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What’s Pour Over Coffee? Our Favorite Brew in 5 Simple Steps

Kettle pouring hot water into pour over on scale from above
what's pour over coffee
how to brew pour over coffee

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Ever heard a coffee geek friend mention their morning pour over coffee and secretly wonder, “What’s pour over coffee?”

But you don’t say anything, assume it’s a fancy way of saying drip coffee, and move on with your life.

It’s cool. Nobody likes asking what feels like a dumb question. But there are no dumb questions here. We’ll take a deeper dive into pour over coffee, so you’ll never think to ask, “What’s pour over coffee?” again.

So, let’s get brewing.

What’s Pour Over Coffee?

Pour over coffee refers to a manual brewing method that involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds through a filter in a dripper over a carafe or mug.

While pour over coffee originated in Europe and has been around for centuries (some credit Germany’s Melitta Bentz for her 1908 invention of the paper coffee filter), it has gained popularity worldwide in recent years.

The pour over method is a straightforward coffee brewing process, which is why it’s so popular worldwide. But what’s pour over coffee got over drip coffee? Why does pour over coffee taste better?

While pour over is similar to drip coffee brewing, it’s the slow, manual process that sets it apart. Most drip coffee is brewed with an electric brewer and is a hands-off process.

The slow, manual brewing process provides for a relaxing brewing experience each morning and ensures that all of the flavor nuances are appropriately extracted from the beans. The result is a complex, savory cup of coffee.

Learning how to brew pour over coffee is a fun process involving several adjustable variables like grind size, coffee to water ratio, water temperature, and, of course, the type of coffee bean used.

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Pour Over Grind Setting

Getting the grind right is crucial to achieving a perfectly brewed cup. The grind size will influence how quickly the water passes through the coffee grounds.

Too fast, and you’ll get an under-extracted brew. Too slow, and you’re left with a bitter, over-extracted cup. So what’s pour over coffee’s grind setting?

The best pour over grind setting is medium-fine. Yep, that is super vague and will require some experimentation.

But that’s half the fun of trying a new brewing technique. Coffee flavor is, at its core, a matter of personal preference, so the subtle nuances achieved with slight grind adjustments will hit each person differently.

Start with medium-fine and adjust from there.

Hario carafe of coffee beside a small glass and plant on a gray fabric surface
pour over ratio
coffee to water ratio
Best ratio for pour over coffee

Pour Over Ratio

Like every other type of coffee, pour over coffee requires some finessing to get the coffee to water ratio just right for your taste.

We typically use a 1:16 coffee to water ratio. In other words, 30g of coffee and 480g of filtered water. Start here and adjust as desired.

Airscape coffee storage canister in turquoise
Airscape Stainless Steel Coffee Canister

Temperature For Pour Over Coffee

The ideal temperature for pour over coffee is about 30 seconds off the boil or around 205 degrees Fahrenheit

If you’re lazy in the morning like us, skip the thermometer and wait 30 seconds to start brewing once your kettle boils.

freshly roasted coffee beans in the cooling bin of a commercial roaster,
best beans for pour over coffee

Best Beans For Pour Over Coffee

While some coffee brewing methods yield a better result with a particular type of bean (like dark roast beans and espresso), this is not the case with pour over coffee.

The good news is that the best beans for pour over coffee are whichever beans you like the best. But why does pour over coffee taste better?

The pour over method extracts even the most subtle flavor nuances, making it ideal for sampling various roasts. So don’t be afraid to experiment with several different types of coffee beans to determine your preferences.

Now let’s get to the fun part.

How To Brew Pour Over Coffee

Pour over coffee is incredibly easy to make.

That said, there are a few pieces of equipment that make the brewing process even simpler.

Here’s what you’ll need to brew pour over coffee:

  1. Gooseneck Kettle
  2. Pour Over coffee maker 
  3. Paper Filter
  4. Scale
  5. High-quality coffee beans (30g)
  6. Grinder
  7. Filtered water (480g)

For this example, we’ll be brewing 16 ounces of coffee. If you’re new to the pour over method, we recommend starting with the Hario V60 (02 size) and corresponding 02 beehive server.

If you’re only brewing one cup at a time, consistently, then you can opt for the 01 dripper size and skip the carafe altogether. Simply place the dripper over your mug of choice.

Otherwise, if brewing more than one cup at a time, be sure to use a carafe or container that can hold 16oz of coffee.

Step 1: Heat The Water

Set the kettle over high heat (or on an electric kettle base) and bring the water to a boil.

Step 2: Measure & Grind Coffee

While the water is heating, use your scale to weigh 30g of coffee and grind it to a medium-fine consistency. 

The grind size will resemble Kosher salt.

This grind is finer than you’d use for cold brew or French press. You’ll want to use a good-quality burr grinder to achieve a consistent grind.

coffee pouring into filter of chemex

Step 3: Prep Brewer

Set your beehive server or carafe on the scale and tare the scale to zero

Place a paper filter in the dripper. 

Once the water boils, wet the filter paper first and discard the wetting liquid before brewing. This process removes any woodsy paper flavor from the final product.

This step also warms the brewer and helps achieve a consistent brewing temperature.

Add the ground coffee to the filter, set the dripper on the carafe, and tare (or zero) the scale again.

Step 4: Brew Coffee

Bloom the coffee first by pouring enough near-boiling water to saturate the grounds thoroughly. Stop before the water flows into the carafe. 

Wait 30-45 seconds. We recommend using a timer, as this step is critical to achieving the absolute best brew.

(Blooming the ground coffee allows it to de-gas and release carbon dioxide. The grounds will bubble up and create space for the water to interact with the ground coffee. The more interaction, the better the resulting brew will be.)

The blooming step, in fact, is one of the reasons pour over coffee tastes better than drip coffee.

Begin brewing by pouring water in a slow, circular motion, adding water every 10-15 seconds. Aim for the dark spots and avoid the light ones.

Continue slowly adding water until the scale reaches 480g. Total brewing time should take about 3-4 minutes.

chemex on scale with coffee dripping

Step 5: Enjoy Pour Over Coffee

As soon as all of the water has drained through the filter, discard the used coffee grounds. Do not attempt to release additional water from the filter, as this may result in an over-extracted brew and negatively impact the taste.

Serve the coffee immediately for the best flavor, and savor the fruit of your (minimal) labor.

That’s it!

Now that you can confidently answer your “what’s pour over coffee” question and have discovered why pour over coffee tastes better, we’re guessing you’ll make the switch from drip coffee a permanent one.

And maybe drop some knowledge on your would-be hipster friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s special about pour-over coffee?

Pour-over coffee is special because it allows you to have greater control over the brewing process, resulting in a more flavorful and aromatic cup of coffee. Unlike other brewing methods, pour-over coffee involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a slow and steady stream, which allows for a more even extraction of flavor.

What is a pour-over at Starbucks?

A pour-over at Starbucks is a type of coffee that is made to order using a pour-over brewing method. The barista will grind and measure the coffee beans, place them in a paper filter, and pour hot water over the grounds in a slow and steady stream. This ensures that each cup of coffee is fresh, flavorful, and brewed to perfection.

However, not all Starbucks locations offer pour over coffee. If you’re ordering a regular cup of coffee, be sure to ask for pour over to see if they will prepare it for you. If so, it’ll definitely beat whatever’s been sitting in the pot for hours.

What is the difference between pour-over and instant coffee?

The main difference between pour-over and instant coffee is the brewing process. Pour-over coffee is made by pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a slow and steady stream, whereas instant coffee is made by dissolving coffee granules in hot water. Pour-over coffee is generally considered to be of higher quality and has a more complex flavor profile than instant coffee.

How long does pour-over coffee take?

The amount of time it takes to make pour-over coffee depends on the amount of coffee you are making and the brewing method you are using. Generally, it takes between 3-4 minutes to brew a single cup of pour-over coffee.

What is the difference between pour-over and drip coffee?

The main difference between pour-over and drip coffee is the way the coffee is brewed. Pour-over coffee involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a slow and steady stream, whereas drip coffee involves the use of a machine that drips hot water over coffee grounds in a continuous flow. Pour-over coffee generally produces a cleaner, more refined cup of coffee than drip, however, this is largely dependent on the quality of the drip coffee machine used.


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters