Drinks

Pour-Over Primer

How to master the art of pour-over coffee at home
Chemex Coffee Maker
Photos: Tasting Table

Pour-over may sound fussy, but it's actually one of the simplest ways to make coffee at home. It involves nothing more than pouring hot water over ground beans, producing a superbly clean and flavorful cup.

True, it's not quite as easy as making a pot of automatic drip. But the extra flavor is worth the extra effort, in the same way that making your own vinaigrette or baking your own bread is—the taste is unbeatable, because you control every aspect of the process.

Want to try pour-over at home? Here's the equipment you'll need to get started and how to make the perfect cup.

Your Pour-Over Setup
The first step is to get your gear in place: You'll need a grinder, a small digital scale, a swan-neck kettle and a dripper.

Our go-to grinder is the Baratza Virtuoso ($229)—it's an absolute workhorse that provides a consistent, uniform grind free of "fines," or coffee dust. This is important during extraction (pouring water over the coffee to release its flavor), because it creates an impeccably smooth, clean-tasting cup.

Pretty much any digital scale will work, and though we dream of splurging on Búdin's fancy-pants Acaia scale (currently sold out), we also dig the everyday functionality of EatSmart's Precision Pro ($35).

A swan- or gooseneck kettle isn't absolutely essential for pour-over (we've made great coffee with cheaper, clunkier kettles), but it is a great way to control your water flow. Bonavita makes an unbeatable electric one ($48) and Hario does a wavy stovetop version ($38).

Perhaps the biggest decision is which dripper to use. We have a cupboard full of different ones—everything from an old-school Melitta camping cone ($5) to a slick Japanese Kalita Wave ($26)—but time and again we circle back to the classic Chemex ($53). Its simple but elegant design looks great on the shelf, and it uses proprietary filters that are super plush, almost velvety.

Do the Drip
Now you're ready to brew. First, boil 500 milliliters of water, then pour a small amount (about 150 milliliters) through the dry filter?this warms the Chemex and pre-wets the filter to remove any papery taste. (We always use bleached filters—natural/unbleached ones often taste papery even after rinsing.)

Next, pour out the rinse water from the Chemex and weigh your beans. For one cup, we use about 20 grams of coffee to 320 grams of water, a ratio of 1:16 (you can vary the proportion to suit your own taste). Then grind the coffee on a medium setting—you want a texture similar to that of granular sugar.

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Dump the coffee grounds onto the filter and slowly pour about 40 grams of hot water over it. This allows the coffee to bloom and swell as it absorbs water and releases gas. Let it rest for about 45 seconds before steadily pouring the remaining water over the grounds in a circular, evenhanded motion. This should take a little more than two minutes, for a total brew time of three to three and a half minutes (use a timer if you're feeling nervous about it).

After all of the water has flowed through the filter, pour the finished coffee into a prewarmed mug and marvel at your glorious work.

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