Advantages (and Disadvantages) of Brewing Your Coffee With the Pour Over Method

According to a recent survey, 100% of our customers drink most of their coffee at home. With those customers, the pour over method is the third most popular, behind the drip machine and the French press.

What is the Pour Over Method?

The pour over method is when you slowly pour hot water over your ground coffee in a spiral pattern and let the coffee drip through a filter into a cup, pot or thermos.

A coffee snob’s dream, the pourover has more choices of apparatus than any other method we are looking at closely. Below are photos of the different pour over contraptions we have in our home and have used personally. Our collection can be grouped by: pour overs that use a paper filter and pour overs that use a mesh filter.

Paper filter pour overs

Mesh filter pour overs

How the Pour Over Method Works

The pour over method requires these steps:

  1. Heat the water.
  2. Grind the coffee beans (use a medium grind setting on your burr grinder)
  3. Place the grounds inside the paper or mesh filter
  4. Saturate the grounds (pour the water) slowly over the grounds in a circular motion
  5. Watch the coffee drip into the container
  6. Stop pouring when you’ve reached the desired amount of coffee
  7. Remove the top part of the apparatus with the filter
  8. Pour your coffee

Important tips you want to keep in mind with this brew method:

  • Water temperature – recommendations on this are a small range of 195-205. The reason it should be this hot has to do with flavor extraction from the coffee grounds to achieve the BEST TASTE – which we will get into in a later post. If you don’t have a thermometer, or don’t want to measure the temperature of the water, a good rule of thumb is to put the water on the stove, get it just to boiling, remove from heat, wait 30-60 seconds, then pour.
  • Use a medium grind – set your burr grinder to medium grind and you’ll be set.
  • Coffee to water ratio – start with 1-2TBS per every 6-8 oz of water – This method allows you a lot of control over taste – so you’ll need to experiment with ratio to get the taste that you like best. You should also keep in mind that, in general, most people are in the habit of using too little coffee. Using too little coffee (such as 1 TBS to 8 oz of water) produces a brew that is weak, possibly bitter and doesn’t taste right. So don’t be afraid to use more coffee than you’re normally used to. Worst case scenario is you don’t like it so you scale back the next time.
  • Timing and technique of pour – 3-4 minutes. Pour nice and slow, in a spiral, starting at the outer edge of the filter and working inward toward the center of the grounds. You’ll see the coffee “bloom” as CO2 is released. Once you’ve poured to the center of the grounds, reverse your spiral as you pour toward the outer edge. Do two more slow pours like that (one in, one out).

Advantages of Brewing With a Pour Over

It’s Cost Effective

You can get a six cup glass carafe pour over setup that uses paper filters for $14.99. You can get a one cup pour over cone that uses paper filters for $4.99. 

If you don’t like paper filters, you can go with a mesh filter. This is one of our favorites and retails for around $50.00 (you can get it for less if you watch for sale pricing).

Full Control = Delicious Taste

The key difference between doing a pour over and pushing a button on your drip machine (both are drip  methods) is the degree of control you have as the maker. By slowly, thoroughly, and evenly saturating the grounds, you create a brew with a more complete flavor profile – the slower the water filters through the grounds, the more flavor is extracted.

Portability – You Can Use It Anywhere

Like a French press, you can take many pour over models anywhere. A small plastic filter that makes one perfect cup is easy to slip into pretty much any size bag.

Disadvantages of Brewing With a Pourover

It’s Slightly More Time Consuming Than Other Methods

Once you have the hang of it, this method doesn’t take a lot of time. If you’re a beginner, it will take a bit of extra time to get the steps down and it may take a few tries to get it exactly the way you like it.

Reflections of a Coffee Snob 

There aren’t many disadvantages to the pour over method – and yet it’s not my current favorite. Moving from a French press to a pour over takes some adjustment because French press coffee is richer in taste and mouthfeel. By contrast, the pour over is “cleaner” (and more apt to be touted by coffee snobs).

The time in my life I  most loved the pour over method was when I was trying like hell to get into a morning routine that I could stick with. I would get up, drink a glass of water, grind my coffee, and start the process. More than any other method I’ve tried, pour over makes me feel creative and contemplative.

Probably because the spiral pours over the grounds make me feel like I’m instrumental to the process. Or because doing a quick video on my phone of the coffee dripping through the fogged up glass always gets quick likes on Instagram. Or because the Coffee Gator pour over (in the picture and link above) looks like a beaker and reminds me of my favorite show of all time – Breaking Bad. 

Now that I’m solid with a morning routine (which I adjust often to meet my needs), I don’t feel the need to be contemplative or overly involved with making my coffee. Putting it through our commercial drip machine is enough. Although when I start posting regularly again on our Instagram account, you’ll no doubt see more pour over action!

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