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There’s no time like National Coffee Day to learn how to make the best pour over coffee ever.

Eye-Opening PerksThe Best National Coffee Day DealsAre you frustrated that your pour over coffee at home doesn’t taste as smooth as the one you get from your local coffee shop? You are not alone. Many coffee lovers have traded in their Keurigs for pour over coffee makers because of its simplicity and its smooth flavor, but just can’t nail the brewing process down.

Baristas make pour over coffee look so effortless. You too can master the pour over brewing process with a few tips from a former professional barista and home coffee extraordinaire, Ben Mueller.

Use the Right Kettle

So you probably own a Chemex, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, or some sort of pour over gadget. That’s the first hurdle. However, the only way to really control your pour is with the right kettle. Ben recommends a gooseneck kettle. A gooseneck kettle helps you pour water slowly and with precision. The water flows in a slow steady stream of water instead of an uncontrolled one, that you get with a wide spout kettle.

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Related Reading: 12 Coffee Gadgets You Never Knew You Needed

Use Fresh Coffee

Skip the pre-ground coffee and get beans. The fresher the coffee, the better your brew will be. “Fresh means whole bean coffee that you grind yourself,” says Ben. For the best flavor, use coffee that was roasted no more than a week or so before. Check with your local coffee roaster for the freshest beans.

Get the Grind Right

Sarah Gardner

One grind does not fit all when it comes to coffee brewing. The right grind size depends on your  brewing method. A Chemex needs a coarse grind, similar to kosher salt because it has a longer brew time. A Hario V60 has a faster brew time, so a medium-fine grind is better. The longer the brew time, the coarse the grind.

A burr grinder is the best way to get the right consistency of the grind. Ideally, it’s best to grind your coffee right before you brew. However, if you are not sure how to get the right grind or don’t have a burr grinder, have your local coffee shop grind your fresh coffee beans. They will grind according to your brewing method.

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Related Reading on CNET: The Best Coffee Grinders of 2020

Pay Attention to Water Quality & Temperature

Fresh coffee is only half the battle. “You don’t want the flavor of the water affecting the flavor of your coffee,” says Ben. Don’t use water to make coffee that you wouldn’t drink.

You don’t need boiling water to make coffee. Ideally, keep the water at around 205 degrees or about 30 seconds off the boil. The heat of the water activates the flavor compounds in the beans. “If you use water that’s too hot, it dissolves those compounds too fast,” explains Ben, “they extract more quickly so at the end of your brew you’re pouring water onto coffee grounds that have already been extracted, leaving it more bitter tasting.”

Rinse the Filter

You need to rinse the paper filter first. Rinsing the filter gets rid of the papery taste that might affect the taste of the coffee, seals the filter to the sides of the brewer, and warms up the brewer and helps keep the brewing temperature stable. Place the paper filter in the brewer and rinse it with hot water from the kettle, then toss out the water.

Nail the Ratio

Baristas use a scale when making pour over coffee to ensure that the water to coffee ratio is just right. Although home brewers don’t need that level of precision, they can shoot for a 1:17 ratio of coffee to water to start. “I use 25g of coffee and 400g of water, which is a 1:16” says Ben. Obviously, you can adjust to taste, but it’s a good starting point.

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Let It Bloom

Coffee bloom is adding “a little bit of water and wetting your coffee bed so that it can expand and de-gas,” says Ben. Why is this step so important? Letting the coffee bloom gives the grounds time to make space for water. When coffee blooms, it releases carbon dioxide and will help you get an even extraction.

To bloom, pour about twice the amount of water to coffee and stir gently. This should take between 30-45 seconds.

Get the Pour Right

The pour is what sets this coffee making method apart from others. It’s not hard, but takes some practice. The key is to pour the water in a way that causes all the coffee grounds to be extracted evenly.

Uneven pouring results in uneven agitation of the grounds which will give you bitter coffee. This is why a gooseneck kettle is better for this process. “I like to start in the middle, circling outward and then back in,making sure not to touch the walls of the brewer with the water,” explains Ben.

Related Video: How to Make a Cheaper, Tastier & Healthier Pumpkin Spice Latte


Header image courtesy of Bernine / Moment / Getty Images

Kelly Magyarics is a wine, spirits, food, travel and lifestyle writer in the Washington, D.C. area. You can reach her on her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.
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