Pro tips for mastering the perfect cup of coffee at home
Lady Falcon Coffee Club Founder, Buffy Maguire, share her morning mediation. Pour-over: an elegant way to craft a single cup (or several) at home, and add a brief moment of reflective pause to your hectic morning scramble.
Start with Fresh-Roasted
Using fresh-roasted beans is the most important thing you can do. And while I believe that the ‘best’ type of coffee to use is simply your personal favorite, pour-overs tend to favor medium-light to medium roasts.
Grind the Morning Of
I’m really not into the whole snobby coffee movement. It doesn’t necessarily create better-tasting coffee, and can alienate people from accessing great coffee. But there is one thing I am pretty persnickety about, and it’s only using fresh beans and grinding them immediately before use! Grind your coffee to the texture of small grains of sand to allow the most flavor of the bean to be unlocked.
Measure It Out
Personally, I prefer a dense cup of coffee—not tea-like—so I dose my coffee on the high side: 35 grams for one cup. This is a bit extravagant; you can get a similar effect with anything over 30 grams, which is about three heaping tablespoons of ground. But I like it strong!
Get Your Water to the Proper Temperature
I highly recommend using an electric swan-neck kettle to heat your water (and purified water is best). The swan neck allows for a consistent, slow stream of hot water and having it be electric is just so convenient. After your water boils, let it cool down for a minute or so. I use this time to pour some of the boiled water into my favorite mug, letting it sit there in there for a bit to heat it.
Rinse the Filter
You should definitely rinse off the paper filter before adding coffee. Without this step, the starch in the paper becomes a dominant taste.
Slowly Pour in Your Water
First, gently wet the coffee to wake it up—in our coffee world, this is called a ‘bloom.’ This is a great time to smell the coffee and get to know it. When I am deciding about a new bean or roast, I spend a lot of time smelling the coffee at this stage. After the bloom, imagine you are watering a delicate plant. Starting in the center of the grounds, pour water in concentric circles, avoiding the edges. Most coffee ‘pros’ time this step at around 3-and-a-half minutes, a little longer than you’d probably prefer, but once you build the muscle memory, this step becomes meditative.
Personally, I like as little milk as possible, but will use a tiny amount of cream when drinking for pure pleasure.
Must-Have Items for the Perfect Pour-Over
Storage Containers “I store my coffee in sealed mason jars and recycled jam jars with little handwritten notes because part of my job is constantly tasting and experimenting. While this is definitely not for everyone, I’d highly suggest storing your coffee in an airtight container. And glass is easy to clean. Also, coffee doesn’t need to be refrigerated or frozen—any cupboard out of sunlight is ideal.”
Grinder “Burr grinders are best. For home use, a Baratza conical burr provides lots of nuances to dial in your coffee; they have entry-level grinders that are not too pricey. But you can easily pick up a cheap blade grinder and still get a much better cup than by buying pre-ground.”
Scale “A basic kitchen scale will totally do the trick for weighing your coffee and water. If you’re looking for next-level, I have a few really great coffee scales—the Hario V60 Drip Scale, Jennings’ CJ4000, and the super high-tech Acaia Lunar. The Hario and CJ4000 work great and are very simple. The Acaia is kind of amazing, but definitely for the more graduated pour-over home barista and not necessary for everyone.”
Electric Swan-Neck Kettle “Right now I’m using a BonaVita, but I find that most kettles on Amazon are great quality and I don’t really have a preference as long as it is sturdy. Some swan necks have temperature gauges, which is fun but in my experience those thermometers break pretty quickly.”
Brewer “I am really enjoying Saint Anthony Industries’ Phoenix 70 pour-over method. I met the team a few years back when they were first starting out, and they really are craftsmen with superior products—considered as well as beautiful. I also have a glass-blown pitcher from them that connects to the dripper. The Melitta and Hario V60’s Ceramic Dripper are also solid options.”