Pour-over coffee has been slowly climbing in popularity over the last few years, thanks to artisanal coffee shops popping up all over the United States. It is a three-part process, promising a more complex coffee cup and allowing the brewer to control every step of the process.
But does it use more beans?
Pour-over coffee uses more beans than the more common brewed coffee alternative. At a ratio of about 23 grams of coffee grounds to 350 grams of water (1:15), that is slightly more beans to water than brewed coffee at 1:18.
If you are looking for the best cup of coffee you have ever had, then consider trying pour-over coffee. Dating back to its discovery in 1908, it has risen and fallen in popularity.
This article will go over a brief history of pour-over coffee, explain how it works, and discuss whether it’s worth all of the effort.
Brief History of Pour-Over Coffee
Coffee history can be broken down by waves with distinctive cultures and philosophies each. Continue reading for a quick overview of the first, second, and third waves of coffee history.
First wave coffee, dating back to the 1800s, is a modern coffee lover’s nightmare. Coffee was quickly growing in popularity, with Maxwell and Folgers’ vacuum-sealed bags, two of the more common brands.
In 1908 Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz, a German native began experimenting with different methods of brewing coffee. Unhappy with the traditional methods, she developed the first-ever pour-over method to ensure her coffee was free of grounds and tasted better. One year later, her product became popular after presenting it at a trade fair.
Second Wave coffee began in the late 1900s, earmarked by Starbucks’ opening, the attention to sugary coffee beverages, and the increased popularity of the french press. Pour-over coffee largely became irrelevant during the second wave.
We are currently in the third wave of coffee, distinguished by the emphasis on single-origin beans, transparency in freshness, including the roasting date, and the flavor notes. Latte art becomes popular, and pour-over coffee makes a resurgence in coffee shops across the United States, most notably, Intelligentsia and Counter Culture Coffee.
How Does Pour-Over Coffee Work? What You Need
Making a cup of pour-over coffee requires only a few pieces of equipment. They include:
- A brewing device. Check out the Chemex or Kalita Wave for one of the more popular choices. The device sits on top of your coffee cup, also holding the filter in place.
- A filter to keep out the oily components. You can use either paper or cloth, but some coffee aficionados say that paper affects the coffee’s taste. However, you also risk the cloth bunching up and trapping your coffee grounds, making for a less consistent cup. Another option is a stainless steel reusable filter, such as this Barista Warrior Filter. Whichever option you choose, ensure it is compatible with your brewing device.
- A kettle. A good option is this Barista Warrior Kettle. It will keep your water temperature consistent and even throughout, keeping your coffee smooth and even.
- A digital scale. This is worth the small investment. A scale is an affordable and easy way to ensure you maintain consistency in the coffee to water ratio. Knowing how much coffee and water is going into each cup will also help you tweak your method, perfecting a pour-over cup of coffee. This Amazon Basics Scale is affordable and will give you quick and accurate results.
In its simplest form, pour-over coffee is just hot water poured over coffee grounds in a filter. The water drains through the grounds and ends up in a coffee cup or carafe, ready to drink. Each cup takes approximately four to five minutes to make and can range significantly in the level of complexity and effort.
Pros and Cons of Pour-Over Coffee: Is It Worth the Effort?
The answer to this question depends on your coffee standards and your willingness to put in the time. If you are pressed for time and will settle for any coffee as long as it is hot and caffeinated, then the pour-over method probably isn’t right for you.
However, if you are looking for a coffee of single origin with complex flavors and aromas, you should definitely consider the pour-over method. This section will go over a few pros and cons of this method to decide for yourself.
- The coffee tastes noticeably better. Most drip coffee machines keep an uneven water temperature, are made with plastic parts, and burn the beans. None of these will be an issue if you use the pour-over method.
- People are impressed by someone that can make coffee using the pour-over method. It’s not often that you wake up to an aromatic, delicious, hand-brewed cup of coffee. Guests in your home will taste the difference and appreciate that you have gone the extra mile.
- You can make multiple cups of coffee. For some reason, it is a common misconception that pour-over methods only produce one cup of coffee at a time. While you might not get 12 cups, like in a drip machine, you can get brewing devices large enough for a few cups.
- It takes more beans in ratio to the water. The main reason this is a con is the cost of each cup of coffee. Over time, you will spend more money on coffee beans for the same number of cups of coffee. Further, this method encourages using a more palatable bean, which will be more expensive than house coffee brands at the grocery store.
- It takes several minutes to make a cup of coffee. A drip machine also takes a few minutes, but it does not require active engagement in the process. You can flip a switch and get on with your morning. Alternatively, pour-over coffee takes up to four or five minutes to brew and requires constant attention from the brewer.
- It requires equipment you probably don’t already have in your kitchen. Let’s face it; You probably don’t have a pour-over coffee device and compatible filters in your kitchen already. Unless you are fully committed to this method, consider getting a few cups at your local coffee house to ensure this coffee is right for you.
Tips in Brewing Your Own Pour-Over Coffee
Pour-over coffee leaves a lot of room for human error in the brewing process. This section will share a few ways to avoid those for a delicious cup of coffee every time.
- Clean water makes for delicious coffee. You might be surprised how much the water quality changes the taste of your coffee. You may use tap water for your drip machine, but if your tap water is full of chemicals, consider using filtered water for your pour-over coffee.
- Pour the water evenly over the grounds. Your pouring method also plays a big role in the flavor of your coffee. An uneven pour will not extract the flavor of the beans evenly.
- Find the perfect grind for you. Start with a coarser grind and adjust accordingly if you are not happy with your brew. A finer grind will reduce the sour taste, and a coarser grind will reduce the bitterness.
Hopefully, this article helped you gain a better understanding of pour-over coffee. While it uses more beans, it makes for a much more complex and aromatic coffee cup.
You may be persuaded to adopt pour-over as your daily grind, or maybe it’s just a special occasion thing. If you have never tried pour-over coffee, check out your neighborhood coffee house for a cup. It may be the best coffee you’ve ever had.
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- Bespoke: The Ultimate Coffee Brewing Guide
- Stumptown Coffee: How to Perfect Your Pour Over
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