In the newest season of Orange Is the New Black, there's a scene in which an inmate finds contraband single-origin coffee—much better than what can be bought at the prison commissary—and you would think she had struck gold. And most of us can relate, considering our coffee ritual is something we cherish without always realizing it. That's why finding out the type of coffee we like best (and the optimal way to brew it with French press or pour-over coffee ratios) can help us start our day off on the highest note possible.
"One of the first coffee books I ever read had a line in it talking about how the opportunity to start a day by making a perfect cup of coffee was one of the best gifts you could give yourself," says Michael Phillips, the training director at Blue Bottle Coffee. "I really believe that." In order to make what's deemed a perfect cup, coffee connoisseurs like Phillips rely on the ratio of beans to water, which differs based on your coffee-making technique of choice.
And luckily for us, we got Phillips to share the pour-over coffee ratio: It's 1:15 coffee-to-water for single-origin brews and 1:11 coffee-to-water for blends. In order to create your own ideal cup, keep reading to learn exactly what pour over is, which beans to choose, and why you may want to consider it your new morning go-to.
WHAT IS POUR-OVER COFFEE?
"Pour-over is a very broad category without a super-clear definition," explains Phillips. He says that a loose definition is coffee made using a manual brewing technique that centers on a kettle and some type of brewing device. Devices contain a dripper that helps boiling water flow through at the correct rate. Pour-over differs from French press because, although both are manual techniques, French press is made by pouring boiling water onto coffee grounds and then plunging to separate the grounds from the just-brewed java.
HOW DO I MAKE IT?
1. Bring your water to a boil (filter if necessary).
2. Place your filter into the dripper (pre-wet it so you don't get remnants of a papery taste).
3. Add the grounds (this is where the pour-over coffee ratio comes in).
4. Make your first pour, spiraling your water from the outside toward the center.
5. Let it bloom. The coffee will expand, so let it rest for about 30 to 45 seconds.
6. Make your final pours, splitting the leftover hot water into two to three equal parts.
Here's a more in-depth look at the pour-over coffee process if you've never done it before.
WHICH COFFEE SHOULD I USE?
So this is where single-origin and blends come in. Blends are likely what you are most used to drinking. The difference is that single-origin coffee comes from one specific region or place. "It's a broad term that sellers use for coffees of an intentionally specific place that are meant to evoke a sense of place through flavor," says Charlie Habegger, green buyer for Blue Bottle Coffee. The "place" can be a co-op of farmers, a single farm, a single plot, or even a specific picking period, he says.
On the flip side, blends are a mixture of two or more coffees. But when it comes down to choosing the beans for your pour-over, it's all a matter of personal preference as to whether you prefer single-origin or a blend. And since you'll need some new tools, we've rounded up some of the top pour-over coffee devices out there. Now, get pouring.
No more reusable filters necessary—a laser-cut stainless steel filter means there is never a papery aftertaste (it's good news for the environment, too).
Reviewers say this affordable pour-over set from Kalita is small, easy to use, and makes a consistently good cup.
The petite size is perfect for solo coffee drinkers, plus a purchase helps provide those in need with clean water through the Grosche Safe Water Project.
Is there anything more iconic than a Chemex? One reviewer said Chemex brewed coffee tastes substantially smoother and cleaner and is well worth the effort.
If you're not one for making your own java, learn about the best coffee shops in NYC that will do it for you.