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Pour-over coffee is a great way to prepare your morning brew without having to deal with too many steps. With full control over the process, pour over almost always leads to a brighter-tasting coffee. But sometimes, your pour-over coffee can be lackluster. What’s the key to getting a cup with bright flavor notes every time?
After doing plenty of pour-overs myself, I’ve compiled this list of tips. If you want a quick preview, the secrets are to keep the coffee at a consistent temperature, wet the filter, heat the brewing device, make sure to bloom coffee, and finally, use the correct grind size.
If you’re curious to read more about these tips to improve your morning pour-over coffee, read on for a detailed list of tips on how to get the most out of your pour-over.
Keep Temperature Consistent
The most important tip upfront: make sure the coffee temperature is consistent during brewing. The key with pour-over coffee (or any coffee) is consistent extraction, which means you must keep the grounds saturated with hot water throughout the pouring process, optimally at 195-205o F (90-60o C).
Often, we accidentally let the coffee cool while still being poured over. Maybe you stopped pouring because you filled the filter and stepped away while it filtered through. Maybe you just have decided you have enough coffee and that you’ll pour the rest later.
This pause lets your coffee cool down, slows extraction, and leads to an under-extracted coffee. If your pour-over tasted sour in the past, that’s the issue.
Make sure the coffee grounds are constantly saturated while you’re doing a pour-over. A consistent temperature will help to give a fuller, more robust flavor.
Keep a Steady Pour Speed
Along with a consistent temperature should be a consistent pour speed. When pouring your water in, you don’t want to pour a considerable amount of hot water and then wait for it to drop. This is the whole reason the temperature is inconsistent – because the water level ebbs and flows too much!
Instead, you should make sure your pour speed remains the same throughout. This is especially effective when you’re doing a coffee bloom at the start, as accidentally pouring too much will ruin the bloom.
Keep a steady pour speed as you make your coffee. You’ll ensure every last ground has a chance to extract so you taste the complex flavors of your favorite blend.
Pre-Wet The Filter
Coffee filters have residue from manufacturing. This can vary by manufacturer, but it almost always leads to an unpleasant earthy taste in your coffee.
Dry filters also hold back brewing. While the filter is dry, the coffee may not flow through it as well, as the filter absorbs some water and reduces the yield.
You can avoid both of these problems by wetting your filter. Before you add your coffee, pour hot water to saturate the filter, and dump out the rinse water from the brewer. It’s best to use hot water to make sure the temperature remains consistent with your coffee.
Preheat Your Brewing Device
Speaking of consistent temperatures, make sure it’s more than just the water and coffee. You should properly heat whatever brewing device you’re using.
If you’re using a glass vessel, you should swirl hot water inside to heat the glass. The same goes for plastic or whether you use a traditional Chemex or V60, as any preheated device will have better thermal retention for the final coffee.
Not preheating your vessel will avoid having your coffee cool unevenly. Heating it will ensure that your coffee isn’t being cooled down as it drips into the vessel. Reheating coffee usually just leads to destroying a lot of the good flavors and creating bitter coffee, so the preheated brewer allows you to enjoy coffee for longer.
Begin With a Coffee Bloom
A necessary technique for making pour-over is the coffee bloom. The coffee bloom is the initial part of brewing, where hot water releases the carbon dioxide in coffee. This occurs as the hot water hits the coffee and is a crucial part of brewing.
The bloom is important because carbon dioxide 1) tastes bad and 2) prevents the rest of the coffee flavors from extracting. So make sure to bloom the coffee by pouring some hot water as the initial bloom. Pour two times the coffee weight as water and wait 30 seconds as the coffee releases the carbon dioxide. You’ll notice the grounds rise or “bloom” during this time. Then continue the pour as normal.
I find it’s easiest to begin the bloom pour from the outside and pour in a slow spiral inward. Once you get to the center, begin the same action in reverse. Doing so can help make sure all of your coffee is properly bloomed.
Use the Right Grind Size
Another common issue that beginners to pour-over coffee deal with is the grind size of their coffee. Many will use a coarse grind without understanding why and then brew it like a finely-ground coffee.
What exact grind size you need really depends on the device and filters. A conical pour-over like a Chemex uses a medium-coarse grind size because the filters are quite thick, and there’s one small air channel, which slows the pour speed. Meanwhile, a V60 can use a medium or even medium-fine grind size since the filters are thin and the ribbed edges lead to faster filtration.
If you’re grinding your coffee, use a burr grinder to get a consistent grind size, and do not use a blade grinder. A blade grinder is a sure way to end up with poor coffee. Consistent grinds lead to consistent extraction and flavor.
Lastly, use a coarser grind size for larger quantities because it’ll take longer to do the pour; therefore, you need to offset to higher extraction of more time with coarser grind size.
These tips to improve pour-over coffee are only some of the many ways you can make the perfect cup. Make sure you follow these tips and continue practicing until you’re making great coffee every time.