Brewing

  • Buying Guide: Pour Over

    It's time for the first of our series of buying guides! These guides will help you pick the perfect products to start your coffee journey. We'll cover a range of different brew methods and product ranges here. Today we're starting with pour over, one of the simplest, most cost effective ways to get started with craft coffee. Today we'll offer a starter and upgrade option each for a kettle, dripper, scale, grinder, and drink-ware.

    Overview

    Brewing pour over is a simple concept. You simply place your filter in your dripper, put the dripper on your drinkware, add medium-coarse ground coffee to the filter, then pour hot water over the grounds. How much per pour, and how many pours, is something you'll have to experiment with. While most coffees will work best with a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water, how much water you add with each pour is the tricky part.

    Because this brew method is nice and simple, the gear you need is pretty simple too!

    For a great all-in-one option, take a look at our pour over starter kit. We'll dig into more specific separate options, but this is a good deal if you don't want to read any further!

    Kettle

    The first piece of gear we're going to talk about for your initial setup is your kettle. There are two keys for picking out a kettle to brew pour over with: One, you want a gooseneck. The reason is that gooseneck kettles pour at just the right flow rate, so you can focus on timing and volume rather than rate of pour. The second thing you want to make sure of is that the kettle is variable temperature. You want to be able to set it to a temp rather than have it boil water and then cool. This is because you should be brewing your coffee at our around 200 degrees. You'll still want the flexibility to go a bit lower or a bit higher as well depending on taste and roast.

    With all of this in mind, the best starter kettle we can recommend is this Bonavita Variable Temp Kettle. It's simple, reliable, and affordable.

    For an upgrade, the Fellow EKG+ is expensive, but offers connectivity with Acaia's Brewbar app for dialing in specific recipes. More on that later!

    Scale

    Your scale is key because you need to ensure specific weights from measuring out coffee all the way to pouring. Getting an accurate scale that is resistant to water is a big plus, and many coffee specific scales offer some bells and whistles that make brewing pour over easier.

    For your first scale it's hard to go wrong with the Brewista Smart Brew. This scale offers excellent accuracy and even includes a basic timer. Plus, it's super affordable.

    For an upgrade, take a look at the Acaia Pearl and Pearl S. Both of these scales offer connected apps that work with the above mentioned EKG+. These apps let you dial in and save specific recipes to recreate the perfect pours for your favorite coffees.

    Grinder

    Your grinder is an interesting purchase. Any non-espresso burr grinder will work for pour over, but buying a grinder that offers some flexibility is useful in the long term. Maybe in a few months you'll want to brew in a press? What about drip brewers? As you can see, getting a good all around grinder for filter coffee is the best option. That said, the easiest way to avoid waste is to weigh your coffee before you grind it, rather than approximating an amount and tossing the extra.

    This means you want a hopper that's easy to work with. For a starter grinder for drip and pour over it's hard to go wrong with the Baratza Encore. In terms of consistency and performance, it's one of the best brew grinders ever. The only downside is that it is a little light on bells and whistles, offering timed grind and on/off options.

    It's hard to recommend grinder upgrades for pour over because you're really upgrading into specific things for specific reasons. The Eureka Mignon Filtro is an excellent option if you want to get hyper granular in your grind adjustments to extract every drop of flavor from your pour over. On the other hand, if you want to make brewing faster and more efficient, the Vario-W includes a built in weight function. Which direction you go is up to you!

    Dripper

    Your dripper is going to determine the type of filters you use and does have an impact on flavor. It's hard to understand what this impact is until you've tried coffees from a few different dripper styles. For this reason, we're recommending three different drippers that we think work great. Whichever one best fits your budget is the way to go!

    First up, the Hario V60 is one of the simplest, most popular drippers in the world.

    The Kalita Wave is also extremely popular, and has a fervent fanbase.

    Finally, a Chemex is a great option that offers unique flavor and a built in server. Perfect if you are making coffee for a group.

    Servers and Mugs

    Last but not least, you'll need something to brew into and drink out of! To get a clear view of the brewing process, and to brew multiple cups of coffee for yourself or to share, check out a server like the Bonavita Glass Carafe. If you're brewing for one, you can brew right into a mug like the Acme Union of the Fellow Joey!

    With all of that gear you should be good to go! Adding it all up may seem like a lot, but scales and grinders offer so many coffee applications beyond pour over. It's why we recommend starting with pour over, because lots of the parts you use will be transferable to other brew methods. Good luck with your first brew!

  • Keep Your Coffee Hot This Winter

    Winter is well and truly here, and we thought it'd be a good time to talk about heat. Hot, clean water is possible the most important part of the brewing process after getting good, fresh ground coffee. It's no wonder then that heat is often the sticking point for a lot of coffee drinkers! We often hear about how coffee out of superautos isn't hot enough, or how warming plates won't stay on long enough. We figured now would be a great time to talk about some ways to keep your coffee hot, and help set expectations.

    Drip Brewing

    One of the biggest questions with brewing drip coffee is whether glass or stainless carafes are better for heat. The truth is, they just work differently. Stainless steel carafes insulate your coffee to keep it warm vs. being heated by a plate underneath for a glass carafe. Either way, your coffee won't stay hot for more than an hour or two. You can help this by running hot water into the carafe to heat it prior to brewing. This will heat the carafe so that the coffee doesn't bleed as much temperature into it during brewing. Either way, you should expect to need to brew more coffee after an hour or two. If you find it hard to drink a whole pot in that time, just consider brewing less coffee!

    If you're trying to serve coffee for a group at an office or event, consider a batch brewer. Nothing keeps drip coffee hot for hours and hours like an airpot!

    Pour Over

    For pour over, there's a trick that will really help you with heat retention, and that's leaving your dripper and filter over your server. By only removing these for pouring the coffee, your server will retain more heat. This means you can brew a couple of cups worth and it'll stay warm. Other tips include pre-heating the server by pouring hot water into it, pre-heating your cup the same way, and transferring the coffee to an insulated thermos right after brewing.

    Espresso

    A big one for espresso is keeping your portafilter hot. Special brew groups like E-61s will do this automatically. In any case though, you should keep your portafilter in the machine at all times to aid with this heat. If you have a machine that doesn't heat the portafilter, run a shot's worth of water through it before pulling your espresso. This will heat the portafilter and help with even extraction and heat during brewing. Keeping your cup warm helps here too.

    For superautos, heat is just an issue that comes with the territory. These are machines with lots of moving parts packed into tight spaces. Unfortunately, their need to flash heat water quickly to maintain convenience means they just don't always produce drinks as hot as you'd like. Our best recommendation for superautos is to try steaming your milk prior to brewing, as this heats the water more and generally increases the temperature to the machine. We also recommend consuming your drink shortly after brewing to enjoy it at its hottest! If you still find that your superauto isn't as hot as you'd like, it might be time to consider switching it up to a semi-auto.

    That's all for now, we hope you enjoy some (hot) coffee you love this Winter!

  • Top Three Alternative Coffee Brewers

    Every coffee geek wants to play the mad scientist. It’s time you shake up your daily coffee routine with one of these alternative coffee brewers: the Copper Turkish Coffee Pot, Hario Drip Pot and Bodum Santos Stovetop Vacuum Coffee Maker. Sure, you could brew a regular old French press—or you can entertain your brunch crowd with a live showing of fresh coffee from a vacuum pot! Or divine their future through a coffee reading with Turkish coffee. Step away from the ordinary and discover a new way to brew.

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