Bright, clean flavors with subtle nuances. These are all the best things about a pour-over coffee. The downside? This low-tech method can take a little more getting used to than something like a bean-to-cup machine.
If you’re a newbie to the world of pour-overs or just want to up your brew game, our guide will give you some tips for a great cup of coffee.
What You Need
- A pour over /manual drip coffee maker
- Coffee filter to match your brewer
- Fresh roasted coffee beans
- Coffee grinder
- Gooseneck kettle
- Scale (optional but nice to have)
- Good water – filtered is best
What is pour-over coffee?
If you have a standard drip coffee machine at home, you’ll be familiar with the basic principles of pour-over. Hot water is poured slowly over coffee grounds in a paper filter. It’s essentially the same technique, but the result is not the same.
The final cup is reminiscent of one from a drip coffee maker, but noticeably more delicate and complex.Blue Bottle Coffee
The difference in flavor (and many would say the quality) is down to the amount of control offered by a pour-over coffee maker. While a drip machine is entirely automated, a pour-over allows you to control the temperature. So, you measure the pre-infusion time, flow rate, total brewing time, and most importantly, the ratio of coffee to water.
Compared to some other coffee methods, pour-over brewing produces a more flavorful coffee that highlights the bean’s natural tastes. It’s arguably both bold while still being incredibly nuanced (1).
To brew manual drip coffee, you’ll need a specialty brewer, but there are plenty of options available. Some of the most popular brands include Chemex, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Clever Dripper, and Bee House. Materials for pour-overs include copper, stainless steel, ceramic, and plastic.
It’s all about the ratio.
One of the key elements to a good pour-over is the ratio of coffee to water. While the idea of the “perfect cup” will come down to personal preference, it’s great to get an idea of a starting point.
While it does vary, we recommend the ratio of 1:17. For every 1 gram of coffee, you’ll need 17 grams of water. For example, use 30g of coffee to 510g of water.
If you don’t have one, you can get a pretty good approximation with a ratio of 1:4 by volume. For every one tablespoon of coffee, use 4 ounces of water (2).
How To Brew Pour-Over (AKA Manual Drip) Coffee
Don’t be daunted by the equipment required or the seemingly complex steps. Once you get familiar with the process, you’ll realize the low-tech method is simple that many people find very satisfying.
Brewing coffee by hand is about mindfulness.Tim Carman, Washington Post
Making a pour-over can become an enjoyable part of your morning routine that results in a great cup of coffee.
Step 1: Grind the beans.
As always, we suggest using a home grinder rather than buying pre-ground coffee. A medium grind is the best starting point for a pour-over. The extraction time is somewhere between that for immersion (like a French press) and pressure (espresso), so you’ll need a grind that sits between what you would use for these two (3).
- What’s the Difference Between French Press and Pour Over Coffee?
- French Press vs Chemex: Which is Better?
If you’re using a scale, weigh the beans before you grind them. Good beans for pour-over are medium-dark or dark roast, with single-origin suggested experiencing the full flavor profile.
Pro tip: It might seem a little geeky, but it’s worth keeping notes on the grind size, as well as the amount of coffee used. It makes it easier to know what to change if you need to adjust something or recreate that great cup of coffee you made yesterday.
Step 2: Heat the water.
The temperature of the water you use will play a part in how the coffee is extracted from the grounds, and ultimately how the coffee tastes. The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is around 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (4). Any warmer and you risk over-extraction, and a bitter-tasting coffee, any cooler and your brew will be under-extracted, sour, and flat.
Pro tip: You can also use a smart electric gooseneck kettle that heats water to the exact temperature that’s required, but you won’t necessarily have the gooseneck that helps with getting a precise pour.
Step 3: Prep the pour-over.
Add your filter to the pour-over and rinse it with hot water. This not only removes any taste of the paper but also heats your dripper for better brewing. Just don’t forget to tip the water out after rinsing.
Next, add your measured coffee grounds to the filter. Place the dripper on the scale (if using) and hit the tare button once you’ve added the coffee.
Pro tip: At this stage, you can also prepare your serving vessel by filling it with warm water to preheat.
Step 4: Bloom the coffee.
There are two parts to the water pouring process. The first is the bloom pour, which allows the coffee to degas and makes for a more even extraction. Do this by slowly pouring water over the coffee grounds in a spiral motion. Use just enough so that all the grounds are saturated – if you’re using a coffee scale, aim for twice the amount of water as coffee by weight.
Step 5: Complete the brew.
After 45 seconds, you can resume pouring to complete the brew itself. The idea is to pour the water in slow spirals from the center to the edge. You may find you have to pause pouring at intervals to allow the water to drip through the ground coffee. The whole process should take around 3 minutes for all the water to drip through.
If you are using a scale, watch as you pour and stop at your desired weight. You may need to adjust your grind size for the water flow and timing to align – if the brew time is too quick, try a finer grind.
Pro tip: As you are pouring, make sure to wet the grounds only and not the paper filter.
The perfect pour-over drink does take a little time to master, but the results are worth it. There is no machine standing between you and your brew, and you can tweak every step and process along the way.
There’s really no better method for those who want complete involvement in the brewing process than the pour over.
Pour-over (aka manual drip) coffee does not necessarily have more caffeine. Part of this is whether you measure caffeine per ounce of coffee or per serving size. A serving of espresso may contain 40mg per oz but is usually consumed as a 2oz serving – a total of 80mg of caffeine. This coffee only has 10mg per oz, but with an 80z serve, you’ll be getting the same caffeine as an espresso (5).
You can’t brew pour-over coffee with cold water in a regular pour-over maker. The brew time is not long enough for the cold water to extract anything from the grounds. However, there are cold drip brewers designed for this, which slow the brew time sufficiently for full extraction. This brewing method takes around 4-6 hours (6).
- What Is Pour Over Coffee And How Is It Different From Drip Coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.espro.com/blog/what-is-pour-over-coffee-and-how-is-it-different-from-drip-coffee
- Coffee Basics: Brewing Ratios – How much water to coffee to use? (2018, June 13). Retrieved from https://counterculturecoffee.com/blog/coffee-basics-brewing-ratios
- Soque, N. (2021, January 18). Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Pour Over Coffee. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/01/everything-you-need-to-know-to-brew-great-filter-pour-over-drip-coffee/
- How to Brew Coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/How-to-Brew-Coffee
- Caffeine Myths: Espresso vs. Drip. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.kickinghorsecoffee.com/en/blog/caffeine-myths-espresso-vs-drip
- Oden, G. (n.d.). Slow Drip VS Immersion Cold Brew: What’s The Difference? Retrieved from https://www.javapresse.com/blogs/cold-brew/slow-drip-vs-immersion-cold-brew
Husband, father and former journalist, I’ve combined my love of writing with my love of coffee to create this site. I love high end products, but write all my content with budget conscious coffee enthusiasts in mind. I prefer light roasts, and my normal brew is some sort of pour over, although my guilty pleasure is the occasional flat white.