Pro-Tips: Coffee Maker vs Pour Over
Handmade coffee is “an expanding universe of wonderfulness.”
Why Pour Over?
Blue Bottle guests will notice that our drip coffees are made with the pour over method, and this is no mistake. “It’s one of the most basic, approachable, and effective ways to make a beautiful cup of coffee,” says Blue Bottle founder and CPO James Freeman.
Basic and approachable though it may be, we put a lot of effort into making sure we do justice to this process. In our cafes, our highly trained baristas use only the best coffees, tools, and methods to ensure a delicious cup of pour over coffee, every time. We’ve even collaborated with scientists and coffee experts to develop our own custom tools in order to refine our already-delicious pour over into something approaching divine.
The point is, we take pour over seriously. But not everyone does. Even these days, where pretty much everything is automated, coffee-making machines—from the turn-of-the-century percolator to the recently trendy k-pods—have cornered the market on simplicity. Plug-in brewers, as James calls them, are often the default for people trying to fit their taste for coffee into a hectic lifestyle.
While they certainly have their place, we want to dispel the myth that coffee makers are the only route to convenient homemade coffee. Many don’t realize that, with the right tools and a little practice, pour over is the superior method for enjoying good coffee—right in your very own kitchen.
What’s the Difference?
A coffee maker is a mechanized pour over brew method, and it's this automation that's gotten the method it's reputation for convenience.
“Coffee makers are ‘easier’ because the technique variable has been eliminated,” says R&D specialist Kelly Sanchez. But though it comes with the benefits of consistency and hands-off brewing, just because a machine is doing your pouring for you doesn’t mean that the coffee is produces is superior, or even very good. Set up your coffee maker incorrectly, for example, or fill it with coffee that's subpar, stale, or at the wrong grind size, and you can expect to brew consistently mediocre coffee.
So then why do we continue to sell coffee makers on our webshop? Because despite our own preferences, we know that making coffee is all about personal taste. People might prefer coffee makers because it reminds them of their childhood, or because they love the convenience and consistency, or just because. If you're as dedicated to your coffee maker as you are to Blue Bottle Coffee, we want to make sure you can have the best of both worlds—which is one reason why we offer Blue Bottle Perfectly Ground, the solution to grind and portioning that makes the coffee maker more reliable than ever before.
In terms of both experience and flavor, pour over coffee is more interesting and dynamic than coffee made by a machine. “Pour over produces coffee with a delicate texture that resides somewhere between juicy and tea-like,” says Kelly.
We often emphasize the “ritual” aspect of pour over—it’s one of our favorite things about it—but a ritual doesn't have to take up your entire morning. If you've chosen the coffee maker over pour over because time is a concern, consider that a good cup of pour over shouldn’t take more than five minutes, a window of time that most people can afford, especially if they want the first thing they taste every morning to be delicious.
The Right Way to Do Pour Over
Of course, you’ll need the right tools to make pour over coffee like a pro. Your toolkit should also include the right technique, from how you grind your coffee, to your timing, to correctly pouring with a kettle.
Beyond an exquisite cup of coffee, perfecting your technique over time is part of what makes pour over so enjoyable, as James discussed in a recent interview with podcast Japan Eats. But if you’re more motivated by your coffee’s taste, there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to hands-on methods of brewing coffee, and the more experienced you become, the more aware of the opportunities you’ll be. As James says, brewing coffee is “an expanding universe of wonderfulness; you never run out of things to get better at.”