Coffee is a simple beverage. There isn’t much to it, just hot water and ground coffee. There’s one component, however, that isn’t so cheap or easy to use, and that’s time. It takes time to draw out the flavors and practice your technique, to understand what you’re tasting and how to get the best out of your cup.
But, all this time devoted to coffee is also time you're taking for yourself. I’ve found that making coffee each morning brings me calm, a much-needed pause before I start the day.
This method—for good coffee, made slow— is one that I’ve edited, tweaked, and built over years of trial and error, and learning from others. You might notice that the recipe is very specific in some places, and not-so in others; pour over coffee is a fun, challenging beast because so much varies across beans, roasts, and brewing techniques.
As for how to taste (and fine-tune) a cup: A balanced brew will, well, taste good. Its flavor should last, and it will have a nice finish. If the flavor doesn't linger and tastes too bright or oily, the coffee’s likely under-extracted. Try grinding finer on the next brew. An overly bitter, flat, and dry-tasting cup means the coffee's been over-extracted. Try a coarser grind next time.
This guide will work with flat bottom or cone-shaped devices. As for the former, I’d recommend the Kalita Wave or Walkure Bayreuth; for the latter, I’ve had great success with Bee House, Hario V60, and the Origami Dripper. You’ll also need a scale for measuring your beans, a filter—cloth or paper are both fine—and a thin-streamed pouring device, like a gooseneck kettle.
Try to enjoy the process and the discovery along the way, and don’t be too hard on yourself if a brew doesn’t turn out the way you expected. There’s always the next cup to look forward to.
1. Grind the beans.
Grind 24 grams (0.85 ounces) of coffee beans until the grounds are finer than sea salt, similar to sand. (Take note of what setting you used to grind, so you can adjust the grind next time to taste.)
2. Heat the water.
Fill your kettle with 500 grams (17.6 ounces) water, and heat over a medium-high flame to 212°F.
3. Heat your brewing device.
Place a filter inside your brewing device, and heat by running roughly 100 grams (about 1/2 cup) of hot water through the brewing device. Discard the water used for preheating. Place the warmed brewing device onto your scale, tare, and add the grounds to the filter. Tare again.
4. Bloom the coffee.
Pour 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of water onto the grounds, and gently swirl the brewer 3 times to evenly saturate the coffee bed (this is called “blooming” the coffee). Let sit for 30 to 40 seconds.
5. First Pour.
If using a flat bottom pour over device, add 200 grams (7 ounces) of hot water (at a rate of 8 grams per second, or roughly 1 teaspoon per second), circling from the outside inwards. Make sure all the grounds get saturated quickly into a slurry. Let half of the slurry drain through before starting on the second pour.
If using a cone, spiral the water from the center outwards. (No matter the brewing device, the first pour should take around 25 seconds to complete; if it’s taking longer, don’t worry! Some coffees are a bit denser than others, and will extract more slowly.)
6. Second Pour.
Staying consistent with the direction of the last pour, add the remaining 150 grams (5.3 ounces) of water, at 8 grams per second (again, roughly 1 teaspoon per second). Once the coffee is finished brewing, let it sit for 5 minutes before tasting.