Dialing in pour-over for new coffees

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.

#1: Post by Rjreusch »

Since I'm always finding that a change in coffee bean requires changes in procedure, I explored various methods for a quicker dialing-in. My final decision was to keep my basic pouring procedure since tweaking it seemed to require more trials and became confusing. I also maintained water/coffee ratio. I then only varied grind to get optimum results. At that point I had a brew time target and could make changes to grind only if I varied from my target brew time. This seemed to work PART OF THE TIME. I have some beans that act strange. Very fast draining coffee that when I reduced grind size resulted in a lower brew time. There didn't appear to be channeling and the grind was not that fine. And at the finer grind/faster brew time the result went out of balance to the bitter-over extracted side. So, some contradictory results: faster time but more extracted. So the optimum for that type of bean was to not try to establish the same brew time. That made dialing-in confusing. You have to trust the taste characteristics and not brew time to make a grind decision. My first guess is that the very fast drain time is due to very high bean solubility. Maybe this high solubility can act in an unusual way with finer grind and the higher surface area?? I know for sure one very fast draining coffee from Onyx Coffee Lab was high solubility based on their comments. They said to just allow the coffee to drain fast in their video.

If anybody can offer words of wisdom on dialing-in a new bean as quickly as possible (so as not to make too many bad cups) I would appreciate it. Often time you don't know whether changes to brew time is due to grinding characteristics or a solubility issue. Thank you.

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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

As you're drinking Onyx, then the quickest dial-in is to follow their recipe for each coffee, and their notes for each roast lot.

If there is less information, then I use a refractometer for quickest dial-in. That's a bit excessive - but this site is "your guide to excellent coffee." A refractometer is also of more value when the person is inexperienced. These days I rarely use the refractometer, but it comes out right away if a particular roast delivers results that vary from my norm.

However, I won't recommend one for just this purpose; the cost is awfully high.

Regardless, a roast that gives a fast flow in, say, a V60, seems likely to be under-extracting, and that's how I would approach it.

For a coffee with such characteristics, I would switch to an immersion method like Aeropress or Clever to try to extract more. If I didn't like the (measured and tasted) results from the Aeropress, then I would crank up the Siphon. It is very hard to under-extract a Siphon brew. (I'd use a Siphon every day if someone else was doing the clean-up.)

If you want to stay with immersion, an alternative could be a pourover method relies on one small hole to control flow, like Melitta.

If you're using a V60 or similar, then you can also try switching to a coarse grinding method. Kasuya's 4-6 is a popular example. Text: https://kurasu.kyoto/blogs/kurasu-journ ... tsu-kasuya Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmCW8xSWGZY

The general idea is most pourover methods implicitly rely on a specific relationship between grind size distribution and flow rate (and filter paper, etc.). If a coffee doesn't match those characteristics - typically a coffee very lightly roasted, typically in a Loring - then you have to 'fix' the issue in brewing.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

Rjreusch (original poster)

#3: Post by Rjreusch (original poster) »

Thank you for your response. I agree that the fast flow with the V60 would intuitively say: under extracted. I did not see that. So it was a natural processed bean and maybe a touch darker than some. Onyx specifically says that it had very high solubility so it would flow very quickly but let it do so since it extracts much faster (typical for some naturals and darker roasts I guess?). So with my V60 I plan to start with a certain, somewhat coarser grind, assuming higher solubility (unless Onyx says something specifically different). Then I will just try to gauge by taste whether to go finer or coarser. I'm not always successful with this because I occasionally mistake an acidic/tart flavor for bitterness and move in the wrong direction (yes, I'm a beginner). I will look at brew time just as an added factor. For washed beans or lighter roasts (typically less soluble), I will start with a bit finer grind as a starting point and again gauge taste to determine any grind changes. I am guessing that washed beans will be a bit easier since they may be more intuitive: too fast a flow, grind finer to get more extraction; too slow, grind coarser to get less extraction. This is the simplest method I can think of but way short of the sophistication you are talking about and it may not work with all coffees. In particular, the refractometer you suggested would tell me what is happening with extraction and I will keep it in mind. I also use a hybrid immersion/pour-over method with a Gina brewer. This may turn out better for certain coffees. Thanks again.

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#4: Post by baldheadracing »

I agree with you. I usually prefer washed coffees, but I do try others.

I do, however, always brew the first cup of new coffees with the same recipe. Using the same grinder setting, ratios, technique, etc., serves as a hopefully-consistent baseline. From there, I can use the Roaster's notes and something like the Barista Hustle Brewed Coffee Compass to decide how to brew a future cup.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann


#5: Post by jameson »

I like to add an extra step and do Hoffman french press method when I first get new beans. I know youre trying to reduce steps, but this way results in a good first cup and gives me a good idea of the beans personality of what direction to dial in for after my first v60.


#6: Post by Yan »

The other thing to consider it's the resting/settle time of the beans, 5-10 days are after roasting date are common, but some processor use carbonic masceration/anaerobic takes more time 10-20 days post roasting date, as other members already echoing following the roaster suggestions in the coffee bag.
Too fresh beans from roastery sometimes a bit muted notes or harsh.

Immersion Clever Dripper is may last resort if sometimes fine tuning the Pour-over formula is too difficult...

Rjreusch (original poster)

#7: Post by Rjreusch (original poster) »

Thanks for all the suggestions. Regarding resting time I may be missing something on some of the beans mentioned by Yan. I usually rest beans until 4-5 days off roast (for pour-over). If I have quite a few coffees, I then freeze in the bags except the coffee I'm using daily. That I put in a Fellow Atmos canister until empty and then refill from freezer. It seems to work OK but I may need to examine different rest times for some beans. I may also increase rest time a day or two for the bulk of my beans.

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#8: Post by mkane »

Unscientific pour overs here. I just go by the looks of the slurry and tweak from there. 195° water temp.


#9: Post by Sugssugi »

You might be overthinking it. Pourover is a simple and relaxing way of making good coffee. The fact that there are so many recipes available (and most of them are good) show that it is very versatile.

You just need your own go-to recipe and only adjust grind size or temperature based on your tastebuds. That is it. Things such as refractometer is also not very helpful as coffee sometimes tastes better under/over extracted.

You just need to rely on your tastebuds and adjust accordingly. Simplify your method and you will get to enjoy your cup of coffee better instead of overthinking it and not be able to have a good sip :wink:

Rjreusch (original poster)

#10: Post by Rjreusch (original poster) »

I like your comments Sugssugi. In my first post, I mentioned that I had basically gone to a set procedure only varying grind. My confusion was just that I looked at brew time rather than just using taste to decide if a grind adjustment was necessary. It actual works until I got to some natural processed beans and then brew time did not act "normal" as grind size was adjusted. So I will take your advice. I have one go to method and a starting grind size for natural processed and for washed. Then I will make adjustments mostly by taste. I think with washed I can also look at brew time to help with the adjustment decision. Many thanks!