Scott Rao recently published a thoughtful write-up on the basics of making a great hand poured coffee on his blog. He outlines three areas of focus in achieving consistently extracted cups:
a prewetting phase
minimal channeling during percolation
I particularly like his discussion about stirring during the bloom. For the longest time I've avoided stirring (believing it to be inconsistent), but I'm reevaluating that practice after reading and experimenting again. He also explains why a 3:1 bloom amount works best to thoroughly wet the brew bed, whereas I've typically always shot for a 2:1 bloom. Scott even debunks the myth that he invented "The Rao Spin" (a method of minimizing channeling and leveling the brew bed), though he does admit to using the technique regularly.
Near the end of the article, Rao also shares his thoughts on which of the hand poured brew methods is the best. Despite his negative feelings about the Chemex (which I regretfully understand), he's pretty spot on in his choices. f you've ever wondered about the impacts/benefits of agitation during a brew, which brew method is best, or how to achieve more consistent results when brewing, this article is a must-read.