Coffee Culture: Pouring Over the Perfect Cup
Don’t tell Ferris McIntyre she’s too young to love coffee. The 17-year-old Adolfo Camarillo High School senior is a self-described “coffee nerd” and barista-in-training, mastering the art of the perfect pour-over under the tutelage of coffee guru Mike Colston, owner of Element Coffee in Camarillo.
Pour-over is the hot new trend that’s actually an old-school method of making coff ee. In simplest terms, it’s pouring hot water over coff ee grounds, but there’s definitely a technique to extracting all the nuanced flavors from the beans.
“The entire purpose of the pour-over is [to showcase] the freshness of the coffee,” says McIntyre. So to do it right, the person making the coffee must pay attention and not rush the process. “The coffee has [to have time] to bloom and to allow the oils to perk a little bit.”
Aside from producing what many coffee aficionados say is a superior cup, the beauty of pour-overs is that the only equipment needed is a cone to house the coffee and filter, and a coffee cup.
McIntyre’s pour-over technique starts by wetting the filter with water between 200° and 205°. “Any hotter than that and you’ll burn the coffee. It won’t taste as good,” she says.
Then she adds freshly ground coffee—McIntyre prefers Los Lajones single-origin coffee beans from Panama—and pours a little hot water over the grounds in a circular motion.
Don’t use a lot of water, McIntyre warns, just enough to evenly moisten the coffee. This allows it to come alive with a little more flavor, she says.
“You want the coffee to bloom and allow the hot water to simply sit on the grounds for about a minute,” she adds.
Now slowly pour more water directly over the top and middle of the grounds, she says. “If you pour the water over the sides, a lot of it seeps right through and doesn’t filter through the grounds,” she explains. “You don’t get a complete taste that way. You want the water to release the coffee’s carbon. That will add to the sweetness of it and it defines each note of the taste.
It takes a few minutes for the water to filter through the grounds.
The finished cup of coffee benefits from aeration, just like wine, according to most baristas and coffee roasters. “Usually, a cup of our coffee is too hot for me,” says McIntyre. “So, I have a jar and I pour it back and forth a few times allowing it to aerate, which allows more of the sweetness of the grounds to come through while also cooling it off .”
McIntyre has been drinking coffee less than a year, but she’s hooked on its taste and its smell. “My mom hates it and we don’t have any at home. I don’t think she’s really happy that I have this habit now, but I really do love it,” she says.