Pourover is my go-to brewing method. It may seem like a method that depends a lot on the skills of the brewer. But once you understand the theory behind different brewing parameters and techniques, pourover is in fact a very flexible method. This post will focus on a particular method that can help you extract more evenly yielding a consistent result across different baristas: high slurry mass method.
Pourover refers to a coffee preparation where the brewer manually applies water over ground coffee to perform percolation. Ground coffee is put into a holder containing a filtering device. Various filter sizes, shapes and materials are commercially available, allowing the barista to control the shape of the filter bed and degree of filtration. Controlling particle size by adjusting the grinder allows for changes in percolation speed and contact time between water and coffee.*
This method is based on the fact that a finer grind size = more surface area, therefore increases extraction. A higher volume of hot water in the slurry can help reduce heat lost during the process. A higher slurry wall also encourages a faster flow rate, hence tolerates finer grind size, making it an ideal method when using home grinder, which tends to have a wider particle size distribution. (check out my last post on particle size distribution.) This brew environment also ensures an even percolation throughout the slurry.
Gear: cone shape dripper
This method is particularly suited for any cone shape dripper that has a 60 degrees dripper angle. The classic V60 02 from Hario and our CEREMONY POUROVER DRIPPER are the perfect examples. (The V60 comes from the V shape + 60 degree angle). Raised ridges on the inner wall of the dripper is ideal as it encourages certain degrees of air flow to maintain a steady flow rate. That means the iconic Chemex may works differently with this method.
Water for pourover
Not all water are the same. Other than being clean and safe for consumption, there are some other guideline to make sure your water is ideal for brewing coffee. I personally prefer water hardness between 120ppm and 150ppm for pourover coffee. PH level around 6.5. I also prefer the water to have a mineral mixture of calcium and magnesium, as much as magnesium improves the perception of texture and sweetness, calcium helps to clarify the acidity and boost the vibrancy of the cup. However, this is very much a personal preference.
As a basic guideline for brew water temperature, you can use hotter water with a light roast coffee to yield more extraction. For this recipe, we are recommending using a higher temperature between 205°F and 210°F.
Coffee for pourover
You can brew any coffee as pourover. However, due to the fact that filter coffee usually provides more clarity, I would recommend medium/light and light roast coffee more than more developed ones.
Based on a 1:16 ratio, I’m using 28g of coffee for this recipe.
Place clean filter inside dripper. Rinse filter before dosing. Don’t forget to tip out the pre-heat water before brewing.
1. Tare the scale and start the timer.
2. Gently pour about 60g of hot water over the coffee ground. Lift up the dripper, and swirl the brewer to promote more saturation. The texture should resemble a well blended soup. If you can still see lumps of coffee, keep swirling to break it up. Let the coffee bloom till the 0’30” mark. Blooming is an important step when it comes to pour over. The purpose is to ensure all coffee grounds are saturated and ready for extraction.
3. Imagine there’s an inch wide circle at the center of the slurry, aiming within that circle, steadily but quickly pour water till the scale reads 270g to 290g of water. This step is to raise the slurry as high as possible, so you will have a large mass of hot water to retain slurry temperature throughout the brew. You should raised the slurry and cast an even layer of coffee ground onto the filter as high as the water goes. This indicates a thorough percolation without immature water bypass.
4. Changing your pour to a steady stream, pour more water whenever the water level of the slurry goes down about 1/4 inch. Be mindful not to fill more water above the elevated coffee ground. Continue pouring until the scale reads 350g.
5. Let the water of the slurry go down further to about 1.5 inch from the top till you can almost see the coffee ground at the bottom through the slurry. Then pour aggressively starting at the center, as if you’re trying to use water to break up the coffee ground at the bottom. Once you’ve raised the slurry up for about an inch, flush the coffee ground off the filter. Circling back at the center of the slurry, stop pouring when weight reads 450g. This is the step that focus on agitating the slurry before the draw down. It is an important step to achieve an even extraction.
6. Lightly tap the brewer on the decanter to encourage draw down. You should expect the brew to finish dripping between 2’15” to 2’30”. The coffee bed should look relatively level.
7. Stir coffee and let cool slightly before serving and tasting.
Taste and dial in
For this recipe, brew time is a very useful guideline to adjust your brew. If the brew finishes within 2 minutes, then you should grind your coffee finer; longer than 2’30”, then you should use a coarser grind.
If your coffee comes out within the brew time, but tastes light and lacking sweetness, do not be afraid to use a higher water temperature. It’s not uncommon for baristas to use straight off boil water temperature for light roast coffee. You can also adjust your grind size finer, even if that means your brew time will exceed the target window.
On the other hand, if you’re using more developed coffee and the brew tastes bitter, trying using slightly cooler water temperature or reducing blooming time. If both adjustments fail to make an improvement, coarsen your grind size to reduce the over all brew time.
If your brew tastes “heavy” with a hint of astringency, wait 1 minute to take another sip. If there’s not change of taste reception, trying adding 20g of hot water to the brew. If adding water improves the taste, then you can adjust the recipe to end weight of 470g; If higher water to coffee ratio doesn’t soften the intensity, take a look at your water quality, is there too much magnesium in your water? Can you add a little bit of calcium to your brew water?
This recipe is very forgiving in a lot of ways. As long as you make sure you don’t flush the coffee ground off the filter prematurely, this method should give you an even and consistent brew. The final step of slurry agitation might take some practice to master. But it offers an opportunity to make sure all parts of the slurry encounter the same amount of percolations.
*Frederic Mestdagh, Arne Glabasnia, Peter Giuliano- The Brew-Exctracting for Excellence