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How to Use a Pour Over Brewer - a How-to
How to Use a Pour Over Brewer
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: October 21, 2005
How-To rating: 8.0
feedback: (80) comments | read | write

When you're the senior editor of CoffeeGeek, sometimes you get into a state of mind where you think "so and so" is a no brainer - brewing with this method or that should come as second nature to everyone.

But then you get to read all the email generated by you being the Senior Editor of this website, and you realise that no, what comes natural for some is really something new for other people.

The other day I was chatting with one of the members on the board - someone who knows a good deal about espresso, their first and true "love" in coffee... and we started talking about pourover filter coffee makers. I quickly realised that this espresso fanatic didn't know how to properly use one. He was complaining about how the coffee was weak and sour. His method was close, but not quite - his measurements were off, he didn't stir the "slurry" (I'll get to that, promise!), and his water wasn't hot enough.

I talked him through the procedure in MSN chat, and when he followed the simple steps outlined below, the result was a cup of coffee he really enjoyed, and was surprised at.

Inspired by this, and knowing we were way overdue for another How To article, I knew it was time to get this simple and effective how to online.

The Brewing Apparati

That's the plural for apparatus, isn't it? Well, here's the deal folks - you too can brew amazing coffee in the home with a brewing system that costs $4. The caveat? You gotta spend good dollars on a grinder. With anything coffee related, the grinder is of paramount importance.

The minimum that CoffeeGeek can recommend is the Bodum Antigua grinder which as of this writing is $60 to $70 retail. But if you want a grinder that is capable of handling espresso, consider the Solis Maestro Plus grinder at around $150, the forthcoming Baratza Virtuoso grinder, or the KitchenAid Pro Line grinder at under $160. (again, all prices are accurate as of this writing).

That's your biggest expense. Next up is the coffee. Only buy fresh roasted coffee - ask, nay, demand roast dates on the coffee you buy, and only buy coffee that was roasted 7 days or less ago (if you're buying via the internet look for vendors who ship the day it roasts, or the day after). Look to spend upwards of $12 to $15 a lb for a quality coffee.

The third cost is miniscule - it can be as cheap as the $4 single cup pourover plastic filter that Melitta sells. Melitta also markets larger versions that will brew as much 10 or 12 "cups" (figure 4 to 5oz per cup). Or you can use a more esoteric device, like what we're using for this how to - this is the Hario Little Dripper 12oz brewer with cloth filters (unfortunately, it's currently not available in the US). Oh and filters. I'll explain below why cloth or permanent gold filters are the best, but for paper, I highly recommend the Melitta FlavorPore paper filters - they let more coffee oils flow through.

The fourth item used? A kettle. You have one of those, right? Hope so!

The Details

Before we do the visuals, let's have a primer on good coffee.

  • Fresh, clean, cold water to start.
  • Fresh roasted, quality whole bean coffee. Don't grind yet!
  • Coffee is best brewed at temperatures between 92 and 97C, or about 192F and 204F. Guess what - a kettle, just off the boil, once poured, is at the top end of this temperature. Air cools the first bit real quick.
  • Your starting measurement is this: 7 grams (1 tbsp) of ground coffee for every 120ml (4 ounces) of water (keep in mind, this is just your start - feel free to experiment with the ratios)
  • Once the kettle is near boil, that's when you grind - try to time the measuring of your coffee to your brewer with the kettle coming to boil. Ground coffee loses a lot of its aromatics and other stuff in the first minute after being ground.
  • Stir! Stir the brewing mass while it's up top (called the slurry), and stir the finished pot.
  • Only brew what you can drink in 20 mins or so.
  • Don't reheat coffee.

Now - cloth. Why do I prefer cloth filters to any other filtration method? There's a couple of reasons. It results in a clean cup (Swiss Gold filters are my second choice, but they let a lot of ground sediment pass into the cup). Second, it lets more coffee oils pass through the filter than either paper or permanent nylon filters (genuine gold filters let a lot pass through too).

Swiss Gold sells permanent filters in a variety of sizes and even have their own single cup brewing set for around $15 or $20, and that's a great second choice for a single cup.

In a pinch, the Melitta FlavorPore paper filters do the job well enough to be a consideration.

Okay, enough talk. Let's see the pics!

Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Hario Cloth Drip
Matched up with a Solis Maestro Classic for awesome coffee in a small, individual size.
Grind and Measure
Grind quick, and measure quick - 1 tbsp (7g) for each 120ml (4oz) of water. Note how clean the cloth is. Oxyclean does wonders.
For the Chef
Grind and measure your coffee only when your kettle is nearing boil. And for this size (350ml, 12oz), I usually add a half tbsp "for the chef".
Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
The Pour
This kettle just finished boiling. Pour slowly and make sure to completely saturate all the ground coffee as quickly as you can.
Fillerup!
Fill up to the top of the filter. With this glass brewer, it's easy to see if you need to add more water. And remember to stirr that slurry.
Done brewin'
These small brewers are quick. Usually 2 minutes or less. Once the filter bed is slightly dry, it's time to think about drinking.
Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Remove the filter
This Hario has a nifty handle to let you easily remove the filter and brewed coffee. With Melitta or Swiss Water single cup manual drip, just remove the entire thing from your cup.
Pour (and stir?)
Pour... and stir. Or stir, then pour. If your manual drip brewer does more than a cup, you should stir the brewed coffee in the brewer. Since almost all of this goes into the cup, we just pour.
Mmmm Good
Darn fine coffee. Quick. Cheap. Easy to do. Just pay attention to the principals of good coffee: good grinder. good water. good whole bean. proper temperatures. proper filter. stir!

See our other Guides and How Tos

How-To rating: 8.0
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: October 21, 2005
feedback: (80) comments | read | write
This how to and all its parts are owned by CoffeeGeek.com and are covered by the Creative Commons license.

For information on reproducing any part of this article (or any images) or if you would like to purchase a printed version of this article for commercial or private use, please contact us at info@coffeegeek.com for further details.

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