Have you heard of the new culinary trend sweeping the nation? It’s coffee. There are so many ways to enjoy it. There’s French Press Coffee, Cold Brew Coffee, or coffee without a coffee maker.
Today we’ll focus on pour over coffee and we go over what it is, what makes it so special, why you need to start making it at home and how to do just that! Let’s keep on reading to find out more!
What is Specialty Coffee?
You may already know what specialty coffee is and if so, awesome! But for those who don’t, this is a little guide as to what it is, the best places to get it, and the various methods to know in order to start making your own pour over coffee. When it comes to coffee, it shouldn’t just be a chore, but a ritual in which you treat yourself and take the time to enjoy that hot cup of black gold. So, now that we’ve had our own two cups of coffee, let’s get going!
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What is Specialty Coffee and What Makes it so Special?
So, what is specialty coffee and what makes it so special? The definition of specialty coffee can be traced back to 1974, when Erna Knutsen used it to describe beans of the best flavor that were grown in special microclimates. Since then, this definition has expanded to include an entire culture based on the growing, harvesting, roasting and extracting of the finest coffee beans in the world. Specialty coffee has grown over the past couple of years into the behemoth it is today. In cities all over the country, you can walk into specialty coffee shops with pour over bars, classes, and yup, you guessed it, your favorite tattooed barista.
Today, specialty coffee is defined by 2 things: the quality of the beans and the knowledge and skill set of the baristas. Beans that fall into the “specialty coffee” category have received a score from 80-100 by the SCAA and were grown in special climates on single-plot lands. That’s where you get single-origin coffees from. The SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) is the leading authority on specialty coffee, and if you’re interested in learning more, an invaluable resource. Not only are beans carefully grown and harvested, but the baristas who work in specialty coffee shops undergo some serious training to ensure that the cup you’re getting features the best of the best flavor notes from that particular bean. So, let’s dive in and go over which supplies you’ll need to start making some sweet pour over coffee.
Supplies You Will Need for Your Pour Over
While the filters will vary from one method to the next, the main supplies you’ll need are:
- scale – pour over coffee is really precise which means you will need to measure out your beans and watch how much water you’re pouring in at a time.
- timer – a timer will also be necessary to ensure that your pours are being done at the right time. It’s like a science experiment in your kitchen!
- grinder – there are two kinds of grinders: a blade grinder and a burr mill. While either one can be used, do note that the blade grinder will not grind your beans as evenly as a burr mill will. The grinder we use at home is a Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill. It’s a manual grinder which means we get a sweet arm workout every time we brew a cup of coffee.
- kettle – the best kettle to use for pour over coffee is one in which you have complete control over the speed and amount of water being distributed. For many methods, you will need to pour in a circular motion, so if you can’t control that, the taste and quality of your cup will be affected. Our favorite kettles are the Hario V60 Drip Kettle and the Bonavita Electric Kettle.
- pour over gear – this will depend on the method you choose to go with (something we’ll go over shortly).
- coffee – the most important supply, obviously! If you’re making a pour over cup of coffee, you should be using the finest quality beans around. This is because you’re taking the time to create a special cup and any coffee bean just won’t do.
Specialty Coffee Roasters
This isn’t a definitive list of roasters, but roasters I have frequented, am familiar with on a personal level, and can personally vouch for. Let’s see who they are!
image via Darwin Discovered
Okay, so I may be a little biased with this one seeing as my significant other works there, but even before he did and when I was just getting into the specialty coffee scene, I loved Stumptown. The quality of their coffee is great and what makes them even better is their mission to source the highest quality beans and the lengths to which they go to achieve that. Stumptown was the first company to set up direct trading relationships with their grower, meaning they pay their farmers more and have established long-term, collaborative relationships which result in amazing, carefully grown and processed coffee beans.
image via Metropolis Mag
Or “Rude Bottle”; depends on where you’re at and who you’re asking, but Blue Bottle is one of the more prominent specialty coffee roasters currently on the scene. With locations everywhere (they’re expanding rapidly), it’s a miracle that Blue Bottle is as consistent with its quality as they are. Its origins can be traced back to James Freeman’s backyard and its coffee can be found in grocery stores such as Whole Foods. Blue Bottle is a company that doesn’t play around and their coffee shows that. If you’re ever in San Francisco, check out the Ferry Building Plaza location as the service there is better than the one at the Mint Plaza.
image via Kanika Design
We had the pleasure of knowing Four Barrel when we lived in San Francisco and let’s just say, it’s a cool place, man. The cafe itself is amazing and the service is always so incredibly friendly and personal, it makes us second guess the stereotype that all specialty coffee baristas are snobs. The coffee itself is top notch and while the selection isn’t much, what they have will undoubtedly be the best of the best. If you live in the LA area, Highland Park Cafe on York serves Four Barrel. Try it out there!
image via Classic Infusion
If we’re making a list of the best specialty coffee roasters, you better believe Intelligentsia is on it. Tied for first with Stumptown, the quality of their beans is always first rate. You can tell that whoever the master roaster is, they’re serious about the work they do. In addition to that, the baristas at Intelligentsia undergo a 6-month training course before they’re allowed to even touch a coffee bean, so you know that whoever is making your coffee is a serious professional.
image via Arch Daily
While we’re not too familiar with their coffee (only having had it three times in total), we had to put Counter Culture on the list because practice-wise, they’re a great company. One of the first pioneers in sustainable, environmentally-friendly processing practices, Counter Culture also paves the way for transparency by releasing their yearly transparency reports to the public. So, not only does this company do good, they make good coffee too. Win!
Other great roasters to check out are Klatch, Ritual, Sight Glass, Heart and 49th Parallel.
Pour Over Methods
While they are various pour over methods, our favorites are Chemex, Bee House, V60 and the aeroPress. Other pour over methods are Woodneck, Kalita Wave and the Kone. Let’s go over each method below!
Invented in 1941, the Chemex was designed to produce an amazingly clean and sweet cup of coffee, regardless of skill level. So, the fact that it is essentially foolproof makes it a favorite for us because hey, we’re human and we mess up too. The only qualms I have when it comes to the Chemex are the filters and the time it takes to produce a single cup of coffee. The filters are thicker than other methods and require more rinsing (rinsing removes the paper taste) and it generally takes around 4-5 minutes to extract a cup of coffee. That said, if you have the time and patience, there is no going wrong with the Chemex.
This is a method we recently discovered and have been absolutely smitten with. This pour over method is so awesome, it makes decaf coffee taste good! Easier to learn than the v60, the Bee House will produce a cup of coffee similar to the Chemex – bright, sweet and clean. The best part is that it’s also much faster, with a cup done in around 2-3 minutes.
Oh yeah! Time to kick it old school. During our time as a barista, the V60 was one of our favorite pour over methods because it’s just plain fun! The learning curve on this bad boy is definitely a bit steeper, but once you master it, there is no going back to anything else. The V60 produces a cup similar to other pour over methods, but is fast and consistent.
Okay, so this isn’t technically a pour over method, but the aeroPress is a good one to go over and know. If you travel a lot, this may be the method for you as it’s incredibly portable. The aeroPress will produce a flavor similar to that of the French press – full bodied and rich, but without the oil and silt (a major plus for us).
When it comes to pour overs, it’s important to know that each method has its own dose weight, grind setting, and time. I’ve included some resources below that have measurements, grind settings and all the details you need to make a perfect cup of coffee at home.
To see a pour over in action, watch the video by Misto Box below. The method used is a V60.
Below are some resource to supplement the information in this guide. The world is specialty coffee is rapidly growing and it’s so exciting to see the progress and changes being made. We hope you enjoyed this post as much as we enjoyed writing it! Drink on!
A Beginner’s Guide to Pour Over Coffee Brewing
Specialty Coffee Association of America
Sprudge – Coffee News and Culture
The world is specialty coffee is rapidly growing and it’s so exciting to see the progress and changes being made. We hope you enjoyed this post as much as we enjoyed writing it! Happy Brewing!
For more culinary guides, check out How To Be A Master Chef In 10 Days and Knife Skills 101: How To Use Your Knives Like A Chef!
Don’t forget to catch the next part of our guide to How To Be A Master Chef In 10 Days! We love hearing your feedback and comments, so let us know if you have any other tips for beginner cooks or your thoughts on this series. HomemadeRecipes.com was founded to create an online community where foodies, epicureans and chefs can share recipes and learn new ones! We need your help, however, in creating this community where you can come, share and learn. If you love to cook, love food or have some great recipes and ideas you’d like to share with us, shoot us an email and make sure to stay in touch on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest! We’re always looking for contributors and want to hear from you.
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