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Published Aug 5, 2020

pour-over coffee

Pour-over coffee has become quite the trend these days. So I have been thinking about taking a stab at making a ceramic pour over coffee set. If you are also interested in incorporating the pour-over craze into your clay work, this post is for you!

In this excerpt from the Ceramics Monthly archive, Maria Dondero shares how to make a ceramic pour over coffee set. To learn more about developing these forms, plus how Maria decorates with slip, sgraffito, and stains, check out the December 2017 issue of Ceramics Monthly! - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor


I made my first ceramic coffee pour-over set at Penland School of Crafts in 2009 after living at a cabin in the Adirondack mountains for many months and using a plastic camping coffee pour-over to make coffee each morning. I loved the direct, quick approach to making a delicious cup of coffee in a place that didn’t have a coffee maker. The only problem with the process for me was the plastic apparatus. It seemed that the whole experience could be a lot more beautiful and satisfying if the entire pour-over coffee set were ceramic like the mug it was pouring into. So I set out to learn how to make a ceramic pour over.

To make this particular version, use about 2 pounds of clay. Center the clay on the wheel and open up a flat wide base that is big enough to sit on top of most mugs (4–5 inches wide). Leave a ring of clay for the outer flange that is ¼-inch thick and about 1 inch wide (1), then start to throw a cup shape with the remaining clay on top of the flange (2). Compress the bottom of the cup and flange area so that it won’t crack. Make sure it is not too thick. It’s helpful to have a paper filter to gauge the size and volume of the cup area that will be used for brewing. I like filter size #4, which sticks out a bit over the top of the pour-over. When the thrown cup/bowl is the correct size, trim away any excess clay with a rib so that the pour-over is not too heavy. Slice the pot from the wheel with a wire tool.

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The fun part is altering the circular cup shape into an oval when pulling it off the wheel (3). Simply apply pressure to two sides of the cup portion when picking it up off the wheel and leave it to dry in a lemon shape that mimics the filter (4).

The fine tuning and hole-cutting should be done when the piece is leather hard. Another important factor for function is making the hole the appropriate size so that the water steeps with the coffee grounds for the right amount of time. If the hole is too big, or there are too many holes, the water will pour through before fully brewing the coffee. I have made this mistake, and there is really nothing more dismaying than a weak cup of coffee. On the other hand, if the hole is too small, the coffee will take so long to drain into the cup that it gets bitter by the time it finally drains through. So, making one hole that is about 1⁄3-inch in diameter is just about right for the shrinkage rate of my clay body (see 4). Make sure that the entire base remains flat. If the bottom rounds up, the coffee will drip down the sides of the cup instead of inside.

**First published in 2017.