Pour Over Coffee - Instructions for Perfect and Great Ratios
The Pour Over is often viewed as the go-to- method of brewing coffee for baristas and coffee enthusiasts everywhere. While certainly not alone in the pantheon of great coffee brewing methods, it certainly stands in the upper echelon.
What is a Pour-Over?
A Pour-Over is a manual brewing method that produces drip coffee utilizing a coffee filter and gravity. Like an automatic drip coffee maker, the hot water is added directly to the grounds. The water then works its way through the grounds into the carafe through the coffee filter.
Unlike an automatic drip coffee maker, the water is added manually to the brew. Typically, a Gooseneck kettle or other similarly precise mechanism provides the most control.
Why is a Pour-Over a popular brewing method?
As you can see, this adds a significant element of manual control to the coffee water ratio in your Pour Over. There are two popular methods for controlling the coffee to water ratio, which we will discuss in the next section.
Next is temperature control. Water temperature has so much to do with proper flavor extraction in coffee. However, many automatic coffee brewers struggle to maintain an appropriate temperature throughout the brewing process. Sometimes worse, they allow for an entire carafe to sit on heat for hours on end - turning acidic.
The Pour Over method - while requiring a bit more effort - typically brews one cup at a time, maybe two. This eliminates the potential for burned, overheated coffee. Because the process is manual, the brewer/barista can ensure that they have the proper water temperature throughout. These are all reasons why the pour-over method is so popular for specialty coffee in particular.
The easiest way to maintain a stable temperature is to use a kettle with a built-in thermometer or temperature control. We use the Fellow Stagg EKG in our coffee station and have had brilliant results.
Pour Over coffee to water ratio - The Challenge.
Everyone seems to have their standard ratio of coffee to water. This can depend on your taste preferences - do you like strong coffee or a bit weaker? However, it depends most on the beans themselves. Some roasts will require you to tweak your ratio, just as you must experiment with the temperatures for a perfect cup.
We start with 20 grams of Coffee: 325 grams of Water ratio whenever exploring a new coffee. This gives us a nice bold starting point. You can scale this ratio if you happened to have a carafe and dripper that will hold several cups of coffee. Our video shows a two-cup drip using 40g of coffee and 650g of water.
Water weighs 1g per ml. This is important as you look at other brew guides. Many will state the water volume in ml. Well, you can use grams and milliliters interchangeably, which makes the use of a drip scale much more straightforward - no conversions.
Perfect Beans - Some are better suited for Pour Overs
Light and medium roast coffees are my go-to’s for a pour-over. While not universal, these roast profiles tend to benefit from a crisp, clean feel. A heavy paper filter can help create that clean mouth feel by removing oils and cloudiness inherent in other brewing methods - like a French press.
Additionally, lighter roasts retain more CO2 during the roasting process. During a pour-over, the initial bloom helps to further degass the beans to an appropriate level. This unveils the best flavors in all roasts - but can make the biggest difference in lighter roasts.
Grind Size and Filters - The Other Considerations
While there are so many ways to nitpick your pour-over technique - grind size and your choice of filters can be the most important. Before you think we’re too crazy - hear us out.
Grind size dictates how the water and coffee interact with each other. It is the first level of control over how fast water runs through the dripper. Because there is no external pressure, only gravity draws the water through. The finer the grind, the slower the water will flow through.
Slower water flow means stronger coffee as the coffee and water spend more time together in the dripper.
Similar to the grind size, the filter can play a role in the drip speed. A thicker filter will slow down the water and create stronger coffee - a thinner filter will do just the opposite. In addition, the filter will dictate how many oils are strained from the coffee before it hits the carafe.
Take a look at our video below - we’ve captured a quick drip the way we make it in the morning. We’re big fans of the equipment from Fellow. We use the Stagg EKG kettle with the Staff [XF] carafe and Fellow filter paper. This setup allows for multiple cups to be made at once, but in this case, we’ll just make a single cup.
While the Stagg set provides dots as measurement aids, we prefer to use the dripper scale for greater consistency.
Leave any feedback in the comments section below!