Coffee Brewing 101

How to get the best flavor out of your beans

December 30, 2022  |   by Trev True

pour over coffee


Everyone has a preferred method of brewing coffee. From manual espresso and micro-ground instant to French press, cowboy, percolator, auto drip, siphon, and cold brew, I’ve tried them all and the pour-over method is my absolute favorite. I make two cups every morning and it takes less than 10 minutes from whole bean to first sip.

You Need:

  • Coffee Dripper (Hario v60 will bring out the most flavor but requires more effort. I like it for light and bright coffees like Ethiopians with citrus and floral tasting notes. Chemex is easier to learn, but a little less bright. I like it for medium roasts with notes like honey and chocolate. There are many other drippers that use the standard #2 filters like Melitta and Zero Japan, and even all-metal drippers that don’t need filters at all. Find one you like, get good at using it, and then experiment with something new!
  • Freshly Roasted Coffee Beans (Coffee has a broader range of flavors than wine! Good roasters will tell you what to expect. Look for tasting notes that sound yummy.)
  • Coffee Grinder (Any good burr grinder will do the trick. My favorite is a 100-year-old hand grinder from England, but I use an electric for everyday use.)
  • Gooseneck Kettle (Regular tea kettles pour too fast and just won’t work. Fellows is the gold standard, but a stovetop gooseneck with a thermometer will work just as well.)
  • Gram Scale (One with a built-in timer is handy.)
  • Filter (I always buy the Hario 40 pack that comes in a cardboard box; they’re made in Japan and the filters are thinner than the large packs. If you are using a #2 Melitta-style dripper like the Zero Japan, I recommend the Melitta filters, they make a brighter cup. Chemex filters are specially designed for that system, and I recommend avoiding alternatives.)
  • Coffee Cup (Pick a good one with a comfortable handle and a design that makes you smile.)
  • Serving Carafe (This is completely optional, but I do like having one. It makes it easier to see how you are doing, and I like to have the space to brew several cups back-to-back before I serve it, or drink it all.)
  • Water (Filter your water for better results.)

Step One: Heat the Water

I like to fill my kettle all the way up before I heat it. It takes a bit longer, but it holds its temperature longer and it’s quicker to heat up for the second cup. Opinions vary regarding temperature, but everyone agrees that boiling is too hot! I personally set my kettle to 202 degrees F, but anywhere from 199 to 205 is good (93-96 C).

Step Two: Grind the Beans

While the water is heating, grind 20 grams of your chosen bean. If this is your first grind, start in the middle of the road, like what you’d buy pre-ground. You will probably need to adjust your grind after each of the first few cups you brew.

Step Three: Prep the Filter

If you are using a paper filter, fold it along the seam and place it in your dripper. Wet the filter and throw out the water that drips through. Paper filters taste like…well, paper — a quick rinse helps seat it to the dripper and washes away the paper taste. If you’re using a ceramic dripper, be sure to use hot water from your kettle for the rinse or you won’t get a good bloom.

Step Four: Bloom

Place the ground beans in the filter and give a slight shake to even them out. Place your cup or carafe on the scale and set the dripper on top. Start a timer and working from the center out in a spiral, pour 60 grams of water and wait 30 seconds.

Step Five: Brew

Pour another 60 grams of water in the same center-out spiral method. When that water has moved through the beans, add another 60 grams. Repeat this process a total of five times until your scale reads 300. Your timer should be between 3 and 3:30 minutes. If it’s less than 3 minutes, make your grind finer on the next cup. If it takes more than 3:30 to brew, grind your beans coarser next time.

I like to let the temperature drop a little before I sip. Bitter notes fall away at 180 degrees.

This recipe is a great starting point, but you should experiment and find what you like. I’ve been using a 20/250 ratio in a Melitta-style ceramic dripper with three pours lately, but I’ve got a new bag of beans I’m going to try in an all-metal setup this weekend.

French Press

The following instructions are for 16 oz (454 grams) of brewed coffee. We recommend starting with a 1:16 coffee-to-water ratio, increasing or decreasing beans to taste. In this example, we’re going to make two 8-oz cups of coffee, so we’ll be using 28 grams of coffee and 454 grams of water.

french press coffee

You Need:

  • French Press (Any French press will do, but I prefer glass.)
  • Coffee Beans (Any freshly roasted coffee you like will work. Don’t be afraid to try something new!)
  • Coffee Grinder (Any burr grinder will do. You can get by using pre-ground beans, but freshly ground beans are much better! Avoid using an electric grinder with blades; they produce inconsistent grind size which leads to undesirable flavor.)
  • Scale (Having a scale makes it much easier to brew a perfect cup of coffee. You will be more consistent and can dial in your recipe quicker.)
  • Timer (This is critical, but you don’t need anything special, your phone will do.)
  • Spoon (Anything that will stir your grounds.)
  • Water (Filter your water for better results.)
  • Mug (Choose one that makes you smile.)

Step One: Heat

Fill your kettle with water and heat to between 195-205 degrees F. Water that’s too hot can result in a bitter, over-extracted coffee, while water that’s too cold can produce a weak, under-extracted brew. No thermometer, no problem — water should cool to roughly 200 degrees one minute after a boiling kettle is removed from heat.

Step Two: Grind

While your water is heating, weigh out 28 grams of coffee beans on your scale, and grind. Make sure your grinder is at the right level — French press calls for a coarse grind. No grinder or scale, no problem. One tablespoon is approximately 7 grams and one cup is about 237 grams. If you use coffee that’s pre-ground, reduce total brew time 30 seconds to start and adjust to taste.

Step Three: Brew

Set your French press on a scale. Pour ground coffee into the French press, and follow it with three times the amount of hot water. Since we’re using 28 grams of coffee, pour in 84 grams water, making sure to wet all the grounds. Let sit for 30 seconds. This allows the coffee grounds to bloom. After 30 seconds, pour in the remaining 370 grams of heated water and give it a quick stir. Let it steep for four minutes.

Step Four: Press and Serve

Place the press on the counter (off the scale) and gently depress the plunger as far as you can. Serve immediately, flavor will get worse if you let it steep longer.