How to Make Pour-Over Coffee According to a Barista

Updated: Aug. 08, 2023

Once you learn how to make pour-over coffee, you may never go back to drip. Our barista breaks it down in simple terms so you can always enjoy the perfect cup.

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If you stop at your local coffee shop for a daily pick-me-up, you’re easily spending $3 a day. That’s $90 a month and $1,080 a year. Whoa! And that doesn’t include the cost of those irresistible muffins, bagels and slices of quiche—not to mention a tip. However, if you learn how to make pour-over coffee at home, it’ll taste just as delicious as coffee shop coffee. Plus, you’ll save both time and money.

With more than four years of barista experience under my belt, I cannot recommend this coffee-making method enough. I’ve designed this recipe to be as delicious and beginner-friendly as possible so you can make craft coffee at home. (Take your coffee obsession a step further with our recommended coffee products for home baristas.)

What Is Pour-Over Coffee?

Pour-over coffee is a method of brewing coffee that requires pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a filter; it’s also referred to as hand-brewed coffee. In a traditional drip coffee maker, water pours in a steady stream over the coffee grounds and you have no control over how the coffee is extracted. The pour-over method puts you squarely in charge. (Trust us, it’s one of the yummiest types of coffee).

What Are the Benefits of Pour-Over Coffee?

Since pour-over coffee is made by hand as opposed to in an automatic coffee maker, the flavors and oils from the coffee grounds are extracted with precision, which brings out the optimal taste. Plus, when you’re brewing for one, you don’t end up wasting a whole pot of coffee. And believe us, a pour-over is an upgrade compared to a single-serve coffee maker.

If you’re wondering how much caffeine is in your coffee, a pour-over has more than a drip coffee or cold brew. With a coarser grind and extra hot water needed to brew, this higher extraction method results in more caffeine per cup.

How to Make Pour-Over Coffee

After a little bit of prep work, you’ll do four timed and weighed pours. Each of these pours will extract the fullest flavor possible from your coffee grounds. This recipe is designed for one serving in a standard coffee mug. (If you’re looking to make more than one cup at a time, try using a French press to make your morning brew.)

Don’t worry if you don’t get this exactly right the first time. It takes practice! Your pour-over coffee will taste great, even if your weights are a bit off. Just do your best today and try again tomorrow. Oh, and while you’re at it, take a peek at this genius coffee scoop clip we love.

Ingredients

To make a pour-over coffee, the recommended ratio for coffee to water is 1:15, meaning for every 1 gram of coffee add 15 grams of water. For our recipe we use:

  • 375 grams filtered water
  • 25 grams coffee grounds

Tools

  • Pour-over Dripper: The pour-over coffee dripper holds your coffee filter in place as you make pours. These come in a variety of sizes and styles, but this Hario V60 is a great place to start.
  • Swanneck Kettle: The swanneck kettle is designed with a curved narrow neck for making precise pours when brewing your pour-over.
  • Pour-over Scale: You can use a simple food scale to weigh each pour. However, since you’ll also need to time each pour, we suggest a pour-over scale that features a timer.
  • Filters: No matter which pour-over dripper you choose, you’ll need coffee filters.

Directions

Step 1: Heat the water and prepare the coffee grounds

Begin by heating your kettle of filtered water to a gentle boil. While the water is heating, use your scale to weigh out 25 grams of coffee beans. (Consider our Test Kitchen-Preferred coffee brands.) Using a good burr grinder or this affordable Hamilton Beach coffee grinder grind the beans to a medium-coarse consistency, similar to the texture of rough sand.

Editor’s Note: If you want to use pre-ground coffee beans, read the tips below.

Step 2: Pre-wet the filter

Place a filter in your pour-over dripper. Then, while holding your dripper above a sink, gently trickle water from your kettle over the filter in a circular motion, until the entire filter is wet. Let all excess water drain through. Pre-wetting the filter like this ensures that it will stay in place during your four pours and that there is no papery taste in your coffee.

Step 3: Get your supplies and scale ready

Place the dripper on your mug of choice (cute coffee mug, optional!). Set it on your scale. Then add coffee grounds to the filter, just like you would when making a whole pot of coffee. Set your scale to measure grams and tare your scale so that, with all of your equipment on top, it reads 0 grams.

Step 4: Pour the water

Start your timer. With your kettle in hand, begin pouring water at the center of your coffee grounds in a circular motion, slowly working your way out to the rim of the coffee grounds, without quite touching this rim. Allow the coffee to drip down. During this first pour, the coffee grounds will rise up a bit—this is called the bloom. The fresher the coffee is, the more of a bloom you will see.

When your timer reaches around 30 seconds, begin your second pour. Starting with the center of the coffee grounds once again, pour in a spiral motion slowly working outward and gradually working your way back toward the center. Allow this to draw down for about 30 seconds.

Step 5: Let the water draw down as you pour

Around the 60-second mark, slowly pour more water, moving outward from the center and then back in, until the timer reaches about 1 minute, 30 seconds. Let the water draw down. As you finish pouring the rest of the water in a circular motion, try to capture any remaining coffee grounds. The scale should read about 340 grams when you’re finished. It may take a moment for the coffee to draw down completely.

Step 6: Enjoy your perfect pour-over coffee

Once complete, gently remove the dripper and toss the filter into the compost. Carefully remove your mug from the scale. And that’s it: You have just made yourself a perfect cup of joe. Cheers!

Editor’s Tip: Keep your fresh cup of pour over coffee warm all morning long with a coffee mug warmer. Or better yet, treat yourself to an Ember Mug.

Tips for Making Pour-Over Coffee

Making hand drip coffeehsyncoban/Getty Images

What brands of beans should I use to make pour-over coffee?

Your best bet is to support your local coffee shop and buy their freshly roasted coffee beans. If you want to grab something at the store, consider these sustainable coffee brands. Opting for coffee subscription boxes is another way to support independent coffee artisans.

Can I use pre-ground coffee?

You certainly can, but the more recently ground your coffee is, the fresher your pour-over will taste. So, we highly suggest investing in a coffee grinder and grinding coffee yourself.

Can I make pour-over coffee if I don’t have a scale?

Of course. The measured amounts of coffee to water is about 4 tablespoons of medium-ground coffee to about 1 1/2 cups of water. But feel free to experiment with a ratio that works for you. While the ratio is important, timing is everything to a perfect pour-over.

Do I need to use filtered water to make pour-over coffee?

The quality of the water affects the taste of your coffee, so we suggest using filtered water. However, if you don’t have access to it, it is completely fine to use tap water.

Why does my pour-over coffee taste weak?

If your coffee tastes weak, try using a finer grind. Also, brewing too quickly won’t fully extract the coffee grounds. Aim for that 2 minute and 30 second mark from first pour to the final cup.

Why does my pour-over taste bitter?

If your coffee tastes too bitter, you might need a slightly coarser grind. Also, if you brew too slowly, you can end up with overly extracted coffee. Again, timing is everything. Experiment to find your perfect pour-over.

Can I use a Chemex to make pour-over coffee?

Yes! You may use this recipe for a Chemex. However, many Chemex pour-over makers are designed to make 3 cups of coffee or more. In this case, multiply our recipe by how many cups are in your Chemex.