Making good coffee is all about what you’re working with. For example, making great espresso is very different from making a great pour-over. Depending on the brewing method you’re working with, you will need to choose different beans. How do you know which Coffee to Pour Over to choose? You read this article to the very end.
You don’t have to be an expert to make great coffee, but it helps to know some basics.
Before we dive into what beans are best, let’s take a quick look at the different types of pour-over brewing methods there are and their characteristics regarding flavor:
The drip coffee machine
The automatic pour-over. This has been America’s favorite for generations, but it’s no surprise to anyone that it falls short when it comes to quality. It’s the safest way to play it. Drip coffee machines tend to go for a middle zone- always trying not to under extract nor over-extract. This, however, results in bland coffee.
The issue with drip machines is that mediocre or bad coffee is very hard to fix because there are barely any settings to play with. They are convenient; we’ll give them that, but they are not ideal when consistently making great coffee.
The Hario V60
The Hario is a more hands-on method. It requires nothing but the device itself, a mug or carafe, and paper filters.
Because we get to play with things like water temperature, timing, water volume, and so on, we will ultimately get to make a better coffee. We can learn from our mistakes, grow, and better our coffee cup after cup. This is something that drips coffee machines could never offer.
Another important aspect here is that Hario uses paper filters, which take away the taste.
Hario V60 brews: balanced, bright, aromatic coffee
The Chemex is something of a complete pour-over compared to the V60. It is a brewer and a carafe all in one. It’s also made of high-quality glass, which withstands high temperatures and all sorts of blows that the ceramic V60 won’t.
Just like the Hario, the Chemex allows you to play with all sorts of settings. You are limited to the carafe, however.
Chemex-brand filters are an important part of brewing with a Chemex, and they are about twice as thick as other paper filters. You’ll find they attenuate flavor a lot, but in the process, they almost transform the flavor profile into something different.
Chemex brews bright, mild, exotic coffee.
Now that we know the essentials let’s explore what beans go best with pour-over.
In general, all of these beans will go great with all three pour-over methods described here- but it’s always good to experiment for yourself, see which method you like best.
A simple experiment that yields results are to try the same coffee on all three, ideally, simultaneously. That way, you can taste the difference in each of these brewing methods, helping you make a decision.
Finding the best beans
As a rule of thumb, pour-over brewing methods should stick to medium and light roasts. Though there are always exceptions to that rule, we’ll only look at medium and light roasts in this article.
The medium roast is the safest choice you can get. A medium roast is roasted just enough to achieve highly desirable flavors such as caramel, chocolate, as well as other flavors exclusive to the particular beans we’re consuming. A medium flavor will never be overly bitter, like darker ones, nor fail to have “punch,” which some light roasts are.
Then, the keyword here will be “balance.” What makes medium roasts so popular is that they hang in the balance between darker roasts (bitter, sour, and more flavorful) and lighter roasts (more acidic, bland, and less flavorful).
Also known as “blonde” roasts, these are a milder version of the medium roast. They are mostly characterized for their low bitterness.
Light roasts are put, cut short just before the bitterness starts to develop in coffee beans. However, with bitterness, other complex flavors appear (as we mentioned earlier, such as chocolate, caramel, and so on), which means that light roasts have a different flavor profile than the “classic” coffee.
Instead, lightly roasted beans retain a lot of their fruity flavor- after all, coffee beans used to be inside the coffee cherry. Therefore, light roasts do a great job at bringing out citric, fruit-like flavors. They also have a natural sweetness to them that other roasts could never.
Now, dark roasts are something else. It is said that dark roasts are the favorite of Italians, and they are partly right. But you have to consider that darker roasts are more popular in Italy because the ratio of espresso machines to human beings is close to 1:1. In other words: they drink a lot of espressos.
At least historically. Nowadays, trends may be changing. The fact is that they drink so much dark roast coffee because they drink a lot of espressos. And the best coffee to make espresso is a dark roast.
That doesn’t change that Italians go extra dark and have a higher resistance to bitterness than the rest of the world.
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, which we’ll see later.
In terms of caffeine, all roasts have roughly the same amount, despite myths stating the contrary.
After roast level, the next most important thing about your beans is where they come from. Their origin. Let’s take a look at different coffee origins and how each might affect coffee beans’ flavor profile:
A very pronounced fruity flavor as well as a floral aroma. Common flavor notes include prunes, bergamot, and blueberry. In terms of aroma, you can expect hints of jasmine, roses, and dark chocolate.
Known for decades for the taste of its coffee, Colombia can produce a coffee that is bright in acidity and has medium body – qualities perfect for espresso. Expect hints of citrus and nuts and a rich, sweet aroma.
Thanks to its incredibly diverse wildlife, Honduras is the perfect place for growing specialty-grade coffee. Most of the coffee here goes on to be of the highest quality. It yields a bold and strong cup, with flavors such as brown sugar, caramel, and spices. Its aroma is full of cinnamon and milk chocolate.
Kenyan coffee, like Colombian, is a must-have in anybody’s kitchen. This coffee has a rather sophisticated flavor. Its qualities are in a delicate balance where one never outshines the other high acidity in the cup accompanied by tropical fruit, lemongrass, and grapefruit. As for aroma, you’ll enjoy hints of raisins, citrus, and chocolate.
A mild and balanced coffee by nature, Costa Rican coffee makes it easier to spot each of its flavor notes individually and enjoy them patiently. A cup of Costa Rican coffee will have mild acidity and a medium body with flavor notes such as raw cane sugar, apricot, and dark chocolate.
One of the world’s most prolific specialty coffee growers, Rwanda’s well known for its exotic flavors. Its aroma is often full of floral and fruity hints. A cup of Rwandan coffee can produce flavor notes such as blackberry, orange marmalade, and chocolate.
Grown with the most care, Peruvian coffee can achieve complex flavor profiles, featuring notes like red berries and salted caramel. Most frequently, this type of coffee is full of citrusy and other frutal flavors and floral aroma.
After roast and origin, the rest is up to your taste. And your taste will ultimately be defined by how much you experiment with different coffees. It’s not enough to buy the hottest coffee at your local supermarket: you need to get out of your comfort zone and try coffees that you wouldn’t try otherwise.
In that spirit, we bring you here a list of 10 different coffee beans (all ideal for pour-over) that are somewhat out of the ordinary for you to consider. If you try at least two of the items on this list, that’s already enough to expand your horizons in terms of coffee flavors.
Kilimanjaro Peaberry / Tanzania
Peaberry coffee is coffee beans that are smaller in size yet much more concentrated in flavor. They are naturally occurring and makeup only 10% of all coffee. They are extremely rare and, more importantly, extremely delicious.
From the legendary Yirgacheffe region of renowned coffee farmers, this light roast brings out a spring-like flavor profile full of flower-like and fruit-like flavors and aroma. It is truly a sensory experience that starts when you first smell the beans.
Cubico is an all-Peruvian coffee company that focuses on bringing customers from all over the world the best of their national coffee. Peruvian coffee is one of the most suited for pour-over because of its mild acidity and naturally sweet flavor.
Peru Whole Bean – Comfort
Here’s a more premium version of Peruvian, as well as another flavor profile in general. This Peruvian focuses on more roasty flavors, such as nuts, almonds, and hazelnut. A better option for making bolder coffee.
Guatemala Antigua Blend
A mind-blowing 90% of all beans grown in this country qualify as premium quality, making it the country in the world leading in coffee bean quality. Guatemala has to be top five on the best beans for pour-over. Their beans are very complex and sophisticated in flavor, with very balanced bitterness and exotic flavor profiles.
This one, in particular, is a light roast with flavor notes such as cocoa, berries, and citrus.
Specialty Grade Nicaraguan
Mayorga’s not particularly known for specialty coffee, but this Nicaraguan blend is something unique. Nicaraguan coffee’s already very special by itself, but the craftsmanship that constitutes this blend and roast (medium) turn this coffee into a very different experience from other Nicaraguan coffees. Flavor notes such as almond, toffee, and maple.
Juan Valdez Organico
Colombian coffee is already world-famous. We suggest going to the source: buy from Colombian companies, such as this one. No matter what you expect from this coffee, it’ll still surprise you! This Organico blend is incredibly balanced and offers a great experience for all kinds of coffee lovers.
Starbuck’s Brazil Latin American Blend
Containing mostly Brazilian coffee, this blend brings forward some of the most desirable flavor notes for pour-over drinkers, such as sweet maple, vanilla, toasted nuts. It effortlessly makes an exquisite coffee with a very refined aroma and flavor. A must-have for special occasions.
A thoroughly satisfying coffee, this Panamanian coffee is as smooth as it can get. The brewing method has a great body and texture, which are unchanged because of its natural richness in coffee oils. Its flavor profile is probably the most attractive feature, with flavor notes such as pecan nuts and tangerine.
Costa Rican Blend
Finally, Costa Rica. One of the best countries for pour-over beans because of the mildness in bitterness and acidity that doesn’t affect the richness of flavor.
This particular choice is a medium roast full of smoky flavor combined with citrus, caramel, and dark chocolate. Perfect for drinking black!