Pour Over 101 - Science for the Aesthete

Sometimes you order a pour over coffee from us. We love that you do. It's truly one of our favourite ways to get caffeine into our bodies so we can smile at you when you come into the shop. You should see us before we open the door in the morning --- no you shouldn't. The quandary: how do we do it and how should you do it at home so you don't end up like this, without doing this. Well, we are here to help with science and aesthetic, but first, a brief note about what kind of delicious coffee you can find on our shelves in the coming week. 

In the next while you are going to see a whole bunch of offerings from Bolivian farms hitting the shelves. You better Boliviat! This very moment that I am typing this we have 49th Parallel’s Buena Vista Peaberry on the shelf. Today (Thursday) we just received the Nueva Llusta from P&S and expect to see the third instalment of 49th’s Small Lot series, the Estrella Organic, also coming from Bolivia. 

Ok, let the lesson begin. We love how pour over coffees can taste and we love making them for you. But, we have spent a lot of time trying to figure how we can brew up a cup that approaches perfect every time. We have even had staff meetings dedicated to Pour Over coffee alone! With a dash of science here and a sprinkle of ingenuity there and careful attention to detail, here is what we, as a Parlour team collectively came up with to bring you a damn fine cup.

This is a 101 — so we won’t get too nerdy, ok? But a bit nerdy. Right now, you just need some anchor points and a good recipe to get started. In the future we will get into much more detail. First a Recipe, and then some fundamentals!

Here is our recipe and recommended tools for the Hario v60 (They are available on our shelves! We bring ‘em in from Japan and pay billions of dollars in shipping so you don’t have to)

Recipe:

  • 20g Fresh Coffee - All our coffee has been roasted within the last 2 weeks! See our current offerings under the “Coffee” heading.
  • 350g Filtered H20, boiled to 205ºF. (That’s a ratio of 1g grinds to 16g Water!) 
  • 10 minutes or less and a healthy respect for ritual

Tools

  • A Kettle with a “Swan Neck” such as this one from Hario. Doubles as a watering can for you plants that are drying up in the corner, stretching towards the sliver of sunlight coming in through that dirty window. We sell a few of these. 
  • V60 Cone Dripper and Range Server or just a dumb ol’ mug (don’t over flow that opaque beast)— we sell those Hario thingys too.
  • Filters for that there Cone dripper. We sell em. We use the bleached ones ‘cause paper tastes gross — remember from grade 1 when you used to put paper in your mouth just to show off, or just to see?! 
  • A Scale. We Sell em, but who cares. Get one wherever you can find a scale that measures in grams. People in the coffee world are all confused about measurements, so we measure in whatever unit we want. Somehow, it became convention to measure in grams for both mass (coffee grinds) and volume (Water). It’s weird, but we love it and it works, so just do it, k?
  • Fresh Coffee — duh - see what we have in the shop by clicking on "coffee"

 

Method: Here are the anchor points, not the detailed nuances. That will come later; after you pass the 101! At this point, you want to avoid both this and this

  1. Boil water — if you don’t have a thermometer, just let your water sit for 10-20 seconds after it’s boiled. Ideally, it will be around 205ºF (See what I’m saying? Fahrenheit? Grams? Where are we, the United States of the Commonwealth?)
  2. Rinse your filter you savage! Paper tastes like paper, not delicious coffee! Don't forget to dump out that water or your coffee will be watered down. Sickening. You’ve just accomplished paper rinsing and vessel warming in one fell swoop.
  3. Grind - You need a Burr grinder. You don’t even have an excuse if you are camping. Trust us, we’ve ground coffee in the weirdest places, and now you can too, because we sell those magical masticators. 
    1. You will probably find that playing with the grind setting is the best way to shift results — this is a 101 class, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to experiment. 
    2. Sour coffee? Try making your grind just a bit finer — it’s probably under-extracted
    3. Sour and Bitter at the same time? Again, try fining up the grind a bit? You may have heard that bitter = over extraction but that isn’t always so.
    4. Bitter coffee? Loosen that grind up a bit. You’ll probably know that you should do this if you’ve used our recipe and your brew is taking more than 3:45 — our brew times range from 2:45-3:45, but that is not a hard and fast rule, it is relative to the coffee! We will science that up for you in a future post.
  4. Pour — First pour a 30g “bloom” — this allows trapped gasses to escape. Trapped gas is uncomfortable and your coffee feels the same way. Wait about 30 seconds and then start pouring water in concentric circles up to 200 grams. (Told ya you’d need a scale). If you can, try to reach 200g at around the 1:00 mark. Then pour in 50g increments waiting in between pours for 10 seconds or so. You never really want to leave your grinds out of the water for very long because they are just sitting there like a scared kid at the side of the pool, wearing water wings, wishing they could play tag with the big kids in the deep end. Keep doing this until you reach your target weight — 350g in our recipe. Gently tap your dripper onto your receptacle - don’t break anything! You Win! 
  5. Now wait for the coffee gods to bless you.
  6. Come in to the shop and give us a high five and tell us that you will no longer be coming in to spend $3.50 a day on pour overs because you have found a method that works better than the one we use. 
  7. Teach us your method.
  8. Amen.