8 Best Coffee Beans for Pour Over Coffee: 2020 Reviews
Pour-over brewing is experiencing a heyday. Baristas and home brewers alike are realizing the power of this technique for emphasizing the subtle and complex flavors in a cup of coffee.
Choosing the best coffee for pour over mostly comes down to personal taste. However, this article offers some useful guidelines as well as eight good recommendations to suit any palate. We cover beans suited to pour over only, in this guide. For a wider range of options read out guide: best coffee beans bucket list.
At A Glance:
How to Choose the Right Coffee Beans for Pour-over
If you like your coffee flavor-forward, with a bright and clean cup, skip the French Press; the pour-over method is perfect for you. So, the most important thing is tracking down high-quality coffee beans whose flavors you genuinely love. For this, we’re here to help.
If you’re brand-new to pour-over brewing, check out our guide on making great pour-over coffee, and be sure to invest in the right equipment. We’ve got you covered with our reviews of the best gooseneck kettles for pour over for your hot water, the best pour over coffee makers, and great pour over coffee stands.
Choosing the right beans.
A beautiful thing about the pour-over brewing method is that it is compatible with nearly any coffee. The most important thing is to find the one that you enjoy, so don’t be afraid to experiment. As Blue Bottle Coffee suggests (1), pour-overs are great at highlighting the more subtle nuances of a good coffee:
The final cup is reminiscent of one from a drip coffeemaker, but noticeably more delicate and complex.
Pour overs are often used to brew single-origin beans and light roasts, which are known for their sophisticated flavors. It’s also ideal to choose whole beans over ground coffee.
Find your favorite flavor
Several factors influence the flavor of your coffee beans. Yet, two factors are crucial: their region or regions of origin and roast level.
A bag of coffee beans can include beans all grown in the same area, known as single-origin, or of a mixture of beans from different regions, which is known as a blend. Either one can yield a delicious pour-over brew.
In a blend, beans with different flavor profiles mix to mellow out the overall flavor and take the edge off any sour notes.
This makes them more approachable and consistent. In contrast, single origins are unique and exotic.
For those that want to constantly explore the flavour merry-go-round that is coffee, single origins can provide a wide variety of options from wild to tame.
Single origins showcase the flavors and terroir of a specific area. The subtle or complex characters that we might lose in a blend are here allowed to shine (2).
Roast Levels will affect flavors in a big way
The roast level also has a strong influence on the taste, aroma, and mouthfeel of your coffee.
Lighter roasts typically have fragrant floral and/or fruity notes, with a mild body and brighter acidity. They’re excellent for exploring the subtleties of single-origin coffee beans, and brewing using the pour-over method is a great way to appreciate a light roast. Here are some of our favorites.
Medium roasts offer a bit more sweetness and less acidity than light roasts, due to the caramelization of sugars during the roasting process. They will have a more substantial body and a slightly toasted flavor.
Good dark roasts have a bittersweet taste profile and a bold, rich body. Their flavors, which tend towards chocolatey, nutty, and earthy, are a product of the roasting process as much as the coffee bean itself. Personally, I avoid dark roasts for pour over brewing – but here are a few great dark roast coffees if you’d like to experiment.
Speaking of roasting, if you ever wish to try and roast your own beans, check out our video on home roasting:
The 8 Best Coffee Beans for Pour Over in 2020
Here are our eight favorite coffee beans for pour-over brewing this year. They range from light to dark roasts and from bright, fruity single origins to rich chocolatey blends, so you’re sure to find the right beans for you.
||Lifeboost Medium Roast||
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||Koa Coffee Grande Domaine||
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||Volcanica Ethiopian Sidamo||
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||Peet’s Colombia Luminosa||
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||Augie’s House Blend||
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||Stumptown Founder’s Blend||
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||Blue Bottle Coffee Blend Subscription||
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||Passenger German Cordoba||
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Lifeboost Coffee was founded by nutrition expert Dr. Charles Livingston to deliver coffee that’s as healthy as it is delicious. They achieve this by sourcing only the top 0.5% of arabica beans grown worldwide and processing them with great care. They produce some really amazing organic coffee.
The resultant coffee offers clean flavors, low acidity, and is third-party certified free from mycotoxins.
They source the coffee from a small plantation in Nicaragua located at 5,700 feet on the slopes of Mt. Kilambe, where these single-origin beans are grown organically in the shade of guava trees. Coffee beans are hand-picked by skilled workers, sun-dried, and washed in spring water to preserve the purity of the coffee.
A pour further emphasizes this purity over a brew, which highlights the clean flavors. From the medium roast, you can expect a smooth and balanced cup of coffee with notes of nuts and chocolate accompanied by a subtle strawberry sweetness.
More on lifeboost here:
Though light and medium roasts tend to be favorites for pour-over brews, there’s no reason that a high-end dark roast can’t display an equal complexity of flavor. The important thing is finding an expertly roasted batch because a pour-over can easily highlight the burnt and bitter flavors of a low-quality product. And when it comes to dark roast expertise, Koa Coffee tops our list.
Their Grande Domaine showcases the best that Kona has to offer. It’s a decadent blend of regular Kona beans and Peaberry Kona, the rarest and most prized type, sourced from centuries-old trees. It gained notoriety by being selected as a Kona Coffee Cupping contest winner for outstanding quality and balance.
The Vienna roast is just dark enough to taste the roast and the exquisite flavor that only comes from the Mauna Loa region of the Kona coffee belt. It’s an easy-drinking, smooth coffee with minimal bitterness that sings with the characteristics of Hawaii. Expect notes of toasted coconut, passionfruit, and milk chocolate with floral aromas.
Volcanica coffee began when its founders noticed all their favorite coffees shared a common trait: they all came from volcanic regions. The combination of high altitude and fertile volcanic soils provides ideal growing conditions for arabica beans, and the success of Volcanica Coffee stands testament to this.
Their Ethiopian Sidamo medium roast hails from the south of Ethiopia. Ethiopian local villagers make it on small family plots while still growing the indigenous Ethiopian varieties of coffee’s earliest history.
The Ethiopian Sidamo is a supremely flavorful brew, flying in the face of typical single-origin subtleties, with a medium body and complex acidity. Expect berry and red wine in the cup, backed by bright lemon and rock candy sweetness. The dominant flavor note is rich chocolate without a hint of bitterness. The contrasting notes of citrus, cane sugar, and delicate fruits balance the dominant chocolatey note.
The Colombia Luminosa was the first of Peet’s popular signature blends to feature a light roast. Luminosa means “shining” or “bright” in Colombia, and that is undoubtedly the defining feature of this peppy blend.
Instead of blending a variety of beans for a mellow and consistent flavor, Peet’s uses just two origins, each carefully chosen to highlight the best features of the other and the light roast. They describe this strategy as enhancing a single-origin more than blending.
For the Colombia Luminosa, they pair high-altitude beans from the Huila region of Colombia’s mountains with beans from Ethiopia, the coffee’s homeland. The former contributes a smooth, sweet character, while the latter are known for their fruity and floral notes. The result is a carefully crafted combination with bright acidity, creamy flavors, and a mild body. It delivers a pronounced sweetness with notes of apple, cherry, and a touch of cocoa.
Augie’s House Blend changes regularly to deliver only the freshest coffee picked from the top crops each season. But given that Augie’s co-owner won the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship in 2016, you can trust that it’s always delicious (3).
Known for their commitment to putting farmer relationships first, Augie’s owners frequently travel to coffee growing regions, where they meet with farmers and pay a premium for their green coffee. This mutually beneficial system ensures a sound living for coffee farmers and guarantees that drinkers of Augie’s coffee are getting top-of-the-line beans.
At present, the House Blend features a mix of two Colombian beans, the Casturra and Castillo varieties, both originating from the Giraldo region. The beans are wet-processed before being lightly roasted to make sure the bright flavors stay at the forefront. The result is a flavor profile that pairs sweet chocolate with the slight acidity of green grapes for a well-balanced cup of coffee, and a pour-over is a great way to experience both contrasting flavors.
Stumptown is a Portland-based roastery that has established itself among the most successful in the world in the two decades since its founding. Their commitment to sourcing good coffee, roasting it correctly, and distributing it as fresh as possible has garnered them worldwide. They use innovative packaging that keeps beans clean for 90 days. They also stamp every bag with its roasting date.
They describe the Founder’s Blend as the coffee served at the diner of your dreams. It’s simple, nostalgic coffee, but elevated to an award-winning roaster (4). This isn’t a single esoteric origin to pull out when you’re feeling flashy. It’s an everyday drinker, featuring a sunshiney blend of Central American arabica beans. Expect a chocolate-forward flavor enhanced with notes of praline and raisins.
Recently, Stumptown has received a B Corporation certification. This award, not reserved for just coffee beans, celebrates any business that balances purpose and profit, creating a global network of forward-thinking, socially conscious companies.
Blue Bottle Coffee has made its name perfecting the esoteric science of peak flavor. They learned that different beans and roast levels are better on different days after roasting, and they use this knowledge to offer subscription boxes that reach your doorstep at just the right moment.
A subscription is often the ideal way to experience a style of coffee, be it blends or single origins. Not only do you get to experience a range of coffees and roast levels curated by coffee experts, but you can rest assured you’re getting beans that are at their seasonal peak as well.
All Blue Bottle coffee is sourced from sustainable coffee farms. Moreover, they roast each small-batch blend by hand. These aren’t your standard grocery store blends. Expect a carefully chosen combination of origins, each selected to highlight the flavor notes of the others and roasted to the perfect level.
Here’s our review of the Blue Bottle Coffee subscription.
One of our favorite light roasts this year is Passenger’s German Cordoba, and we aren’t alone. These beans took 1st place at the inaugural Copa Suaceña, a cupping competition highlighting some of Colombia’s finest beans (5).
German Cordoba is a single-origin coffee made up of 100% arabica beans of the Tabi varietal, grown in the Suaza region of Colombia at high elevations between 5,700 and 5,900 feet.
This award-winning brew is gentle but offers a surprising complexity stemming from its contrasting sweet and sour flavors. You can expect to taste rich toffee and cooked berries balanced by Meyer lemon while savoring aromas of delicate florals, almond brittle, and green apple. This is a clean cup, with smooth flavors and a light body that is impeccably showcased by a pour-over brew.
There is no single best coffee for pour-over brewing, which is good news because it means you can find a favorite that suits your taste. Look for something with complex, subtle, or contrasting flavors to understand why the pour-over technique has become so popular.
A great place to start is with Lifeboost Coffee’s signature medium roast. This organic, single-origin coffee bean makes a smooth and easy-drinking cup, with bright flavors of chocolate, nuts, and ripe strawberries that are sure to please.
No, pour over coffee does not necessarily have more caffeine. The most significant factors determining the caffeine content of your brew is how much coffee you use and the varietal of coffee bean.
No, pour-over coffee is not healthier than any other brewing technique. Unlike the French Press, filtered coffee does remove more of the coffee oils from your cup, which may provide some benefits to those with high cholesterol.
The best grind size for pour-over coffee is a medium-fine grind that is ideally finer than sand but coarser than what you would use for espresso. It may take a bit of experimentation to get your ground coffee just right.
Coffee certifications mean that a third-party has inspected the growing, processing, and/or trading method of the coffee beans and offered an award for environmental or socioeconomic good practice.
Some standard certifications given to U.S. coffees include Organic, Fair Trade, Kosher, and Rainforest Alliance (6).
- Cho, N. (2019, October 10). Coffee Science: How to Make the Best Pourover Coffee at Home. Retrieved from https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/06/make-better-pourover-coffee-how-pourover-works-temperature-timing.html
- Pipunic, A. (2015, September 14). Everything You Need to Know About Single Origin Coffees. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2015/09/everything-you-need-to-know-about-single-origin-coffees/
- Austin Amento Is Your 2016 US Cup Tasters Champion! (2016, 19 January). Retrieved from https://sprudge.com/austin-amento-is-your-new-2016-us-cup-tasters-champion-92568.html
- Roast Magazine’s Roaster of the Year Competition. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.roastmagazine.com/about/roasteroftheyear/
- Bryman, H. (2020, April 23). Passenger Coffee Showcasing Winners of Inaugural Copa Suaceña in Huila, Colombia. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2020/04/23/passenger-coffee-showcasing-winners-of-inaugural-copa-suacena-in-huila-colombia/
- Bradley, E. (2017, August 10). Coffee Certifications. Retrieved from https://www.freshcup.com/coffee-certifications/