Drip Brewing Basics

A real handmade cup of coffee

Aside from immersion brewing (French press, cold brew) drip brewing is an easy and inexpensive way to start making great coffee at home. Even though this is a straightforward technique there are lots of small things you can play with to try to achieve that perfect cup. In fact, there are competitions, heated debates, youtube videos and entire blogs dedicated to the art of drip brewing (also known as pour over). Don’t get too worked up over all that. All you need are two pieces of equipment to get started:

A pour-over cone. This one from COFFEECULTURE.ASIA is only 249฿ and it comes with a 150grams of coffee and a set of paper filters and it gets the job done. It is plastic and is not easily broken. There are many other kinds ranging from stainless steel to ceramic pour overs, but this is just to get started right?

And cone filters.

Setup the brew

1. Drip brewer (pour over) – the simple pour over piece that holds the filter and coffee.
2. Kettle or something to boil water in. No need for anything fancy boiling water will do.
3. Ground coffee – you can use your pre-ground coffee if you want, but I highly recommend buying some quality whole beans and grinding it yourself. You will taste a difference when you use fresh ground coffee.

Medium grind setting for pour over
Medium grind setting for pour over

4. Paper coffee filter – if you bought one of the plastic brewers you will need cone coffee filter #2.
5. Mug – for this method of brewing you will need a mug with a big enough mouth on it so the brewer can sit comfortably on top. Use this opportunity to get an awesome new mug.

Remember this is a basic setup, as you learn to use these components and to appreciate coffee in deeper ways you can introduce better tools and coffees to your process.

How much coffee?

Start with the recommended ratio of 1 level tablespoon for every 175 ml (6 oz) of water. If you have a scale try 1 gram of coffee for every 16 grams of water. So if you grind up 20 grams of coffee you should pour 320 grams of water on that coffee. Take note of the ratio you are using because then you can adjust if the coffee is too strong or too weak.

Filter rinse

This is a simple step but one that should not be overlooked. It takes just a couple of seconds. Pour boiling water into your brewer with the filter in. Let the water drip through your filter. This will rinse out small fibers that may have otherwise ended up in your coffee. Also, this will preheat your mug which will keep your coffee hot longer. Once the water has drained into your mug make sure to throw the water out.

Time to brew

You have your wet filter in your drip brewer sitting on top of your empty cup and now it is time to put that freshly ground coffee in the filter. Bring your water to a fresh boil then remove it from the heat and wait 10-15 seconds so the temperature comes down to about 96° Celsius.

simple coffee pour over

Pour some water over the grounds enough to get them covered with water. Wait 30-40 seconds. This moment is called the “bloom” – a process that releases some carbon dioxide off the coffee.

Once the coffee has bloomed for 30-40 seconds pour the rest of the water on the grounds. Don’t dump it on but rather pour at about the same rate that it is filtering through into the mug. There are many techniques that you can try at this stage – pouring in a swirl, stirring half-way through, pouring only in the center of the grounds – but for these first forays into home brewing keep it simple and pour at a slow and steady rate.

Your total brew time should be anywhere from 2.5 minutes to 4 minutes. If your brew time is faster than 2.5 minutes your grind is too coarse (thin tasteless coffee). If your brew time is longer than 4 minutes then your grind is too fine (bitter coffee).

Here is a video we took of the barista at Seen making a delicious pour over:


Here is your moment to remove the brewer and enjoy the coffee you prepared. Take the brewer off your mug and place it on top of another mug to catch the final drips. Inhale the aroma and feel the warmth coming through the mug. Take a sip and notice how the coffee tastes, where it hits your tongue. Is it too strong or weak? Is the brew too acidic? If so, then try a darker roast. Think about what you like about what you made and what you don’t like.

Like I said there are many ways to adjust your cup so if it did not come out perfect try again tomorrow and have fun making the changes until you get it right.

If you like this method you will probably want to upgrade to the Chemex or Hario v60 (shown below) and really both are relatively inexpensive and you will be on your way to brewing like a pro!