Pour-Over Coffee: Best Brewing Methods

Coffee is one of those things that is really easy to geek out over. Flavor, temperature, acidity, body–everyone’s favorite morning kick can be as nuanced and intricate as a glass of wine.

Although most of us throw some grounds into a coffee maker and call it good, I’m advocating for a more labor-intensive method.  Pour-over coffee is an aesthetically-pleasing and earth-friendly way to enjoy your coffee.

Common Coffee Brewing Methods

Single-Cup Pods

Some of us with busy lives have become single-serve pod users. These single-cup brewing systems are great for convenience, but unfortunately, they are some of the most wasteful as well. First, it takes a lot of energy, preemptively, to package the grounds into the individual pods. Then, all the material used in each of the pods goes to landfills, and the grounds cannot be repurposed for composting. These, then, are probably the least eco-friendly method for brewing coffee.

Additionally, the pod method doesn’t provide the clarity of flavor that coffee can have. The pre-packaged pods allow for convenience, but not for developing the fullness of the taste.

Note: If you are a single serve coffee lover but would prefer a more environmental approach, try one of these companies that create amazing coffee in biodegradable pods:
Canterbury Coffee’s OneCoffee PodPῧrPod100 for Keurig machines and EcoCafe for Delonghi and Nespresso versions. 

Photo courtesy of TreeHugger.com.

French Press

Another method is the French press. The French press is a more environmentally-friendly way to get that morning buzz, as the only energy you’ll use is in boiling the water. Like pour-over, this method is great for the environment in its energy and waste conservation.

Another benefit, the French press allows you to weigh your grounds, if you want a more precise ratio of beans to water. The golden ratio is one to two tablespoons of beans for every six ounces of water, which can be adjusted based on individual taste preferences. More information on coffee ratios here.

Photo courtesy of The Chou Life.

However, you still won’t get the clean taste and look that you get with pour-over. The French press mesh can’t hold all the grounds, and sometimes you’ll end up with a small layer of grounds at the bottom of your cup. This detracts from the texture and flavor of your coffee.


Pour-over is the most environmentally friendly way to brew your coffee as well as the way to get the most flavor out of those beans. However, as mentioned earlier, it is also the most labor intensive, probably best for slow weekend mornings.

Photo courtesy of Stumptown Coffee.

The trendy and beautiful Chemex is the prime example of home pour-over. With an elegant and minimalistic shape, the Chemex looks chic on your counter as opposed to a bulky coffee machine.

Pour-over coffee eliminates the waste of pod coffee, especially if you use biodegradable and unbleached filters. Like the French press, the only energy you’ll use will be boiling the water.

Finally, you’ll get amazingly rich and flavorful coffee that you can control entirely. Using the golden ratio of beans to water as well (which can be achieved easily with a kitchen scale), you’ll be able to experiment with your brewing and find what you prefer best. Unlike the French press, the coffee you drink doesn’t touch the beans, eliminating the problem of murky, thick grounds at the bottom of the cup.

Pour-over coffee is incredibly clean. The clarity lets the full tastes come through, so you can become a coffee connoisseur and discover what exactly makes for a good cup of coffee, trying out new ratios and temperatures.




Katie Jeddeloh

Gastronomy Content Contributor

Katie Jeddeloh is a third year undergrad at St. Olaf College where she studies English and Women's and Gender Studies. Katie is an earth enthusiast and poet, and she loves growing, cooking, and talking about food.

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