How to Brew a Perfect Cup of Pour Over Coffee

By Eric Sugatan, Masienda's resident coffee expert

We made a coffee brewer! Well, not just any coffee brewer but our favorite kind. We’re proud to introduce you to our Ceramic Pour Over Coffee Dripper handcrafted by Oaxaca's leading artisan ceramic studio, La Chicharra. It's designed to fit well with most mugs, but looks particularly elegant sitting atop La Chicharra's Ceramic Mug.

Masienda x La Chicharra Ceramic Pour Over Dripper and Ceramic Mug with BUNA Dalia coffee
Photograph by Noah Forbes

Pour over coffee brewing is the kind of delicious and engaging kitchen experience that we live for at Masienda. Like our Heirloom Corn Masa Harina, it allows for an everyday, visceral connection to the roots of the Mexican food landscape. Also, like our Masa Harina, all you have to do is add water. But of course, we know there’s much more to both.

This is our go-to recipe for brewing a single serving of pour over coffee with our Ceramic Pour Over Coffee Dripper. This recipe can easily be doubled across the board as far as water, coffee and overall brew time, though you might need to adjust your coffee grind to suit. We’ll talk about that in a bit. First, we'll let Masienda founder Jorge demonstrate the process:

Now for the nitty-gritty.

What You Need to Brew Pour Over Coffee

As a general rule, we brew pour over coffees with a 15:1 ratio of water to coffee. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a good place to start with unfamiliar coffees or brew methods.

A pour over kettle, or gooseneck kettle, is a very useful tool for brewing pour over coffee, but other kettles will work too, as long as you’re comfortable pouring in relatively small, controlled amounts over a small area.

How to Brew Pour Over Coffee

Before we start brewing, let’s prep our tools and ingredients to set ourselves up for a delicious cup of coffee. The entire brewing process lasts just a few minutes and much of it is influenced by how you prepare your coffee, your water and your brewing tools beforehand.

Heat Your Water

Heat your water to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t use an electric kettle or have a way to check the temperature of your water, you can also heat it to a medium boil, take it off heat, and let it cool for a few minutes. Water will boil at 212 degrees at sea level, but water at that temperature is likely to scorch your ground coffee and introduce off-flavors in your cup. No, gracias.

Grind Your Coffee

Grind size is everything when it comes to brewing pour over coffee. Finer ground coffee will slow the flow of water that is poured onto it, increasing the time the water extracts the coffee solids and oils from the grounds. Coarser ground coffee will do the opposite, allowing the water to flow through it more easily and lightening the extraction of the coffee overall. Finding that perfect grind size for a certain style of brewing is called “dialing in” and coffee geeks are constantly chasing the perfect dial for every brew method.

To start, grind your coffee to a size that resembles coarse sea salt. If this is your first time brewing pour over coffee, get it as close as you can, or can imagine, follow the rest of this brew guide, and then taste the resulting coffee. If your coffee tastes heavier and more bitter than you would prefer, then perhaps try grinding it coarser and shortening that brew time. If the opposite is true and your coffee tastes lighter or brighter than your liking, grind it finer to increase that contact time and extract more from the grounds.

We suggest three minutes as the baseline for a great tasting coffee with this recipe, but this whole process is about having the control to brew the coffee you absolutely love. Welcome to the long and wonderful journey of dialing in. ¡Buen viaje!

Place and Rinse Your Filter

Now that your water has come up to temperature, likely as you were scouring your cupboards for coarse sea salt, it’s time to rinse your coffee filter. No, it’s probably not dirty. But it does carry a distinct flavor of its own that may imbue itself into your brewed coffee. Last I checked, I hadn’t seen “papyrus” printed in the tasting notes of our coffee collection. Let’s not add it to the list, yeah?

First, find the ridged seam at the bottom of your #2 filter and fold it flat onto the smooth paper above. This will flatten the sharp “peak” that forms when you expand the filter, which you should do next. Place your filter in the brewer, give it a pat on the head to seat it fully and then place your brewer onto your mug. Use your kettle to rinse the filter in an outward spiral, starting from the center, moving outward, and then spiraling to the center again. You can’t do this too much, but you don’t want to run out of water for brewing either. Discard the rinse water and pour your ground coffee into the filter. Give it a little shake level off the grounds.

Place your brewer and mug onto your scale and turn it on. Make sure it reads “0” or reset the reading with the “tare” button.

Start Your Timer

Start your timer and immediately pour 40g of water onto the coffee in the same outward spiraling motion as your rinsing pour. Do it as many times as you need to reach 40g.

Pour an additional 100g of water onto the coffee in the same motion.

Once again, pour an additional 100g of water onto the coffee. By now, your spiral is perfecto.

Last one. Pour an additional 60g of water onto the coffee. Your scale should read 300g.

At this point, all of the water has likely drawn through the coffee and into your mug, where it has extracted that delicious coffee flavor. The ground coffee in your filter needn’t look completely dry since ground coffee can retain up to double its weight in water.

Is your coffee still brewing? Let it finish and give it a taste. Not sure if you like it? Maybe try coarsening your grind and lightening the extraction to dial back the richness and dial up the brightness.

Did your coffee finish brewing before 3:00? Still, give it a taste. If it’s too bright, try grinding your coffee finer to bring those chocolatey notes further to the foreground.

Brewing for two or more? Let your last pour draw through the coffee until the 6:00 mark. Taste, evaluate and adjust as you would for a single serving. ¡Provecho!

Iced Pour Over Coffee

Like your coffee cold but want to retain some of its flavor nuances? The iced pour over method, also known as Japanese-style iced coffee (basically hot coffee brewed directly onto ice), is one of the simplest and most delicious ways to make cold coffee.