You could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed when shopping for the best beans for pour-over coffee. Manual pour-over brewers have a well-deserved, good reputation with professional baristas. But this doesn’t mean that it needs to be complicated.
The best coffee for pour-over is always a very personal choice. Traditionally, something light roasted and single-origin would be a common suggestion.
If that’s what your after, the natural Ethiopian from Volcanica will fit the bill perfectly. With bright, light-bodied, good citric acidity, this coffee has all the qualities you might typically look for in a coffee for pour-over.
But we suggest you don’t feel limited by what you think you should want, and always go with what you like. We’ve got some great suggestions below for a range of different coffees and some guidance on finding exactly what you want in a bean for pour-over brewing.
- Light Roast
- Blueberry, jasmine and sugar cane notes
- Dark Roast
- Chocolate, blueberries and cardamom notes
- Light Roast
- Flowers and tropical fruit notes
- Light Roast
- Burundi & Colombia
- Chocolate & lemon notes
- Medium Roast
- Hawaii, Kona
- Spices & dark chocolate notes
The Best Coffee for Pour Over — A Closer Look at Our Favorites
We have tried to keep something for everyone in the coffees featured here. They represent some of the best examples of coffee for pour-over brewing that we could find.
This is a very classic example of an excellent natural Ethiopian. Bursting with blueberries as soon as you open the bag, you could be forgiven for wondering if this was coffee on first sniff. Bright and vibrant, this light roast coffee shines when brewed with a pour-over device.
A very high-quality coffee, this micro-lot is grown by Mr. Abuhasen Reba on a 5.25-hectare plot in the West Arsi district of Ethiopia. It benefits from nutrient-rich red volcanic soil. It is harvested by traditional African methods, picking only the very ripest coffee cherries by hand and drying them in the sun on raised beds.
The first impression is one of sweetness underlined with a sharp twang. The sugars are at the sweeter end of sugarcane and leave an almost jam-like impression when intertwined with the ripe berry fruits. Dancing on the edge of this is an almost nectar-like floral sweetness. On the finish, the bitters have a faintly exotic feel.
To get the most out of this coffee, we recommend hot water, at least 205 °F (96 °C). This ensures full extraction of all the flavor compounds without needing longer brew times. These beans are naturally very bright. A slightly finer grind will not hurt the extraction, particularly when aided by a suitable water temperature.
The Three Africas Blend from Blue Bottle is a very approachable coffee. Expect a real crowd-pleaser that will be perfectly suitable for most brewing methods. We like it best in a pour-over device, though. Or even better still, in something like a Clever dripper or Kalita Wave that gives a little more body than a conical pour-over without losing flavor clarity.
This coffee starts with a delicately fruity sweetness and continues into a smooth chocolate experience. As alluded to earlier, we think the flavor profile here suits a slightly fuller body to deliver a rich mouthfeel. The lingering sensation on your palate will be relatively clean still, though, with notes of dried blueberry and sweet spices.
Blue Bottle’s blend is very well balanced, profiting from the vibrancy of two different Ethiopian coffees. They are offset against the cardamom-spiced, chocolatey earthiness of a very solid-washed Congolese bean.
This is a fairly dark roast, developed to around second crack, and stands up well to a splash of milk or cream if that is something you are looking for. Blue Bottle describes this coffee as “easy to like,” and we would say they are not far from the mark.
Geisha coffee is some of the most sought-after on the planet. All coffee plants of the Geisha variety of Coffea Arabica are descended directly from the specimens identified initially in the 1930s in the mountainous forests of Gori Gesha in Ethiopia. Interestingly, the name Geisha is derived from a misspelling of the name of the forest where it was first found.
The tropical fruits and floral notes found in this coffee are very typical of the variety. The florals have an exotic aspect reminiscent of jasmine and black tea, with an almost citric quality evocative of hibiscus flowers. The cereal-like notes are almost biscuity with a touch of appley malic acid.
The light roast of this coffee is treated to really leave as much of the origin and varietal in the beans as possible. Each sip feels like it is transporting you to the top lot of Huila Milagros where it is grown. The volcanoes throughout this region of Colombia provide excellent growing conditions that benefit from high altitudes and very fertile soil.
Its superior flavor very easily justifies the price of this coffee. In fact, Geisha coffee’s market value is among the highest in the world. For a real treat, it is well worth the expense.
The House Blend from Intelligentsia coffee is a fantastic choice in your cupboard. It is perfectly suitable for literally any brewing method imaginable and brings something slightly different to each one. Prepared in a pour-over brewer, we like it best done with a V60.
Brewed with good hot water and a slightly coarser-than-usual grind, you will get a very light-bodied and vibrant cup of coffee. However, don’t take this approach too far. As brew times dip below two and a half minutes, it would be sensible to go back a click finer on your grind setting.
When you get it dialed in just right, you will be rewarded with something like a cacao husk tea bursting with fruits and beautiful acidity. The Burundi in this blend is the likely culprit for the more exotic fruity tastes. On the other hand, the smooth chocolates and cleaner acid notes are probably courtesy of the Colombian beans.
Another light roast, the number of chocolate tones left in this coffee belies its less developed roast profile. If you want to maximize on this, you could even try brewing in a flat-bottomed device like a Kalita Wave. It will offer you a slightly richer brew and a more rounded chocolate tone.
A very typically Hawaiian coffee, this medium roast Kona brings all the complexity and sweet, floral nuances you should expect from the Big Island. Hawaiian Kona is another highly sought-after coffee.
At the first sip, the initial perception of this coffee will be primarily that of a subtly spiced chocolate with quite a bitter finish. As it cools, you should find that the flavor profile changes and the more complex floral and fruit aspects are allowed to shine.
Typically light-bodied, most Hawaiian coffees will perform well in a pour-over. This one, in particular, does well thanks to a slightly more developed roast. It helps to keep just enough richness for a silky chocolate mouthfeel. A flat-bottomed brewer will best do these beans justice. Brew them slightly longer without grinding too fine.
How To Choose Your Best Coffee for Pour Over
Everybody’s tastes are different. The received wisdom with specialty pour-over brewing would suggest that you must have a single-origin light roast. If not, you may as well go back to Starbucks for an extra tall, pumpkin-spiced latte. However, we recommend exercising a little more free will in your decision-making and following what you like best.
Different roasts, origins and blends, and processing methods will all give you different results in your brew. But if you like a dark roast Central American blend for those rich, smooth, chocolatey tones and want to brew that in a V60, go for it.
Specialty coffee tends to lean towards snobbery and exclusivity, but it should be all about your enjoyment.
There are some general good sense rules, which we will go through below. The better you understand how a different coffee will behave with a particular brew method, the better you can tweak your brewing process to get exactly the result you are aiming for.
Pour-over brewers will generally deliver more clarity in terms of flavor nuances in the finished cup. It should be easier to separate tasting notes that may overlap and muddy in other brews.
So, it is advisable to brew with a pour-over device if you have a particularly complex coffee or where more ethereal floral notes run the risk of disappearing behind bold chocolates.
That being said, you should not limit yourself to just the most delicate coffees for your brewer. There is absolutely no reason not to brew a very dark, nutty, smokey coffee in a pour-over.
It is usually a particular style of coffee that people tend to think of when they think pour-over. This is partially because of a general prevalence of that style of coffee in third-wave, specialty coffee. Also, it would arguably be a waste of a delicately nuanced bean to steep it in a French press until it all tastes the same.
We would certainly mostly recommend light roasts here. However, like the above comment on flavor profile, it is paramount to appreciate that you should not feel restricted to just one roast profile with a pour-over brewer.
More developed roasts work great with these devices too. It is very much down to personal preference and trusting an experienced roaster to do what is best for the beans they are roasting.
Traditionally third-wave coffee enthusiasts would probably recommend something East African, like a single-estate Ethiopian or a Kenyan. But again, don’t feel limited by this.
As a rule of thumb, you are likely to find bright, citrusy coffees with floral and winey notes from African origins. Chocolate and nut-forward beans with lower acidity are prevalent in Central and South American beans.
Mysterious, smokey coffees with notes of spices and exotic fruits, on the other hand, can often be found in beans from Indonesia and other Pacific islands.
What Does Bloom Mean and Do You Need To Do It?
When brewing pour-over coffee, it is essential to pre-infuse the grounds to allow gas to escape before continuing with your pour. For a full discussion of the reasons behind this, see our pour over brew guide.
Fundamentally, it is necessary to prevent channeling as escaping CO2 pushes up through the coffee bed. If you don’t bloom your coffee first, you will get an uneven extraction caused by dry pockets in the coffee bed.
What’s So Special About Pour Over Coffee?
Part of the beauty of pour-over coffee lies in its versatility. At its most basic, it can be a very straightforward way to brew a single cup of filter coffee with no expensive equipment.
At its most complex (and perhaps at its best), it is the most commonly used brew method for the world’s top baristas at global coffee brewing competitions.
It is an aesthetically pleasing way of brewing your coffee. Particularly when coupled with a manual grinder, the process itself can be almost meditative.
Does Pour Over Coffee Have More Caffeine?
Typically, you can expect a bit more caffeine in pour-over coffee than most other percolation brews, but probably not as much as with immersion methods.
Coffees that are more extracted have more caffeine. Generally speaking, we tend to use hotter water when brewing pour-overs compared with most other methods. Usually, the grind tends to be a little finer than most other manual brews.
Is Freshly-Roasted Coffee Better?
Generally, you want to get the freshest roasted coffee you can get your hands on. After more than a couple of weeks from the roasting date, you will find deterioration in quality. It will still be perfectly drinkable, but it won’t be at its best.
There is one small caveat. It is best to wait a few days to allow freshly roasted coffees to calm down, as they are usually too gassy to brew right away.
Can You Use Pre-Ground Coffee?
You can use pre-ground coffee for pour-over brewers, but you probably shouldn’t. If you are going to get ready ground stuff, try to make sure it is ground as close to the time of purchase as possible and opt for a medium-fine grind.
As with most foodstuffs and consumables, coffee is best enjoyed fresh.
With a bit of background knowledge, you should be able to brew whatever type of coffee you like best in your pour-over. If you want the classic result, stick with something East African and light roasted like Volcanica’s Ethiopian natural. This coffee is pretty hard to beat in a V60.