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A Beginners Guide to Pour Over Coffee Brewing

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Manual Coffee Brewing Systems

Manual coffee-making methods are becoming an increasingly popular option for home enthusiasts and coffee shop baristas alike. The abilities to control every variable in the brewing process, create a cup that's exactly suited to one's preferences, and highlight the unique character of the coffee has convinced many to make the switch. This new popularity has prompted the birth of several new methods and devices, as well as the resurrection of older methods. In this article we'll feature our favorite pour over brewing methods and explain the differences between them. This post is confined to pour over devices, but if you're interested in other methods then check out our Beginner's Guide to Immersion Coffee Brewing.

Brewing Tips

These suggestions are meant to provide a starting place for beginners. Our recommendations are dependent on batch size, pour rate, roast level, processing method, and more, all of which vary. Experiment and adjust to taste!

Grind

Use a quality burr grinder. This will ensure an increasingly consistent grind and even extraction — or, in other words, a tasty cup of coffee! Anything from Baratza or Mahlkonig will serve you well.

Dose

Begin with 60 grams of coffee for every 1 liter of water. Adjusting this ratio will affect other factors in ways both obvious and subtle, so pay close attention. Changing any single parameter will also require change elsewhere.

Water

Thoroughly filtered water, heated to 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit, usually yields the best results. Review the recommended accessories below to learn about controlling water.

Accessories

A slow-pouring kettle is essential to using these brewers well. To select the right kettle for you, check out our Comparison of Pour Over Brewing Kettles. A gram scale and thermometer will also help you brew great coffee consistently.

V60

Hario V60 Red Ceramic Brewer

Design

The V60 is a cone-shaped dripper with spiral ridges along the inner wall and a single, large opening at the bottom. This design keeps the filter from sticking to the walls of the cone, encouraging extraction at the bottom and sides of of the filter. We carry the V60 in two sizes, four colors, and three materials: plastic, glass, or ceramic.

V60 grind setting: fine to medium

Grind

We generally recommend a grind setting between fine and medium.

Technique

Our preferred technique starts with thoroughly rinsing the filter and placing it inside the cone. After adding ground coffee, level the bed and make a small divot in the middle. Targeting this depression, pour just enough water to wet all of the coffee, then rest for 30 seconds. Continue pouring slowly, starting in the middle and moving in and out in concentric circles until the desired volume is reached. Keep the flowing water about ¼" away from the exposed walls of the dripper at all times and try to maintain a constant volume throughout the brewing process.

Advantage

V60 filters are thinner than any other paper pour over filters, and this is a big plus. While we still recommend rinsing these filters, they impart minimal paper taste — if any at all. The unique design of the V60 yields some of the best coffee we’ve ever had. When one pours carefully, the spiral ridges on the V60 facilitate a more even extraction than other cone-shaped brewers, which tend to over-extract at the bottom. And with the glass or plastic V60 you can watch the entire brewing process.

We especially enjoy using the V60 with bright, fruity, and floral coffees. Generally, coffees from Kenya, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Guatemala taste their best when brewed with this method. Check out our V60 listings to learn more.

Chemex

Chemex Brewer

Design

The Chemex combines a pour over filter cone with a beautiful glass decanter. The defining feature of this method is an ultra thick paper filter set flush against the walls.

Chemex grind setting: medium to medium-coarse

Grind

We generally recommend a medium or medium-coarse grind setting.

Technique

Begin by thoroughly rinsing the filter. This eliminates papery taste and preheats the server. After dumping this water, add ground coffee and even the bed. Use hot water to evenly wet all of the coffee (using about 10% of the total water volume) and start a timer. After 30-45 seconds pour the rest of the water in a slow and controlled motion. Aim to finish pouring around the 3:00 mark, with the last drop falling somewhere close to 4:00. Toss the filter and grounds, give the Chemex a few swirls, and serve.

Advantage

Because the thick paper filter sits flush against the walls of the server, water flows through the grounds more slowly and the dwell time is longer than other pour over methods. This is helpful, as brewing a tasty cup is less dependent on the skill of the user and more on precise and well-chosen parameters. The Chemex highlights the "higher" and "brighter" notes in coffee and yields a clean, sweet cup.

Bright, fruity coffees do very well in a Chemex. Try a washed coffee from Kenya, Ethiopia, or Panama. Check out our Chemex listings to learn more.

Kone

KONE 3 by Able Brewing Stainless Filter

Design

The Kone is a metal, cone-shaped pour over filter designed for use in a Chemex server. Lasers cut tiny holes in the stainless steel to keep coffee grounds separate from the end up, all the while allowing brewed coffee to flow into the server.

Kone 3 Filter and Chemex Brewer Kone grind setting: between V60 and Chemex

Grind

We generally recommend a grind setting that is between those used for the V60 and the Chemex with paper filters.

Technique

First, “rinse” the filter with hot water; this serves to preheat the filter before use. Dump this water and fill the Kone with ground coffee, gently tapping the edges to even the bed. Begin a brief stage of pre-infusion: pour about 10% of the total water volume evenly across the coffee, start a timer, and wait 30-45 seconds. This releases gases that build up during roasting, an event seen in the "blooming" of fresh coffee. Immediately afterwards, continue pouring in a slow, circular, in-and-out motion until reaching the 1:30-1:45 mark. For the remainder of the time, pour directly into the middle of the Kone, keeping the water level consistent. Shoot for a total brew time of 3:00-3:30. Remove the Kone from the server, dump the grounds, scrub the filter, and serve coffee straight from the Chemex.

Advantage

The Kone really is more than a reusable alternative for the Chemex — it's an entirely new brewing method. With the porous nature of the Kone and the separation between the filter and the walls of Chemex, brewed coffee is more quickly released from the grounds. The end cup has more body and oils, like a cleaned-up french press cup, but the constant movement of water results in increased "higher" notes, which is characteristic of pour over brewing. The Kone producing much less waste than paper filters.

Natural-processed coffees are very tasty when brewed the Kone. Try dry-processed coffees from Ethiopia, El Salvador, or Panama, or good washed coffees from Costa Rica. Check out our Kone listing to learn more.

Bee House

Bee House Dripper

Design

The Bee House dripper features a wedge-shaped filter cone with ribs on the inner walls. It can sit on top of most mugs, as well as the Hario and Kalita servers. While the Bee House is considered a cone dripper, its bottom is flat and sports two small holes through which brewed coffee flows. We prefer to use Melitta filters: #2 for the small and #4 for the large.

Bee House grind setting: just coarser than V60

Grind

We generally recommend a grind setting that is slightly coarser than that which is used for the V60.

Technique

Fold the edges of the filter and set inside the dripper, rinsing with hot water. This serves to preheat the dripper and eliminate the potential for papery tasting coffee. Add coffee to the filter cone and wet lightly and evenly with about 10% of the total water volume. Allow the coffee to bloom for 30-45 seconds, then continue pouring. We recommend three rounds of pouring, each administering about a third of total water volume (minus the amount used for pre-infusion). Pour in a way that keeps the water level barely above the coffee bed. With a slow, controlled pour, aim for 3:00-3:30 total brew time, depending on batch size and grind setting.

Advantage

The Bee House offers an easier learning curve than the V60. Its design encourages a slower drain and permits a coarser grind, both of which contribute to the forgiving nature of the brewer. Like most pour over methods, the Bee House produces a clean cup and accents higher notes, but the extended brew time brings out more sweet and subtle flavors.

Try the Bee House with coffees from Sumatra, Papua New Guinea, and Tanzania. Check out our Bee House listings to learn more.

Kalita Wave

Kalita Wave Dripper

Design

The Kalita Wave is a flat-bottom dripper with three triangulated holes in its base. It stands out from the rest of our offerings, being among very few flat-bottom manual pour-over brewers. The flat, shallow brew bed makes for less turbulence than cone-shaped brewers and encourages a more even extraction. Kalita's "accordion" filters are also highly unique and are designed to stand away from the brewer's wall.

Kalita Wave grind setting: medium to coarse

Grind

We generally recommend a medium-coarse grind, similar to that which is commonly used for brewing with a Chemex.

Technique

In order to take full advantage of the flat-bed geometry of the Wave, we recommend keeping the spout of the kettle as close to the brew bed as possible, pouring onto — not through — the coffee bed. After pre-infusion, pour softly in a circular pattern. There are two main approaches to brewing with the Wave: one implements "pulse" pouring and the other continuous pouring. Folks in the pulse pour arena like to pause intermittently throughout the brew, allowing water soak through the grounds before pouring again. Continuous pouring, on the other hand, requires a slow and steady flow to keep the water volume consistent throughout. Great results can come from both approaches.

Advantage

The wavy filters provide improved temperature stability by insulating with air rather than the material of the dripper itself. The Wave is relatively new on the scene, but so far it's received excellent reviews by the pros. Like to the V60, the Wave dripper caters to the style-conscious with a variety of sizes and materials (glass, ceramic, and stainless steel).

Lots of coffees perform well with the Wave. The coarser grind, slower brew time, and low agitation help to bring out the more subtle and complex characteristics in the coffees we've tried. Check out our Kalita Wave listing to learn more.

Woodneck

Hario Woodneck Dripper

Design

Hario's Woodneck is comprised of three main parts: a wood collar, a glass decanter, and a cloth filter. A wire hoop suspends the filter in the server and keeps it separate from the glass walls, encouraging extraction out of all sides.

Woodneck grind setting: fine to medium.

Grind

We generally recommend a fine-to-medium grind setting.

Technique

Our technique is similar to that used with the V60. Place a small divot in the middle of the grounds, wet the coffee using about 10% of the total water volume, and rest for 30 seconds. Pour slowly in concentric circles until the desired volume is reached.

Advantage

In our opinion, cloth filter brewers are capable of brewing the best cups of coffee you’ll ever drink. The elimination of any papery taste and the thorough filtration of fines produce a crazy clean cup.

We like every coffee that we've tried with this method. The most complex coffees are featured well in a cleaner cup and are best complemented by the cloth filter in the Woodneck. Check out our Woodneck listing to learn more.

Walkure

Walkure Bayreuth Porcelain Dripper

Design

This classic German coffee brewer is comprised of four distinct parts, each made of elegant porcelain. A (1) cylindrical brew chamber houses a porcelain grid that filters coarse grounds before decanting coffee into the (2) server. The (3) dispersion plate controls the direction of poured water, evenly saturating the grounds below, and a (4) lid improves heat retention. This gorgeous brewer is available in traditional and modern styling, as well as five unique sizes. Requiring no extra filters and constructed entirely with porcelain, this is the purist's dream come true.

Walkure grind setting: medium.

Grind

A consistent grind is especially important for brewing with the Walkure; you'll notice that the presence of fines can yield an unpleasantly silty cup. We generally recommend a medium grind setting, just finer than that which is commonly used for brewing with a Chemex.

Technique

The thermal properties of porcelain necessitate extensive preheating for brewing with the Walkure. It's recommended that you run hot water through the entire device — from the dispersion plate, through the brew chamber, and to the server — before getting started. Next, add ground coffee to the brew chamber and level the bed. Assemble the brewer, leaving the lid off, and prepare for pre-infusion with near-boiling water. For other brewing methods we prefer to use water heated to 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit, but it may be helpful to slightly exceed this range when using the Walkure, especially when your coffee is very fresh. The higher temperature should account for the heat lost when water is poured through the dispersion plate. Aiming for the center of the plate and assuming a position that minimizes the arc of the flowing water, add about 10% of the total water volume and start a timer. Ensure that the coffee has been saturated evenly and rest while the grounds bloom. Continue pouring very slowly, keeping the water volume consistent throughout. At first this consistency will require an occasional peek beneath the cover, but eventually you'll get a feel for the ideal flow rate. Note that this will fluctuate as you change coffee and/or grind. You should reach your target volume around 3:30. Separate the server from the brew chamber and clean carefully and thoroughly. As you continue to experiment with the Walkure, try using a fixed grind setting and adjusting your coffee dose until the brew is completed right around 3:30. Once you've found the ideal dose for your coffee, adjust temperature and water volume to taste.

Advantage

Like the Kalita Wave, the Walkure's flat and shallow brew bed minimizes turbulence and encourages an even extraction. The genius addition of a dispersion plate helps to correct some common inconsistencies with manual brewing, among them sloppy pours and irregular extraction. The user is liberated to focus on other parameters, most of which actually require attention before brewing begins. Grind size and consistency, coffee-to-water ratio, water temperature, and bed depth are just a few factors that are more easily singled out and controlled when brewing with the Walkure.

Many coffees perform well with the Walkure. The coarser grind, extended brew time, and low agitation bring out subtle and complex characteristics in the coffee. Check out our Walkure listings to learn more.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this post, so feel free to leave a comment below. Share your favorite brewing methods or devices, as well as your preferred parameters. Any other pour-over methods you'd like to see on the list? Any recommendations?

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This fine blog is about the most useful I've seen, as it relates to these different methods. Clear explanations, and coffee suggestions to boot.
Nicely done!

Thanks for the encouragement!

Definitely agree with you.  Been to a lot of coffee blogs, this is most useful I've found (and good design!)

So here's my question.  What would you recommend for home coffee brewers if they were to purchase one first.  I am fascinated with the Kalita Wave, the Chemex, and the V60.  What are your thoughts?

Hey Jason. Good question! For beginning home-brewers, we'd recommend either the Kalita Wave or the Clever Dripper. Both of these are among the more "forgiving" manual brewing devices out there -- that is, neither require a very refined pouring technique to produce some quality coffee. The Clever is actually a hybrid method of sorts (hence it's absence in this guide), implementing pouring to deliver water and full immersion to extract. All this to say, either of these methods will help a beginning home-brewer have fun and enjoy some delicious coffee. Let us know if you're interested in learning more!

I would recommend the Clever over the Kalita. I love both of them, but with the Kalita, you are getting into true pou rover territory, which can become a bit more detail minded than the clever. I truly think the Clever dripper is one of the easiest brew methods out there and is also very forgiving to grind quality - in my experience.

Love your blog! Glad I have somewhere to go to continue to learn and encourage my love for coffee. Sadly, I don't get this knowledge or depth as a partner at Sbucks. My question: what about the Melitta? Is it more like a Beehive or a V60?

There's still a lot to be learned as a Starbucks barista, though! Melitta drippers are very similar to Bee Houses — wedge-shaped with ridged walls — except that Melittas have one small opening at the bottom and Bee Houses have two. Thus, Melittas offer more flow restriction and increased the dwell time. It may be helpful to use a coarser grind or cooler water to account for this. Hope that helps!

I've been collecting a variety of vintage brewing devices over the past year or so, and found the old dripolators and napoletanas make the best cup yet, my favorite being a 2-cup Wear-ever 3042.

My favorite brewing method at home.... You can really taste the coffee with it! :)

kudos! this is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in pour over coffee. great job.

This has been the best entry on hand pour brewing methods and their relation to each other. THANK YOU!

I have been researching so much but cannot find the answer as to why one should stay away from the edge of the V60 and Bee House while pouring? Is it to avoid any paper taste? Wouldn't not saturating all the grounds just be a waste? Thanks for your time! :)

Hello. I was wondering if you could help me out. I greatly enjoyed reading your blog, but didn't understand something about one of the pour overs. Why should one stay slightly away from the edge when pouring. I have seen many people only pour a "well" in the center and then pour in a circular pattern out from there, but staying about a 1/4 inch away from the edge. Do you know why this is done? Thank you for your time.

Hi,the reason to avoid the edge when pouring is to make sure the coffee grounds are saturated fully and no water is passing through the filter without going through the coffee.

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