What Grind Size Should You Use With A Pour Over Brewer?

Written by: Anne Mercer

What Grind Size Should You Use With A Pour Over Brewer?

Sorry to spoil the surprise early, but you should know: coffee grounds are not “one size fits all.”

The same grind size won’t work for a French Press, a Chemex, and an AeroPress. Using the same size grounds in each brewer will result in vastly different flavors and tasting attributes—and not all of them will be pleasant.

Each pour over brewer requires a specific grind size to produce a sweet, balanced coffee.

And, with so many pour over brewers and grind sizes to choose from, it can get complicated fast. Luckily, you’ve found our guide! 

By the end of our guide, you’ll know:

  • Why grind size matters if you want tasty coffee each morning (and who doesn’t?)
  • How to choose a grind size to match your pour over brewer
  • The best coffee grinder to use for pour over coffee

Let’s get to it.

Why Does Grind Size Matter?

You know coffee tastes best when freshly ground. But why does it matter what grind setting you use? Why can’t we use one size and call it a day?

It all boils down to how the coffee grounds interact with hot water and for how long. Some brewers let the coffee grounds sit and steep, while others allow water to flow freely through it.

Generally speaking, the finer the grind size, the quicker your coffee will brew. The coarser your coffee grounds, the longer it’ll take to make a great cup of coffee. We want to find the grind size that helps us produce the best cup of coffee using our chosen brew method. 

Read: How to Brew Better Coffee by Adjusting Your Coffee Grind Size

This is part of a larger concept known as Coffee Extraction Theory

When coffee comes in contact with water, the acids, sugars, and oils are pulled from the grounds and into the final cup. Extraction theory refers to the process of adjusting specific variables to extract the right amount of natural flavor compounds and produce a flavorful and balanced beverage.

If a coffee is under extracted, it means the coffee grounds were not in contact with the water long enough to pull out the desired flavors and characteristics. Under extracted coffees tend to taste sour and thin. 

On the other hand, an over extracted coffee is the result of grounds that remained saturated in water for too long. You can tell a coffee is over extracted if it tastes bitter or muddy.

To combat being under or over extracted, the grind size helps control the rate at which water flows through the grounds. This is why finding the right grind size is critical when using a pour over brewer!

The grind size controls almost everything about your pour over coffee from the flow rate to the final flavors.

Matching Grind Size to Your Pour Over Brewer

There are so many ways to brew pour over coffee. And, each brewer boasts a different shape designed to help the water flow through the coffee grounds via gravity—meaning there’s no universal grind size for all pour over devices.

Some pour over methods, like the Chemex or Hario V60, feature a conical shape while others are flat-bottom brewers like the Kalita Wave or AeroPress. All four brewers will require a different grind size.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Pour Over Coffee

Factors that affect how we choose a grind size include:

  • Brewer shape & design
  • Type of coffee
  • Coffee-to-water ratio
  • Pour over recipe
  • Water temperature

It’s all too easy to dive down the rabbit hole and see how each of these variables works in conjunction with grind size. But we’ll save that for another day.

Instead, choose your brewer below and find a grind size range to start with:

  • Chemex. While the Chemex is a conical shape with a large hole at the center, the thick paper filter restricts water flow. With this in mind, a medium to medium-coarse grind size tends to work best. Remember, too fine a grind size and your Chemex coffee will be bitter and over extracted.

  • Hario V60. At first glance, you might think, “The Hario V60 is shaped similarly to the Chemex. It must use a medium-coarse grind size.” Sorry, try again. Because of the large hole and thin filter, a Hario V60 does best with a medium-fine grind size. This reduces the flow rate and gives the water just enough time in contact with the grounds.

  • Kalita Wave. The Kalita Wave is a flat-bottom pour over brewer with three tiny holes at the bottom. These small holes restrict water flow, creating a pseudo-immersion brewer. The slower drain rate lets the grounds steep for slightly longer than a conical brew method would. This brew method works well with a medium-fine to medium grind size, depending on the beans and recipe you choose.

  • AeroPress. The AeroPress is a versatile pour over and immersion brewer in one. This means based on the recipe you use, a fine to coarse grind size will work. Use a finer grind for replicating espresso shots or a coarse grind size for recipes with long brew times.

  • JavaPresse Pour Over Dripper. Our pour over filter uses a built-in stainless steel mesh filter. These super fine holes help to prevent water from draining through the coffee bed quickly. With this in mind, we recommend using a medium-coarse grind with this brewer.

  • With each brew method, there will be some trial and error. You’ll need to make slight grind size modifications for each new recipe and coffee bean you try.

    Read: How to Pick the Perfect Pour Over Coffee Brewer

    How to Get a Consistent Grind Size Every Time

    Spoiler Alert: You can’t match your pour over brewer to the right grind size if you’re using the wrong grinder!

    Pour over coffee takes time to perfect, especially when it comes to “dialing in” the correct grind size. And, if you’re using a subpar grinder, you’re only adding to your frustration.

    There are two common types of coffee grinders:

  • Blade Grinders — These grinders use a single spinning blade to chop up coffee beans. While convenient and cheap, blade grinders create a “popcorn” effect that results in an uneven grind size. Some grounds may be coarse, while others are super fine (AKA, not ideal for a pour over.)

  • Burr Grinders — Burr grinders funnel whole bean coffee into a chamber where two rotating burrs grind the coffee into a uniform size. Unlike a blade grinder, burr grinders allow brewers to adjust the grind size as necessary. 

  • Clearly, a blade grinder just won’t cut it when you’re brewing pour over coffee. Always opt for a manual or electric burr grinder when using a pour over brew method. 


    Every Pour Over Coffee Starts With the Right Grinder

    Take your old, stale, pre-ground coffee and use it for something else. When you’re brewing a pour over, it all starts with freshly roasted whole bean coffee ground with a burr grinder.


    Whether you want to brew a perfectly balanced Chemex or enjoy the slow brewing French Press, our manual grinder has the right grind setting for your drink.