms for many of us. It looks silly. However, it’s actually very important for brewing a stellar cup.
Here’s the main goal: pour the water in a way that causes all the coffee grounds to be extracted from evenly.
Uneven pouring > uneven agitation of the grounds > uneven extraction.
But what happens when you only have a big-spouted kettle and can’t help but pour in a huge stream? You lose control, the grounds aren’t agitated evenly, and some grounds end up extracting a lot more than others.
Then you have a mess of grounds that gave out too much bitterness and some grounds that didn’t even get to the sweetness stage. And you can taste it.
The careful, slow pouring with a gooseneck kettle is how we take back control. It’s how we ensure all the grounds are being impacted with the same amount of water (or as close to the same as we can get).
It’s also a way to prolong the brewing time. If you just throw in a full cone of water from the start, it’s going to drain unevenly and too quickly. You’ll be left with coffee that’s sour and unsatisfying because it didn’t have enough time to extract.
Pouring water slowly keeps water in contact with the coffee for a longer time, ensuring you get a tasty, balanced extraction.
What’s This “Bloom”?
This is a short stage at the beginning of coffee brewing that sort of prepares the grounds for extraction. As long as you’re buying freshly roasted beans and grinding them just before you brew, those grounds are full of carbon dioxide.
By pouring in a small amount of water to saturate your grounds, you initiate a period of rapid degassing where the CO2 rushes out of the grounds. It’s actually degassing so powerfully that water drains right on through without pulling out any tasty flavor.
That’s why we give this bloom phase about 30 seconds to do its work before continuing to pour any additional water.
To calculate the bloom water, just multiply the grams of coffee you’re using by two. For example, 20g of coffee would need about 40g (also 40ml) of water to bloom evenly.
The world of pour over coffee is fascinating, tasty, and fun to dive into. It’s actually my favorite way to make coffee!
It’s meditative, helps me focus in the morning, and satisfies my taste buds.
If you’d like to try your hand at pour over coffee, I suggest starting out with the JavaPresse Pour Over Dripper. Crafted from stainless steel and acting as its own filter, you won’t need to buy paper or cloth filters. However, if you’d like to try them out, they’re compatible with the dripper as well.
I’m excited for you. I think you’re going to love this incredible style of coffee brewing.