December 27, 2011

Poured Over

For all of my talk about simplicity, there is a distinction worth making: Simple isn't easy. Or at least, it isn't necessarily. A mile is a simple unit of measure, found on many roads, clearly marked. And yet running it, at full effort, is not at all easy.

This realization dawned on me this evening, as I struggled over a review. It's not up yet, obviously, nor will it be for a few days. This has nothing to do with the coffee itself, and everything to do with my preparing it. There's been some talk in the comments section, and on this blog in general, about pour over technique. Generally, I've been of the mind that it's best ignored.

But recent tastings are forcing me to reconsider this point. Trying the same bean, several different times, and getting a different cup can do that. It can make you question your technique, your equipment, and maybe, whether you're qualified to judge coffee at all. Anyone can write words on a free blog; who decided my opinion matters?

My confidence is not that eroded, it's worth noting. I'm quite good behind a bar, and I steam milk like a badass (insofar as that's possible) Still, if one is to review coffee, then one must also review the ways in which they make it. Right now, if I'm being perfectly honest, my pour over method isn't good enough; so any beans treated with it may not be done justice.

That said, I plan on fixing this. If that means abandoning the method in favor of a press pot, so be it; though I doubt anything that drastic will be required. Still, if I need a Hario V60, tell me. If a Chemex is needed, tell me that. Most of all, if there is anything resembling a definitive "how to do a pour over correctly, or at least, consistently" write-up, please do point it out.

I've never done a call for comments before, but consider this a first. In the meantime, I'll do some digging on my own.


  1. Day one: An idea, but no revelatory discovery. And c'mon people. I can see the hits this post gets; someone is reading. I need saving.

  2. Here's a method that's advocated by one of the famous coffee "masters" in Korea. I have never tried it before but my friend who has taken his classes has and apparently it's good.

    1. First pour - Wetting
    Using a thin stream starting from the middle, pour quickly rotating clockwise out to the edges. Pour only enough to let 1-2 drops drip into the cup. Wait 30-40 sec for the water to equally wet the grounds, which will let any future streams to evenly pass all the grounds instead of mainly passing the middle grounds.

    2. Second pour
    Using a thin stream slowly pour starting from the middle, rotating clockwise out to the edges. Make sure you meticulously and closely cover all the grounds but do not go over the same area twice. Extract 50%~ of expected amount in this step.

    3. Third pour
    Use a wider stream and pour a little faster. Extract 30%~ of expected amount.

    4. Fourth pour is optional, and should be done with a wider and faster stream. After that do not extract any more, even if you can, as that will result in bitterness.

    In order for the water to evenly extract flavor from all the grounds, instead from just those in the middle, it is important to pour several times, stopping in between those times.

    Here's a video clip of the guy and his method:
    (He pours only three times, and the fourth time when he just pours a bunch of water into the cone is to show that over pouring will be bad.)

    My friend says he told his class that they should practice pouring an even stream of water as that is also important.

    And yes, I am writing this in hopes of getting your feedback on how much of a change in flavor this method really brings. I'm also thinking of starting to make this kind of hand-drip coffee at home. :)

  3. I'm trying this, in all its specific glory. Hand pouring is cool, even if you don't take the time to learn the ways of a coffee master. Which, btw, is the best job description ever. I should go to school for that.