Back while pouring Coffee became more popular on the shores of North America in the late 2000s, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t my cup of coffee. I kept throwing away money to try it in coffee shops, but between price and taste, it was like “it’s not you, it’s me.”
The famed Japanese manufacturer Hario, which makes a variety of inexpensive pour-over coffee brewing and serving tools, helped me realize that my ambivalence was just a big misunderstanding. For the uninitiated, a pour over is a bit like a hand-held version of drip coffee. Typically, you use a gooseneck kettle to pour a thin stream of hot water over a basket or cone filled with ground, often breaking the stream into a series of precise pours and pauses over several minutes. It’s labor intensive, but the results can be phenomenal.
The V60 is one of the classic coffee maker models: a ribbed cone with a large intimidating hole in the bottom and a platform for mounting on a brewing bowl. Hario sells paper filters to match the V60’s unique conical shape. Mugen, officially known as the V60 One Pour Dripper Mugen, takes its name from a word that my Japanese literature professor friend Ted says refers to the concept of infinity or limitlessness. From the outside, it is similar to the V60, but with fewer fins on the inside wall. This design allows you to pour a relatively fast and even stream, but at the same time gives the soil enough time to contact the water. The Drip-Assist is an accessory that sits on top of a dripper and features a set of holes in two concentric rings, making it easier for beginners to water more evenly. Finally, there is the Switch Immersion Dripper, which is similar to the V60 with a plug at the bottom to turn the water flow on and off.
Knowing that I would soon be talking to some experts, I focused on getting the V60 to my feet using the instructions from Jessica Isto’s excellent book. craft coffee. Using a stopwatch, scales, and a kettle, I slowly poured the water onto the ground, taking time for it to saturate, and pouring precise little circles to make sure the water traveled through the entire ground in about the same amount of time. In the end, I poured 400 grams of water, most of which flowed through the ground, in about three and a half minutes. There are a thousand ways to use the V60, and like Isto’s, most of them are slow, meticulous, and pleasantly meditative. It’s not fast or convenient. I always had her instructions in front of me when I poured, but I went from “a” to “o!” in that first cup of French roast meat that was firm and smooth and smoky.
I still had a lot to learn. It took long enough to make that I didn’t brew it in the mornings when I need large amounts of coffee with minimal effort, but I liked the idea of a pour over as my contemplative afternoon brew.
Why has the opinion changed? When I first tried pourover in coffee shops, I confused bean effect with method effect, a mistake I’ve made before. I should have started with the dark roast that I drink every day, rather than exotic beans with a completely different taste.
I have tried it with everything from high quality beans Cafe Kong Se in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Costco Columbian and the results have always been surprisingly good. I prefer the french press, but the pourover gives the same great results without any residue or messy cleaning.