You’ve heard the fuss over pour-over, but still aren’t sure what makes this coffee ritual so special. We last chatted about why the slow pour is important and how the time/surface area balance affects your brew. Now you understand why a slow pour matters from a brewing perspective. But why is it important from a drinking perspective? What makes the end result so different from other brew methods – what’s the point?
Every brew method coaxes out different flavor profiles.
Let’s use your automatic drip coffee at work as an example of when a brew process negatively affects flavor. Often times, automatic coffee machines brew under the optimal 195-205 water temperature. Plus, their water distribution isn’t consistent – leading to an uneven extraction. On top of this, they also don’t pre wet their paper filters, leading to a papery taste in your coffee. We could go on for days discussing automatic machines, but the point is these features dictate the taste of your coffee at work. Low water temperature, uneven water distribution and not pre wetting the filter will lead to a skunky, stale, cardboard tasting cup.
So just like aspects of an automatic coffee machine can result in negative flavors, other brew techniques can pull out very specific, and very wonderful, flavors.
The various aspects of pour-over create a unique cup of coffee. The purpose of pour-over is to continuously replenish the water around your coffee grounds. This way new, fresh water is constantly coming in contact with your coffee.
So what’s the end result?
For reference, the image above is SCAA’s (Specialty Coffee Association of America) coffee taster’s flavor wheel. It’s meant to help you identify the flavors you taste in your coffee.
A cup of pour-over coffee provides many layers of flavors, you’ll often hear folks call a good cup of pour-over fruity, clean tasting and well rounded. Let’s break those down a bit.
Depending on the type of bean, when you taste a fruity cup your brain will be reminded of some combination of the following:
- Berries: blackberry, raspberry, blueberry strawberry
- Citrus notes: grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange (anything described as bright)
- Other/dried fruit: raisin, prune, pomegranate, coconut, cherry
With the pour-over technique you’re using a fine paper filter or metal filter to remove virtually all particles from your coffee. You’re also pre wetting your paper filter. This leads to an exceptionally clean tasting cup. When you try a clean cup, you’ll experience:
- Little to no mouth feels (few coffee particles in your cup).
- Free of oils (if you use paper).
A well rounded cup is due to the slow pour, which distributes your fresh water for an even extraction. When you taste a well rounded cup, you’ll experience:
- No extremes in flavors (everything is consistent). It’s not too ripe, not too bitter – all of the flavor notes are in balance.
- Also known as a “balanced cup.”
This flavor profile seems pretty spectacular when you think about how low tech the brewing equipment is compared to an espresso machine or drip coffee machine.
So there you have it, the point of pour-over is to pull out unique flavors and mouth feels from your coffee. You’re continuously replenishing beans through a slow pour technique to coax out this spectrum of flavors you might not taste with other brew methods.
Oh, and if you were looking for our slow jams…here’s the top 50 of all time: Slow Jams For Your Slow Pour