How To Take Your Pour Over Brewing To The Next Level
Brewers should be curious and adventurous when making pour over coffee. For those already equipped with a scale, grinder, thermometer, stopwatch, and a few expert-approved recipes, that might sound a bit unconventional. But that’s what these tips are: ways to add an unconventional and innovative spin to your pour over brewing.
I spoke to a number of professional baristas and international brewing champions to explore how they spice up their pour over brewing at home. While they all do things slightly differently, they did all agree on one point: experimenting with your pour over brewing is a great idea.
Read on to find out what they said.
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Use A Recipe
Before you begin experimenting with your pour over brewing, make sure you have a recipe to follow. This will help to keep your results consistent, which will stop you wasting time and coffee.
Daniel Horbat is a barista from Ireland, and the 2019 World Cup Tasters Champion. He sticks to the same recipe every time, instead adjusting a single variable – grind size – when experimenting. “Try to keep everything locked down and play with just a certain variable,” he says.
Daniel also brews small quantities when playing around with recipes: “For me, coffee tastes better when I brew it in a small ratio of around 15g to 250ml.” He recommends that everyone does this, as it allows them to use a personalised recipe every day to get consistent results.
Try Different Filters
Daniel says that instead of simply “wetting” the paper filter, you should pour a significant amount of hot water through it to get any bleach or paper flavours out. Once this is done, start brewing right away; this will prevent the filter from absorbing any water and affecting extraction.
Gabriel Carol is a barista from Romania, as well as a two-time Romanian Brewers Cup Champion. He says that choosing the right paper filter helped him to improve his brewing and that he likes to experiment with them.
Gabriel also says that you should change your filter depending on the roast profile of your beans: “For dark roasted beans, I use thick filter papers (0.28mm). For light roasted beans, I use thinner ones (0.15mm).”
For medium-light beans, Gabriel chooses to use abaca filter paper, which is an eco-friendly, non-wood alternative made from Manila hemp. He uses a brewing time of 2:10 to 2:20 minutes, which he says is the “sweet spot” for his brews.
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Blooming & Infusion
Some experts will tell you that when you brew pour over coffee, one of the most important steps is the bloom. In this stage, you pour a small amount of water onto the coffee, causing the grinds to rise and “purging” the CO2 within. Most people recommend that the coffee should bloom for between 30 and 45 seconds.
Julia Fortini is a Brazilian barista and 2020 Brazilian Brewers Cup Champion. She says: “Everyone says that [for the bloom] you use twice as much water as coffee. So for example, if you use 15g of coffee, you should add 30ml of water.”
However, Julia skips the bloom. She says: “Instead, I make sure that all the coffee is wet well, and I wait longer than usual before I start pouring more water in constant circular movements. I like to use a thicker grind and delay the extraction, which provides a more delicate result and a more complex flavour.” She explains that this allows the more complex flavour notes to extract, including good acidity, which she describes as “hard to get.”
Daniel does the same: “Around 80% of people who are competing don’t start with the bloom; they pour in the water straight away. I just let the coffee sit for longer, which lets it release all the chlorogenic acids.”
Greek barista Michalis Dimitrakopoulos is the World Coffee in Good Spirits Champion of 2016 and World Barista Champion Runner Up in 2019. He has a unique approach to brewing pour over coffee, which also skips blooming altogether. For Michalis, the best thing to do is “shake things up” in pre-infusion. He says his recipe is easy, and produces consistent, effective results.
Michalis starts with a ratio of 18g of coffee to 250g of water. Instead of pouring water slowly into a filter, he pours the water directly over the coffee in a glass receptacle. After it has infused for a full minute, he pours everything into a pre-wet filter paper and lets the coffee drip.
Adjust Your Brewing Temperature
Elisa Urdich is a barista from Italy, and the 2020 Italian Brewing Champion. She tells me that adjusting water temperature during extraction can produce good results, and that this option works well to highlight the characteristics of well-fermented and naturally processed coffees. Much like Michalis, Daniel, and Julia, she also skips the bloom phase.
To brew the coffee, she pours 100g of 85°C water over 18.5g coffee for 20 seconds. Once the coffee bed is dry (at around 1:15 minutes), she pours another 150g of 93°C water for one and a half minutes, stopping at 2:45.
“This increases the fruity acidity and aroma. The downside can be a loss of body, but with this kind of coffee, this is not a big issue due to the extremely dense mouthfeel,” Elisa explains.
Pouring & Stirring
While many people recommend pouring water slowly in circular motions when brewing pour over coffee, Gabriel chooses not to. “I pour water only into the center of the coffee bed, with no spinning, and no circular pouring into the dripper.”
For his recipe, Gabriel uses a ratio of 12g of light roasted beans or 13g of dark roasted beans, ground to a medium coarseness. He heats his water to 92°C for light roasted beans and to 87°C for dark roasted beans.
He pours 30g of water over the coffee in a thin stream, and lets it bloom for 30 seconds. He then adds another 70g of water and stops for a moment before adding another 90g in two separate pours of 45g each. This entire process takes 2:10 to 2:20 minutes, pouring a total of 190g of water into the dripper.
Daniel, however, doesn’t stir or spin his water at all. He believes that stirring disrupts the coffee bed, which can cause the coffee to over-extract. He says: “Many people do the spin, the knock, and all of that again… they say they get the same results when they do it, but I doubt that. I am pretty sure you’ll get different results every time.”
Experiment With Batch Brewing
Before you experiment with batch brewing, have a baseline recipe you can refer to. Daniel says: “I created some recipes so I don’t have to waste time. I can do other things around the house while my coffee brews and still get really good results.”
Gabriel agrees. He says that when he batch brews with a Moccamaster, he gets a stable and consistent brew if he uses a “safe and standard recipe”. His ratio of choice is 60g of coffee to one litre of water heated to 95°C. He also uses a much coarser grind that he describes as being “similar to a sugar crystal”.
If you’re going to be batch brewing in a flat-bed device, Daniel suggests using two paper filters to increase the coffee’s brew time. He says this creates a brew with more clarity, sweetness, and balance. He also recommends using a very coarse grind size for batch brewing devices, as well as water heated to around 95 or 96ºC. He also uses the same ratio as Gabriel: 60g of coffee to 1 litre of water.
There are so many different variables involved in brewing pour over coffee. By changing even one at a time, you can end up with dramatically different results.
Follow the suggestions above to put an innovative spin on your brew. However, no matter what you do, remember the golden rule: stick to a tried and tested recipe to achieve consistent and repeatable results.
Enjoyed this? Then read How To Improve Your Batch Brew Coffee
Photo credits: Isabelle Mani, Daniel Horbat, Taste Coffee & More, Tommaso Meneghin, Memli Coffee
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