There are lots of coffee-related words that begin with a ‘p’: pressure, pulping, pretty much perfect…
Let’s introduce another one: pour over!
What is pour over coffee?
Pour over is a manual way of brewing drip coffee. Drip coffee can be brewed by hand or by machine; either way, the method involves gravity drawing hot water through coffee grounds and into a container below. With pour over coffee, you (rather than a machine) pour the water over the grounds to create one helluva final cup.
Tell me more about this pour…
Pour over devices are usually single bodies that hold a filter. Most filters are made of paper, but you can also find cloth or metal varieties. You place your coffee grounds into the filter and then pour over just-boiled water using a swan neck kettle (it allows you to be more precise). The water comes down through the grounds, extracts all the luscious coffee flavours and dribbles merrily into your cup.
It might sound fancy to say, “ooooh, I’ve got a drip machine,” but trust us, you don’t need to take out a mortgage on a pricy electric machine to achieve awesome drip coffee. In fact, you’ll probably brew better using this manual pour over method. Why? Because pouring by hand gives you so much more control over the flow of the water. As such, you can make sure all the coffee grounds sitting in the filter are equally saturated.
Pouring in the past
The basic idea of pour over has probably been around since coffee drinking began. Saudi Arabian and Turkish cultures, for instance, made coffee by heating grounds together with water.
Jump forward to the 19th century, and you’ll find that people were mainly brewing coffee using percolators (the grandfather of the modern cafetière). The unfiltered coffee this turned out was… interesting. Something probably more akin to muddy pond water than artisan coffee.
In 1908, a German lady named Melitta Bentz wanted to improve coffee brewing. She introduced the idea of a dripper and paper filter, transforming coffee brewing in the process. Seriously, Alan Sugar wouldn’t have known what to do if Melitta Bentz stepped before him!
Pour over coffee is currently having a moment with the birth of ‘third wave coffee’. Pour over is the original way of brewing coffee at home, and it’s still majorly popular in all the best speciality coffee shops.
Why is it so great?
It’s not without good reason that pour over methods are so popular. Speciality coffee cafes like this method because it accentuates all the flavour nuances in good artisan coffee. Is there a hint of cherry? An inkling of nutmeg spice? You’ll be able to taste them all with a pour over brew.
Pour over methods are also versatile, which makes it easy to achieve THAT cup of coffee. Unlike the AeroPress and Stovetop, where the serving size is fixed, you can simply up your amounts of coffee and water to serve more people.
Pour over is great for experimenting with flavour, too. If your pour over coffee tastes weak and a touch too sour, try grinding the coffee a bit finer. If it tastes bitter, try a coarser grind. Coarser grinds help the water to find the gaps in the coffee more easily and, as such, allow it to run through faster. The water spends less time in contact with the grounds, so the final cup won’t be as strong.
V60 v. Chemex
We keep talking of ‘pour over methods’, so we’d best clear up what these methods are. There are various pour over coffee devices, but the V60 Coffee Dripper and the Chemex are the most famous. And with good reason – both make a rip-roaring cup of coffee!
The V60 Coffee Dripper looks a bit like a white coffee cup perched on a saucer. Nothing special to look at, but just you wait! The coffee is lush… The V60 gets its name from the V-shaped cone body into which you insert your filter. Your coffee goes in here, and then you pop it on the top of your cup or jug. The wave-like ridges aren’t just there to give your V60 a pretty face, either. They’re all part of the clever design that helps to ensure a steady flow of water and air.
A Chemex, meanwhile, is a whole vessel. It is renowned for its stylish, ever-so-sciencey design that just oozes sophistication. A Chemex is made from heat-resistant borosilicate glass, while V60s come in various materials. The filters are another major difference – probably the most important one.
Chemex paper filters are 20% thicker than V60 filters and, though this might not seem like much, it has a fair impact on flavour. Because Chemex papers are slightly denser, more of the coffee oil remains in the filter rather than making its way through to the finished coffee. Chemex coffee therefore comes with a slightly clearer taste and lighter body. The fine V60 papers, on the other hand, are ideal if you want a faster extraction time and a smooth coffee with a bit more mouthfeel.
What does it taste like?
You already know a bit about the differences between Chemex and V60 coffee, but their flavours are similar on many levels.
Firstly, they are your number one option for experiencing coffee to the max. One step down from jumping in it and taking a bath, we’d say. A pour over allows you to taste great coffee to the fullest, experiencing every last tasting note and delicate drop of flavour. Your finished coffee will be balanced, with a happy harmony between sweetness and acidity. The texture will be smooth, and the taste clean and light (more so in a Chemex). There might also be a more interesting complexity than you’ll find in, say, a pressure-brewed coffee because you are giving the coffee and water more time to steep. Oh, Melitta Bentz, you really did open the gates to coffee heaven…
Tell me how!
This is a coffee that needs to be made – so let’s do it!
We’re going to take a closer look at the V60 here. Chemex brewing is almost identical – find out more in our coffee brewing with a filter guide.
We begin, as with all good coffee, with a boiled kettle. If you’re grinding at home, turn your machine to a medium setting and grind to the consistency of rough sugar. Alternatively, let us grind for you by simply selecting ‘Pour Over’ when you check out of our online shop.
Place the paper filter in the V-shaped dripper and pop it on your cup. Pour in a little hot water to flush away any papery taste and discard the water that comes through.
Then it’s time to add the coffee. 3 heaped tablespoons (20g) for two servings is a good place to start, but feel free to experiment. You’ll need 320ml of water for this amount of coffee. Pour some of it (around 50ml will be great) over the grounds and allow them to ‘bloom’. This will only take about 30 seconds.
? Handy tip alert! ?
Don’t forget that 1ml is equal to 1g, so you can easily measure out your water by placing your cup and V60 on your kitchen scales!
Next, pour the remaining water over the grounds. Use a circular motion to make sure none of the grounds stick to the side and stay dry. A swan neck kettle will help with this, but don’t worry if you haven’t got one. This second pour stage will take between 2 and 2.5 minutes. All the brewed coffee should have dripped through by the time you hit 3.5 minutes.
And, by Jove, you’ve done it! Now for an awesome cup of fresh coffee…
You know all about it, so why not have a go at brewing in a V60 or Chemex? And don’t forget the freshly roasted coffee, too! It’ll make your device very happy.
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