If you’ve been brewing pour over long enough, the chances are that no matter how amazing of a pour over you have – Chemex, Hario V60, Kalita, whatever – you’ve experienced some clogging, slowing, or otherwise sluggish behavior from your dripper at some point.
Yes it happens to the best of us.
It’s especially a bummer if you have a coffee that you’ve paid some good money for and you’ve been enjoying a lot, or are about to enjoy.
But you brew it only to find that after 5 or 6 long minutes to brew a single cup, you have a layer of silt on the top of the grounds.
It doesn’t look pretty.
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A slow brew time for pour over can be called clogging, stalling, choking or other names of that manner.
And a long brew time isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s something you should be able to account for.
The problem with a slow pour over extraction is when the coffee is over-extracted.
And usually, that comes out in the taste.
But with that being said, you probably clicked on this article not just to learn to compensate for long brew times, you came here to fix the problem altogether, having an ideal brew time and amazing tasting coffee.
So let’s look now at why your pour over is going slow, and five ways to fix the problem!
Bad Coffee Grinder, Or Grinding It Too Fine
This would be the first culprit to examine for the problem.
I think this may be the most common factor in the problem of poorly extracted pour over.
If your pour over is clogging or stalling, I’d say this is the first thing to look at.
A lot of beginners get poor quality coffee grinders, which results in inconsistent grinds and thus, stalling in the brewing process.
But when it comes to the grind size, having too fine of a grind can cause your coffee to brew slowly, and if this is happening you should check your grind size and set it a notch coarser until it brews properly.
If you want to be sure that it’s not your coffee grinder, you can make sure you have a high quality grinder.
That way you’ll be sure your grind is consistent.
But if it’s a problem of your grinds being too fine, adjust the grind size until it works better!
Pouring Too Aggressively
This might be unexpected.
Pour over is truly an art and a science, and sometimes we pour really gently, at other times aggressively.
But one of the top reasons that your pour over clogs up could be because the coffee is getting too churned up by fast, powerful pulsing pours.
What happens then is that ultrafine particles of the coffee grinds can clog the pours of the filter… which almost acts as a second filter.
So, don’t pour so aggressively or hard that it swirls around your brew bed.
Be more gentle and see if that helps with your brew time.
A Bad Pour Over Dripper
Yes, sometimes the coffee maker itself can be the problem.
Although it’s not usually the case, it could be.
If you’re using Chemex, Hario V60, Kalita Wave or most any other modern dripper, this shouldn’t be a problem.
But one that tends to have problems is the stainless steel version of the Kalita Wave.
There’s a bit of a design flaw that makes it so that the drain holes get plugged.
But other than that, if you use any of the ones mentioned above from the list, you’re good to go.
But if you have any “no-name brand” for a pour over, pay careful attention to the brewing process to make sure it all flows smoothly.
The Wrong Filter
Yes, the filter makes a difference.
It’s just best practice to use the filter that was designed for the dripper you’re using.
Chemex has a special filter, Hario V60 has a special filter, etc.
This is not a law that’s sealed in blood, but if you use the wrong filter for your pour over and you’re having problems, don’t be surprised.
However, please see my note in the closing section about metal filters!
Using Light Or Dense Coffee
This problem, on the other hand, is one that would not be obvious at all to most of us.
If you’re using light roast coffee, there are certain characteristics that affect the grinding process and thus the coffee brewing.
Light roast coffees usually have more of the resident flavors and often light, fruity or floral notes.
These coffees can also be dense in nature because they’re grown at high altitudes.
And because they’re dense, in the grinding process more fine particles are produced.
And if there are more fine particles, that means that the brewing process is more prone to clogging or stalling.
This is a difficult issue to fix, because you can’t “fix” the coffee bean.
You can of course make sure you have a great coffee grinder, but that might not even totally fix the issue.
You can adjust the grind size a bit coarser and see if that helps, or you could of course just try other types of coffee.
But if it happens with your favorite type of coffee, you could try to venture out and use a thinner type of filter, but then you’re getting into more mechanics of things and you’ll have to use many times of brewing to get it dialed in.
Also, I did just recommend to use the right filter, so that’s to your own discretion.
This article covers the main reasons why your brewing process could be stalling when you’re brewing with pour over.
The only other reason I could think of to cause this would be if you’re not using good water.
Sometimes, water contains too much calcium and could cause chalk buildup in metal filters, if you’re using those, which can also be really great, by the way.
But if you use water that has high calcium levels or other minerals, this could be a slight part of the problem.
And if you use a metal filter, you should be sure to give it a scrub sometimes.
But speaking of metal filters, these can also be a fantastic, clean and more environmentally friendly way to brew.
The taste that I get from the one that I use is awesome, and I’d highly recommend that one.
But they have different sizes… and I’ve also purchased one that’s too thick and takes way too long to brew.
It takes about 10 minutes… which is insane.
I really hope this article was helpful for you, and if you’ve had problems with your pour over having a slow brew time, you’ll be able to fix it with one or more of these solutions.
And with that, coffee cheers!