How to Make Pour Over Coffee Like A Barista? (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Compared to the thicker and not-so-grit-free texture of French Press coffee, Pour Over is much, much lighter and smoother (pretty much like coffee dispensed out of an automatic drip machine). So you see why ‘pour over’ coffee is more appreciated by the taste buds!

To be honest, even using pour over coffee makers is a process laden with brewing simplicity. Nonetheless, a certain level of technique is mandatory, which requires both time and effort.

But do find some solace and encouragement in the fact that you eventually get compensated for all that time and effort you put into perfecting your cup of ‘pour over’ coffee. The yummy, bold coffee flavors start to taste more pronounced and you get a silkier mouthfeel. So let’s begin to begin to get there sooner!

But First, What Really Is Pour Over Coffee?

Brewing clean, crisp coffee right at home is as simple as preparing pour over coffee. This particular brewing method may be the slowest but, at the same time, it’s also the easiest. Because you just need coffee, water, a filter, and a good pour over coffee maker.

But one thing that can either make or break the whole brewing experience at home is the ‘control over brewing’ you get with pour over. Meaning it could be a blessing if you get it right or a curse if you have no idea what you’re doing.

Factors like optimal grind size, water temperature, etc. are very, very important. Only then can and will you be able to extract the “special” benefits (such as full flavor and rich aroma) out of pour over coffee. Only then does the slow dripping of liquid gold at the end of brewing looks appealing and feels rewarding.

Does Pour Over Coffee Taste Better Than French Press Coffee?

See, here’s the thing.. If the coffee snob in you has always preferred smooth-tasting (drip-machine-like) coffee, then you’re most likely to choose pour over and not French Press.

Also, pour over coffee makers, in comparison to French Press, are less time-consuming, and less of a hassle in general, to clean.

So Then What’s the Difference Between Pour Over and Drip?

With drip coffee makers, the brewing process is just the same as that of pour over except that it’s all mechanized. This means there’s no nuance or precision that goes into drip machine brewing, which means a cup of muddled, unbalanced coffee.

But then one can’t deny that now there are more advanced (hence, more customizable with integrated features that work much like the manual version of pour over) drip coffee makers that have, in a way, bridged the gap between the two.

Mostly though, drip machines for home brewers are all about brewing convenience. After all, you do have to just turn on the coffee maker and allow it to do all the work for you. The machine features pre-infusion, which mimics manual pour over’s bloom, that saturates the grounds to de-gas them prior to extraction.

Then there’s the steady stream of water (at an optimal temperature between 195 degrees and 205 degrees Fahrenheit) that facilitates an even extraction of coffee grounds through the flat-bottomed filter basket. And all this unfolds in just 5 minutes, and automatically and not manually as in the case of manual pour over brewing.

Some Useful Tips for Brewing Pour Over Coffee

Need-to-know universal tips to get the pour over technique just right…

1. Don’t Forget to Rinse the Filter

Before you actually start brewing your coffee, rinse the filter of the brewer using hot water to get rid of any papery or woodsy smell/taste. This also is a good way to warm up the coffee maker before brewing begins, which is great for stabilizing the temperature of brewing.

2. Get the Right Grind Size

Grind size is important. Period. It doesn’t matter how expensive is the price of the coffee you’re using. If the grounds are not optimally sized for the pour over technique, uneven extraction is just going to ruin the whole experience. Only a correct, uniform grind size, at such times, gets you more nuanced flavors.

In that case, what coffee grind is best for pour over? That would be medium-coarse (much like sea salt) prepared by conical burr-style coffee grinders.

The other kind i.e. blade grinders are not suitable for this type of coarseness since they’re lacking in terms of producing a more uniform grind size, thus more uneven coffee extraction.

3. Use Only Fresh Coffee

Now this one’s a more universal rule, which means it applies to not just the pour over brewing method but basically all brewing techniques.

Please check the Roast Date of the coffee. Freshly roasted coffee is always better since coffee beans, once subjected to the roasting process, are like a ticking time bomb (in terms of freshness).

And as soon as the bag is opened, it’s only natural for the fresh flavors, aroma, and overall vibrancy of the beans/grounds to start declining. Coffee, after all, is also a perishable item.

Generally, you can use freshly roasted beans for up to 2-3 weeks from their Roast Date. But of course, this shelf life can be increased to 30 days if you store your coffee properly in an opaque, airtight container away from heat, sunlight, air, and moisture.

4. Use the Perfect Coffee-to-Water Ratio

We all talk about pour over coffee equipment (pour over coffee maker, filter, and whatnot) but not many discuss the right coffee-to-water ratio. The “Golden Ratio” is 1-2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water.

Now for an 8-ounce cup of pour over coffee, you need to use 2.5 tablespoons of ground coffee (so that’s 18 grams of whole bean coffee). And of course, it goes without saying that you can make adjustments depending on how strong or weak you like your coffee.

5. Use Filtered Water

Water quality should be good for your coffee to taste good as well. So avoid using plain tap water. Otherwise, there will be a certain amount of unwanted bitterness in your cup. Tap water contains chlorine that’s sure to have an impact on its taste.

So, at such times, it won’t matter if the water temperature, grind size, etc. are right, your coffee is just not going to taste heavenly.

6. Perfect the ‘Pouring Over’ Technique

Blooming begins at the very first pour, which saturates the coffee grounds. As for the second pour, double the amount of the first, it then encourages even extraction. At this point, stir the grounds very gently. And all this should span across 30 to 45 seconds.

Then pour slowly and steadily in a spiral motion. Using the gooseneck kettle here really helps when it comes to achieving precision.

And one last thing – avoid light areas and instead pour over the darker spots.

Step-by-Step Process of Preparing Pour Over Coffee the Right Way

Please understand that you will eventually develop a knack for making a cup of delicious pour over coffee at home. Every brewing technique, after all, demands a certain level of effort, time, and patience. So don’t get frustrated the first few times, just keep at it. BUT keep at it the right way!

Step 1 – Do the Prep

Once again, rinse the paper filter using hot water to eliminate the papery taste. You can boil water between 195 degrees and 205 degrees Fahrenheit and pour it into a kettle.

Rinsing the coffee filter also pre-heats the brewer for preventing any heat loss that tends to wreck the whole extraction process.

Step 2 – Measure and Grind the Coffee Beans

How much coffee to use for pour over? 18 grams of whole bean coffee. So that should give you 2.5 tablespoons of ground coffee for an 8-ounce cup.

Step 3 – Bloom the Coffee Grounds

The first pour (pre-infusion mode i.e. blooming) comes in to saturate the grounds. Let that do its job for about 30 seconds and then pour double the amount in the second round (for extraction). That should take another 30 seconds.

Step 4 – Brew the Coffee

Now pour water over the coffee grounds in a slow, steady spiral motion. Keep pouring until the water reaches halfway up. This breaks up the crust formed by the first pour.

And then pour the remaining water right into the center. It’s okay for the water level to be high at this point, just don’t leave even a single patch of coffee grounds dry.

Step 5 – Enjoy Your Freshly Prepared Pour Over Coffee!

Wait for the stream of liquid gold to come to an inevitable stop. It may take a while indeed as the pour over brewing technique is the slowest. Then remove the paper filter and throw away the used grounds (you can even compost coffee grounds if you want).

And finally, just let all your worries melt away with every sip of freshly prepared, hot, full-flavored, and aromatic pour over coffee!

Frequently Asked Questions About Pour Over Coffee

Why Does My Pour Over Coffee Taste So Bad?

If by bad, you mean that unpleasant, long bitterness after every sip, then that could be indicative of too high water temperature at the time of brewing.

Since the pour over method of brewing is very slow (4 minutes of hot water running through coffee grounds is considered to be ‘slow’ indeed), try using a slightly coarser grind size as another solution.

Why Does My Pour Over Coffee Taste Burnt?

Probably because you’re over-cooking the coffee grounds. Don’t let the grounds steep for a very long time in the hot water. Because when that happens, it’s only natural then for excessive bitterness to also seep through the filter and make your coffee taste burnt.

What Coffee Grind Size to Use for Pour Over?

Medium-coarse grind size is perfect for pour over coffee. It’s much like what you use for French Press except that medium-coarse is less chunky, which is why pour over coffee tastes smoother than French Press coffee.

How Do I Prepare Pour Over Coffee Faster?

If you choose slightly coarser coffee grounds for pour over, they will encourage faster draining. On the other hand, if the grind size is more toward the fine side of coarse, then that’s going to naturally slow down draining since water then will take longer to get through.

What Happens If Coffee Grind Is Too Coarse/Fine for Pour Over?

The right grind size for pour over is medium-coarse. Anything coarser and your coffee will then taste less flavorful and weak because of under-extraction. And if the grind is too fine, then over-extraction occurs and that means excessive bitterness.

Is Pour Over Coffee Less Acidic?

It actually depends more on the roast of the coffee and not so much on the brewing method. Darker roasts are naturally less acidic because longer roasting means the breakdown of more acid molecules in the coffee beans.

As for how the technique of brewing plays a part here, fast extraction combined with high pressure is certainly more acidic than the slow extraction and low pressure of pour over or drip coffee makers.

Is Pour Over Coffee Smoother?

French Press coffee contains some grit plus it has a thicker texture. Whereas pour over coffee (like an automatic drip machine), in comparison to French Press, is much smoother with a lighter, more grit-free texture.

How to Brew Pour Over Coffee – All Done!

It is a simple and straightforward brewing method actually. One that gives you a flavorful and rich cup of coffee! But then you have to get the hang of it before you can even begin to agree with me.

The beauty of this technique lies in precision. Accurate measurements in terms of water temperature, brewing time, coffee-to-water ratio, and grind size are essential if you want to get it just right.

Of course, you experiment with different flavors and roasts of coffee beans, but not so much with different grind sizes because for pour over, the medium-coarse grind works the best. Anything too coarse leads to under-extraction and anything too fine results in too bitter or burnt-tasting coffee.