Understanding Pour Over Coffee

Understanding Pour Over Coffee

Pour over coffee is one of the methods that you can use when making coffee. Pour over brewing involves pouring of water through grounded beans to extract the coffee flavor inside it.

To make coffee using the pour-over method, all you need are:

  • Filter
  • Pour over dripper
  • ​Filter holder
  • Grounded coffee
making pour over coffee near a window

Pour over coffee will give you a great tasting coffee and the process is pretty simple. As simple as it can be, there are some things you should know so that you can get the optimal flavor from the coffee beans. We should also note that all coffee brewing methods involves three logical processes that include:

  • Wetting of the grounded beans
  • Dissolution of the grounded beans in water then
  • Diffusion

What makes pour over coffee different from other coffee brewing methods is the continuous replacement of fresh water that surrounds the grounded beans. This process makes for a more efficient brew in much less time. This process at times might overdo the coffee ground from the outside alone.

If you’re interested in making the best coffee you’ve ever tried, let’s first understand the three major steps of making coffee.


When you hear “wetting,” you probably think that this sounds like your coffee grounds are soaking in water right? Well, yes they are; but it is much more complex than just “sitting in water.”

There are a series of reactions taking place that isn’t obvious unless you have tried to make coffee yourself. In fact, this phase can be referred to as a process in its own right because it’s more complicated than it looks. When coffee is roasted, the major by-product is carbon dioxide gas.

Wetting Proccess When Making Pour over coffee

As the coffee beans are being roasted, carbon dioxide is trapped in the structure of the bean. The gas will vanish from the lightly roasted bean in a week’s time, but when the bean has been roasted for too long, and it is too dark, a hole will form on the grain’s structure. This is where the carbon dioxide escapes over the course of a few days.

During pour over process as hot water is being poured on the coffee ground, allowing the carbon dioxide to escape but the water is unable to seep into the bean. However, after some time, all the carbon dioxide will have escaped, and water can get inside, thus releasing an abundance of flavor and nutrients. This is when the coffee “blooms.”

Dissolution Process

Dissolution is the process that will determine the taste of your brew, especially when you stop brewing at that perfect moment. Coffee, much like everything else in life, has both a pleasant side and a not so pleasant side. The goal of having a deliciously brewed coffee is to have the good qualities of the coffee shine and not have the unpleasant bitterness that sometimes follows with over-brewing.

Making Pour Over Coffee

When coffee begins to dissolute in water, the good flavors will be dissolved in the water after some time. Unfortunately, the bad characteristics of the coffee are possible of tainting the pot, so it is important that you know when you have to stop brewing. Essentially, the dissolution process is about getting the coffee flavor out of the ground coffee beans.

Diffusion Process

Distribution part is pretty easy. What you are trying to achieve here is transporting the dissolved essence of desirable characteristics of the coffee ground by infusing it with the surrounding water. This is made possible through the semi-permeable cell wall of the coffee and the osmosis that occurs.


Ideally, you are trying to get 20% of the total mass of the coffee ground to dissolve. This will give you the best flavor, but you have to time it just right to achieve the desired flavor. You have to understand that the finer the ground the slower the brew will be and vice versa.

To determine the time you’ll need to get the best flavor, you’ll have to go through a series of trial and error. Anything higher than 20 percent of the total mass will contain astringes and bitter flavors and less than that will lead to the flavor that leaves a lot to be desired. So try and find the balance.

Pour Over Coffee on a Kitchen Counter

Now that you understand the process a little better of how coffee is brewed let’s take that new found knowledge to work and start practicing!

  • Choose a ground size of that is relatively the size of coarse sugar. Use a dripper that has is filled about half or two third full of coffee grounds. You don’t want to use less because that will restrict the flow and anything more than that can make your dripper to overflow. Also, ensure that you are dripping into large enough vessel. Ideally, aim for a coffee to water ratio of about 1:16
  • After the first step, get your brew water ready. To do that, heat it up to a rapid boil. Then take the water off the heat and after about 30 seconds, it should 97°C (202°F), which will give you a light-medium roast. For a darker roast, let the water cool a bit more before use.
  • ​Pick you clock and start it, add enough water to soak the coffee grounds. Then wait till the coffee bed starts to swell, then add more water to it.
  • ​Proceed with the brewing process and pour it evenly over the surface area of the coffee. Then pause between pours to check your brew with the target time. Lower your pour to avoid the decrease in temperature and reduce any unnecessary agitation of the coffee bed. After you are satisfied with this, wait for 20 to 60 seconds after you’ve stopped adding water to ensure the coffee has dripped entirely.

By this time you have successfully brewed a pour over coffee! What’s next is to get it served in your favorite coffee mug and maybe have a few biscotti to go with it.

A Few Notes

Your target brew time should be around 2 or 3 minutes for dark roasted coffee and 3 or 4 minutes for light roasted coffee. The time covers the dripping time as well.

Barista Making Multiple Pour Over Coffee

Also, try and make adjustments if your coffee tastes weak, you may be working with a coarse ground. So try grinding into finer ground. If it comes out to be the too strong use lesser quantity of coffee or add some hot water to the finished brew.

By practicing your coffee making technique, you’ll feel more confident, and within no time you’ll be able to give your family the best tasting coffee they’ve ever had!