April 17, 2021

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A personal search for the perfect cup of pour-over coffee, with tips from two local roasters | Food News | Spokane | The Pacific Northwest Inlander

5 min read

Warren Gilles brewing a perfect cup at Arctos Coffee. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

Young Kwak photo

Warren Gilles brewing a perfect cup at Arctos Coffee.

Those who know me are well aware I’m a coffee fiend. And by coffee fiend, I mean my pour-over set is one of my closest companions. It wasn’t always this way, however, and mastering the perfect cup of at-home coffee took plenty of trial and error.

In fall 2019, I made my first adult kitchen appliance purchase. My new Nespresso machine made me quickly grow accustomed to pampering myself with coffee, both for luxury and functional purposes.

Last March, the first task on my spring break bucket list was getting pour-over coffee from one of my favorite coffee shops back home in Fullerton, California: Philz Coffee. But then COVID-19 hit, and pandemic life became my new reality. I resorted by day to my family’s tried-and-true Keurig to survive my 8 am Zoom classes. By night, I dreamt of the luxurious Nespresso that was oh-so-lonely back in my college dorm. My lavish latte lifestyle was put on temporary delay.

About a month into my new Keurig-brewing fate, I began missing flavorful, coffee shop-grade caffeine. The next stage of my coffee-making journey started when I saw a TikTok recipe for whipped coffee. Since a milk frother wasn’t readily at hand in my home kitchen, I opted for a handheld mixer to blend the instant coffee, water and sugar, a task that interrupted far too many of my brother’s Zoom calls.

After a few weeks of daily whipped coffee, my best friend discovered a copycat recipe for Philz’s pour-over coffee that influenced me to purchase my own pour-over set and additional supplies. My brother was ecstatic that the constant whipped coffee commotion was over, but then he had a loud coffee bean grinder to deal with until I went back to school in the fall. Don’t worry: I repaid him with more than enough coffee.

If you’re a fan of delicious brown sugar flavor, get your barista apron on, because you’ll adore this Philz Coffee dupe:

Start off by heating your pre-filled kettle to 200 degrees. As the water heats, weigh out 20 grams of coffee beans (to make one cup of coffee). I usually opt for 21 grams as a portion of the grounds will typically get caught in the grinder. Once heated, soak the coffee filter to wash out its paper taste, and then fill the liner with the ground coffee. Before you start pouring water — please, I beg you — reset your scale so it reads zero. Far too many personal breakdowns have been caused from this rookie mistake.

Soak the coffee with a little water to allow them to oxidize and release flavor for roughly 40 seconds. Once submerged, continue to pour water in a circular motion, until your scale reads 180 grams of water, and set aside when complete.

Add roughly 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream and a spoonful of brown sugar to a shakeable container. Twist on the lid, and shake until the cream reaches a whipped consistency. If you enjoy sweeter coffee, add more heavy whipping cream and brown sugar to your liking. After you shake, add some ice, pour in your coffee, delicately mix to combine the coffee and whipped topping and viola!

I typically make this topping as an occasional treat, since it takes a bit more time to make. Most mornings or afternoons (depending on how the day is going) I add in a splash of half and half or flavored creamer.

For fellow coffee lovers looking to elevate their at-home coffee making skills, we sought some tips and tricks from two local roasters: Warren Gilles of Arctos Coffee & Roasting Co. and Aaron Jordan of Roast House Coffee.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Gilles at Arctos says if you feel the need to invest in more coffee-making kitchen gadgets beyond a pour-over brewing set, a nice electric kettle is well worth the investment. The ideal barista kettle can heat up to 200 degrees and has a long, skinny spout to allow for a controlled pour. But any sort of electric kettle will get the job done.

While working in a restaurant in Detroit, Jordan recollects he and his coworkers poking holes in styrofoam cups and adding a paper filter to create their own pour-over method.

“There’s a lot of wiggle room from just purchasing fancy-dancy equipment,” says Jordan.

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THE PERFECT ROAST
“Number one is finding the coffee that you like the best,” says Jordan.

Light roasts are lighter in both taste and texture and often have a juicy, fruity quality. Medium roasts are where chocolatey and caramel flavors come in, and dark roasts are smoky and sometimes bitter in taste.

Even though there are plenty of delicious options at grocery stores, Jordan recommends supporting local roasters that sell organic, fair trade coffee.

THE DAILY GRIND
When it’s time to grind your beans, it’s important to consider how coarse or fine the grind is.

When a coffee grind is finer, it takes longer for the water to drip through, but the tasty flavor will be pulled out as gravity pulls the water down through the filter. With coarser grinds, the result is a lighter and sometimes thinner coffee.

“There’s definitely a window there that you can tinker with,” Jordan says. “And that’s where personal preference comes in.”

SOME LIKE IT HOT
I’m (almost) exclusively an iced coffee drinker, no matter the weather. But for those who prefer hot coffee, here’s a recipe from Gilles that makes two hot pour-over cups.

Start off by grinding 40 grams of coffee beans. Heat your electric kettle to 200 degrees, and then pre-wet a filter. Once the water touches the coffee grounds, start timing for 30-40 seconds. You’ll be pouring 600 grams of water total, but start off with 100 grams of water, just enough to cover coffee grounds. Continue filling water to the top of the coffee until it’s a combined 600 grams of water. Remember to pour in slow, circular motions.

CUSTOMIZE YOUR CUP
Coffee making is a game of trial and error when it comes to creating a cup you enjoy. Both Gilles and Jordan recommend altering grind size and/or the amount of water poured through the grounds to either strengthen or dilute the coffee to your personal liking.

A year into this coffee-making journey, not only have I been able to save a lot of money, but I’ve also been able to support small businesses whenever I’m in need of a new bag of beans.

Making coffee also brings happiness into my life. By making myself an iced pour-over, the daily dose of caffeine is sure to make me smile. But setting aside time to make someone else I love a cup of coffee to enjoy with me in the moment is the best feeling. What can I say? Homemade coffee is my love language. ♦

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