August 13th, 2012
04:15 PM ET
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Samantha Reichman is an intern on CNN Early Start and Starting Point. She is a senior at The College of William and Mary, a coffee fiend and a trained barista. She blogs at Alimentación. All pictures taken at Blue Bottle Coffee in Manhattan.

As local coffee culture seems to be approaching critical mass, the need for a superior, distinctive product is becoming even more pressing.

Caffeine aficionados are also experiencing a phase of experimentation. Myriad styles of coffee preparation and presentation combined with selective sourcing allow for unprecedented levels of personal flair. But can individuality truly be achieved at an espresso bar?

One ceremony in particular comes to mind: "pour-over" coffee, also known as "hand pour coffee," is a brewing style used to produce a single cup at a time. This method was not concocted behind the bar of any Stumptown or Blue Bottle location; rather it migrated here from the Far East, Japan to be exact.

It was only adopted by coffee epicures and American roasting companies in the past decade, and the time constraints of many customers have prevented the practice from taking off, especially in grab-and-go-style businesses. The practice gained exponentially more buzz last year when the New York Times examined the origin of the pour-over.

In all, the process takes three to four minutes to complete, and the wait is worth it. The benefits of pour-over compared to other brewing tactics lie in the timing and control in the wrist. Infusing the ground coffee for the correct length of time with a controlled hand will produce a fuller, fruity taste, often accented with floral notes.

Take a minute (or two...or three...) and steep in this beginner's tutorial on brewing a single cup of glorious coffee via the pour-over method.

Supplies you'll need:

- Fresh coffee (roasted under two weeks week prior to brewing)
– Coffee grinder
– Single-cup drip coffee cone (ceramic or glass)
– Paper filter to fit
– Kettle with a swan-necked spout (for precision pouring)
– Gram scale (extremely helpful when beginning)
– Coffee cup

Step 1
Select your beans. Single-origin beans, rather than a blend, are preferred with this process because they offer a subtle range of flavors that are region specific. Because it is brewed to order in shops, you can become familiar with the product of various countries by simply ordering a cup from, say a Nicaraguan town, or sample them yourself by purchasing small quantities of beans at a time.

Step 2
Heat water in the kettle and grind coffee to medium-fine ground: finer than auto drip but coarser than what would be used to draw a shot of espresso. A good gauge would be to measure 1.5-2 grams of coffee for every fluid ounce you intend to drink. In this example, we'll consider a 16 ounce cup that will require approximately 30-32 grams of coffee.

Step 3
Fold the edge of the filter or trim away the excess and place in your dripper. Position the dripper on top of the cup.

Step 4
Use kettle to pre-wet the filter with water between 195°F and 205°F; the kettle will reach this temperature after 35-40 seconds after it has been removed from boiling heat. This will prevent a paper taste as well as preheat the cup. Dump water from cup.

Step 5
Place the whole contraption atop a gram scale and tare (zero-out) the scale, so that it can properly measure the amount of water.

Step 6
Pour just enough water over the grounds to cover evenly. Let this sit for 30 to 50 seconds, or until the "bloom" has settled. This is called "pre-infusing" and it allows carbon dioxide to naturally escape from the coffee. 

Step 7
This is where the precision and patience come into play. Begin pouring again very slowly, allowing the water level reach halfway up the cone, for optimal "extraction". Continue pouring in a circular motion, working your way out, avoiding pouring directly onto the filter. This should last 40 to 45 seconds.

Pause long enough in order to let the grounds settle, then begin pouring again until the scale has reached about 515 grams in total (Note: grams of water also differs based on grams of coffee).

Step 8
Wait until the stream slows to a drip, remove the filter, dump the grounds and enjoy your well-deserved, home brewed cup of coffee.

Step 9 (Optional)
Complement with a light citrus dessert to further enhance the flavors.

Keep in mind that perfecting the pour-over process is personal. Yes, a particular portion of water will enrich the flavor of the coffee in a specific way, but each individual also maintains a unique palate.

Practice your steady, even pouring technique at intervals that you prefer and you will be just fine, says this barista.

Previously - Want great coffee for less? Take matters into your own hands



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soundoff (720 Responses)
  1. Wopalong

    Try a metal cone filter so all the oils remain.

    August 15, 2012 at 12:39 am | Reply
  2. billy

    Dang, just show us a video!

    August 15, 2012 at 12:28 am | Reply
  3. Kandi

    Julian Assange is having his coffee now! He has been accepted in Ecuador, so says all news but CNN. So his coffee from now will be some of the best.

    August 15, 2012 at 12:23 am | Reply
  4. zD

    lol....I honestly thought this was a joke

    August 15, 2012 at 12:17 am | Reply
  5. cougforester

    it is freakin' coffee people!
    Born in raised in Seattle....have parents and grandparents who still drink it by the pot full.
    I can't stand the stuff but have a husband who likes it....you waste a lot of time and money drinking this pretentious crap. I guess you got money and time to burn thinking your gov't is going to hand you a new lifestyle of free crap with big O-Change in office.

    August 15, 2012 at 12:14 am | Reply
    • jim

      calm down honey..smiles
      I think you have valid points! Me, I'm a Folgers guy. Seattle? really? all your life?
      Tell me...What is it with your state? Why so "Blue"? Politically speaking...
      Must be the same reason I can't win a bet here in Las Vegas on your teams.
      Don't get me wrong tho! I am in your corner..

      August 15, 2012 at 12:24 am | Reply
    • Las

      Home brewed coffee,at home, from a stove top? Not expensive at all! It's even better for the environment!

      August 15, 2012 at 1:18 am | Reply
    • situationalawareness

      – quote -
      you waste a lot of time and money drinking this pretentious crap
      - end quote -

      One thing about life is if you enjoy something, it's not wasting money.
      The pretentious part, no more pretentious than double barreled whiskey. It's just more work for a more appreciated taste.
      Since you don't like it, you're not a key demographic of this product.

      August 15, 2012 at 1:22 am | Reply
  6. Jesse

    I'll use my Keurig for a perfect cup every time. Plenty of variety and perfect blend.

    August 15, 2012 at 12:13 am | Reply
    • StaleCoffee

      Keurig machines brew the same low quality, under-infused, stale coffee perfectly every time, yes.

      August 15, 2012 at 1:10 am | Reply
    • Tom

      Same here. Doesn't taste stale to me. There are several varieties that are very good.

      January 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  7. Dan

    Get ready, America. If Mitt Romney and "Medicare" Ryan get elected, this is the kind of job you'll be lucky to have.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Reply
    • jim

      That's what I got demoted to when Obama took over...then went on welfare!!

      August 14, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Reply
      • cougforester

        Now that's funny Jim!

        August 15, 2012 at 12:11 am | Reply
        • jim

          smiles...
          but you know what tho?...it's true! Many men and women as well as young adults can make that same statement.
          There's an old saying........"It's funny, cuz it's true"..
          good eye

          August 15, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • jim

      ps,
      He and Reid have turned Las Vegas into a ghost town. Needless to say have shut down many businesses which took away the health care we "did" have...You Democrats are bigots and are the reason i changed to Independent.

      August 15, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
    • cliff

      Yeah, and the wacko you elected, a guy who has never held a real job, has really taken care of things, hasn't he?
      As to coffee..I crack up at those who sniff it like it was a glass of wine. Pour me a cup of Folgers and I'm fine but leave the foo-foo creamers out of it.

      August 15, 2012 at 1:13 am | Reply
  8. zandhcats

    Too much work to make just one cup of coffee.

    I brew my coffee in one pot, worm the milk in the other pot. Pour the hot coffee to the pot with milk and pour the coffee mixture back to the empty pot and repeat it a few times. Viola it tastes fantastic! The key is the mike must be worm not cold from the fridge. I learnt this technic from a Japanese chef to make milk tea in youtube.
    I'm not a fan of Walmart but their coffee is better than those so called glamour expensive ones, also the Oakhurst milk taste much better than other brand names also only from Walmart.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Reply
    • goatmilk

      Where do you find the worm milk at?

      August 15, 2012 at 12:13 am | Reply
      • cliff

        Hey, have you ever tried miling one of those little creepy things? It ain't easy!

        August 15, 2012 at 1:15 am | Reply
    • Kandi

      "got worm" milk

      August 15, 2012 at 12:21 am | Reply
    • JoshL

      I thought I was the only one who enjoyed worm milk in my coffee!

      August 15, 2012 at 2:29 am | Reply
  9. cacique

    I bet that would be great to do. But using a regular percolator that releases just the exact amount of water through what I know to be the exact amount of coffee for six cups, is just dandy great too.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Reply
  10. jim

    don't mind me..
    was just trying to stir things up a bit.
    However...For the "love" of coffee it did replace tea long back..and is the number one beverage of the world..
    Whether you like it poured fast or savor every moment...either way it's always good to the last drop..unless you married someone who does't know how to make good coffee...

    August 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Reply
  11. RBSG

    I make pour-over coffee in a 4 oz carafe every day. After trying many different brewing techniques and apparatuses, I find it is the easiest and most consistent way to get good coffee without a lot of mess (or parts) to clean up. I highly recommend it.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  12. Lydia

    I drink coffee to wake up. No way I can manage this routine before I have had my coffee. Where are you, my lovely french press?

    August 14, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Reply
    • jim

      las vegas! my fine grind!
      smiles..

      August 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Reply
  13. Nonsense

    I sometimes think that if some of overly serious coffee drinkers had to take a blind taste test comparing the tastes of their various cofee prep gimmicks, they wouldnt be able to accurately know which was which. The whole thing seems to be more about imbuing coffee with ritual so as to create an experience, rather than something that truly adjusts the taste itself.

    August 14, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  14. NorCalMojo

    You can do the same thing with a coffee maker, just drink it right away. That's why it tastes better.

    August 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Reply
    • John

      I use a regular coffe maker also but leave the pot off until water fills coffe grounds about half way the pace pot on maker. With mine I can also stir the grounds as it is brewing.

      August 15, 2012 at 1:16 am | Reply
  15. debbie

    My servants don't do pour-over.

    August 14, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  16. ET

    Geez i didn't know it had a fancy name. We've been doing this over the campfire for decades here in Minnesota...

    August 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  17. Coffee Snob

    Personally the pour over is only good if you have fresh roasted single origin beans. I use an Aeropress, Moka Pot, or French press. If I want a good espresso, I don't go to Starbucks, I'll find a good local coffee shop in the city I'm in to get a good cup of coffee. For me it is not about the caffeine, but about the taste of the coffee. I totally agree with Samantha Reichman's article if you are using fresh roasted single origin beans at 24 hours and no more than 14 days old and grind at the time of use. This makes an excellent cup of coffee. Talk to you later, going to make a fresh cup now!

    August 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Reply
    • jim

      not to 'making' this into more than what it is...but it seems that 'coffee' is much like a 'relationship'..there's always seems to be a spoon of something involved...or whatever you prefer in your mix.

      August 14, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Reply
    • jim

      my last comment is being 'filtered'..I was laughing whist writing..

      August 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  18. MJ

    I LOVE coffee, and take it fairly seriously. I have a French Press, a couple different auto drips, a percolator, and a pour over cone.
    I find the pour over to be the best of the bunch and use it daily. I rarely if ever use any of the other methods I have to make my coffee.
    As the article states, grind your own, have some patience, and enjoy. The 4 minutes or so it takes to make a mug of coffee are WELL worth it in my opinion.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Reply
    • jim

      you live in NY? i assume you are a lady..

      August 14, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Reply
      • MJ

        Nope, you assume wrong. Definitely a man (who loves women only by the way), and live in Kansas. I just know how to appreciate a great cup of coffee.

        August 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Reply
        • jim

          laughing...it's cool...wouldn't have guessed Kansas tho. Ol' Bean..

          August 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  19. Laura Volk

    I didn't even have the patience to read the entire article, much less do all that for a cup of coffee...

    August 14, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
    • jim

      just what i also like, fast girls who can read right away, a quick sip of coffee and get down to business...wink

      August 14, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Reply
  20. jim

    When I was only a year old I began my 'coffee quest', going around and hitting the adults cups of joe. I voted 'other' because I became 'familiar' with 'what makes' great coffee long ago. Personally I favored the old ceramic Corning percolator which did very much the same thing.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Reply
  21. Don

    nothing beats a cup from a french press. Why dilute the flavor through a piece of paper?

    August 14, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  22. LIZ

    STARBUCKS ROAST TENDS TO BE BITTER DEPENDING ON THE ROAST... WHEN MIXING WITH SELECTO OR CAFE CREMA (WHICH IS SWEETER BEAN), IT BALANCES IT BEING SO PUNGEANT AND IT MAKES IT A MUCH MILDER, PLEASANT AND EVEN WITH A SWEETER TASTE...
    I HAVE HAD MANY OF MY FRIENDS, COMPLIMENTING IT... SAYING THAT THIS BY FAR HAS BEEN THERE BEST CUP OF COFFEE EVER..

    August 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  23. Gay Boy Slim

    I enjoy a good cup of Joe in the morning. After I finish with him, then I have some coffee if there is enough time left.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  24. Jim Nazium

    What a load of BS for a cup of coffee. Drink a freaking Coca-Cola and get over yourself with your $5 Starsucks.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  25. Nathan Newman

    Ill stick to tea after reading this.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Reply
  26. Jeff

    It's a drink, not a job.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  27. lb309

    I barely held concentration long enough to read this article....This coffee method is not for me

    August 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  28. Matt

    That's how I make coffee when I go camping. Tastes great!

    August 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  29. TomG

    Nah..... Just give me my instant coffee while I am still bleary-eyed in the morning and I'm a happy camper. Pop that puppy in the microwave and there you have it: Instant awake!

    August 14, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  30. David

    I make drip coffee in the morning for work...I own a moka pot and make coffee that way...I do the pour over coffee when I am traveling or deployed overseas. I go to a coffeeshop for espresso or cappucino. I like coffee.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  31. TheBob

    This is a bunch of bullcrap. If you've got sh*tty coffee, none of this junk will make it taste good. And if you've got good coffee, you won't need this.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Reply
  32. Anne

    Been doing this for at least 10 years - you need to check with Melita .... aaaaaa ... this isn't something new!

    August 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • T in Seattle

      Thank you! My dad used a single cone filter all my childhood, 40 years ago. Just because they're suddenly doing this at coffeehouses, and charging a lot of money for it, doesn't make it "new."

      August 14, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Reply
    • Methinks

      @Anne–I agree, not new. My first coffee pot back in 1977 was a Melita with the hand-pour cone filter thingy.

      August 15, 2012 at 12:31 am | Reply
  33. weaverofdreams_2000

    This is a secret?? You must be kidding! I've been making coffee this way for over 30 years, ever since I was a teenager (in Canada). My wife says that is the way they always made coffee when she lived in Germany. It only takes a few minutes. Far, far better than anything made in a machine. Worth it. Maybe Americans are just slow, or lazy, or both (of course, if you are drinking 10 cups a day, your boss may start to wonder where you are at if you are spending an hour a day making coffee! :-).
    Cheers!

    August 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  34. gerard

    This is an adaptation of the method my parents used to make coffe. They used a simple drip pot. Boiled water goes into the top container and the water is slowly dripped through the coffe below. Perfect coffee every time. The "Uncle Bens" of coffee brewing!

    August 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Reply
    • Tylerb

      Except that there are more factors than hot water and dripping. Water flow and temperature are extremely crucial to proper extraction. 90% of automatic home drip machines simply do not heat the water to a high enough temperature (as the article said 200 avg) for ideal extraction. Factor in the fact that the majority of people don't use the proper grind with a drip machine and you get hot brown water with hints of weak coffee notes. Side by side taste test will shoe you that they're not the same.

      Source: Artisan barista at a well-known Cincinnati coffee shop/roastery for two years. I really don't want to sound pretentious, there is plenty of that in the coffee industry, but the fact is the majority of American's subsist on bad coffee and that includes Starbuck's. There are amazing, complex coffees out there, and once you've had them, not only will you understand, but you'll never go back.

      August 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Reply
      • Jean

        gerard is not talking about a machine. He is talking about a coffee pot that is several pieces, made of tempered glass. The bottom is the actual pot that the coffee ends up in, then the filter, then the receptacle for the hot water. You boil the water separately and pour it in. The shape and diameter of the top part regulated the flow of the water onto the grounds.

        August 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Reply
  35. StanD

    Just use an AeroPress, people who know better have been using them for years.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  36. Aussie

    If you like this method you really should try a Vietnamese Phin Drip Filter, easy to adjust to personal taste and is a lot of fun.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  37. Zach Newman

    If anybody wants to try they sell the cone at Williams-Sonoma for $12 and the filters too (50 for $4). These directions are basically straight out of the little instruction book that comes with the cone.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  38. lkt

    When visting Japan back in 2005 and staying at a Marriott, the room came with what I called Origami Coffee and an electric kettle. You would open this packet of coffee (not instant) and follow the directions to get the paper "sides" to balance on your empty coffee cup (very similar to origami instructions). You'd boil your water in the kettle and slowly pour over the balanced coffee contraption. Those cups of coffee were WONDERFUL! I even took a few extra packets back home with me at the end of the trip.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  39. Fabio

    "Try this trick..." - Is CNN heading towards the tabloid realm like Yahoo already has?

    August 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
    • Jayakumar

      This is the way a large number of people across the world drinks coffee. In India especially in the South, it is called a decoction or filter coffee. We have a pour over filter to make a decoction which is then mixed with milk and sugar for a great coffee. We also add Chicory extract to get a better flavor, something which I have never seen in the US. Indian coffee is also sometime flavored with aromatic spices or herbs.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Reply
    • John

      Hey, Fab, if you're not interested in an article, why feel the compulsion to click on it and take the time to leave such an unnecessary and worthless comment? That bored with your life?

      August 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  40. Netmonger

    I like an occasional cappuccino too, but for the most part stick to plain ol' coffee. Is it *really* necessary to refine the coffee experience to this level? Cant people just be satisfied with a cup of coffee without all this insanity? Is the difference between the two really worth the additional environmental and economic costs? Seems really silly to take it to this level.

    August 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      I thought that until I tried a pour-over. Holy cow! For the most part, I drink bad office machine coffee or what I brew at home, but the pour-over is like nothing I'd ever had before. Think of it as a once in a while treat. Grocery store cheddar...deli Swiss...fast food American...zOMG Epoisse and Rogue River Blue.

      Treat yo self!

      August 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Reply
  41. McIver3

    I've had French Press coffee before and it was outstanding. However, I guess I don't have the patience to deal with the intricacies of a pour over routine. Perhaps if someone made it for me I would try it.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  42. theferreros

    The best of both worlds. I love this device:
    http://www.sweetmarias.com/sweetmarias/coffee-brewers/filtercones/clever-coffee-dripper-large.html

    August 14, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  43. qanerd

    This is why God made the French Press. What a buncha rigamarole.
    I like my coffee like I like my women: dark and bitter.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  44. Flooby

    I love my Bodum portable french press. VERY tasty.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  45. J.R.

    Don't do the pour-over!!! Take the time and make a french press - it's the best, hands down. Go into Starbucks, they'll make you one.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Reply
    • PraiseTheLard

      If you can stand the taste of Starbucks coffee...

      August 14, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Reply
    • Bill Duke

      No thanks. I don't like BurntBucks coffee.

      August 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Reply
  46. Fuzzynormal

    "Don't people have better things to do?"

    Perhaps making time to concentrate on doing something, however mundane, with a willing effort at the best quality that can be achieved is ultimately the "better thing to do"?

    Is doing something just 'good enough' more valuable? I'm not so sure.

    It can be a philosophy about life, you know, not just about brewing a cup of coffee.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Reply
  47. deb

    hardly a revolutionary ida

    August 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  48. Lurch

    Wow, I've been making coffee like a hipster for years! Who knew "didn't bother buying a new auto drip" was the Next Big Thing?

    August 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  49. Primal 4 Life

    Vastly inferior to the French press.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Reply
    • H. Deca

      I used to brew all my coffee in a press until I bought a V60.. I find a French Press tends to produce a more full bodied cup and will still use mine if I have a medium/darker roast (which is not often these days). V60s produce far more nuanced cups that truly showcase a quality coffees subtle complexities that you just won't be able to replicate in a French Press. I'd also recommend playing around with an Aeropress if you like French Pressed coffee. All the body of a press while still delivering the delicious complexities of a quality light roast.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  50. Don

    I go across the street for my coffee...

    August 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Reply
    • Buck

      i go down the street for mine...

      August 14, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Reply
      • alexpdx

        I go kinda diagonally across. Well, sometimes I zig-zag, depending on traffic.

        August 14, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Reply
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