How to Use a Pour Over Brewer

Eric Faust / Heavy Table

Eric Faust / Heavy Table

Every morning millions of people wake up, walk across their kitchen, and press the little button on the side of their electric drip coffee maker. The sound of suction and steam as the machine brews a fresh pot is an integral part of many mornings. The stains in the bottom of the carafe and and the glow of the “on” button on the side of the machine are part of the morning ritual and comfort that a pot of coffee can bring.

To many the thought of fumbling with an espresso machine or the rich hearty brew of a French press is too much in the morning. The ease of the electric drip brew machine is what makes the morning bearable.

Unfortunately the coffee that most electric drip brewers deliver is less than satisfactory. As more coffee shops have opened, people have opted for a $2 cup of coffee rather than the black swill that they make at home. This is because many electric drip brewers do not have the capabilities to brew coffee properly.

The biggest problem with the average electric drip coffee brewer is that it does not heat the water hot enough for brewing coffee. Many brewers drip water over the grounds at lower temperatures and then rely on the heating pad holding the carafe to heat it to a temperature that is suitable for drinking. Only high-end machines like Bunn and Technivorm heat water hot enough for proper extraction.

Spending over $200 on a coffee maker may be out of the question, but spending $5 is worth a try. The pour over brewer has been overlooked for as long as electric drip brewers have been available. It has been written off as ineffective because it is simple and affordable, but still it is a brewing device that is as capable of brewing a superior cup of coffee.

Like those of the French press, the key variables to consider are coffee quality, grind, water, and time. With the pour over brewer, another variable to consider is the filter. Most pour over brewers use a cone filter rather than a flat-bottom filter used in many electric drip brewers. Bleached, natural, and bamboo are among the varieties of disposable filters, but there are also reusable filters made from a metal screen. The reusable metal filter is the most effective because it allows for the most flavor to pass through and into the cup. Among the disposable filters the bleached white filters are the most neutral. The bamboo and natural filters give off a slight earthy taste that in time will detract from the flavors in the cup.

The water used for the pour over brewer should be the same as the French press, between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Taking a pot of water off of a boil for a few minutes will allow you to easily reach an ideal temperature.

The grind for the pour over brewer is not as coarse as the French press and not as fine as espresso. The cone filter needs a slightly finer grind than a flat-bottom filter. This will slow down the rate of flow and allow more time for extraction. The grind should be similar to the coarseness of sugar and have a uniform look and feel.

Eric Faust / Heavy Table

Eric Faust / Heavy Table

The coffee should be ground after the water is heated, and the amount used will vary depending on your taste. The Specialty Coffee Association of America recommends 14.5 grams of coffee for every 8 oz of water — approximately 2 tbsp of coffee for every 8 oz of water.

When the coffee has been properly ground and the water is at the ideal temperature, the water should be slowly poured over the grounds in a varied manner allowing the grounds to slowly moisten. The coffee should be stirred, and as it drips, the sides of the filter should be scrapped allowing for the water to continue to extract flavor from all of the grounds. The entire brew will take less time than a brew in a French press.

There isn’t a button that lights up or a heating pad to keep your coffee warm. It takes a little extra effort, but in the end it is a simple and affordable way to brew a superior cup of coffee that will put your electric drip brewer to rest.

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7 Comments

  1. I agree. I love this method. Not least because it’s nigh impossible to break or wear out the brewer and you never have to de-lime it.

    I haven’t liked the coffee that results from those metal filters, though. I went back to paper after a couple brews/

  2. Oh man, my mom used to have one of these. I haven’t seen one in quite some time. Neat story – thanks!

  3. Such a compelling story, I hear we have one en route to our house. I’ll be interested to try it out.

  4. Everett 10/12/2009 Reply

    YEA! My favorite food writer (Corby Kummer, “Joy of Coffee”) taught me this one ages ago and it has long been my favorite cuppa joe.

  5. hi – where can I purchase one of these brewers?

  6. Author

    Don,
    You can find pour over brewers at most cooking stores. I recently purchased one from Cooks on Grand Ave. If you are interested in purchasing one off the internet you can find a great selection at Sweet Marias http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.single_cup.php

    Happy Brewing,

    Eric Faust

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