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This Zero-Tech Method Brews The Best Coffee

Ditch your swanky coffeemaker. This no-tech, pour-over method makes the best coffee.

Here's How To Do It


    1. Put the kettle on. You’ll need one of these.

Its narrow spout directs the boiling water precisely where you want it to go. That may sound fussy, but I've tried using wide-mouthed tea kettles...with disastrous results. Splatter and splash and such.

    1. Hand-grind the beans. I don't bother measuring my beans with a kitchen scale (see the video below). Instead, I count 60 revolutions of the hand crank, then 60 more, then 60 more. Then I crank it 12 more turns just for luck, ending up with about a half cup of grounds. It's enough coffee for two large mugs. Results will vary depending on the size of your grounds and the type of roast, so experiment until you hit upon what you like. I like my coffee coal-mine dark, very rich, and strong enough to throw a stirring spoon from the mug.

Confession: I'm in love with my coffee mill. It's cheap, never jams (unlike my electric burr grinder), and cleaning is minimal (again, unlike the electric grinder). Also, the physical act of grinding the beans by hand borders on the spiritual, as it delivers me from a half-asleep to a fully wakened state.
    1. Put the paper filter in the Chemex (or other carafe) and rinse it with hot water. Rinsing helps the filter adhere to the glass (people also say it helps wash away the paper taste). Then dump the rinsing water into the sink. (I’ve forgotten this dumping-out step, and the results are exactly what you're imagining: gross, watery, undrinkable coffee...followed by tears.)


    1. Pour the coffee grounds into the bottom of the filter cone. And when the water comes to a boil, wet the grounds, pouring the water over the grounds in a circular motion, like so...


  1. Once you’ve thoroughly wet the grounds, let them soak for about 30 seconds. Then pour in more water, again moving in a circular motion. I fill the water to about a half-inch below the rim. When the liquid drains, I refill once more with water. And that's it!

Enough coffee to fill two large mugs.

OK, here's a quick video tutorial on pour-over coffee. It shows you how to prep for brewing, plus a few easy pouring tricks to be sure get the best flavor.

Break-Up Letter to My High-Tech Coffee Maker:
Yes, you were cool, I'll give you that. You kept time. You sat on the counter, sleek in stainless steel, looking beautiful. You were gentle waking me in the morning, with your pre-programmed grind. And you made a great cup. For the first 6 weeks. Then came the big gum-up, and increasingly weak efforts. It's like you stopped caring. Suddenly, you required constant attention, hours of probing into the crannies, also the nooks, with my wee brush, cleaning cleaning cleaning. I'm sorry, swanky coffee maker, it's not you. It's me. It's me not being that into you any more. So long, old friend, goodbye.

Still photos by Carl Hanson

Carl Hanson

About Carl Hanson

Carl will eat that. Share with him @CarlNo9 on Twitter.