The Ultimate Guide to Pour-Over Coffee: Techniques, Tips, and Tricks

The Ultimate Guide to Pour-Over Coffee: Techniques, Tips, and Tricks


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Pour-over coffee, also known as hand brewing or manual brewing, is a method of coffee preparation that involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds housed in a filter. The water then drains through the coffee and filters into a carafe or mug.

This brewing method is favored by coffee enthusiasts worldwide for its precision, giving you control over every variable in the brewing process. In this regard, it’s even better than drip coffee.

Compared to other techniques, pour over coffee emphasizes the individual elements of coffee brewing. Each aspect, from the type of coffee and grind size to the water temperature and pouring technique, can be adjusted to perfectly tailor a cup of coffee to your discerning palate.

Pour-over coffee is often described as clean and vibrant, with a clarity that allows the coffee’s nuanced flavors to shine. This is in contrast to methods like espresso, which produces a concentrated, bold flavor, or French press coffee, which tends to yield a heavier, more robust brew.

What Do You Need to Make Pour Over Coffee?

To brew pour-over coffee at home, you will need the right tools to manipulate every variable and step of the brewing process.

Pour-Over Coffee Maker

This is a cone-shaped brewer that sits on top of your coffee mug or carafe. Some popular brands include the Hario V60, Chemex, and Kalita Wave.

Coffee Grinder

A burr grinder is recommended for pour-over coffee. This type of grinder gives you control over the grind size and will consistently grind coffee to the same quality, which is crucial for extracting the right flavors from your coffee beans.

Coffee Scale

A scale helps you measure the exact amount of coffee and water you need. This ensures consistency in your brews. Some scales even come with a built-in timer to help you track your brew time.

Gooseneck Kettle

This type of kettle has a long, thin spout that gives you control over the speed and direction of your pour, which is essential for the pour-over method.

Coffee Filters

Depending on the type of pour-over coffee maker you choose, you’ll need either paper or metal filters. A paper coffee filter results in a clean drink with no sediment, while metal filters allow more oils to pass through, resulting in a fuller-bodied brew.

Thermometer

While not absolutely necessary, a thermometer can help you ensure your water is at the ideal temperature for brewing pour-over coffee, typically between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coffee Beans

Freshly roasted beans are recommended for the best coffee flavor. The type of beans you choose will depend on your personal taste preferences.

Serving Carafe or Mug

You’ll need a carafe or mug to hold the brewed coffee. Some pour-over coffee makers come with a matching carafe.

While having all of these tools can enhance your coffee brewing experience and the quality of your coffee, you can still make a decent cup of pour-over coffee with just a coffee maker, coffee, and hot water. As you become more experienced and want to refine your technique, you can invest in additional equipment.

How to Choose the Right Coffee Beans and Grind Size

Choosing the right coffee beans and grind size is one of the most important steps in the pour-over coffee brewing process. When you master your knowledge and sourcing of coffee beans, you’ll be able to enjoy a mind-blowing cup every time.

When buying coffee beans for pour-over brewing, it’s important to get high-quality, freshly roasted beans. The roast level can vary based on personal preference, but medium to light roasts are often favored for pour-over coffee due to their ability to highlight the unique flavors and characteristics of the coffee’s origin.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing coffee beans:

  • Origin -The geographical origin of the coffee beans can influence the flavor profile. For instance, African coffees are often fruity and wine-like, while Latin American coffees tend to have a balanced flavor with nutty or chocolatey notes.
  • Roast date - Freshness is key when it comes to coffee. Look for fresh coffee beans that have been roasted within the past two weeks.
  • Roast level - Light to medium roasts are typically recommended for pour-over coffee. Light roasts allow the inherent flavors of the coffee to shine, while medium roasts offer a balance between the coffee’s natural flavors and the flavors developed during roasting.

The grind size is another critical factor in pour-over brewing. A consistent, medium-fine grind is generally recommended for pour-over coffee. The grind size affects the extraction rate of the coffee - a finer grind will result in a slower extraction and a stronger brew, while a coarser grind will lead to a faster extraction and a weaker brew.

If pre-ground coffee is the only option available, aim for a grind size similar to granulated sugar. However, keep in mind that pre-ground coffee may not provide the same freshness and flavor complexity as freshly ground coffee.

FYI: If you’re looking for a bold, authentic twist to your coffee, try it with the bold new flavored coffee blends from Bones Coffee. Brewing it with the pour over method is the way to bring out the powerful flavors and aromas. It’s like having a coffee trip—seriously.

How to Make Pour-Over Coffee the Right Way

To start with, you have to get the measurements right. The coffee-to-water ratio, as well as the temperature of the water, can significantly impact the taste and quality of the final brew.

The standard coffee ratio for pour-over coffee is 1:15 to 1:17, meaning for every gram of coffee, you should use 15 to 17 grams of water. However, this ratio can be adjusted based on personal preference.

If you prefer a stronger, more robust cup of coffee, you might opt for a 1:14 ratio. Conversely, if you prefer a lighter, more delicate flavor, a 1:18 ratio might be more suitable. The table below summarizes the ratios you should use for different strengths of pour over coffee.

Coffee Strength Coffee (grams) Water (milliliters) Ratio 
Mild  15 250 1:16.7
Medium 18 300 1:16.7
Strong 20 300 1:15

In terms of water temperature, the National Coffee Association recommends a range between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (90.5 to 96.1 degrees Celsius). Water at this temperature is hot enough to extract the coffee’s flavors effectively without over-extracting and causing bitterness.

If you find your coffee is still too bitter after adjusting the water temperature, consider adding a pinch of fine sea salt to cut some of the bitterness. It works!

Master the Pouring Technique

The pouring technique is a critical aspect of brewing pour-over coffee. It not only determines the extraction rate of the coffee but also significantly influences the flavor profile of the final brew.

The first step in mastering the pouring technique is understanding the two main stages of the pour: the bloom and the pour itself.

#1. The Bloom

This is the initial stage of pre-wetting your grounds where you first introduce hot water to the coffee grounds. The goal is to saturate all the coffee grounds evenly, which allows the coffee to release carbon dioxide. This is the “bloom” effect.

Typically, the amount of water used in this stage is twice or thrice the weight of the coffee. For instance, if you’re using 20 grams of coffee, you’ll want to use 40–60 grams of water for the bloom. The bloom should last for 30 to 45 seconds and cover the whole coffee bed.

Note that the amount of degassing depends on age of the beans. Freshly roasted coffee beans have the most amount of gas, while those that have been on the shelf for a week or so will have lost some of their carbon dioxide.

#2. The Pour

After the bloom, the rest of the water is poured in a slow, steady stream. The aim is to maintain a consistent water level in the brewer throughout the process.

This stage should be done in a circular motion, starting from the center and moving outwards, avoiding pouring directly onto the filter. The total brew time, including the bloom, should be between 2.5 to 3 minutes for a single serving.

Here are some additional tips to perfect your pouring technique:

  • Use a gooseneck kettle - A gooseneck kettle offers superior control over the speed and direction of the water flow, making it easier to saturate all the coffee grounds evenly.
  • Maintain a steady pour - A steady, slow pour helps to ensure a consistent extraction. The water flow rate should be just enough to keep the brewing process going, but not so fast that it rushes through the coffee grounds.
  • Avoid pouring onto the filter - Pouring water directly onto the paper filter can lead to under-extraction as the water may bypass the coffee grounds. Always aim to pour onto the coffee, not the filter.
  • Mind the brew time -The total brew time can affect the taste of your coffee. If your brew time is too short, your coffee may taste sour due to under-extraction. If it’s too long, your coffee may taste bitter due to over-extraction. Adjust your pour speed accordingly to hit the ideal brew time.

Fixing Common Pour-Over Coffee Problems

Brewing pour-over coffee is as much an art as it is a science. It requires precision, patience, and practice. However, even the most experienced baristas can encounter issues that affect the taste and quality of the final brew.

For instance, the brewing time and process varies depending on which pour over device you use. The table below summarizes the brewing times for the four most common brewing devices.

Pour Over Device Suggested Brew Time Notes Ratio
Chemex 4-5 minutes Ideal for brewing coffee in large quantities 1:16.7
Hario V60 2-3 minutes Great for highlighting floral and fruity notes 1:16.7
Kalita Wave 3-4 minutes Offers a balanced extraction due to flat bottom 1:15
Bee House 3-4 minutes Forgiving brewer with less risk of over-extraction 1:15

You can also find a more detailed guide on how to make pour over coffee at Serious Eats.

As a beginner to the art of pour over coffee, here are some common problems you may experience and their solutions:

  • Problem: Coffee is too bitter
    • Cause: Over-extraction from excessive contact time between water and coffee grounds.
    • Solution: Grind the coffee coarser or pour water faster to reduce brew time.
  • Problem: Coffee tastes too weak or watery
    • Cause: Under-extraction due to insufficient contact time between water and coffee grounds.
    • Solution: Grind the coffee finer or slowly pour water to increase brew time.
  • Problem: Coffee has a sour taste
    • Cause: Under-extraction or too low water temperature, which doesn’t extract enough from the coffee.
    • Solution: Increase water temperature, allow longer brewing time, or grind the coffee finer.
  • Problem: Coffee is not hot enough
    • Cause: Low water temperature or inadequate preheating of brewing equipment.
    • Solution: Ensure water is heated to 195-205°F and preheat your coffee mug and pour-over equipment with hot water before brewing.

In addition to these, you can learn some insider tips and tricks from your local coffee shop to elevate your brewing experience. We’ll share a few below.

Tips and Tricks for Brewing the Perfect Cup of Pour-Over Coffee

Brewing the perfect cup of pour-over coffee is an art that requires precision, patience, and practice. You don’t have to be a coffee snob to follow these golden rules.

Use Freshly Roasted Beans

Coffee beans are at their peak flavor within two weeks of completing the roasting process. Using freshly roasted beans can significantly enhance the taste of your pour-over coffee.

Invest in a Good Grinder

A burr grinder provides a consistent grind size, which is crucial for the extraction process in pour-over brewing. An inconsistent grind can lead to uneven extraction, resulting in a cup of coffee that’s either too bitter or too weak.

Maintain a Steady Pour

When pouring the water, aim for a steady and slow pour to wet the entire coffee bed. This ensures all the coffee grounds are evenly saturated, leading to a more balanced extraction.

Mind the Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for pour-over coffee is between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Too hot, and you risk over-extraction; too cool, and you’ll under-extract the coffee, both of which can affect the flavor.

Clean Your Equipment

Coffee can leave behind oils and residue that build up over time and can impact the taste of your brew. Regularly cleaning your equipment can help maintain the pure taste of your coffee.

Rinse the Filter

Before you add coffee grounds, rinse the paper filter with hot water. This not only helps to remove any paper taste but also preheats the brewer, ensuring a consistent brewing temperature.

Experiment With Grind Size

Depending on the coffee beans and their freshness, baristas may adjust the grind size to achieve the optimal extraction. A finer grind can slow down the water flow for a stronger brew, while a coarser grind can speed it up for a lighter one.

Use Filtered Water

The quality of water used can significantly impact the taste of the coffee. Baristas often use filtered or bottled water with a balanced mineral content to bring out the best flavors for a delicious coffee.

Summary: Cherish the Grind

Pour over coffee is an art form tailored for the discerning coffee lovers who appreciate the subtleties of a meticulously crafted brew.

This coffee brewing method not only allows for precision and customization in every cup but also invites you to dive deep into the world of coffee flavors.

Are you ready to embrace the grind—both literally and figuratively—to master the nuanced art of pour over coffee? It’s a method that rewards patience and precision, offering a richly rewarding experience to those willing to invest the time and effort into perfecting their cup.

To maximize the experience, use only the highest quality whole coffee beans from Bones Coffee. We have the most unique flavors out there, with bold blends that are sure to jump out in pour-over coffee. Try some now—what are you waiting for?



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