A Beginner's Guide to Making Pour-Over Coffee at Home
Make single-serving coffee without the plastic pod
There are as many ways to brew coffee as there are to skin a cat, but one of the easiest ways to brew better coffee at home is by using the pour-over method. Making pour-over coffee at home is a particularly good option for folks who only need to brew one cup of coffee at a time—but it comes without any of the environmental guilt of throwing out a plastic pod. If you're used to using one of those single-serving coffeemakers or a traditional drip coffeemaker, making pour-over coffee can seem intimidating, something that only a highly trained barista can do. And there are, admittedly, a lot of moving parts involved.
But once you have the gear in your kitchen, brewing pour-over coffee yourself is pretty straightforward. Having the right tools available will make sure your beans stay fresh, your water doesn't get too hot, and your coffee tastes just right. So if you're just starting out on your journey into pour-over coffee, here are all of the things you'll need to make the best-tasting cup of pour-over coffee at home.
1. Start with beans.
For best results, you should be storing unground beans in an airtight container, ideally in your refrigerator but at least someplace cool.
When you're ready to make coffee, take the beans out from storage and grind them up. I love this grinder because there's a measure on the inside so you can make sure you're only grinding up as many beans as you need.
If you're making pour-over coffee, you want the coffee beans to be ground on the finer side, so that it looks somewhere between sea salt and sand. The grind is important because it'll dictate how slowly the water drips through the beans.
2. Heat up your water.
Though you could use a regular tea kettle to make your pour-over coffee, it's best to have a kettle with a gooseneck to better control the actual pouring. You also don't want to use boiling water; the water should be just below boiling, about 205°F, according to experts at Stumptown Coffee Roasters. That's why an electric kettle is perfect. You can control the temperature to the nearest degree, and the long, thin neck will come in handy later.
If you're looking for a slightly more cost-efficient option, you can also get a stainless steel kettle with built-in thermometer. It is slightly less accurate than the electric kettle, but it'll still get the job done.
3. Place your drip brewer and filter on a mug.
You could get a Chemex, but what's great about a ceramic drip brewer is that it fits on top of most ceramic mugs or to-go thermoses that you already have in your kitchen. That means there's not an extra piece of glassware to clean.
Place a paper filter inside the brewer, and pop the whole contraption on top of your favorite mug. (And be sure to get the right size filter! This white ceramic coffee dripper uses a Size 2 filter, for the record.) Then, to prep the filter for the coffee, pour some of that hot water from your kettle into the paper filter. The idea is to saturate the filter so that you get rid of any papery taste that might be lingering.
4. Weigh out the beans.
Leaving the paper filter in place in the ceramic, take the brewer off your mug, dump the hot water out of the mug and into the sink. Then put the mug-and-ceramic-drip-brewer contraption back together, this time on a scale.
Tare the weight to zero and then add your ground coffee beans. According to the experts at Blue Bottle Coffee, you want to use 23 grams of coffee beans for 350 grams of water if you're making one cup of coffee. So add that 23 grams of ground coffee to the damp filter.
5. Pour water over the beans.
Start by taring the scale again, so that you can see how much water you're adding—and this is where technique of pour-over coffee becomes more important than the gear itself. (I should add here that the directions below are based on how the baristas at Blue Bottle Coffee make pour-over coffee, and it's are great place to start for beginners. But every shop and coffee lover has a slightly different methodology, so start here and adjust your method depending on what works for you. You can also make pour-over coffee based on time rather than weight, in case you don't have a scale.)
First you want to wet the coffee grounds, pouring water around the outer edges of the coffee and working your way in. Keep your eye on the total weight on the scale, and stop when you reach 60 grams. Let that water drip all the way through the grounds, which should take about 30 seconds.
Then you pour another 90 grams of water into the brewer, this time spiraling the pour from the center of the grounds out. Let that soak through fully, then add another 100 grams of water using that same spiraling motion. Once that soaks through, add the final 100 grams of water by pouring right in the center.
6. Sip and enjoy.
And that's it! You've made a single serving of pour-over coffee. If you compost, take the paper filter and grounds and toss them in with the rest of your biodegradable waste. If not, whatever. You still made a single cup of coffee without creating a ton of plastic waste that tastes excellent, too.