by Scott Deans | Last Updated: March 5, 2021
Pour-over coffee is a lovely fresh alternative to your standard filter coffee. It gives you a lot of room to play around with the brewing technique until you end up with a coffee that’s just right for you.
Pour-over is an easy and fun way to make coffee and is a great option for brewing at work or on the go ie camping trip.
To get the very best out of your pour-over device, the first question that most people ask is how much coffee and water should I be using or what is the best coffee ratio for pour-over?
The answer is in the region of 1:15 coffee to water. This can fluctuate a lot when many different factors are taken into account, and to help you to get a better idea of how this works, I’ve highlighted the most common variables to be looked at.
Before we get too far down the rabbit hole of brew ratios, let’s first look at the pour-over method and why it’s such a good option.
Why Choose Pour-Over Coffee
With all the different brewing methods out there, why consider pour-over? The pour-over coffee brewing method is a highly customizable brewing process that has three main benefits.
The taste of a pour-over coffee is usually more complex when compared to similar brew methods. Because the water contacts the coffee for longer it extracts more flavor. Paper filters help remove bitter notes and excess oils leaving a smooth, sweet-tasting coffee.
If you’re not a fan of the thick sediment that often comes with a French press then pour-over is perfect for you. The filter removes all the coffee solids leaving a very smooth and delicate texture. It has enough body to penetrate all your taste buds but won’t leave you choking on a mouthful of grit.
Once you get the hang of it, pour-over coffee is an incredibly easy way to brew coffee. It’s a portable coffee maker that is perfect for at work as well and so long as you have a way to make hot water then you are good to go.
It’s worth noting that although this is a very easy way to make brewed coffee, you can make this method much more complex if that suits you by adding in all kinds of specialist equipment.
The amount of coffee you use relative to the volume of water is the most important thing to get right when you’re making a pour-over cup of coffee. Too much water will leave the coffee tasting weak and thin and too little water may make the coffee too intense and bitter to enjoy. This brings us to the next question…
What Is The Ideal Ratio?
The ideal ratio of coffee to water is 1:15. For every 1 gram of coffee, you’ll want to add 15 grams of water. So for example, if you were using 25 grams of coffee then add 375 grams of water etc.
This is the perfect ratio of water to make good coffee using your pour-over but it is worth noting that the ratio can vary with several factors.
With that said, everyone still has their own preference. If you Google around for the golden ratio of coffee, you will find different people claiming different ratios. While these ratios are fairly similar, they are different because some people like their coffee stronger, and others like their coffee weaker.
When it comes down to it, finding the ideal coffee ratio will take a little bit of experimenting to find exactly what works for you. Still, 1:15 is a great place to start.
What Can Affect The Ratio?
The type of beans used can affect the volume of water needed as coffee beans vary in their flavor profile. Some types of beans will require more or less water to produce the perfect cup so when you’re choosing a new brand of coffee to try, it’s worth adjusting the ratio slightly until you get the flavor just right.
The grind size used can affect how much water you need. A finer grind releases more intense flavors quicker so you may need to up the volume of water to balance this. A coarser grind needs a longer contact time of coffee to water so many need more coffee for the water used.
Paper filters slow the water flow rate so increase the contact time of coffee to water whereas a metal filter has a shorter brew time. You may find you need to use a little more water when using a metal filter compared to a paper one.
Darker roasts have more oils so you’ll end up with a stronger flavor even when less coffee is used. A light roast may require a little less water to produce great coffee.
The individual taste preferences of the coffee drinker are probably the most important factor here. Everyone has unique taste preferences and a ratio that suits one person may not be so perfect for someone else. This highlights the need to try making pour-over at home and tweaking the volume of water until you end with a coffee that’s just right for you.
Pour Over Equipment
If you’re looking to make a pour-over coffee to rival any barista then some extra equipment is useful. Here are some items that can be handy to have to the ready.
Pour Over Coffee Maker
To make pour-over coffee, the first thing you need is a device that’s designed for the job. Chemex, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, and Bodum are perfect examples.
To accurately measure your coffee grounds and water usage you will need some weighing scales. Ideally use scales that are designed for coffee use as these are extra sensitive. If you don’t have these then a decent set of kitchen scales will do nicely.
Now you have your coffee maker and scales ready, the next thing you need is something that can heat up the water. Any old kettle will do the trick but if you’re looking to get the best results then a gooseneck kettle is a wise investment.
The shape of the spout means the water flows gently and evenly which gives you more control as you pour water. Some coffee kettles have a built-in temperature gauge so they get the water temperature just right which is very useful.
To get a reliable and even grind, a burr grinder is the best coffee grinder for the job. Nothing beats freshly ground whole bean coffee and if you can source it from a local roaster then this is even better.
The paper filter vs a metal one is an area for wide debate. Whilst some people prefer the light, smooth paper taste other people prefer the rich, boldness that the metal ones bring. Paper filters soak up some of the soluble coffee oils to remove bitterness as well as sediment. Metal filters give more intensity to the brew and make a coffee similar to the French press.
Water that is too hot (just off the boil) burns the coffee and makes it taste bitter. Water that is too cold doesn’t extract the full flavor profile so leaves the coffee tasting weak, thin, and sometimes sour. The ideal water temperature for pour-over lies between 195-205F.
To ensure you have this value some kind of thermometer is needed. Whether it’s a basic kitchen one, a kettle with a built-in gauge, a milk jug with thermometer attachment, or any other specialist coffee thermometer, it will do the job nicely.
If you don’t have a thermometer to hand then boil the kettle and let it sit for 30 seconds to a minute and this will allow it to cool to around this temperature.
How To Make Perfect Pour Over
Follow this step-by-step guide to make a pour-over coffee that will be at home in any specialty coffee shop.
Start by assessing how much coffee you plan to make. We will use the example of the 3 cup, classic Chemex. We’re going to go for a 1:15 ratio.
Weigh out 28 grams of fresh coffee and put around half a liter of water on to boil.
Pour some hot water into the carafe to pre-heat it and then discard this. Place the filter paper in the funnel and wet it so that it forms a seal against the glass.
Grind the coffee to a medium-coarse grind and add it to the filter.
Pour 30g of water (195-205F) over the coffee bed, moving in a gentle circular motion to ensure the coffee is damp. This first pour is to allow the coffee to ‘bloom’ and degas.
Wait 40 seconds.
Now slowly pour 345g of water over the rest of the coffee making sure you don’t overfill the funnel. Stir it gently and wait for it to gradually drip into the lower portion of the coffee maker.
This should take around 3-4 minutes to drip coffee all the way through but if it’s too fast then try a finer grind setting next time and if it’s too slow then a coarser setting may be better.
Discard the filter containing the coffee (ideally in the compost) and your coffee is ready to serve.
The best coffee ratio for pour-over is around 1:15 coffee to hot water. Although this is a good guideline there are many factors that can influence these numbers. Ultimately, the best judge is you so have a play around with the coffee and water amounts and see which levels you prefer.
Can you guess what keeps me up at night? You guessed it! Copious amounts of coffee beans. What? I brew them first.