Learn how to make pour over coffee and start enjoying a much superior brew with this essential guide.
What Is Pour Over Coffee?
Pour-over coffee is coffee made by pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a coffee filter. The water permeates the coffee particles then seeps through the filter, and drips down into a waiting jug or carafe.
You can now enjoy it as it is. If it’s a particularly warm day, you can add a dollop of cascara syrup to your brew, mix and pour it over ice.
Of course, if you prefer sweet coffee, you may want something like the Jolly Roger coffee or some other coffee in our purple collection. Our purple speciality coffees are heavily textured, layered, sweet, and flavourful.
In this sense, pour-over coffee is a type of filter or drip coffee, one that requires manually pouring water over coffee grounds.
Pour-Over Coffee Tips and Tools
Follow these tips and use these tools to master the pour-over method of making coffee.
It’s best to use light to medium roasts with the pour-over method. The pour-over brewing method is best for extracting subtle flavours. Thus, it is most suited to lightly roasted coffee because light roasting preserves the coffee beans’ innate intricacy of taste and aroma.
You can also enjoy our other coffee ranges. We have lighter roasts in our brown and purple coffees.
That said, your preference will still prevail at the end of the day. If you like an espresso roast pour-over, go right ahead, although you may want to shorten extraction times for good measure.
2. Grind Size
The coffee particle size dictates the amount of surface area exposed to water. The finer the grind size, the bigger the coffee’s surface area and the greater its exposure to water.
That said, which grind size is ideal when brewing coffee via pour-over?
A pour-over lasts from three to four minutes from start to finish. This means the water is in contact with the coffee for only a short time, as it passes through the grounds before draining down the filter.
Thus, it’s not recommended to use a coarse or extra-coarse grind. That will leave the coffee underexposed or under-extracted — salty, sour and bland.
However, you should also probably not use a fine or extra-fine grind. Finely ground coffee is best for espresso, which takes an even shorter time than pour-over coffee. Using finely ground coffee for a pour-over can lead to over-extraction — astringent, bitter, dry, and devoid of liveliness.
A medium grind is ideal for pour-overs, and you can tweak it to be finer or coarser according to your requirements. If you only have a fine grind, you can adjust other factors, say, by shortening brew times or decreasing water temperature.
Tool: Coffee Grinder
You need a coffee grinder that will grind your coffee to a consistent size. You don’t want a variation in your coffee grounds because that will cause uneven extraction.
3. Coffee-Water Ratio
This boils down to personal preference. A good coffee-water ratio is one part coffee to 17 parts water (e.g., 29 grams of coffee, 493 grams or millilitres of hot water). You can gradually increase or decrease your coffee pour-over ratio from there.
Tool: Digital Scale and a Measuring Cup
You need a good-quality scale and a graduated container to measure your coffee and water portions precisely.
4. Water Temperature
Your water should be from 195 °F to 205 °F. That’s at least seven degrees cooler than boiling water. If the water is any cooler, you risk under-extraction. Meanwhile, you risk over-extraction when the water is hotter than 205 °F.
Important note: The higher your elevation, the lower the temperature you must use. Water boils at a lower temperature in higher elevations; as a rule of thumb, always keep your water temperature below boiling point.
Tool: Water Thermometer
Get a water thermometer to ensure you have the correct water temperature.
5. Hand Pouring Technique
Generally, you need to do the following to pour coffee.
Pour water in concentric circles, beginning from the centre and moving towards the outside, until the coffee is just about soaked. Use a coffee-water ratio of one part coffee to two parts water when blooming coffee.
The coffee and water mixture will bubble up, releasing the trapped carbon dioxide molecules that can repel water and inhibit coffee and water contact. Wait 30 to 45 seconds before proceeding.
After the bloom, pour the remaining water onto the coffee. You can pour water in a continuous stream (i.e., continuous pouring technique) or in pulses (i.e., pulse pouring technique).
The former maintains a constant flow of water to encourage even saturation. The latter disrupts the coffee and prevents water channels from forming, encouraging more water-coffee contact.
If you see any channelling or dry spots, you can agitate the coffee grounds during and after pouring. You can do this by swirling the coffee maker or stirring the coffee and water mixture.
Tool: Gooseneck Coffee Kettle
A gooseneck kettle is ideal for ease of coffee pouring and to keep water flow consistent.
Tool: Pour-over Coffee Maker
There are many pour-over coffee makers you can use. The most popular include the V60, Chemex, and the Kalita Wave.
You can use a cloth or paper filter. The former is more sustainable and has no impact on coffee flavour, but the latter makes for easier clean-ups.
You need precise timings when you’re pouring over, so keep an eye on the clock. You can use your mobile phone’s stopwatch function.
Pour-over Coffee: It’s About Customization and Technique
The pour-over method can make you some of the best coffee. It all depends on your technique. The greatest thing about it, moreover, is that it allows you to tweak the coffee-making process in multiple ways to make coffee that suits your taste best.