What Size Grind Is Best for Pour Over Coffee?

coffee grinder and beans

QUESTION: What size grind is best for pour over coffee? I’m just getting into it and I want it to taste good so it’s worth the trouble. — Leonard S

ANSWER: Nothing compares to a cup of coffee made in a pour over setup with coffee beans you’ve ground yourself just moments before brewing, so we understand why you’ve gotten interested in pour over coffee! And the grind matters. How coarsely or finely you grind your coffee beans can either tweak your brew to make it exactly what you’re looking for or completely ruin what could have been an excellent cup of coffee. Most of the time you’re going to do best with a medium course grind, but keep reading to learn about which size grind is recommended for some specific pour over machines, as well as how adjusting the grind will affect the coffee you make.

What’s the Basic Recommended Grind Setting for Pour Over Systems?

Most pour over setups use a grind setting that’s in the medium to medium coarse range, though there is a bit of variation from one type of pour over system to another. For the most tailored recommendation, you should try to find out exactly what grind setting is recommended for your specific pour over system. You may find this information in the user’s manual that came with the pour over brewer when you purchased it. 

How Should I Set the Grind for My Specific Pour Over Brewer?

If you didn’t receive a manual with your pour over setup or have lost track of it since making your purchase, we may have the information you’re looking for below. Here are the recommended grind settings for a couple of the most common and popular pour over brewers on the market today.

  • Bee House Ceramic Coffee Dripper: This delicate yet simple to operate pour over system is equipped to handle beans ground from coarse to fine without a problem, so let your palate and the circumstances (coffee beans, the type of drink you’re preparing) be your guide. If you aren’t sure where to start, try a medium grind first and adjust to make the grind finer if the brew tastes weak, watery, or sour to you. If you’re getting too much bitterness or the coffee has lost its complexity and seems off-balance, try going coarser. 
  • Chemex: Medium-coarse—the Chemex filter, which is thicker than a standard filter, does a lot of the work to slow down the water draining through the system, so your beans don’t need to be ground super finely as the filter doesn’t need their help to reduce how fast the water is draining. If you go much finer than a medium grind in a Chemex setup, you run the risk of the water sluggishly dripping through the system, resulting in an over-extracted brew that’s steeped for too long. If your grind is too fine for your Chemex, the less appetizing flavors in your coffee beans, like overly bitter flavors or a thin quality to the taste, can be brought to the forefront.
  • Clever Coffee Dripper: This otherwise no-frills setup is equipped with a shutoff valve that can save the day if you decide mid-brew that you want the brew to kick things up a notch and be stronger than usual. Use beans that are ground at a medium-coarse setting, close to what you’d prepare for a French press brew, but just a bit finer than that.
  • Hario V60: Unlike the Chemex system, the Hario V60 uses a comparatively thin filter, and the hole the water drains from in this setup is larger than most. That means the best grind for your beans will be between a fine and a medium-fine grind setting. It’s easy to get your grind too coarse for this machine, which will result in an under-extracted brew that tastes weak, sharp, or sour.
  • Hario Woodneck Drip Pot: The reusable cotton flannel filter causes the water to move more slowly through the brewer than it does in most other setups. For that reason, you’ll want to use beans that are ground between fine and medium to prepare your coffee. 
  • Kalita Wave 185 Dripper: Use a medium-coarse to coarse grind in the Kalita Wave Dripper, but not as coarse as you’d grind the beans for a French press. Thanks to the fancy ridged filters, this setup is known for being especially unfussy, so you can get away with a good bit more experimentation without ruining your coffee, tweaking not only the grind, but the timing, coffee beans, or other elements of your technique.
  • Maranello Caffé Stainless Steel Reusable Pour Over Coffee Maker: The double layer of the stainless steel filter on this brewer already slows the water down as it moves through the system, so you should don’t want to go too fine on your grind or your coffee can steep for to long and become over-extracted and bitter. Use a medium-coarse setting to grind the beans for this setup. 
  • Melitta Ready Set Joe Single-Cup: A medium grind is recommended most of the time in the Melitta Ready Set Joe system. 
  • Osaka Stainless Steel Cone Filters: The double layer of stainless steel on the Osaka cone makes this pour over system a whole different experience from others you may have tried, and the grind size is no exception. Shoot for grains about the size of sea salt for Osaka’s cone filters, a bit coarser than the medium-coarse grind we recommended using in a Chemex system. 
  • Sanyo Sangyo Porcelain: This cute little system can work well with beans from fine to coarse, so let the variety of coffee bean you’re using and the type of brew you’re looking for determine how coarsely you grind your beans. In general, if the coffee tastes a little bitter to you or seems to have lost some of its complexity, being taken over by just a few strong flavors, go coarser on your grind. If the coffee tastes watery, weak, or sour, try brewing beans that are ground more on the fine side. (If you want, you can skip ahead to the next section to learn about how adjusting the grind will impact the taste of your coffee.) 
  • Yama Cold Brew Tower: if you’re using the Yama Tower to make cold brew coffee, the best setting to grind your beans on is right in the middle of the road—a perfect medium.

If we didn’t have information that pertained to your specific system, most pour over brewers work best with a grind that’s somewhere between medium and medium-coarse. If you’d like, of course, you can do a bit of research to find the exact brew setting that’s best for your machine. Just run a quick Google search for the make and model of your pour over brewer and the phrase “grind setting” to see whether the manufacturer, a coffee blogger, or a customer who has left a review has published their recommendation for your system. Or you could just try a few different grinds in the vicinity of medium for a control experiment just to see how you feel about that brew and continue to adjust from there.

What Does Adjusting the Grind Do to Pour Over Coffee’s Flavor?

In short, if your coffee has steeped too long, you’ll taste the effects of over-extracted flavors, which pull the bitterness to the front and crank it up. Over-extracted coffee also tends to magnify a few of the strongest flavors the beans contain, trampling all over the more delicate background notes until they’re practically undetectable. The solution to over-extracted coffee that tastes like this is to grind your beans more coarsely so it doesn’t take as long for the water to flow through your pour over brewer. 

Conversely, if the water in your setup is moving through the process too quickly, your brew will be under-extracted. Under-extracted coffee tastes weak, watery, and can even be sour or sharp in flavor. If this has been your experience with your pour over system, grind the beans more finely to slow down the rate that the water travels through the brewer. 

Now you know what to do  to make freshly ground coffee in your pour over system using the correct grind setting. Not only that—if you aren’t happy with the way your cup of coffee tastes, you know how to identify where the brew went wrong as well as what to do to fix it. Here’s to grinding the beans exactly right for your pour over brewer and making your next cup of coffee, and every cup after that, just the way you like it.

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