Like pruning a bonsai tree, pour-over coffee brewing is a purposeful, slowed-down practice that can infuse your otherwise hectic morning with a little dose of Zen.
“There’s appeal in hand-crafting coffee without an appliance to clutter up the countertop,” says Peter Giuliano, senior director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
Giuliano says he’s never owned a brewing machine because he prefers the pour-over method—which is exactly what it sounds like. You heat water, and then pour it slowly by hand, over fresh coffee grounds. “The meditative ritual of preparing coffee this way is a favorite part of my day,” Giuliano says.
Eastern Philosophy aside, using a pour-over method beats electric brewers when it comes to conjuring optimal flavor from your joe. Giuliano says correct water temperature and proper brew time are just as important as the coffee grounds when it comes to good java. But most electric brewers either don’t get water hot enough or rush the brewing process (or both), which leads to a bland cup of coffee.
“The best temperature for brewing is between 195 and 205 degrees,” he says. That’s roughly 10 degrees below boiling. To achieve that, Giuliano recommends heating water on the stove or in an electric kettle. When the water starts to boil, turn off the heat and prepare your filter and grounds. By the time that’s done, your water will have cooled to that coffee-brewing sweet spot.
When it comes to pouring the water onto your grounds, your goal is to spend three to six minutes, Giuliano says. You can try to trickle the water onto the grounds very slowly during that time, or just pour an ounce here and there while you make your breakfast or zone out. “There’s a lot of debate over best methods—and whether you should pour your water in a circular pattern or stuff like that,” Giuliano says. “Just experiment and find what tastes best to you.”
He says his most important piece of advice is to relax. “No matter what, it’s going to turn out better than what you’d get from a plug-in coffeemaker,” he says. He has an in-depth tutorial video here. But first you’re going to need a pour-over maker for your filter, grounds, and brew. Here are the five best:
Made of non-porous glass to prevent any flavors from leaching into (or out of) your brew. “Its elegant design earned it a place in the Museum of Modern Art,” Giuliano says.
KALITA WAVE SERIES
The flat-bottomed, wavy filter may prevent the overwatering—and resulting bitter flavors—you might get from a funneled-filter. This made-in-Japan device is also pretty sharp looking.
If you already have a receptacle for your joe, or you’re only making a cup at a time, this offering from Bonmac is a coffee pro favorite. You can set it right on your favorite mug and avoid the heat loss of pouring your brew from one vessel to another.
HARIO V60 DRIP DECANTER
Like the Kalita, this is another beautiful Japanese design. “Many of those who enthuse about All-Clad pots or Le Creuset cookware get fired up about these beautiful pieces of kitchenware,” Giuliano says.
MELITTA 10-CUP THERMAL POUR-OVER COFFEEMAKER
For those who want a larger pot that will keep their coffee warm all morning, Melitta offers this sleek thermal option.