Feb 5, 2019
Crafting the perfect pour-over is a labor of love, and to do it right you’ll need a few essential tools: a kettle, grinder, scale, and pour-over system.
Choose a kettle with a gooseneck spout – this will allow you to have more control during the pouring process. I love using the Fellow Stagg for its temperature control; the lid of the kettle is fitted with a thermometer, so I know exactly how hot my water is. I also love the copper Hario Buono kettle, but I already own two pour-over kettles and can’t justify buying a third just yet.
For grinders, it’s all about the burrs (the metal parts that do the grinding). It doesn’t matter what the body looks like, or what material it’s made from, as long as the internal burrs are quality. I own two grinders: the Baratza Encore for daily pour-overs at home, and the Lido II hand grinder, for situations where I don’t have electricity. These are both beautifully crafted tools that produce a consistent grind every time.
The 2 most popular scales in the coffee world are the Hario V60 Drip Scale and the Acaia Pearl. I own the Hario – it’s compact, sturdy, and gets the job done. The Acaia is a beautiful tool and looks like an apple product. If you love new gadgets and have a modern kitchen, this would be the perfect choice.
There are so many pour-over systems out there to choose from: Kalita Wave, Chemex, Hario V60, Aeropress, and more. If this is your first system, I recommend looking at all the options, and if there’s one that your eyes keep falling back on, this can be a beautiful place to start. If you’re indecisive like me, head to your local café and try out different methods. I personally love the Kalita 185 for its consistent results and for its popularity in Copenhagen.
When it comes to roast date, newer isn’t always better. Freshly roasted beans tend to give off a bright, sour funk that can overpower the cup. The roasting process shocks the beans, and it can take up to a week for them to rest and settle into their new form. Coffee tastes best 1-3 weeks after its been roasted, so I shop for beans that were roasted 5-7 days prior.
Look for beans that have been labeled “single-origin”. This tells us that the source is a single coffee farm. If you’re like me, you can read on to learn all about the farmers, their farming practices, and the climate in that region. In the world of coffee, the origin of the beans is just as important as the origin of grapes in wine production. Elevation level, growing practices, and bean varietals all contribute greatly to the quality and flavor of the final cup. Sidenote: If there’s no information provided about the source of the beans, you might want to stay away from them. Coffee production has a dark history, and in many parts of the world coffee producers still operate under inhumane labor conditions.
There are many factors that will vary when it comes to crafting the perfect cup, but your coffee-to-water ratio should remain constant. Pick a ratio that works for you and stick with it. I personally use a 1:15 ratio, which means I weigh out my beans, and then multiply their weight by 15 to figure out how much water I will pour over.
The grind setting is the variable factor – you can alter the grind to be more fine or coarse to achieve the perfect cup. Weather conditions, time of day, and time since the roasting date can all contribute to changes in the necessary grind size. If your coffee is bitter, that means the grind is too fine and the coffee has been over-extracted. If the coffee is sour, that means the grind is too coarse and the coffee has been under-extracted. You can adjust the grind as necessary to find that sweet spot, where the cup tastes just right.