There are so many ways to brew and enjoy coffee. The things I love about making pourover coffee include the rich, bright, and complex flavors, the lush and lively aromas, the deliberate quality of slowly pouring the water, pausing to watch the bloom rise and subside, and the practicality of drinking my coffee from the same vessel in which it was brewed. As a ceramic artist I enjoy the processes of making, whether it be a sculpture, a mug, loaves of bread, or a cup of coffee. There is a certain cadence to every act: the considered pace of making pourover coffee reflects the way I like to transition from sleep to greeting a new morning.
Throwing a Set
I make the mug and filter-cone parts for the pourover coffee set on the same day: mug first, filter cone base second, then the cone third.
To make a mug that holds about 24 ounces of liquid, start with a pound of clay. When throwing the mug form, make the base rather broad or a little bottom heavy to stabilize it and counterbalance a filter cone full of hot coffee. In addition, instead of making a tapered rim as you would for a regular mug, make the rim more round. In this way you avoid chipping the rim over time from repeated placement of the filter cone on top of it. Using calipers, measure the inside diameter of the rim.
Usually, I make the foot of the filter cone a bit smaller than needed to fit in the mug, and the outer diameter of its base slightly wider than needed. This is so my filter cone fits a variety of mugs in my cupboard beside its mate, and I get to use it more often.
Throw the filter cone base upside-down: centering clay, then flattening it into a thick disc. Next, compress and pull up the foot (figure 1), checking its diameter with the calipers. After trimming and rounding the edge of the circumference, remove it from the wheel.
The cone itself should hold at least half the amount of liquid as the mug, so use less than ½ pound of clay for this. When creating the center opening, go all the way to the wheel head. Throw the cone with a slight flare at the bottom (figure 2). After the top of the cone has set up to leather hard, trim off all excess clay so that the bottom is about the same diameter as the foot ring you just threw. This is so that when assembled, the weight of the cone rests directly over the foot ring, and results in less chance of warping (figure 3). When placing it on the ware board, I press the base of the cone together so that the bottom is now oval or oblong.
Attaching and Finishing
When leather hard, carve out excess clay from the lower interior of the cone following its contours. Next, score both its underside and the base where they will be attached, slip one side and press them together. Sometimes a small coil of clay is needed at the join to make it seamless (figure 4). Once assembled, carve a small circle from the center of the base for the coffee to pour through, no more than ½ inch in diameter.
Make the mug handle first, then, when making the filter cone handle, aim to echo the form of the mug handle. Also, make sure the two forms line up vertically when the set is put together (figure 5). When everything is leather hard, put the set together and continue to dry them this way (figure 6). Bisque fire them as a set, not separately.
For glaze, I used a simple three-part, shiny gloss to line the interiors and to cover the design. Then I waxed the design and applied the same base glaze, with an added 2% copper carbonate, to the exterior of the pieces and fired them separately to cone 03.
Eva L. Champagne received her BA in Studio Art from Humboldt State University and completed Post-Baccalaureate study at the University of Florida. Eva earned her MFA from the University of Montana-Missoula. She is currently teaching ceramics and art fundamentals at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. To see more, visit http://evalyschampagne.com.