Pour-over coffee has become more popular recently but has its roots back in the 1900s. This old-school brewing method has made its way back because of its reputation as being less bitter than percolated coffee and is also free from grounds.
There’s also something charming about using a brewing method that your grandparents or great-grandparents may have used before fancy coffee machines.
But how do you make the best pour-over coffee?
Making the best pour over coffee requires a coffee dripper or pour over coffee maker. You need to prepare the water, coffee bean granularity, and follow the pouring timing per the preferred amount of beans and water ratio.
We’ll go through this and all the best ways to make pour-over coffee and the coffee equipment you should get.
We’ll also look at some tips and tricks if your coffee doesn’t taste quite right as well as how to pick the best coffee beans and grinder to get that perfect taste.
What Do You Need To Make Pour Over Coffee?
Pour-over coffee is a brewing technique where hot water is simply poured over ground coffee. It is different from immersion-style coffee brewing methods like the French press.
At a minimum, you need coffee paper filters and a funnel or cone to hold the paper in. Although a funnel can be used in a pinch, it may make the entire process more complicated.
Generally, it is easiest to buy a coffee dripper or purchase a pour-over coffee maker. Coffee drippers come in many different varieties but something like the Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper from Amazon will work great.
Next is to get some appropriate coffee filters. Hario also makes a compatible paper coffee filter that comes in packs of 100.
You’ll also need a vessel to hold the pour-over coffee that the coffee dripper can sit on securely. These are generally referred to as coffee servers and you can pick up a standard 600ml coffee server from Amazon that is designed to take a coffee dripper.
An alternative is to have a pour-over station or holder for the coffee dripper. This is more an option for coffee shops but you can use shelves to do several at once.
Given the necessity for pouring the hot water in the right area of the coffee, it is best to get a gooseneck electric kettle that will allow you to be more precise with the pour.
The temperature of the water will contribute to the full taste and so an electric kettle allows you to set the exact temperature you need, generally about 200˚F.
And, don’t forget:
You’ll of course also need some coffee beans; instant is not going to cut it. You’ll also need a coffee grinder that has the ability to change the coarseness or fineness of the grind.
A medium-coarse to medium-fine grind is recommended for pour-over coffee. The best way to ensure a consistent grind is to purchase a burr grinder such as the Krups Precision Grinder.
To properly make a pour-over coffee, it’s also advisable to get a timer and electronic scales.
Step By Step To Make The Best Pour Over Coffee
Prepare the Filter
Place the coffee filter papers into the coffee dripper or funnel. While it is sitting in there, place your coffee server underneath and pour hot water to cover the paper filter completely. Wetting the filter before doing the pour over will help improve the flavor of the coffee.
This is because the paper filters can sometimes leave a cardboard or paper aftertaste. A quick rinse with hot water should remove this. Empty out the vessel with the used water.
Grind The Coffee Beans
This will take some experimentation because the grind size will determine whether the coffee tastes great or too sour or bitter.
Generally, it’s recommended to go with a medium grind. As the pour over is time-based, if you find the taste too dry or sour, then all it takes is to adjust the grain size of the grind to adjust the taste.
Measure out 23 grams of coffee and then grind it.
Place your serving vessel on the scales and then put the coffee dripper on top. Place your ground up coffee in the filter and agitate a bit so that the coffee grounds are settled in the filter, and then zero the scales.
Prepare The Pour Over Water
To get the best possible taste, use filtered water heated to approximately just below boiling point. One way to do this is via a temperature controlled kettle or to boil water and then let sit for 30 seconds to cool a bit.
You’ll need 12.5 ounces of water but this is for 23 grams of coffee.
Adjust accordingly, but generally you’re looking for about a 1:16 or 1:17 ratio of coffee to water (1 gram of coffee to 16 or 17 grams of water). An ounce of water weighs 28.35 grams for reference.
Do The First Pour To Bloom The Coffee
Pour a little bit of water in to fully wet all the grounds. Try not to splash the water on the sides of the coffee filter paper, use the gooseneck of the kettle to just spread the water around the grounds.
You will then leave the water to sit on the grounds for about 45 seconds. This will cause blooming, which is where you will see bubbles form on the surface of the grounds, like gas is escaping.
When the hot water meets the coffee grounds, this causes carbon dioxide to escape. This process will cause further expansion of the grounds, increasing the surface area.
Once the blooming is complete, the grounds will better absorb water, getting a better pour over coffee flavor.
This process allows the water to fully brew the coffee and means you get a nice, consistent coffee liquid. If you do not do this process properly, you’re likely to end up with weak, sour coffee.
Finish The Pour Over
Keeping an eye on the scales, finish pouring the rest of the water. The key to a good pour over coffee is in the pouring technique. Generally, you will want to start pouring the water in the centre, and then spiral outwards.
Once you have got to the edges, be careful not to let water run down the sides of the filter paper. Start reversing course and spiral the hot water back in towards the center.
Your brew time should take 3 minutes 15 seconds. If the water is flowing through too fast, you grinded the coffee too finely. If it takes too long to filter through, then the coffee is too coarse.
Do a light stir to properly mix the last of the grounds with the remaining water at the end to make sure all available grains are properly mixed.
Remove The Filter
Don’t let the water fully flow from the filter so that the filter dries out. The last few drops of the pour over coffee are not going to be the most delicious parts of the brew.
Alternatives Pour Over Coffee Methods
One of the more iconic products that is used for pour over coffee is the Chemex Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker. This product is convenient as the spout and carefe are in the same product.
The filter paper is put in the top and the Borosilicate glass allows a smooth coffee taste as it will not absorb odors or residues. You may want to ensure you have the proper filter paper such as the Chemex Bonded Filter, as the spout is a bit bigger than the Hario.
One issue with the Chemex is that some people have reported that it can tend to crack easily. Other Chemex-like products are the offerings from Bodum.
Bodum’s Pour Over Coffee Maker has a unique stainless steel mesh filter that is used instead of a paper filter. Traditional pour over coffee does have the downside of going through a lot of paper filters.
Best Coffee Beans for Pour Over Coffee
To get the most out of your pour-over brew, choosing the right coffee beans is essential. While it does come down to personal preference, in general, you’re best off looking for a low-acid, medium roast.
Keep in mind that a lighter roast is preferred by those who want stronger citrus or fruity flavor to their coffee.
Darker roasts also have their fans because of the higher concentration of oils that enhance the flavor of a pour-over. The pour-over technique also tends to reduce the calories and cholesterol of a standard coffee, which means more varieties of coffee beans are opened up.
On top of this, pour-over coffee tends to work well with darker roasts if ground to the right consistency. The grind size will affect extraction due to a smaller or larger surface area.
Different types of coffee grinders will use different methods of grinding. Try and get a burr grinder because coffee grinders that use blades tend to shatter the coffee beans. Burr grinders will more precisely and uniformly grind the bean to that desired medium-coarse grind.
One possibility is the KRUPS Precision Grinder or the Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill. These allow the grind setting to be chosen to be medium coarse (or your preference), which is essential for a consistently good pour-over coffee texture. Although there are manual grinders, these are not recommended.
Different Types of Coffee Beans
There are many different types of coffee beans but the four main types are Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. However, the most common are Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica will be the best for pour-over coffee, as it has a lighter taste and is usually light or medium roasted. It is the most common coffee bean and so it should be easy to find a great Arabica coffee bean for your pour-over coffee.
Robusta has a higher caffeine content but this brings with it a much stronger, bitter flavor.
Coffee beans will have a roast date that you should pay attention to. Generally, beans that are less than two weeks old will be giving you the best pour-over coffee.
It’s best to grind the coffee just before brewing, as the grinding process will increase the surface area and cause it to go stale.
Although a medium-coarse to medium-fine grind is recommended, it’s not a hard rule.
Experiment with the grind for a particular type of coffee to find the sweet spot for your preferred flavor and the flow rate (3-4 minutes ideally for a pour-over). If the flow rate is too fast (less than 3 minutes) adjust the grind to be coarser. If it’s too slow, grind the coffee to be finer.
Although coffee grinders will have a captured vessel, leaving grinds in here for more than a few hours is going to give you stale coffee.
Pour-over coffee will take some practice to get right. There are some things to look out for if you are not finding the taste to your liking.
Using the scales to make sure you use enough water for your amount of coffee in the filter is key. Look up the ratios that baristas use with specific coffee beans if you’re finding that your mixtures are not working out.
If you find that you have a sour taste, this is likely because the coffee beans were ground too coarse or the blooming process was not done properly.
If you notice that your brew is bitter, or you can feel your mouth drying out, this likely means the coffee was ground too fine, or the pouring time was too long.
The pour must be done correctly to ensure a clean, even, full-bodied flavor. Pour-over coffee should not be rushed and so it is probably not the best option for your morning coffee if you’re in a rush.
So after ensuring the coffee beans are a uniform size when granulating and medium-coarse, slowly pour the water over rather than indiscriminately dumping it over the grounds. If you rush and just splash the whole volume of water, this will likely result in over-extraction.
On top of this, you can tilt your kettle back and forth to change the flow rate. As you are pouring the hot water to a timer, ensuring the flow rate is matching the pace of the desired pour-over will be essential to the perfect taste.
When compared to a French press or dribble espresso, pour-over doesn’t involve immersing the grounds in water. If you’re finding your pour-over coffee is cloudy or has particulates in it, make sure you are using filtered water and new filter papers.
In the end, keep in mind that practice is essential for a great pour-over coffee. Baristas have practiced the ratios, pouring technique, and blooming in order to get the best pour-over coffee.
You can do the same thing with pour-over coffee and find the perfect coffee beans, grind, and pouring method for the flavor you want.