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Pour-Over Coffee: The Purist’s Brew?

For many, pour-over coffee’s appeal comes from its simplicity, elegance, and full-body flavor. Compared to a french press or drip machine, pour over allows the most control over the time, extraction, and flavor of the brew. At Coffee Lab, pour-over is essential to our business. While it might not be the quickest way to grab a cup of coffee if you’re late for work, a well-made pour-over takes time, attention, and care.


Pour-over is brewed by slowly pouring almost-boiling water over freshly ground beans in a conically-shaped filter cup. At Coffee Lab, we use Kono filter cups and add fresh filter paper before each pour. After filling up the gooseneck kettle with 207-degree water, it’s best to wet the new filter paper to get rid of any residue or papery flavor. After pouring the freshly-ground beans into the filter, pour more hot water into the serving cup to keep it warm when the coffee is being brewed. Warming the serving cup helps maintain the coffee’s temperature for longer and reduces the amount it cools down after being poured.

The first part of making pour-over is called the bloom. The bloom pour saturates the coffee grounds and releases carbon dioxide. The grounds will swell and bubbles will form during a well-executed bloom. To get a good bloom, slowly pour water in small, quarter-sized circles until you have about a 2:1 ratio of water to coffee. Wait 30 seconds for the coffee to drain, and then start filling up the cone with spiraling circles.

After blooming, there are numerous different, and widely practiced methods for getting great taste out of a pour over. Some places will swirl their filters, mix the grounds with a spoon, fill the cone up completely, or constantly maintain a thin stream of water over the grounds. At Coffee Lab, we begin with slow spirals over the coffee, starting from the center and gradually moving outward. Regardless of method, what’s key during this process is that the grounds be fully covered with water until the brew process is finished. A mark of a well-executed pour is the coffee bed after the brewing has finished. Flat and level grounds after the pour-over is finished indicated a well extracted brew and can primarily be achieved through a slow, even pour.

Barista’s Choice:

Favorite: My choice pour-over to drink at any time of the day is the Honduras. With notes of chocolate, blueberry, and maple, the Honduras is packed with fruity, sweet flavor that is particularly well suited for the pour-over method. Our Honduras beans are from the COMSA cooperative, naturally washed, and consist of the Catui, Cattura, Bourbon, and Typica cultivars of Arabica beans.

Most Exciting: The most exciting pour-over right now at Coffee lab is the Indonesia. The caramel and mango notes are immediately apparent, but a mild tobacco flavor elevates this roast to a higher quality.

Classic: The go-to pour-over at Coffee Lab is our Peru roast. Grown in the Jaén, San Ignacio, and Bagua provinces of northern Peru between 1300-1800m of altitude, the Peru is a sweet, well balanced roast with light acidity and notes of brown sugar, chocolate, and stone fruit.


Leo Sainati

Student at Northwestern University

Specialty Coffee Barista at Coffee Lab Evanston

Assistant Curriculum Developer at the CL Academy

Writing Intern at Ignitus Digital Evanston


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