No scale? No problem!
Making pour over coffee can seem like exacting science at times, but it doesn’t need to be. Once you’re fully immersed in the techniques and nuances of making pour over coffee, you probably won’t need the scale each time you make it.
You will still need a kettle that can reach at least 195F.
After 15 years of making pour over coffee, I just eyeball the number of beans to grind and the amount of water to use, it usually comes out okay. But if you’re new to the coffee pouring business, I have some advice that might help you out get started, even if you don’t have a scale or a fancy kettle. Drinking coffee should be an enjoyable experience, and making it doesn’t need to be complicated.
How to Make Pour Over Coffee Without A Scale
It takes about 6 standard tablespoon scoops equals ~30 grams of coffee beans (whole) for a 12 oz. mug of coffee. This will make 1 mug / 12 oz of pour over coffee and while boiling about 14 oz of water. A typical mug is around 8 -12 fl. ounces, US. You want extra water for pre-soaking and washing of your pour over filter. Blooming the coffee for better extractions still applies even without a scale. Let the coffee bloom for about 45 seconds, then pour the rest of the hot water slowly, about 4 mins to finish the whole brew.
Measuring Coffee Beans or Not Measuring
Let’s go deeper into the bean hole. We’ll make a couple of assumptions about pour over that are generally accepted as a good starting point for making pour over coffee. Let’s start with coffee beans that weight around ~25 – 30 g (0.9 – 1.05 Oz) and set your burr grinder to Medium, this will make ONE cup of coffee.
That means if you’re looking to make two cups, then the bean weight should be around ~60 grams (2.1 Oz) and you can scale that up to as many cups as you want. But 30 grams means nothing since you don’t have a scale to measure, but maybe common everyday items might help you determine how much 30 grams actually weights.
It’s worth noting that 1 coffee bean does not equal 1 gram, it’s closer to ~0.15 gram (medium roast). Anyway, Let’s look at common everyday items that weight 1 gram.
- Paperclip (standard size)
- Cap of a ballpoint pent
- A dollar bill
It takes about 7 coffee beans to make 1 gram or 210 whole coffee beans to make 30 grams. But still, those numbers probably make very little sense since we don’t measure things out like that in our daily routine. A better way to measure would be using something you might already have in your kitchen, a standard spoon. It takes about 6 standard spoon scoops to get close to the 30-gram weight for one cup of coffee, give or take a couple of grams.
How much water is enough then?
This part might be easier to eyeball since you’ll likely have a mug to use for drinking coffee. A standard coffee mug is approximately 8-12 US fluid ounces ( 350 ml), which is generally different from a cup. My best advice is to take the number of cups you want to make and measure it out with the mug you want to drink from.
If you want two cups of coffee, then scoop out 12 spoons of coffee beans and put 2 mugs worth of water in the kettle. You’ll want to add just a little bit of water so you can pre-soak the coffee filter to clean it out a bit. Most modern kettles, at least the electric ones, will usually have a measuring window on the side and should get you pretty close.
The amount of water is important, but also the speed of water pour into the filter once you are ready to brew is more important. Pour too fast, you might end up with under-extracted coffee, pour too slow the water gets too cold, and may leave your coffee with an unpleasant taste. For two cups of pour over coffee, aim for about 4 minutes of brewing time while slowing pouring water in a circular motion into the bed of coffee ground.
What if you don’t have a thermometer or gauge on the kettle?
At sea level, water boils at 212 F, the recommended temperature for a pour over coffee is around 195F – 205F. An easy way to get close to the recommended pouring temp is to remove your kettle from heat as soon as it boils. Let it cool on your countertop away from heat for about 30 – 45 seconds at ambient room temperature.
If it’s winter or colder in your house, then you might only need 20 seconds. But a good rule of thumb is about 30-second wait, and start pouring your brew. If you have questions about pour over coffee and standard methods, check out my guide here. Keep in mind that altitude will play a big role when it comes to the boiling point of water.
The higher the altitude, the lower the boiling point will be, meaning you may not have to wait a full 45 seconds for your water temperature to get to that perfect brew temp.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
I’m a huge proponent of measuring out coffee beans and getting the technique just right, it’s an OCD. But when it comes to my personal taste in pour over coffee, I like to experiment and use these coffee making guides as a starting point. The pour over coffee word has become overly judgmental over the past few years to the point of annoyance.
Once you get used to making pour over coffee without a scale & learn to make it exactly the way you want it, you’ll realize you don’t need fancy tools. I bring this up for the simple fact that many coffee purists will tell you that you need a scientific food scale, the best gooseneck kettle, or hand-blown pour over coffee maker made by 1,000 Angels giving you high-fives.
This could be further from the truth, coffee, just like wine (also another snobby hobby) is meant to be enjoyed, simply. Expensive coffee makers and nonsensical measuring requirements are all made up and have made the joy of drinking coffee into something pretentious.