Brewing Great Coffee With the Pour-Over Method  Recipe
Brewing Great Coffee With the Pour-Over Method

By Emma Christensen

I had one of the best cups of coffee of my life recently at Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco. Smooth, robustly flavored, with hardly any acidity -- you can bet I savored it to the very last drop!

This terrific coffee was brewed following the "pour over" method, in which coffee is ground on the spot, placed in a cone filter, "bloomed" with a special pour, and then brewed and filtered. It takes two to three minutes to make a cup this way, and it's all the rage at finer coffee shops. But it's not hard to duplicate at home, even without a lot of fancy equipment.

I take a pretty simple (some might say lazy) approach to brewing coffee. I don't like to crowd my counter with a drip coffee maker, and anything that would require special-ordered filters turns me off. I also only typically drink one cup of coffee per day. The pour-over method is perfect for people like me.

A sophisticated barista might disagree with me on this next point, but I think you can take the instructions below with a grain of salt. I do measure out my beans and grind them thoroughly, and I also measure out my water. But then I tend to guesstimate the times by just watching the clock, and I don't generally adhere to the advised circular pouring motions.

My cup of coffee might not be as absolutely perfect as the cup you'll get at Four Barrel or any other fine coffee establishment, but at 7 a.m., I think I'm doing pretty well for myself!

What You Need to Make Coffee with the Pour-Over Method

Ingredients:

28 grams (1 ounce) whole roasted coffee beans

Cold water, preferably filtered

Equipment:

An electric scale

Coffee grinder

A single-cup drip coffee cone (see note below)

A single-cup paper coffee filter

A measuring cup

A coffee cup

Instructions:

1. Boil the water and set up equipment. Fill a kettle with cold water and set it to boil.

Meanwhile, put the paper coffee filter inside the cone and rinse it with hot water (I use hot tap water). This helps get rid of any paper tastes and also helps the coffee filter more easily.

Set the cone with the moistened filter on top of a measuring cup, and place both on top of an electric scale. Also fill your coffee mug with hot water so the ceramic warms, and set it to the side.

2. Grind the coffee. Measure out your coffee beans and coarsely grind them. The grounds should resemble sand, not powder, when you're done. Pour the grounds into the filter and tare the scale to zero.

3. Bloom the coffee. Pour 60 grams of hot water over the grounds, using a circular motion to be sure the grounds become evenly saturated. Let this sit for one minute. This step allows the coffee to degas, ensuring better flavor in the resulting cup of coffee

4. Continue brewing the coffee. After the one-minute bloom, start adding more water until the scale measures 415 grams total (or 355 grams if your scale shut off while the grounds were blooming, as mine does, and you have to re-tare). Pour in a slow and steady stream, concentrating on the middle of the grounds.

5. Wait for the coffee to filter. The coffee should filter in about 2 or 2 1/2 minutes. Once the stream of coffee slows to a drip, your lovely cup of coffee is finished brewing. Dump the hot water out of your waiting coffee cup and pour in the brewed coffee.

Additional Notes:

-- My favorite single-cup coffee cone is the Frieling ceramic filter, but you can find plastic ones at any grocery store. Both are available on Amazon.com: $15.70 for the Frieling and $5.99 for the plastic.

-- As always, you need great coffee beans to brew great coffee, no matter which method you use. It's worth seeking out the best.

-- If you're ever in San Francisco, check out Four Barrel: Four Barrel Coffee, 375 Valencia St (at 15th) San Francisco, CA 94103 / (415) 252-0800.

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