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Up Your Cup: Pour Over Coffee

“Many people have never experienced the true taste of coffee. And no, Starbucks is not ‘true’ coffee.” That’s Anthony Grieco, award-winning screenwriter and coffee fanatic. He spends most of his free time making coffee, thinking about coffee, drinking coffee, researching coffee, and attending trade shows. He saves us a lot of time by distilling all that work down into an easy to digest, how-to-up-your-coffee-game: the pour over technique.

It all starts with the beans:

“One can almost view coffee through the same prism that one sees wine. There are specific beans from specific parts of the world, roasted to specific levels. It took me a long time to realize that my coffee drinking ways were that of a philistine, but I eventually got wise. Try to wean yourself off of dark roast. It’s like getting your steak well done. You’re not really getting any of the bean’s ‘blood.’”

To find your favorite, Grieco suggests starting out at Craft Coffee where you can get a subscription plan for different beans. It’s a great way to get to know your preferences, especially if you have no idea what you like or where to begin. Thanks to the samples they send, your palate will begin to distinguish coffee beans in subtle and specific ways: you’ll learn what regions you like and what level of roasting you prefer. “And do not put sugar, milk or creamer in this coffee. That’s like adding Coke to a glass of Whistle Pig. Stop being a monster and grow up,” Grieco oh-so-gently suggests. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, he recommends Intelligentsia, Go Get ‘Em Tiger, Blue Bottle, and Verve for good places to buy fresh beans.    

How To: The Pour Over Method

You’ll need some equipment for this process. Grieco likes the Chemex coffee maker, Chemex bonded filters, a Hario grinder, the Bonavita Gooseneck electric kettle, and the beans you’ve chosen. “All this equipment is top notch and should last you for years. Play it cheap, that’s your business, but it’s no way to live. And trust me, you spend more on shitty take-out coffee in two months than you will on this gear.”

Grieco prefers the ratio of 5 tbs of beans to 16 oz. of filtered water. “Grind those beans and boil that water to roughly 200 to 205 degrees,” he instructs. Pour a little of your boiling water into the filter to wet it and form it to the sides of the carafe. Then dump out that water to get rid of the paper taste. “[Now pour the grinds] into the filter that sits in your handsome Chemex carafe. Shift the filter to level the grounds out a bit for a more even surface, and then soak them just enough with some of the boiled water.

Wait about a minute and watch the grinds bloom. Yes, bloom. That’s the CO2 that’s trapped inside. If it doesn’t bloom, you probably bought your beans at a grocery store, you cheap bastard. Good roasters post their roast dates on the bag to indicate its freshness.” The general consensus is coffee doesn’t really go bad, but peak freshness lasts until about two weeks after roasting. “After a minute, continue to pour over the water. You can go in a circular or a zigzag motion. Be creative, but soak all the grinds. Do that for another 30 seconds, then wait for 30 seconds. Now finish pouring the remainder of the water. That’s it. Enjoy your coffee before climate change wipes out all the farms.”

Why all this time, effort, and money when you can just set your coffeemaker to start brewing when you wake up? The pour over method allows you to control the speed of the pour, slowing it down so that you get an intensely flavorful cup.  Plus, it looks cool.

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Elizabeth Dahl
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