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Manual Brewing Tips: Pour Over

Posted by Caryn Nelson on

Manual Brewing Tips: Pour Over

There are so many variables that influence coffee quality, but rest assured that we're making sure these variables are covered until it reaches your hands. But what then? How do you translate all of the work that was done during cultivation, harvest, at the wet mill/washing station, while resting, at the dry mill, during shipment, and while puzzle solving the perfect roast profile? We're hoping these tips can guide you to that perfect cup representation.

It's important to note that any kind of coffee brewing requires precision and the right equipment. For any kind of coffee brewing we'll need a digital scale (e.g., Acaia, Acaia, Acaia, Jennings, Hario, did we mention Acaia??), some way to heat our water to 200°F and 205°F (temperature variable kettles are hard to find these days!) and pour our water (e.g., a goose neck kettle or something with a spout, which will help control our pours), a burr grinder (e.g., Baratza, Fellow, Acaia, Bodum, Hario, Porlex, Oxo, Kitchenaid), Junior's Roasted Coffee, a timer, and possibly a stirring device.

We'll save espresso for another time, so let's talk about filter coffee. Filter coffee can mean pretty much anything but espresso. There are many ways to brew filter coffee, whether it's batch brewed or manually brewed. Batch brew suggests that we're brewing many cups of coffee at once, whereas manual brew suggests we're brewing single cups at a time. We can batch brew at home with a drip coffee machine, or we can manually brew coffee at home with a variety of manual brew styles, such as immersion, pour over, or combinations of the two.

When manually brewing "pour over" coffee, we can take our pick from many different manufacturers, filters, designs, and techniques, all of which accentuate different aspects of a coffee's flavor profile. For pour over we recommend taring your brewing device, vessel you're brewing into, and coffee to zero on your scale so that you can weigh your water input (see below!). You can control the total brew time (see below!) with your pour phases (i.e., how often and how long you pour for), the size of hole at the bottom of the "cone", and grind size.

Chemex, for example, is distinguished by its hourglass shape, but most importantly for its filter. The Chemex filter is double bonded, so it provides extra thick filtration. There are a few different filter sizes, which correspond to different Chemex sizes. The thick Chemex filter creates a slow flow rate (i.e., longer total brew time), so one might be inclined to grind a little coarser if you're shooting for a brew time between 3 and 6 minutes. The resulting cup has a very clean cup profile.

Hario V60 is a simple cone manufactured in plastic, copper, ceramic, metal, or glass, and, like the Chemex, it requires it's own set of filters. The hole at the bottom of the dripper is large and the filters are thin, so the V60 flow rate is quite fast. Keep this in mind when trying to figure out where to start with grind size. If the grind is too coarse, the brew times will be too quick, and your resulting cup will be under extracted (i.e., thin/watery, flavorless). We recommend a slower pour, which will allow you to get total brew times that are longer than 2 minutes. The V60 cup profile can be crisp and delicate, and can accentuate acidity in a coffee. 

Kalita is almost like a combination of V60 and Chemex. The cone shape and design are distinctive, with three small holes at the bottom of the flat cone, which leads to slower flow rates (i.e., longer total brew times). Kalita filters are ruffled, and are slightly thicker than V60 filters, but are thinner than Chemex. The resulting cup profile has more body than V60 and Chemex. Body can have to do with extraction, but can also be affected by what is being filtered out of the beverage.

The Origami brewer is similar to V60 in terms of cup profile, but can be used with cone or flat bottom filters. The brewer is beautiful, and is made from Mino porcelain. Cone material can influence heat retention (food for thought when having the choice between, say, plastic, ceramic, metal, etc.). We recommend stirring the coffee at the bloom, and even recommend this for Chemex. Check out our Origami recipe here.

Let's review our coffee extraction basics. These concepts can be applied to all filter coffee, from batch brew, to immersion, to pour over, or otherwise.

DOSE is the amount of coffee we use (measured in grams). If you don’t have access to a digital scale, know that 1 tablespoon is equivalent to 6-8 grams of wholebean coffee.

WATER INPUT is the weight of the water we use (measured in grams) to brew with.

**The ratio of Dose and Water make our Filter Coffee Brew Ratio. We suggest a coffee to brew water ratio of 1:16 to 1:17 for filter coffee. For example, if you’re using 15g of coffee and 250g water, your brew ratio is 1:16.67.

Burr grinders will give you a more consistent GRIND SIZE, and you’ll be able to repeat the same grind size twice. It’s best to grind your coffee right before brewing, because grinding your coffee too far in advance accelerates the aging process of your roasted coffee. Remember that the finer you grind, the more you extract.

TOTAL BREW TIME is the amount of time the water and coffee interact together. The longer you brew something for, the more you extract. Most filter coffee brews for 3-6 minutes. Total brew time can include the "bloom", which is when we add an amount of water that is roughly equivalent (or double) in weight as the dose of coffee to suspend all of the particles and (hopefully) prevent finer particles from settling to the bottom, it can include all of our phases of adding water to the coffee bed, and can include the "drip time", which is when we're done adding water and are just waiting for our water to drain out from our coffee bed.

We recommend BREW WATER TEMPERATURE between 200°F and 205°F. If you are using a kettle on the stove, bring the water to a boil and wait 30-45 seconds off boil before using the water to brew. The hotter your brewing water is, the faster you can extract coffee.

There are other extraction variables, but we'll save that for another post.



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