It’s hard not to be mesmerized by the rhythmic trickle of dark, steaming coffee droplets that make up the thoughtfully-crafted cups of coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee. In their book, The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, authors James Freeman, Caitlin Freeman, and Tara Duggan say that pour-over coffee is one of the most basic, approachable, and effective ways to make a great cup of coffee. Here, James describes how his method came to be and shares his pour-over recipe for home brewers in the excerpt following.
Sometimes I teach classes where I demonstrate Blue Bottle’s pour-over method, allowing people to see how simple it is and how the coffee tastes so much better than what comes out of a plug-in machine. When you use this method regularly, every day you get slightly better at the pour, and eventually you get to the point where you can smell the subtle differences from one cup to the next.
Over the years, Blue Bottle’s pour-over method has changed. A bit later, I’ll give you a recipe based on experiments I did starting in 2007, after watching the method of Jay Egami, a coffee expert with UCC Ueshima Coffee Co., headquartered in Kobe, Japan. When I first saw Jay pouring so slowly, using exact amounts of coffee weighed to the gram and water heated to an exact temperature, I admit to thinking it would be too hard, even ridiculous, to use those methods in Blue Bottle’s kiosk. Of course, my skepticism didn’t stop me from drinking his coffee, and when I did, I became an instant convert. I think you will too.
“Make coffee simply, taste it, enjoy it, and see how you’d like to improve it.”
Although the pour-over recipe here covers the basics, like many recipes it raises more questions than it answers. This actually shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that even the simplest method of making coffee can yield seemingly infinite variations in taste depending on how various factors are manipulated. That might sound a little overwhelming, but as with so many things in life, the important thing is just to dive in and do it. Make coffee simply, taste it, enjoy it, and see how you’d like to improve it. You can take notes if you’re feeling geeky, or you can just remember. Your intuition will eventually lead you to discover what you find most delicious.
For the recipe for Pour-Over Coffee from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee (Ten Speed Press, October 2012), in addition to other recipes and comments about coffee, see the excerpt below: