Working on enlightenment? Try pour-over style coffee.

If you want to reach enlightenment and drink coffee at the same time, Japanese pour over coffee is the way get there. You could spend a lifetime trying to master the perfect cup of coffee and it’d bring you here.

I’ve spoken with baristas who argue about the exact pour, fractions of a degree of water temperature, and all things related to the art of the pour.  I’ve never once seen a teacher wait by a barista station for ten minutes plus for this type of treatment. Imagine the line for coffee in the faculty room if someone replaced the Mr. Coffee or Keurig with a Chemex (really expensive pour-over contraption that looks like someone jacked it from the science department as a practical joke).

There is no shortcut here, like I offered for Vietnamese coffee. If you can’t invest the time in this, go back to your autodrip coffee maker.

Japanese-Style Pour Over Coffee

  • Servings: One
  • Difficulty: zen master hard
  • Print

  • Option One: The Chemex. This is the Cadillac of pour over contraptions. You’ll look like you know your stuff. Get this one if you’re going to be doing your pourovers in the public eye. You’ll want everyone to know how cool you are.
  • Option Two: Budget friendly. Bodum’s no joke. But this one is half the price of the Chemex. You can maintain some self respect here.
  • Option Three: The “Broke Teacher.” Seriously, don’t get a plastic one unless it’s part of your survival gear for the zombie apocalypse. There is absolutely no reason to drink plastic molecules with your morning coffee. The whole objective of this site is to NOT be the broke teacher:)  So, if you love coffee and also love yourself, invest in a good model here. There are some low-cost ceramic options in the spirit of this one-piece option that you can keep in your desk as long as you have a kettle to boil the water.
  • You need a timer and a kettle for this, too.
  • You also need a scale.
  • 3 tablespoons course-ground coffee. Great coffee, not just good. No zen master would use crappy coffee. Better yet, pick the beans and roast them yourself if you’ve got an extra few hours before you grade those papers.
  • 20 ounces of boiling water.
  1. Grind your coffee immediately before serving. It should be a course-ground coffee. If you’re serious about this, a hand grinder is best. Otherwise, hipsters may look down on you. But, if you’re in a faculty room or kitchen, it’s probably hipster and coffee snob free, so do what you’ve got to do.
  2. Put the coffee in the filter in the top of the cone-shaped part of the pour over. If you’re using an overpriced option, it comes with the carafe. If you’re using a “hide in a teacher desk” cone, then don’t forget to put it over your cup.
  3. Tap the surface of your coffee down. I don’t know why, I just see my barista do it.
  4. “Bloom” the coffee by pouring a couple tablespoons of boiling water in. The pour and wait time should be about 30 seconds.
  5. Put your coffee setup on a zeroed-out scale. Slowly pour water in a spiral from the outside of the grinds in. This should be nearly boiling water (about 205 degrees). Pour to about a cm below the coffee filter, then wait for it to drain. You’ll need to do this about 4 or 5 times until you’ve got around 240 grams of coffee.
  6. Drink. Or pour it over ice and drink.  But don’t just drink this one–it took you half way to enlightenment to make it correctly, you should savor it. Pause and meditate on the meaning of life with each sip. If you can’t quite get there because you’re now in the middle of class, show the cup to your students. Tell them about religions of the world and peace, happiness and enlightenment. Make them close their eyes and visualize 100% on the math test while you are soaking in a fragment of a minute of the pour over.

COST: $$  To do this right, you need to buy stuff. More stuff than I think you should buy for coffee. But many people feel this is the pinnacle of coffee. So, give it a try.

PRO TIP: Keep practicing. It seems easy, then you watch a serious barista’s YouTube video on this, and it’s a humbling experience. This one’ll make you slow down and breathe. Until you drink the coffee–then, it’s super caffeine, no slowing down!


If you want more barista options for your teaching day, visit the “Be Your Own Barista” page.

Photo credit:  Jamie Long on Unsplash