How to Master a Pour Over Cup of Coffee

Early in the morning there is nothing like the wrapping your hands around a hot mug and enjoying the smell of a fresh cup of coffee.

When I went into college I discovered I liked coffee and tea—a lot.

At first, it was the ambience of a coffee shop I liked. Each one is a little different, some are bustling and some are quiet. People go to connect with a friend or get some real thinking done. I knew I didn’t like ‘froo-froo’ coffee shops and that I was in the wrong place when the barista asked me if I wanted flavoring in my latte or coffee.

As time went on, I started getting curious about the characteristics of coffee. Why did some coffee taste burnt every time *ahem, Starbucks* while others carried actual, identifiable notes of fruit or nuts? If coffee is a ‘commodity’, why the broad variance in product quality?

5 Factors to Create a Beautiful Cup of Coffee

I learned that when it comes to a solid cup of black coffee (one of life’s simplest joys), there are a few variables that impact a quality drinking experience:

  • The origin of the beans – This could be an article in itself. The actual location where your coffee cherries originate has a major influence on the flavor of your cup. Just as in wine, the soil, water and air quality all can bring out different flavor profiles. Single origin coffees are from one location whereas blends have a mix of different beans from different locations.
  • The grind of the coffee – Depending on your brew method, properly grinding your coffee is critical to bringing out the beautiful flavors. One of the golden rules of coffee brewing is to always start with whole bean coffee. While the convenience of grinding your coffee ahead of time may be tempting, once coffee is ground the released aromatics results in a loss of precious taste notes within 30 seconds of processing. So, to preserve the flavor of your coffee, store your coffee whole bean and grind upon serving.
  • Water quality – This one can be more difficult to control, but the purity of water has a major impact on brewing a cup of coffee. Whenever possible, try to have the clearest quality water you can access.
  • Temperature – Beyond the pleasure of a hot cup of coffee, temperature has a major influence on brew quality. If your water is too cold, then the flavors of the coffee won’t extract properly. Too hot, and you run the risk of burning your coffee.
  • Brew method – The most common brew methods include french press, drip, siphon and pour over. Each one comes with it’s own benefits and requires it’s own type of equipment.

My favorite, every day brew method is pour over. In my opinion, it offers close control of the individual cup of coffee. There is a bit of technique that goes into brewing a cup, but it is well worth it.

How to Brew a Pour Over Cup of Coffee

  1. Heat the water – Bring the purest form of water possible to a boil.
  2. Grind the coffee – Grind 30 grams of coffee (3 tbsp) to a coarseness resembling sea salt.
  3. Wet the filter – Wet it the paper filter with hot water. This serves two purposes: sealing the paper filter to the cone and steeping the mug to make sure it’s nice and toasty. Discard the water in the mug.
  4. Bloom the coffee – Pour enough hot water so that you see the coffee expand or ‘bloom’. At this point you’ll notice the smells of the coffee release as the hot water causes a release of CO2 gasses from the coffee grounds. Slowly pour until all coffee grounds are saturated and then allow the bubbling to continue for 30-seconds or so.
  5. Pour, slowly – Starting in the center, pour water in a spiral shape over the coffee grounds. Continue so until you have filled your mug.
  6. Enjoy!

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