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Pourover 101: Why You Should Try This Coffee Brewing Method

In the olden days – like, back in the 11th Century when coffee was discovered in Ethiopia – you made coffee by boiling cherries in gourds and then drinking the black goodness that resulted.

We’re in the 21st Century now, and we don’t have to brew coffee in gourds (unless you really want to). We have a few different ways to prepare a steaming cup, including one popular method: pourover.

What is pourover and how does it make great-tasting coffee that you will savor with joy? We’re glad you asked.

Pourover Explained

Pourover is one of the simplest ways to make coffee. True to its name, this method involves pouring water over the coffee grounds to produce coffee.

You start with ground coffee. We prefer one of the tasty ones featured on our website, like the Sumatra Huta Raja or the Ethiopia Kossa Geshe.  The type of coffee matters; you can choose light, medium, or dark roast, and can pick coffee based on its natural flavors.

You then take a filter holder, which is called a pourover dripper. Place a conical filter in the holder, place the grounds in it, then take hot water (set to a precise temperature) and pour it over the grounds over and over again.

The water will brew the grounds, which will drip down into the receptacle. Then, presto – you have coffee.

Factors That Influence Pourover Quality

Of course, we made it sound really simple, but the truth is, there are several factors that go into getting the best quality from pourover.

The temperature of the water is a big one. The temperature determines the rate at which the chemistry that makes coffee from grounds works. The hotter the water, generally speaking, the faster the process will take. But you don’t want it too hot because that can affect the quality of the finished drink.

We precisely heat our water to the right temperature, so you do not have to worry about a subpar pourover.

The rate at which you pour also matters. We have taught our baristas how to do a pourover like champions. They have each spent months in a secluded refuge in the Himalayas, doing pourovers for monks 10 times a day in the freezing cold, just to learn this subtle art. (That’s probably not true.)

Here’s why the rate matters. When you wet dry coffee grounds with hot water, it releases carbon dioxide. You have to wait until the carbon dioxide escapes before you can add more water. That is why you control the rate. You will know you are doing it right when you see a “bloom,” or the coffee grinds expand and swell.

The water then dissolves the solutes in the beans. Now, here’s something really important: there are good and bad solutes in coffee grounds. We only want the good ones. Fortunately, the good ones dissolve faster. Unfortunately, if you do not time your pour just right, and overdo it, you will dissolve the bad ones and make your coffee taste worse.

Finally, the quality of the grind matters. You want a nice, even grind, with the right settings (from coarse to fine). Getting the right grind means having a quality grinder and knowing how to get the best flavors from the coffee you are grinding.

In short, pourover sounds simple, but it can be complicated.

Why Choose Pourover?

There are two reasons why pourover is a great method. One, it gives the brewer more control over the brewing process, and more control usually equals a better result. Two, it highlights the bean quality and flavor in a special way. Not that other methods do not, but there is something great about how a good pourover really makes the flavors sing.

If you’re not convinced, give it a try. Come to Seeds in Homewood or Lakeview and put our baristas’ Himalayan pourover skills to the test. You’ll be glad you did.