9 Tips for Buying Pour Over Coffee Equipment
Pour over could well be the most refined, most perfect way to make coffee. If you have ever watched a skilled barista meticulously preparing your brew in this way – and tasted the delicate, complex flavors it produces – you may be considering purchasing a set to use at home.
Here are our top 9 tips for buying pour over equipment.
1. Understand the theory
Before you even start to look at equipment for pour over brewing, you need to understand the theory of the method – and you need to know why you want to buy your own set. Yes, preparing coffee this way looks pretty cool and jazzy, but is that all you’re interested in?
Probably the main reason the pour over method has become the go-to technique in specialist coffee shops practically everywhere is the high-quality, flavorful brew it can produce when done right.
It’s all about control. If you watch a professional barista brewing pour over, you will notice the painstaking attention to detail at each step.
Having a good understanding of the importance of each step and why we need to be so accurate when brewing like this will help you choose the right gear for you.
2. Decide how many people you want to brew for
Pour over is a convenient way to brew for just one person, but if you want to make more than one cup at a time, you might consider investing in pour over equipment for making larger quantities.
On the other hand, if you regularly brew for several people at a time, you may choose to opt for the convenience of an electric pour over machine rather than a manual version.
The advantage of this type of a machine is that it mimics the art of a trained barista but does so automatically at the touch of a button, combining precision brewing with the convenience of an electric drip brewer – the best of both worlds.
However, it doesn’t allow you to “perform” the ritual of brewing yourself, as with manual gear.
3. Choose the filter type
Assuming you’ve decided to go for the art, craft and aesthetics of a manual pour over set, the most important decision you need to make concerns the filter, and specifically, the material it is made of. There are three options, metal, paper and cloth, and each has advantages and disadvantages.
A metal filter, usually made of Stainless Steel, is the most convenient since you just wash it and use it again. Metal filters allow the oils and micro-particles in the coffee to pass through the mesh, giving you an aromatic, vibrant beverage that is less tangy but bolder and more flavorful.
Paper filters have the obvious disadvantage of being single-use, meaning they cause extra waste and need to be replaced constantly. However, paper filters out most of the oils and micro-particles, resulting in a clean body and a crisp acidity.
A cloth filter is somewhere between the two. It can be re-used, making it more convenient and ecological than paper – but will eventually become imbued with coffee flavor and need replacing. They stop micro-particles but allow oils to pass, giving a smooth, bright, crisp and aromatic coffee.
4. Choose the material
The material of the pour over maker you choose is less important than the filter but is worth considering. Stainless Steel makers are the most durable but can sometimes impart unwanted flavors to the coffee.
Glass and ceramic are completely unreactive and won’t flavor your coffee. Some people prefer the way they look, but they are also more susceptible to breaking.
5. Buy the right grinder
Given that brewing with the pour over method is all about control, you’ll want to make sure you choose the right grinder. Grinding precisely is vital to making great coffee using any brewing method and should not be overlooked.
To grind accurately to the desired level, you should choose a good-quality burr grinder. They grind far more accurately than blade grinders and don’t heat the grounds during the process. The result of using a quality burr grinder will be noticeably superior.
6. Invest in high-quality, accurate scales
Precision brewing using the pour over method is the polar opposite of dosing by eye using a tablespoon or just pouring in water until it seems like there’s enough.
You need to measure quantities carefully, so you’ll need a good set of scales. Go for sensitive scales that measure using the metric system. To brew accurately and consistently, you’ll want to be measuring amounts of coffee and water down to the last gram.
7. Buy a water filter
Coffee is only as good as the ingredients you use, which means the coffee beans, of course, but also the water. For the best results – and after all, that’s probably why you’re taking the time to make pour over – you need pure water as well as top-grade coffee.
Most tap water won’t cut it. You can use bottled water – or you can invest in proper equipment for filtering water. You will notice the results.
8. Use a goose-necked kettle
For pour over, you need a goose-necked kettle, one of those funny looking items you’ve probably noticed your local barista using to deliver water to the coffee in careful concentric circles.
This is not just about looking flash and pretentious, it’s all down to that word again – control. If you just pour water into the top from a regular kettle, you’ll flood the coffee and ruin the extraction (you’ll have no control over it at all).
A goose-neck allows you to deliver the water in a gentle and controlled manner, allowing you to brew more accurately.
9. Know your equipment
The final tip is this – even after you’ve bought your gear, you need to learn how to use it since all brewers are different.
We don’t have space to go into the details here, but for the best possible results, make sure you learn how to brew with your setup, even down to which type of coffee works best with that particular equipment.
Buy the right equipment – and then practice
Once you’ve invested in your gear, you won’t become a superstar barista overnight. But having followed our 9 tips for buying pour over equipment, you will be able to start experimenting, practicing and gradually learning the art and craft of a pro.