Coffee Pour Over Techniques - What's the Difference?

There are a few pour over techniques, but do they make a difference? Discover the different pour over methods and how they are different.

You may have noticed that your barista uses different pour over techniques when using a pour over coffee maker. However, whatever pour over device you use – whether it be a V60, Kalita Wave, or even the German Walkure, the pour over technique you use impacts the way your coffee will taste.

In this guide, we will briefly go over why different baristas use different pour over techniques.

coffee pour over technique

Extraction plays a major role in how the coffee will turn out, however, for simplicities sake this article covers the basics and will not discuss the science of it too much.

Also, in all techniques the coffee is bloomed first. Then the various method of pouring over is used.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Coffee Pouring Techniques

There are several pour over techniques that offer various advantages and disadvantages. There are two main pouring techniques; spiral and center, which can either be poured in pulses, or consistently.

The spiral and pulse method is more common. This is to ensure an even extraction with the least amount of agitation to the coffee grounds. The less agitation, the smoother the cup.

Pulse Pour

pulse pourThe pulse technique involves waiting between pours and allowing the slurry to drain a little bit before pouring again. This allows you to maintain a certain height in the cone or letting all of the water drain all the way.

Depending on the pour over many have a small volume that can be poured in at once. Especially portable pour over models.

When using the pulse pouring technique, you’re not letting the temperature rise as much as the single, continuous pour. You get the best extraction using this pouring technique too, especially if you let the coffee drain all the way between pours. This is due to adding fresh water each time and not letting it pool. Also by agitating the coffee beans as the water hits the bed of coffee grounds.

The pulse pour technique takes a bit more time, so be patient; it isn’t the best method if you’re in a hurry to work. You don’t want your kettle too full either because you maybe holding on to it for quite a while and it gets heavy.

You can also manipulate the slurry temperature by adding more or less water with each subsequent pour, which may be desirable in some cases. Especially if you don’t have a variable temperature gooseneck kettle or digital thermometer to make sure you don’t brew the coffee with water that’s too close to boiling.

The pulse pour technique takes a bit more time, so be patient; it isn’t the best method if you’re in a hurry to work.

Continuous Pour

The continuous pour keeps the temperature higher and is a bit more difficult to maintain a continuous flow of water.

Considering all factors of such as grind size, water temp, brew time, etc., the single pour technique will result in a less extracted coffee due to less agitation of the coffee bed.

This is especially true because the coffee drains out the sides of the coffee filter as well and isn’t in contact with the grounds for as long.

A continuous, slow pour gives you the most consistency with regards to timing. It’s something you can repeat every time, but the results are usually less than ideal.

The continuous pour keeps the temperature higher, but it doesn’t extract the coffee as well as the pulse method.

Pulse Vs. Continuous

The main reason people use a spiral pouring technique is to distribute the water evenly across the surface of ground coffee, which prevents uneven extraction.

If you pour only in the center, then it’s likely the water will bury a hole and flow through that one area, which leads to under extraction.

Final Notes of Pour Over Methods

While there isn’t a right or wrong technique, there are techniques that give objectively fuller flavors than others. You should choose a technique that will help reach the perfect cup with the equipment and beans you have on hand. 

To keep it simple, try aiming for 2-3 pours. The first will be for the bloom, and the second and third will be used to extract the grounds. If you’re not liking the results, or feeling adventurous then venturing out and trying new techniques is a great way to go!

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