When I mention to people that the pour over method is one of my favorite ways to make my coffee, I am often met with confused looks. Although it’s a uniquely easy and affordable way to indulge in a super-fresh cup of coffee, pour overs are still a mystery to a lot of people. So what is a pour over coffee maker? And how does it work? Read on to find out!
Simple Design, Low Cost
A pour over coffee maker probably has the simplest design of any coffee brewer. Basically it is a graduated cup with a hole in the bottom of it that is supported by a base that sits atop your coffee cup. That’s it!
Pour over coffee makers are made from a variety of materials, but the most common are plastic, glass, porcelain, and stainless steel. Since the cup of the brewer will hold boiling hot water for a few minutes at a time every time you use it, it has to be able to withstand both heat and moisture. It’s also important that the brewer be made of a material that does not interact adversely with the acids in the brewing coffee so the final flavor in your cup remains true and pure.
Pour over brewers are sometimes sold as part of a set with a matching mug. And some glass and stainless steel pour over brewers are designed to look as good as they function. All of which means these brewers will cost a bit more money than the most basic plastic models. But, that said, even the fanciest pour over coffee makers are cheaper than most other brewing systems.
If you aren’t worried about appearances, however, a basic plastic brewer can usually be found for less than $5 at discount retailers and larger grocery stores. Which means that for less money than you’d spend on a single cup of coffee at your local coffee shop, you can be on your way to brewing your own truly fresh and flavorful cup of joe every single day!
How it Works
Brewing a great cup of coffee with a pour over coffee maker is a quick and easy process. The concept is basically the same as with an electric drip coffee maker. The pour over coffee maker is the equivalent of the filter basket in an electric drip brewer and works in a similar fashion. What’s different here is that you add hot water to the coffee grounds manually and let the resulting brewed coffee drip directly into your drinking mug.
What You’ll Need
To make a fresh cup of pour over coffee, you will need to gather the following six items:
- Pour Over Coffee Maker
- Coffee Filter
- Ground Coffee
- Measuring Tablespoon
- Serving Mug
- Hot Water
Pour Over Coffee Maker
Of course you’ll need a pour over brewer cup to work your magic. As noted above, you can invest in an attractive glass or porcelain model, a higher-end stainless steel brewer, or a matching mug-brewer combo set. But the truth is, the most inexpensive plastic pour over coffee makers work just as well. And they are perfect if you’re new to pour over brewing and want to give it a try with minimal investment.
You will need one paper coffee filter for each cup of coffee you want to brew with your pour over coffee maker. The cone-shaped filters will pop right into your brewer cup, but the basket-style filters also work and are usually cheaper. Either bleached white or the unbleached brown filters will work just fine.
To fit a basket-shaped filter into your pour over brewer, simply fold the filter in half along the bottom, then fold one side back half-way as shown in the photos below. Hold the filter at the bottom point and open up the top to see that you’ve created your own cone filter that will now fit nicely into your pour over cup.
You can use the same purchased ground coffee you would use in an electric drip coffee maker to make your pour over coffee. However, if you grind your own whole bean coffee (which I highly recommend), you’ll want to use a finer grind. Grinding your coffee into smaller particles means there will be more coffee surface for the water to “brew” as it passes through the filter into your mug. This is definitely helpful for bringing out the most coffee flavor in a quick-brew process like the pour over.
You’ll want to use approximately one tablespoon of ground coffee for every six ounces of brewed coffee you’d like to produce. As with most things related to coffee, this approximation is only a suggestion, but it provides a good starting point, especially if you are new to using a pour over coffee maker. If you like a bolder cup, use a bit more ground coffee. For a milder cup, use a little less ground coffee.
Pour over coffee makers generally have a wide enough base to accommodate a variety of the most common mug sizes. So nearly any size and style cup or travel mug you have on hand can be used in the pour over process. You will, however, want to double check to be sure your pour over coffee maker sits securely on your chosen cup or mug before you begin the brewing process.
And if you want to drink your coffee from a tall, narrow travel mug, you might consider making your pour over using a shorter, wider mug that’s more stable. This will decrease the risk of having scalding water splash onto you, burning you and staining your clothes. Once your coffee is brewed, you can simply transfer it to your travel and be on your way.
No matter what brewing method you use to make your coffee, you always want to start with clean, cool water to produce the best-tasting cup. For best results, use the mug you’ll be drinking from to measure your water. Fill your cup to the brim when measuring (fuller than you would normally fill it to drink) in order to make up for the water that will be absorbed by the coffee filter and coffee grounds.
Pour your measured water into a teapot or pan if you will be heating it on the stove top. A tempered glass measuring cup (Pyrex) will work well for heating the water in a microwave. An electric kettle also works great if you happen to have one.
When making a pour over, you’ll want to use water that is “just off the boil.” This means you’ll bring the water to a rolling boil and then let it cool just until the boiling subsides. Once your water is hot, you’re ready to make your pour over coffee. Read on to see just how easy this is!
Give it a Pour
Once you have gathered everything you’ll need as listed above, it’s time to make your pour over coffee. And it couldn’t be simpler! Here are the steps, from start to finish:
- Using your drinking mug, measure water into your heating container and bring the water to a boil.
- While the water is heating, place your mug on a flat, stable surface.
- Insert a cone filter or folded basket filter (see instructions above) into your pour over coffee maker.
- Measure desired amount of ground coffee (roughly 1 tablespoon per 6 ounces of water) and place it in the filter.
- Set the pour over coffee maker on top of your mug.
- Once the water is just off the boil, slowly begin pouring it over the coffee grounds in a circular motion.
- When all the coffee grounds are first saturated, stop adding water and let the grounds rest for about 30 seconds.
- Continue pouring the remainder of the hot water slowly into the pour over coffee maker along the outer edge of the filter, pausing when needed so the brew cup doesn’t overflow.
- Wait until all the water has dripped through the coffee and into your mug, adjusting the filter slightly if necessary to get every last drop.
- Remove the pour over coffee maker from on top of your mug.
- ENJOY your fresh, hot cup of pour over coffee!
Love for the Pour Over Coffee Maker
Hopefully now you understand why a pour over is one of my favorite ways to make coffee. The brewing process itself is quick and easy, and each cup is hot, fresh, and “made to order.” Which means everyone gets to enjoy a cup of coffee exactly how they like it.
What’s more, a pour over coffee maker is wonderfully portable. It’s small enough to take along when traveling or camping. As long as there’s hot water, there’s a great cup of coffee waiting to be made. And since the coffee is brewed right into a drinking mug, there’s a lot less clean-up than with an electric drip coffee maker or French press, too.
If you’ve never used a pour over coffee maker, I encourage you to pick one up and give it a try. Follow the instructions listed above, and I bet you’ll find that the pour over method becomes one of your favorites as well. And, if it does (or doesn’t!), I hope you’ll let me know in the comments below. Because I definitely love to hear from you!
If you enjoy the pour over coffee brewing method, you might also enjoy using a French press. Check out the article How to Brew Coffee Using a French Press to learn more.