How to Make Pour Over Coffee

The first time I saw pour over was at Blue Bottle in San Francisco, seemed like a cool way to make coffee. After a lot of research this is now my go to morning coffee process. It seems like a lot of work, but once you get the hang out it, it only requires a few minutes of your attention.

I like pour over because you can make some of the best coffee with a relatively low-cost method, you can get a great pour over setup for under $100, less if you have some of the items at home already. If you go down the rabbit hole of espresso you will quickly realize to get the best results requires a lot of investment in time and especially money. To do espresso properly requires at least $450 for a semi-pro machine and $280 for a good espresso grinder at the higher end you’re looking at $3000 machines and $680 grinders.

Things you need (there are links to the items in this kit on the recommendations page):

This is the James Hoffman technique, there is a video I made down below of the process, I have written it out with some additional detail. I know it seems long and complex, but after a few times it becomes second nature and only requires a few minutes of active attention. I mention this because I can do this with two toddlers screaming for breakfast, so I think most people can manage this. If the times and amounts are a little off, that is ok.. you will refine the process to make it work best for you.

  1. Boil the water in your gooseneck kettle, use filtered (preferably soft) water that is freshly boiled, not water that has been sitting in a warmer.
  2. While your water is warming, using the recipe sheet and on the resources page, grind your coffee by weight to a medium/fine ground. If your coffee comes out too bitter, adjust the grind coarser. Adjust finer if it lacks flavor. Ideally keep going finer until it becomes bitter then adjust it coarser again to ensure optimal extraction.
  3. Insert and rinse the V60 filter paper in your dripper using hot water from your kettle or I use a Zojirushi hot water warmer to do this (the kind I told you not to use for the brewing the coffee), if I am making larger batches sometimes my gooseneck won’t have enough water to rinse the paper and make the coffee. This cleans out any paper taste and also heats up the dripper and carafe. Dump the water after the rinse.
  4. Set your carafe, dripper and wet paper on the scale and tare it to zero then pour in your ground coffee and confirm the amount. It could be less than you put into the grinder due to grinder retention, if it is a gram or two off, I wouldn’t worry too much. Give your dripper a little shake to level out the grounds. Tare to zero again before pouring water.
  5. For this example let’s use 30 grams of ground coffee in your dripper and 500 ml of water, since one ml of water weighs exactly one gram so I use them interchangeably. With your scale at zero, start the timer and pour in a circular pattern 2-3 times the weight of coffee with your freshly boiled water. So 60-90 grams of water for the bloom. Give it a gentle swirl and let it saturate for 45 seconds. This is called the bloom, it helps to release gas and wet the grounds.
  6. Your timer is now around 0:45, within the next 30 seconds pour in a circular pattern approximately 60% of the water. So we want to hit 300 grams by the time the timer hits 1:15. Try to pour the flow to agitate the grounds sufficiently without creating channels in the coffee bed. Some will say don’t pour on the paper, but I think it is ok and I do it to get grounds that are stuck on the paper back into the slurry.
  7. Continue pouring the rest of the water with the goal to finish within the next 30 seconds, around when the timer hits 1:45. After all your water is in take a spoon and give it a gentle stir clockwise and another one counter-clockwise. Once the water level drops down to safe level give it another swirl to flatten out of the coffee bed. Throughout these pours we want to retain as much thermal mass in the dripper as possible, so try not to let the water draw down too much while pouring.
  8. Now let the coffee draw down fully, which should finish at about 3:30. Give the coffee a stir (not swirl) in the carafe before pouring. If your drawn down is much slower or faster than 3:30 try to adjust your grind size finer if it is too fast or coarser if it is too slow.
  9. Try it without milk or sugar first after it cools a little, see if you can detect any notes. If you want to add milk or sugar, you can do so, but try to get a taste of the coffee black first.
  10. If you want to nerd out, use your phone to take down some tasting notes on the type of coffee and if you like it, or if next time you should adjust the grind or whatever comes to mind. Coffee is personal, like wine or food, some people love certain types and others hate it, it is all personal preference.

They make machines that try to replicate this process so you can put in your coffee and just press a button and go. I know people that like them, but I enjoy the process of making it this way. If time is an issue, they may be good to look into. Check out our blog post about how to roast your own coffee at home here.

Best Value Kitchen Scale

As I mentioned before a scale is one of the most important things you can use for better coffee. Don’t use scoops, tablespoons or volume to measure your coffee. You should weigh it and follow the ratios shown here for making filter coffee. One exception is if you know the exact weight per “scoop” of your coffee and you don’t have a scale handy, such as at the office or somewhere else.

I tested six different kitchen scales for use with pour over coffee and general kitchen use. The best one I found was the FEESPEC Coffee Scale with Timer. I tested scales from about $10 to $75 and this one worked the best. Fun trivia, a penny weights 2.5 grams and a nickel weighs 5 grams if you ever need to test a scale’s accuracy.

Here is the rundown:

  • The FEESPEC Coffee Scale with Timer, quick startup, accurate, includes a timer and accurate down to .1 grams. There is a little lag when using it for pour over, but at this price point it works well. I also like that you don’t need to long press for most functions, only to restart the timer.
  • My existing kitchen scale that I got for $10 about seven years ago, it was only accurate to 1 gram and didn’t have a timer. Worked well, but it was time for an upgrade to have better accuracy and a timer.
  • The Hario V60 Drip Scale, accurate down to .1 gram, but only has the ability to weigh in grams. Also I learned that at higher weights it starts rounding to the half gram. Living in the U.S. there are just times I need to know ounces and pounds. There was a bit of lag when using this to pour over and it also has a built in timer. Didn’t feel the scale was worth it at this price point.
  • The OXO Kitchen Scale with Timer, for the price it just didn’t perform to my expectations. The startup time was slower than the FEESPEC and requires a long press to turn it off. It is accurate down to .1 grams and has a built in timer.
  • The Salter High Precision Stainless Steel Digital Kitchen Food Scale, which wasn’t actually high precision as the scale would round to the closest half gram so that was one out right away.
  • The KitchenTour Coffee Scale with Timer, this is actually the exact same scale as the FEESPEC with different branding on it so I went with the lower price model.

What is the big deal about scales? Also, are these really value scales? People who make espresso often use scales that cost $140 to $225 so these are definitely on the lower end of the spectrum for coffee scales.