Why is my pour over coffee so weak?

pour over coffee

QUESTION: Why is my pour over coffee so weak? I’ve made several cups, and it looks more like tea and doesn’t taste right. – Victoria F

ANSWER: Pour over coffee is a much more involved brewing process than electric drip coffee machines, and getting used to the technique can take some practice. If you find that you are getting a weak brew from your pour over coffee, there are several ways to alter your technique to get a better technique. Pour over coffee is all about perfecting your pour, and you may need to invest in a better piece of equipment to improve your control over the pour as well. 

There are a few manual adjustments you can make to make your coffee stronger. You can try adding more coffee, slowing down the pour to extend the extraction time, increasing your water temperature, grinding your coffee a little bit finer, or using a darker roast.

Investing in a burr grinder and an electric kettle with a gooseneck spout will give you the best tools for the job, as burr grinders get a precise and consistent grind, no matter what the setting, and can grind your coffee finer and more uniformly than a blade grinder.

The gooseneck spout will allow you to make a long and patient pour, to truly get the most out of your extractions. You should also be stopping after the first 30 milliliters and allowing your coffee to bloom and settle before completing your pour. 

Step One: Make Sure You Are Adding Enough Coffee

Pour over coffee makers function most effectively when they are loaded with coffee. The filter should be around one-half to two-thirds full. If you use a small amount of coffee, the coffee bed will be too small to effectively restrict the flow of the water. Too little coffee grounds will also result in a weaker brew. 

Step Two: Slow Down Your Pour To Extend Extraction Period

After the initial wetting, which should be a slow pour of about 30 to 35 seconds, pouring just enough water to saturate the grounds, pause. Watch as the grounds begin to swell and settle. This should take another 30 to 45 seconds to complete. Once the grounds settle, finish with a slow and steady pour until your water level us about ¾ of an inch from the rim. Then pause again while the water settles into the coffee bed. Then complete your pour. The whole process should take three to four minutes. 

Step Three: Make Sure Your Water Is Hot Enough And Pre Wet The Filter

The ideal temperature for making coffee in a pour over device is 203 degrees. This is just under boiling. If you have an electric kettle, most of them will heat the water to whatever temperature you set it to, so you can just set it to 203 degrees. When your water is hot enough, pre wet the filter and pour out the water that you wet the filter with. This will remove the papery taste from your brew and preheat your carafe a bit as well. After you have pre wet the filter, add in your freshly ground coffee grinds. 

Step Four: Make Sure Your Grind is Even and Fine (Use A Burr Grinder) 

For the slowest extractions, the finer grind of coffee is used, as it takes water a longer time to pass through a finer grind of coffee. To achieve a consistently uniform size and a very finely ground result every time, get yourself a conical burr grinder. Having a burr grinder can make all the difference in achieving an excellent cup. 

Step Five: Use a Medium Or Dark Roast For Bolder Flavor

Light roasts have very complex and interesting flavors, but for full-body boldness and robust flavors, the medium-dark and dark roasts are more well-suited to the task. The darkness of a roast is due to longer and hotter roasting methods, bringing out more smoky, charred flavors. The darker the roast, the more of the roast will influence the taste. The lighter roasts focus more on the true flavors of the coffee bean, and the roast plays a secondary role. 

Step Six: Use an Electric Kettle with a Gooseneck Spout for a Slow Even Pour

Sure, you can use any pot to heat your water up with, and use any pouring device to pour your water that has some kind of pouring spout, but the narrower the spout, the more control you will have over the pour. The best possible pouring device is a gooseneck spout. For a slow, long, steady pour that is perfect for pour over coffee, the gooseneck spout is the best possible choice. Anyone using a gooseneck spout has an upper hand in pour over brewing. 

Step Seven: Pause After Saturating the Grounds For Bloom And Settle. 

The rules of pour over coffee are pretty specific. If you don’t follow the brewing style and follow the suggested technique, you will not get good results out of the device. The first pour should be no more than 30 seconds long, and about 30 ml of hot water. This should be just enough to fully saturate the coffee grinds. Once they are saturated, allow another 45 seconds or so while the grounds swell and then fall as they release the gasses inside the coffee bed. Once the bed settles, it’s time for the finish. 

Step Eight:  Slow and Patient Finish

A slow and patient finish is how to finish your pour. Once the water reaches to within three fourths of an inch from the rim of the device, pause one more time to let the water settle. Then finish off your pour, pouring the water slow and steady. Following these eight steps should lead to a much more full bodied, well balanced brew. 

If you are still having problems with the strength of your coffee, you might look into getting different filters, or perhaps looking into a different brewing technique, like french press coffee, or espresso. Pour over coffee is excellent when executed correctly, but it’s not for everyone. However, before deciding whether or not to switch brewing methods entirely, make sure you following each of these steps correctly when using pour over brewers. 

Sources:

https://medium.com/@volcanocoffeeworks/making-fresh-coffee-at-home-read-how-to-fix-your-common-pour-over-brewing-problems-9cbbd5b59f3f

https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/06/make-better-pourover-coffee-how-pourover-works-temperature-timing.html

https://www.stumptowncoffee.com/blog/how-to-perfect-pour-over#:~:text=If%20your%20coffee%20tastes%20weak,grind%20to%20make%20it%20coarser.

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