What Is Pour Over Coffee?

Coffee Education
Kirkland Gee
January 9, 2024

Pour over coffee, a term that's become a buzzword in the specialty coffee world, is more than just a brewing method. It's a ritual, a meditative practice that transforms the simple act of making coffee into an immersive sensory experience. But what exactly is pour over coffee, and why has it taken the coffee community by storm? Let's delve into the captivating world of pour over brewing.

What is a Pour Over?

Pour over coffee is a manual brewing method that involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a filter. The water slowly drains through the coffee grounds, extracting flavors and aromas, and drips into a carafe or mug below. It's a simple yet genius method that highlights the intricate flavors and unique characteristics of specialty coffee.

Why Use a Pour Over Brewer?

The beauty of pour over coffee lies in its simplicity and the control it offers. You can adjust every variable—water temperature, brew time, grind size, and water-to-coffee ratio—to create a cup that's tailored to your taste. It's a hands-on brewing method that invites you to engage with the process, transforming your morning coffee routine into a mindful ritual.

The Origins of Pour Over Coffee

The pour over method has its roots in early 20th century Germany, where Melitta Bentz invented the first paper coffee filter. This innovation paved the way for the development of the pour over brewing method, which has been refined and popularized by coffee enthusiasts worldwide.

Types of Pour Over Brewers

There are several types of pour over brewers available, each with its own unique design and influence on the flavor of the coffee. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  1. Hario V60: This is one of the most popular pour over brewers among coffee enthusiasts. The V60 has a conical design with a large hole at the bottom and spiral ridges along the sides. This design allows for excellent heat retention and gives you control over the speed of the brew. The V60 is known for producing a clean, bright cup of coffee.
  2. Chemex: The Chemex is a stylish brewer made from borosilicate glass. It has a larger brewing capacity than the V60, making it a good choice for brewing multiple cups at once. The Chemex uses thicker filters, which result in a very clean cup of coffee with less oils and sediment.
  3. Kalita Wave: The Kalita Wave is a flat-bottomed brewer, which allows for a more even extraction than conical brewers. It has three small holes at the bottom, which control the flow of water and make the brewing process a bit more forgiving. The Kalita Wave is known for producing a balanced, well-rounded cup of coffee.
  4. Bee House: The Bee House is a ceramic dripper with a wedge-shaped design. It has two small holes at the bottom, which slow down the flow of water and make for a longer extraction time. The Bee House is easy to use and is a good choice for beginners.

Each of these pour over brewers has its own strengths and can produce a great cup of coffee. The best one for you depends on your personal preferences and how much control you want over the brewing process

V60 Pour Over Setup

If you want to get started, the Hario V60 is a great option. This setup from Hario is our recommended place to start. It comes with the brewer, a carafe, and a set of filters to get you going.

Get Your Pour Over Setup

How to Brew Pour Over Coffee

Brewing pour over coffee requires a few key tools: a pour over dripper, paper filters, a kettle, a grinder, and of course, high-quality coffee beans. The process involves heating water to the right temperature (usually around 200-208°F), grinding your coffee to the right size (medium-fine to medium), and pouring the water over the coffee in a slow, circular motion. The water should take about 3-4 minutes to pass through the coffee grounds, resulting in a delicious, aromatic cup of coffee.

If you want a more in-depth guide, we'd recommend checking out James Hoffman's video on the subject, but we'd recommend starting with a pour over ratio of somewhere between 1:15-1:17

Pour over coffee is more than just a brewing method—it's a celebration of the complexity and diversity of coffee. It invites us to slow down, engage with the process, and savor every sip. Whether you're a seasoned coffee connoisseur or a curious beginner, the world of pour over coffee offers a rewarding and flavorful journey.

Pour Over Coffee vs Drip Coffee

While both pour over and drip coffee methods involve pouring water over coffee grounds and allowing the brew to drip down, the control and involvement in the process differ significantly.

Control and Involvement: Pour over coffee is a manual method that gives you complete control over the brewing process. You decide the water temperature, the speed of the pour, and the saturation of the coffee grounds. On the other hand, drip coffee makers automate the process. You simply add water and coffee, and the machine does the rest. This is convenient, but it also means you have less control over the brewing variables.

Brewing Time: Pour over coffee generally takes a bit longer to brew than drip coffee. This is because you're pouring the water by hand, which is a slower process than the machine-driven method of a drip coffee maker.

Equipment: Pour over coffee requires a few simple tools: a pour over coffee maker (which is often just a cone-shaped device that holds a filter), a kettle, and a grinder if you're using whole beans. Drip coffee makers are standalone machines that require filters and coffee grounds.

Flavor Differences: Pour Over Coffee vs Drip Coffee

The flavor of coffee brewed using the pour over method versus a drip coffee maker can vary quite a bit due to the differences in the brewing process.

Pour Over Coffee: The pour over method tends to highlight the individual flavors and characteristics of the coffee. If you're using a high-quality, single-origin coffee, the pour over method can bring out the unique flavors and aromas of the beans. The result is a clean, well-defined, and nuanced cup of coffee.

Drip Coffee: Drip coffee makers often brew coffee that is robust and full-bodied. However, the flavors can sometimes be less distinct than in pour over coffee. This is because the water in drip coffee makers often doesn't reach the optimal temperature, and the brewing process can over-extract the coffee, leading to a slightly bitter taste. However, drip coffee is consistent and reliable, making it a favorite for everyday, easy-to-make coffee.

Another common method of making coffee that can end up tasting like these is the Americano. It's started with espresso, but it ends up being a similar drink by the end. That said, it usually ends up tasting less bright and acidic, toning down some of those flavors thanks to the "watered-down" nature of the rink.

In conclusion, the choice between pour over and drip coffee often comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy the ritual of making coffee and savoring the distinct flavors of different beans, you might prefer the pour over method. If you prefer convenience and consistency, a drip coffee maker might be the way to go.

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