The pour-over method of brewing has long been associated with producing a truly exceptional cup of coffee. While this reputation is more than well deserved, the pour-over is often viewed as being unapproachable for the average coffee drinker.
The good news is that while learning how to make pour-over coffee does require a bit of practice, it’s much easier than you might think.
In this article, we provide step-by-step instructions as well as a list of everything you’ll need to start brewing a delicious cup of pour-over coffee from the comfort of your own home.
Table of Contents
What Is Pour-Over Coffee?
As the name implies, pour-over coffee is a method where hot water is poured over coffee grounds contained within a filter, extracting their flavor as it passes through and into a mug or carafe sitting below.
Pour-over brewers are typically characterized by their shape, by-pass ridges, drain holes, and, in some cases, proprietary filters. While there are different versions of the pour-over brewer, like the Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Bee House, and Chemex, each includes its own unique variation of these basic attributes and produces a different-tasting cup of coffee.
While other brewing methods are built on the same principle as pour-over coffee, the pour-over method allows for more control over three key brewing elements: water temperature, flow rate, and brewing time.
This extra level of control during the brewing process allows the bean’s subtle flavors and aromas to shine through, resulting in a clean, bright, and flavorful brew. This is a big reason why pour-over coffee continues to be a favorite among baristas and coffee enthusiasts alike.
Equipment & Ingredients Needed to Make Pour-Over Coffee
Before getting into the actual process of how to make pour-over coffee, it’s important to ensure you have the necessary equipment and ingredients.
Below, we’ve provided a list of everything you’ll need, including links to some of our favorites.
- Whole Coffee Beans: Whole beans are fresher and preserve more of the coffee’s natural flavor and aroma compared to pre-ground coffee. While the pour-over method works with any roast type, we recommend using a light or medium roast, as it excels at bringing out their subtle and nuanced flavor notes.
- Filtered Water: Regular tap water often contains excessive amounts of minerals, chlorine, and other impurities that can affect the taste of your coffee. An easy solution is to use spring or bottled water instead. However, if you really want to elevate the quality and taste of your coffee-brewing water, we highly recommend using Third Wave Water.
- Pour-Over Brewer: While there are several different styles of pour-over brewers available, such as the Kalita Wave, Bee House, and Chemex, the tutorial in this article is for the Hario V60.
- Pour-Over Filter: Be sure to choose a filter that matches both the style and size of your respective pour-over brewer: Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Bee House, and Chemex. We recommend using the white/bleached filters over the natural ones to avoid any papery taste in your coffee.
- Burr Grinder: Burr grinders produce more consistent and uniform grounds than blade grinders, ensuring a more even extraction of flavors during the brewing process. If investing in a grinder isn’t feasible, a simple workaround is to purchase whole coffee beans from a local coffee shop or roaster and ask them to grind them for you.
- Scale: It’s highly recommended that you use a scale when measuring coffee beans and water, as it provides more accuracy and consistency than a measuring cup or spoon.
- Electric or Stovetop Gooseneck Kettle: A kettle is essential for heating water to the appropriate brewing temperature. A gooseneck kettle is preferred when making pour-over coffee, as it provides more control over your pouring speed. Whether you choose an electric or stovetop version, make sure it includes a thermometer.
- Timer: A timer ensures consistency with the brewing time from one cup to the next. A simple kitchen timer or the timer on your phone will work perfectly for this.
- Mug or Carafe: A basic coffee mug or small carafe is necessary to collect the brewed coffee as well as hold the pour-over brewer during the brewing process.
How to Make Pour-Over Coffee
While making pour-over coffee appears pretty straightforward, it often requires a bit of trial and error to get to the point where you’re able to consistently brew a perfect cup of coffee on each and every attempt.
In this section, we provide a simple step-by-step process to help you master the key elements of pour-over coffee quickly and easily.
1. Choose Your Ratio
Identifying the ideal coffee-to-water ratio is crucial when learning how to make pour-over coffee, as it impacts the overall strength and flavor profile of your final brew.
If you’re someone who enjoys adding cream, milk, or sugar to your coffee, you may want to choose a stronger ratio. If you like your coffee black so you can enjoy its unique characteristics and subtleties, a weaker ratio is often best.
In our experience, a 1:16 ratio is a great place to start. However, don’t hesitate to tweak this ratio to suit your palate.
|Whole Coffee Beans (grams)
|Whole Coffee Beans (tablespoons)
2. Boil the Water
Fill your kettle with more water than needed for brewing and bring it to a boil.
Turn off the heat and let it cool slightly to between 195°F and 205°F (90°C and 96°C). If you don’t have a thermometer, wait approximately 1 to 2 minutes before pouring.
3. Measure & Grind the Beans
While the water is being heated, use your scale to measure the amount of coffee beans needed based on your chosen ratio from step one.
Next, grind the beans to a medium to medium-fine consistency, similar to fine sand. If you choose to tweak and experiment on subsequent brews, we recommend first experimenting with your grind size rather than the coffee-to-water ratio.
Then, transfer the grounds to a small bowl or container and set aside.
4. Wet the Filter
Once the water is heated, place the pour-over brewer on your mug or carafe and insert the paper filter.
Wet the filter evenly with hot water. This creates a seal between the filter and the brewer, helping it keep its shape during the pouring process. This also serves to preheat the brewer and brewing vessel as well as helps remove any potential paper flavor from the filter.
Once finished, discard the rinse water.
5. Add the Grounds
Place the brewer and brewing vessel on the scale and pour the coffee grounds into the filter.
Gently shake the brewer to level the grounds, then zero out the scale.
6. Bloom the Grounds
Start your timer and gently pour water over the grounds in a circular motion, avoiding pouring directly on the filter.
The goal is to add just enough water to fully saturate the grounds. This will be approximately twice the weight of the coffee grounds (e.g., roughly 50 grams of water for 25 grams of coffee). If you use a little more or less, that’s okay.
This step allows the grounds to expand and release trapped gas, creating a bloom effect and improving the final flavor of your cup of coffee.
Wait approximately 45 seconds from the start of your pour for the bloom to settle. Don’t worry if some water starts to drip through the filter.
7. Add Remaining Water
Add the remaining water by pouring slowly in a continuous circular motion. Start in the center and move out toward the edge and then back toward the center. As with the previous step, be sure to avoid pouring directly on the filter.
It’s important to make sure that the speed of your pour is consistent and that you never pour in one spot, as this can disproportionately affect the level of extraction.
Pour until you fill the brewer just over halfway. Then, let it drain a bit and repeat. Continue this process until you’ve poured all the water.
8. Let It Drip
Once all of the water has been added, give the brewer a gentle swirl. This prevents the coffee from sticking to the filter and helps the settled coffee bed end up nice and flat, ensuring a more even extraction.
Then, allow the coffee to finish draining through the filter.
From start to finish, the total brew time should take somewhere between 2 ½ and 3 ½ minutes. If it’s faster than this, you’ll probably want to use a finer grind for future brews. If slower, consider using a coarser grind. The goal is to be as consistent as possible with your brew time from one cup to the next.
9. Serve & Enjoy
Once it’s finished draining, remove the filter and discard the grounds.
Lastly, remove the brewer from your mug or carafe and enjoy!
How to Add Variety to Your Pour-Over Coffee
As mentioned above, the pour-over offers more control during the brewing process than other brewing methods. This not only allows you to produce a more consistent cup of coffee time and time again but also provides an opportunity to experiment and mix things up from one pour-over to the next.
Here are just a few ways you can use key elements of the brewing process to add variety to your pour-over coffee:
- Change Your Brewing Ratio: Your coffee-to-water ratio will have a considerable impact on both the flavor and strength of your final brew. Reducing the amount of water or increasing the amount of coffee grounds will result in a bolder, richer, and more concentrated flavor profile. Conversely, increasing the amount of water or using fewer coffee grounds will produce a milder, smoother cup, accentuating the coffee’s subtle flavors.
- Adjust the Grind Size: Grind size also plays a significant role in the final taste of your pour-over coffee. Using a finer grind will slow water flow through the grounds, increasing extraction and leading to a stronger and potentially more bitter cup of coffee. On the other hand, a coarser grind allows water to flow through more quickly, resulting in a shorter extraction time and a lighter, more acidic brew.
- Experiment with Pouring Technique: Experimenting with your pouring technique is another way to tailor the taste and strength of your coffee. Factors such as pouring speed, pouring pattern, and whether you pour continuously or in intervals each influence how the water interacts with the coffee grounds, affecting the evenness of the extraction and, ultimately, the balance of flavors in your cup.
Pros & Cons of Pour-Over Coffee
While pour-over coffee is a favorite among coffee enthusiasts, it does come with its own set of benefits and limitations.
Understanding both the advantages and disadvantages of the pour-over is not only key to deciding if it’s the right brewing method for you but also to ensuring you get the most out of each and every cup.
While learning how to make pour-over coffee does take longer to master than most other brewing methods, the payoff is absolutely worth it! Not to mention, it’s also a fun way to break up the monotony of just throwing some coffee grounds in a filter and pressing a button. So, if you’re on the fence, give it a shot. You won’t regret it!
Frequently Asked Questions
While Chemex is a type of pour-over coffee, there are a couple of key differences between it and other pour-over methods such as the Hario V60, Kalita Wave, and Bee House. The first being that the Chemex uses thicker filters, which produces a smoother, cleaner brew with less oil and sediment. The other is its shape and size. Whereas these other methods are typically used for single servings, the Chemex is designed for brewing larger batches.
While both methods involve hot water being poured over coffee grounds, the main difference lies in their level of control. Although the pour-over is more time-intensive, it provides a high level of control over the different brewing variables, allowing for a more nuanced and personalized cup of coffee. On the other hand, drip coffee makers provide ease and convenience through automation but offer little to no control over the flavor of your final brew.
Yes, you can absolutely use pre-ground coffee, but for optimal flavor and extraction, it’s highly recommended that you grind your beans right before brewing. However, if you do choose to use pre-ground coffee, make sure it’s ground to a medium to medium-fine consistency, similar to fine sand.
The amount of coffee a pour-over brewer can make will vary by type and design. Most single-cup brewers can produce approximately 8 to 12 ounces per serving. Larger models, like the Chemex, can brew up to 40 ounces.
How to Make Pour-Over Coffee: 9 Steps to a Delicious Cup
- 25 g whole coffee beans (4 tbsp medium-fine coffee grounds)
- 400 g filtered water (13.5 oz)
- Determine your coffee-to-water ratio. A good starting point is a 1:16 ratio, but feel free to experiment and adjust based on your taste preference.
- Fill your kettle with more water than needed for brewing and bring it to a boil. Then let the water cool slightly to between 195°F and 205°F (90°C and 96°C). If you don't have a thermometer, wait one to two minutes before pouring.400 g filtered water
- While the water is heating, measure the amount of whole coffee beans you need based on your chosen ratio from step one. Grind to a medium to medium-fine consistency. Then set aside in a small bowl or container.25 g whole coffee beans
- Place the pour-over brewer on your mug or carafe, insert the paper filter, and then rinse with hot water. Once finished, discard the water.
- Place the brewer and brewing vessel on the scale and pour the coffee grounds into the filter. Gently shake the brewer to level the grounds, then zero out the scale.
- Start your timer, and then in a circular motion, slowly pour just enough water over the grounds to ensure they’re fully saturated (approximately twice the weight of the coffee grounds). Wait approximately 45 seconds before moving to the next step.
- Add the remaining water by slowly pouring in a continuous circular motion, moving out toward the edge of the grounds and then back toward the center. Be sure to avoid pouring directly on the filter. Pour until you fill the brewer just over halfway. Then, let it drain a bit and repeat. Continue this process until you've poured all the water.
- Once all of the water has been added, give the brewer a gentle swirl to help prevent the coffee from sticking to the walls of the filter. Then allow the coffee to finish draining.
- Once it's finished draining, remove the filter and discard the grounds. Lastly, remove the brewer from your mug or carafe and enjoy!
- Although the recipe calls for 400 grams (13.5 oz) of water, be sure to boil more so that you have extra to rinse the filter in Step 4.
- While pouring, it’s important to make sure that the speed of your pour is consistent and that you never pour in one spot, as this can disproportionately affect the level of extraction.
- Once you start pouring the water, the total brew time should take somewhere between 2 ½ and 3 ½ minutes. If it’s faster than this, you’ll probably want to use a finer grind for future brews. If slower, consider using a coarser grind.
- If you choose to experiment with the strength and flavor of your coffee on subsequent brews, we recommend first experimenting with your grind size rather than the coffee-to-water ratio.