Next Level Brew: Pour Over Coffee vs. Drip Coffee

February 5, 2019

Chicagoans love their food. After all, what’s not love about Chicago-style deep dish pizza and hot dogs?

Chicagoans also love their coffee shops. According to Chicago Food Planet, in 2017 Chicago beat out Seattle to become “America’s Most Caffeinated City.” The reason? Residents spend 2.94% more on their coffee in Chicago than the average city.

And not just any coffee. A big chunk of those dollars is going toward pour coffee drinks.

What is Pour Over Coffee?

Pour over coffee describes the way a cup of coffee is prepared. The process sounds deceptively simple. Instead of popping a pod into a brewer, you pour hot water over roasted beans in a filter above a carafe or cup.

Proponents of the method are quick to point out that the reality behind the process is not at all simple. Brewing coffee this way allows you to precisely control all the variables that go into a great cup of coffee. It also takes more time than other methods.

There are three variables that will determine how great your next cup of coffee can be. Let’s take a closer look at each to understand what makes a pour over coffee different from your favorite drip or French-press cuppa.

1. Choosing Your Beans

Not surprisingly, the quality of the beans you use is going to have an effect on how good your final cup of coffee is. High-quality coffee cafes will feature single-origin beans in their blends.

The term “single-origin” can refer to all coffee beans grown in a particular country (Kenyan, for example). More often, though, it refers to coffee beans grown and picked on the same day at the same farm.

2. Grinding Your Beans

Grinding your beans correctly is vital. A consistent grind that is neither too large or too fine will result in the best balance and brew.

Beans that are ground too coarsely will not absorb the water poured over them. Your cup will most likely be weak, acidic or sour tasting.

When your beans are ground too finely, you’ll have the opposite problem. The water will not flow freely through the grounds and may even drive some grounds into the cup. This will give you a bitter or chemical taste not to mention a silky texture.

3. Getting the Water Temperature Right

Just like the ground, you want to ensure that the water you use is the right temperature. The ideal temperature for coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees.

Fortunately, it’s not that hard to achieve this range. You’ll be somewhere in the area if you bring your water to a boil, then let it sit for 30 seconds to a minute before pouring. You can use a thermometer to ensure you are hitting this sweet spot.

Finding a Pour Over Coffee in Chicago

As you can see, a great cup of pour over coffee takes time to master. The equipment to make pour over can also be expensive. So, before you go out and invest in it, you may want to try Pour Over brews at a coffee shop first.

You won’t get it in the mega-sized brew pots at most coffee shops. Luckily, you can find a wide variety of coffee on the menu at the Cupitol Café in Evanston and in Streeterville. They’ll brew you a cup any time of day and pair it with the perfect breakfast too.