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One of the beauties of pour-over coffee is its simplicity.
You’re getting to the essence of coffee making. Watching the drip drip drip of the brewed coffee into a glass carafe is, for me, almost a meditative experience. Unless I’m really impatient for my cup of coffee, obviously.
But one of the reasons pour-over is so great is that it actually takes a while to master. Sure, you can make drinkable or even decent coffee by just plonking a filter in your V60, throwing in some coffee, and pouring boiled water over it but don’t you want to make great coffee?
Today, I’m going to talk you through how to do that!
I’ll use sample measurements in this guide, but remember we have a whole article on coffee to water ratios and also one on water temperatures if you want to refer to either and make adjustments.
My guide will go right through from grind to your first sip of perfect pour-over, so strap in!
1. The Equipment
You will need a few items for your first V60 brewing experience.
Firstly, obviously, a V60! There are a lot of great options out there, but I prefer a glass or ceramic V60 to plastic as plastic is a little flimsy.
You’ll also need a carafe. For your first few pours, at least, clear is best so that you can see the entire process and don’t accidentally overfill.
You will also need a digital scale, though as you will know if you’ve read my coffee to water ratios guide, I think it’s fine to learn to measure your coffee and water in other ways after initial use of the scale to calibrate things.
You need a timer, too, at least until you get your technique down.
Obviously, you’ll need a paper filter for your V60.
Your kettle should be of good quality and have a great pour on it. I recommend a small gooseneck kettle.
Preferably, you’ll have a burr grinder. Second to that, a blade grinder or if it’s fresh and good quality then coffee ground to the correct (large) consistency for pour-over.
And, of course, coffee beans if you’re not going ground.
2. The Coffee
You can achieve a decent pour-over with any kind of coffee bean, but it’s a particularly great way to showcase complex flavors and light roasts. I love a single-origin, light roast coffee for my V60. Obviously, though, that’s not to everyone’s taste. Why not just start with your favorite beans?
For two cups of coffee, measure out 30g of beans. This is about 3 tablespoons. Depending on your coffee, you may need slightly less or slightly more but start with 30g.
Grind your beans to as close as you can manage to the texture of sea salt. This might be labeled as drip grind or medium-fine on your grinder.
3. The Water (and Filter!)
Don’t worry about measuring the water when it goes into the kettle; just make sure not to overfill. Keep in mind that you will need 350g (350ml) of water for your 30g coffee and to make two cups of pour-over.
Fit the filter paper to the V60 carefully, making sure it’s snug and not folded anywhere.
When your kettle is boiled, use the hot water to wet the filter completely. This will ready it for use, and make sure that it doesn’t slip down or move when you’re brewing. If an edge folds over, you might need to start again with a new filter.
Place the V60 with filter onto your carafe if you haven’t already.
Note: When you add your water to your coffee, you will want it to be at about 195-205f. You can heat it a little more than this, as it will lose some heat during the brewing process.
4. The Bloom
Now, add your coffee to the prepared filter and tap it down until it is smooth and level. This is really important for getting a consistent pour.
Next, you need to place your set up — V60 and Carafe — onto the digital scale you probably used earlier for your coffee. At this point, zero the scales.
Now it’s time for the first mini-pour of the process. This is called the bloom.
Get your timer ready!
This pour should take 15 seconds. As with all pours for your V60, start at the outside edge close to the filter and spiral your pour in towards the center.
Once the grounds are saturated, let them sit for around 30 seconds and watch the magic of the bloom!
The bloom is the first step of the water and coffee coming together. When your water hits the coffee, CO2 is released and creates a sort of blossoming effect, sort of like your ground coffee breathing! Your coffee grounds will rise to the surface as the water soaks in. This is normal.
Your 15-second pour should reach 60g. If you hit 60g before 15 seconds, stop then, and pour slower next time.
5. The Pours and the Drip, Drip, Drip
For the second pour (that is, the pour after you have left your coffee to bloom for 30 seconds) start in the centre of your ground and spiral out.
This spiralling helps keep your grounds even — you don’t want any big dips or craters in your grounds — and also makes sure all the coffee is evenly saturated.
This pour will add 90ml, taking you up to 150g on your scales. You want to see all the grounds floating upwards here, creating turbulence and getting the best out of your beans.
After the pour, wait 45-60 seconds.
When the water from this pour is reaching the top of the grounds, and the grounds are sinking down into a reasonably solid mass, pour in the next 100g of water. Continue to spiral for an even pour. This should take another 15-20 seconds.
Finally, when the grounds are beginning to settle, add a final 100g of water. This should take 20 seconds.
Watch as your coffee collects in your carafe.
6. The First Sip
Once the drip drip drip of coffee into the container has slowed to almost nonexistent, your java is ready.
Remove the V60 with its filter and wet grounds, and if possible compost the grounds. They’re great for the garden!
Your coffee should be drinking temperature, and pretty clear and crisply flavored.
If your pour is slower than expected or your coffee too dark, then try a larger grind size. If it’s too quick or too light, then try a finer one.
If the filter keeps folding during your pours or water is getting in between the filter and the V60, then take more care with the initial dampening of the filter. It should be adhering to the V60.
If you find your coffee is getting a crater in its center or piling up after you pour, you may need to be more careful and perhaps take more time over your spirals. If this doesn’t work, think about a new kettle.
The Best Kettle for Pour-Over
I always encourage real coffee lovers to invest in a gooseneck kettle.
This is a kettle with a long, slim curved spout for specific and controled pouring. There’s no drip and a narrow stream that’s very different from the pour on a tea kettle.
Goose neck kettles are available for the stovetop or electric. Start with your favorite coffee accessory brands to find one that fits you. Bodum and Hario both have excellent offerings.
You can use a gooseneck kettle for tea, but you can’t use a tea kettle to make a good pour over, so if you’re going to invest in only one, then go gooseneck!
They’re available in a whole range of prices and sizes, so don’t let worries about either potential issue hold you back.
Final Thoughts: Why to go Pour-Over
Mastering pour-over is one of the best things you can do for your relationship with coffee.
Firstly, it’s good to get away from machines and in touch with every aspect of the coffee brewing process, from grind to bloom to finally drinking a hot cup.
Secondly, there’s a purity to pour over. There is no better way to taste coffee in all its complexity. If you really love coffee, the essence of coffee, then you need to give pour-over a go. You can taste every note of a light to medium roast coffee with well-brewed pour-over. What more could you ask?
Plus, it’s cheap, easy after a couple of tries, and will probably impress your friends!
Frequently Asked Questions About Pour Over Coffee
Is Pour-Over the Same as V60?
Short answer, no.
Long answer, no, but V60 is one of two leading methods.
Coffee cones that take filters and have a large opening at their bottom have long been a staple of good coffee making. V60s are currently the most usual and advanced of these.
Most general coffee filters are made with something like a V60 in mind.
The other favorite option is a Chemex, which is a beautiful all-glass alternative. Essentially, a Chemex is a cone and carafe in one.
What Are The Main Differences Between V60 and Chemex?
A V60 can be placed on any mug, carafe or jug that will hold it.
It takes a pretty standard filter.
Grooves on the inside of the filter help coffee run into the vessel below quicker, and in turn this means the V60 takes a medium-fine ground bean.
A Chemex takes a specific, thinner, larger filter. There are no grooves, meaning that the wet grounds gather at the bottom of the filter and the coffee takes longer to drip. For this reason, it takes a slightly rougher grind of beans.
All drip methods will get you a pretty clear, crystalline finished coffee, but the Chemex probably produces the clearest brew available.
For this reason, though, the Chemex makes somewhat weaker coffee and is slightly harder to master.
That being said, the steps above will work for either. In fact, they will work for any pour-over brew method.
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