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I had a recent discussion with a friend of mine, which is the right method to brew the coffee for pour-over.

I read that it's best to pour in hot (but not boiling) water into the filter and moisten the coffee powder. After that I should pour in the water until it is round about 1 cm over the coffee powder. After that I should let it flow out and fill the water up until it's reached the 1 cm mark over the powder.

His method is a bit different. He just pours the hot (even if it's still boiling) water into the filter. He briefly moistens the coffee and then lets the rest of the water pour into the filter until his water can is empty. He only pauses from pouring if it reaches the top of the filter.

I said that his method isn't good, as the water will flow faster through the filter and the coffee won't be as aromatic as it would be with my method.

The brewing process I'm using is using the hand-filter with the Hario V60.

Which method is better? Does it matter how fast to pour the water in? Does it matter if the water is just hot or still boiling?

  • Hi, can you specify which method are you talking about? The pouring process will depends on it. But something is mandatory, you definitely should not pour the water when it's boiling (or right after it) – Omar Miranda Jul 21 '15 at 1:31
  • Hi, thanks for the hint. I just had forgotten the essential part. :-) I added the brewing process (hand-filter with Hario V60). – Ionic Jul 21 '15 at 6:20
  • I changed quite a bit of your wording for clarity; please let me know if I misunderstood or changed something incorrectly! – hoc_age Jul 23 '15 at 5:00
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You're highlighting two differences between the two methods:

  • temperature of the water, and
  • rate of pouring the water (equivalently, how "full of water" is the cone).

Short story: Use water just off the boil (about 96°C / 205°F). I prefer your "slower" pour method over your friend's... read on for why.

Longer story: Keeping all other factors identical, here's my take on each. I aggregate information from my own experience and from several other sites (including Blue Bottle and Stumptown and Serious Eats and Coffee Geek).

Temperature. Most agree that water for pour-over should be just off the boil, but exact temperature is both difficult to measure and to maintain. Exact recommendations differ, but most (including the 4 above) are approximately in the range of 93-97°C / 200-207°F. At this temperature, you extract the best balance of the "right stuff" from the beans. Much hotter or colder than this and it will have an "off" taste, such as more bitter. For example, try brewing coffee at 80°C / 175°F and see how it tastes compared to coffee brewed with 96°C / 205°F water.

With my technique and equipment, anyway, it would be essentially impossible for me to measure or maintain a temperature this accurately. Removed from the heat, the kettle itself will immediately start to cool; the water will cool between the pour spout and when it hits the grounds in the cone; the water will cool more when sitting on the grounds. For this reason, I take water from a boiling kettle and begin to pour at my leisure. It might be a few degrees too hot at first, but it will probably finish a few degrees too cool.

Rate of pouring the water. This seems to have more debate, e.g., on the 4 sites I listed above. Some pour only enough water at a time to have water just covering the grounds (like you and Blue Bottle), and some pour all the way up to the top of the cone (like your friend and Stumptown) -- however, a disadvantage of this all-at-once method is that some of the coffee will get pinned to the side of the cone for the final "drainage" and will not spend as much time in contact with the water; therefore some of your friend's coffee grounds will be underextracted. I do something of a hybrid: pour at such a rate as to keep the output at a steady rate. The dripping rate will decrease as the filter gets somewhat clogged with grounds, so I keep very slowly raising the water level in the cone (just exceeding the rate of output); I find this produces the best result. Other ideas are to stir (as Coffee Geek suggests) or pour in batches (as Serious Eats suggests).

All that said, other factors (e.g., the quality and freshness of beans) are overwhelmingly more significant than the manner of pouring.

You may also want to consider rinsing your filter, and see more about wetting the grounds for coffee bloom.

  • Thanks for your good answer! Well of course the beans are always fresh/good. :-) The part with the stiring is something i solve by pouring the water into the dripper and cycle at the pouring process. This, and the small amount of water prevent those "pinning" of the grounds as you describes in your answer. Thanks a lot. :-) – Ionic Jul 23 '15 at 9:20
  • You may also consider purchasing a "pour over" cone that let's you control extraction time. There is at least one on the market with a plate on bottom that doesn't open the bottom of the cone until you place the unit on a cup. You can dump all the water in at once and let the brew seep to your preferred strength. – Suspended User Jul 23 '15 at 16:58
  • Just like @hoc_age , I start to pouring your right before the boiling. But, when you prepare a brewed coffee and let it cool down a couple of minutes, others flavors and smells appears. Try one day, pouring with water 5-6 mins after boiled (I had never take the temperature) and you'll notice a huge difference (specially with more acid coffee profiles) – Omar Miranda Jul 27 '15 at 1:23
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Perfect Pour over coffee? Most people mistakenly think that the key to coffee flavor is grinding your own beans. I am not sure how this thought populated people's heads but many other folks tend to re-enforce this notion, which somehow keeps perpetuating this false notion. Coffee flavor comes from the oils in the coffee beans, and like all oil, coffee bean oil also goes rancid, and at rate much faster than many people realize. If coffee beans are not stored in a vacuum, air will turn coffee rancid after about five days, and actually you can begin to both taste and smell the difference three days after it is roasted. This is true (Listen up!) whether or not the coffee is ground or not. Coffee is at it's peak flavor and at its most complex between 18 to 24 hours after it is roasted, and much of the CO2 has been given off. After three days, it starts to flatten out, and at five days, it has lost a good deal of unique flovors.

You can do an experiment if you like, by simply smelling the roasted beans after 18 hours, and comparing it to the smell of the beans at five days. Try also scooping up a handful of the same beans and smelling the same newly roasted coffee to the (same variety) of beans that were roasted ten days earlier but stored in the open air. You will be amazed at how rancid the coffee smells. Unless you have experienced this test with your own nose, it will hard for you to understand why some higher end coffee shops have the ability to brew coffee with intense and complex delicate flavors. There is little mystery here. Your 5-10 day old roast may be freshly ground, but the grounds that result from that effort, are long past their prime.

Storing your coffee in the jar in your Fridge or in your freezer won't really preserve your coffee's freshness. You need to keep it in a vacuum (no air please). You can order a container that comes with a hand pump, and pump out the oxygen. Simply place he lid on the container, but the rubber stop on (similar to the one used on wine bottles, and using the hand pump, pump out the air. This will extend the life of your freshly roasted coffee well past the five day maximum, and keep it close to the freshness that it had at day one.

For years, I failed to understand that water temperature was also important. Having the water too hot or not hot enough will spoil your result. No reason to guess any longer. There are number of pour over kettles that either come with a gauge or can be outfitted with one. I used to boil the water and then estimate how long to wait before pouring. That is not a recipe for success. Buy the bloody gauge! It's important, and that way, you can learn for yourself how temperature affects flavor.

Use a quality paper filter if you don't have a gold filter. Note that the gold filter has to fit the shape of the metal or ceramic holder it goes into perfectly. Otherwise the flow rate is most often going to be incorrect. One of the most famous brands of filters no longer makes a gold insert that fits their famous long standing ceramic cone holder. Corporate blunder. Too bad. You might find one third party.

I think I can taste the fact that bleached paper has somewhat less of a paper taste, but I do wet the paper before hand pouring hot water through it. I also do the same if I am using a natural non-bleached paper or bamboo paper. There does seem to be less paper taste if I do. If you want to taste all of the complex additional flavors that come with fresh beans, you might also find that wetting the paper before putting the grounds in, and actually pouring some water through first does help. Why not experiment?

How long to let the coffee bloom before slowly pouring the rest your water through the grounds. Why not experiment with each variety of bean. The fineness of the grind is a factor to how long you should increase or decrease the bloom time. Generally speaking the courser your grind, the more time you will need to let it bloom. This is really the domain of experiementation. I don't increase the grind to get the shortest bloom time. I know some coffee shops do that. But I suggest experimentation. One to two minutes of bloom depending on your grind. But experiment, please.

The bottom line is the freshness of your bean. Good coffee roasters cost a lot of money. Air roasters start at about $200 these days, and good drum roaster that roasts 1/2 pound to 2 pounds can cost as much as $1500. That's a lot of money folks Does it make a huge difference in the flavor. Yes it does. It makes a huge difference to have fresh beans. In fact, it makes THE MOST difference provided you can store what you don't use that first day in a proper container. You can get your brew method completely right, but if your coffee is not fresh, it may be smooth tasting but it will always be missing the unique and complex flavor it could otherwise have. In short, smooth but flat as a pancake no matter what your technique, water temperature, or equipment.

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    There are a lot of questionable statements and half truths without any references. Maybe cite some scientific literature or some expert knowledge to support some of your claims. Your first claim e.g. is most definitely untrue. As soon as you grind your coffee many of the delicate flavors will evaporate and oxidation takes place (just try smelling at freshly ground coffee) and you will be left with only roasting flavors in your cup. Beans stored in an air tight bag where they can degas CO2 is the best way to keep them fresh. They'll be ok for about 3 weeks. – avocado1 Dec 12 '16 at 18:24
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    Hello Richard; welcome to Coffee. When answering, focus on the content of the question: here, methods and temperature! Your fourth paragraph (temperature) and seventh (time) are closest. Please take a minute to take the tour and see How to Answer to learn more about the Stack Exchange format. See also previous answers with citations about filters, grinding, storage, freshness. Spoiler: ground beans go stale in minutes! – hoc_age Dec 13 '16 at 2:10

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