What is Pour-Over Coffee?
By: Travel and Adventure writer Breanna Wilson
From what pour-over coffee is and where it originated to a quick brewing guide – here’s everything you need to know about one of the best and most popular ways to brew coffee. Plus, our top brewing tips for using your Cuppamoka all-in-one pour-over brewer.
Unless you’ve been living under a coffee bean, pour-over is a word you’re probably familiar with, thanks to the rounds it’s been making in the coffee world. But what exactly is pour-over coffee, and why has it gained popularity among coffee enthusiasts, especially over the last few years?
Here we take a deep dive into what pour-over is, where and how it originated, and our top brewing tips for brewing the perfect pour-over with the Cuppamoka, our portable all-in-one pour-over brewer.
What is pour-over coffee?
Let’s start with the basics. So, what exactly is pour-over coffee?
Well, it’s coffee brewed precisely like that. With water poured over coffee grounds. No pressure brewing. No steeping. No pumping. No electricity. Just you, your pour-over brewer, your grounds, and hot water.
To brew a pour-over coffee, you use a brewer with a cone-shaped top. This top can be part of the brewer or a separate piece, which is the case with the Cuppamoka.
You place a paper filter in the cone, add your grounds, and start pouring hot water in a circular motion over them.
The first pour causes a degassing of carbon dioxide (something that happens to beans during the roasting process), creating what’s known as the bloom. It's best to allow the bloom to sit for 30 to 45 seconds to allow the gases to escape. Once that happens, continue the process until you’ve brewed to your desired ground to water ratio (1:15 in the Cuppamoka’s case).
As we'll explain below, this manual brewing technique has been around for more than 100 years but has seen a resurgence in craft coffee cafes and with home baristas in recent years. That can be attributed to the availability and accessibility of commercial pour-over brewers and a new generation of coffee drinkers who appreciate and go out of their way to select and brew with higher-quality coffee beans and roasts.
Did you know: Lightly roasted beans that have been freshly ground are more likely to produce a bigger bloom than their darker counterparts because they typically contain more gases.
The history of pour over and where it originated
The origins of the pour-over date back to 1908, when German-born Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz (that’s right, pour-over is a woman’s doing!) used blotting paper and a tin can punctured with a nail.
The resulting brew was less bitter than the percolator coffee she was unhappy with, and pour-over coffee was born.
In June of that same year, Amelia filed a patent for the paper filter, marking the beginning of the Melitta company, a company that still exists today.
Why do coffee aficionados swear by the pour-over method?
Thanks to the slow, manual brewing process, brewing using the pour-over method highlights and accentuates intricate and complex flavors in a way that other methods can’t and don’t. This is particularly noticeable if you’re brewing with a single-origin coffee.
Single-origin coffee explained: Single-origin coffee comes from a single producer, crop, or region. Because single-origin coffees are traceable to a single place, they typically have a distinct flavor based on that region's growing and processing conditions. Many factors heavily influence the taste of the coffee, including botanical variety, soil, climate, altitude, and shade. Single-origin coffee has the most original and unaltered flavor profile, typically a more exotic, bolder, and more robust taste profile.
The resulting brew from a pour-over is clean, clear, and consistent. Because there is no pressure forcing the water through, the hot water extracts the oils and fragrances from the beans in their own time, with the filter catching the oils before they even make it to the cup.
The resulting brew isn't as saturated or overpowering because a constant supply of fresh water is poured over the beans (versus the beans being immersed in water, which is the case with a French press). Instead, you’re left with a cup of coffee that’s delicate and delightful.
What kind of coffee filter should you use for pour-over?
Paper or cloth? Bleached or unbleached? Thick or thicker?
While cloth filters have a smaller environmental impact and won’t affect the flavor of your brew, paper cone filters are the standard filter of choice, like the Wacaco paper filters. These filters are made of natural wood fibers and are unbleached for producing the purest tasting cup of coffee possible. Always pre-rinse your filters when brewing for the cleanest taste possible.
Alternatively, white bleached paper filters might look better at first sight, but they can leave you with an undesired papery taste in your brew. Rinsing your filter before brewing can help with this problem, but it may not rid your brew of the taste of paper entirely.
While filters can range in thickness, the minimum thickness should be at least 0.15mm thick. Remember this: the thicker the filter, the slower the flow of water. That means less body in your brew and more acidity (of the good kind).
A thicker paper cone filter is advised for coarser coffees and lighter roasts. These thicker filters catch more of the beans' oils in the brewing process, resulting in a cleaner cup.
A quick guide to the perfect pour-over with the Cuppamoka portable all-in-one brewer.
Now that you know what pour-over coffee is, it’s time to brew a cup of your own with the help of the Wacaco Cuppamoka portable all-in-one brewer.
Start by assembling your Cuppamoka. Twist and lock the built-in coffee dripper in place. Add your Wacaco paper filter and pre-rinse it with hot water.
Carefully measure and pour 15 grams of medium ground Arabica light roast beans into the paper filter. Using water around 92°C / 198°F, which is just below boiling, begin pouring the hot water in a circular motion over the grounds.
There are two ways to do this: pulse or continuous pour.
Pulse pouring means using multiple pours of specific amounts of water, while continuous pouring is when you pour water at a constant rate without stopping (which can be much more difficult). Different types of pours will have different effects on extraction, and therefore different impacts on your brew. Play around with your pouring technique to decide which pouring technique you prefer.
Once you’ve mastered your pour-over brewing technique, don’t stop there. Test out your new favorite way to brew with a few recipes from our favorite coffee and espresso drink list.