Nespresso is the revolution to espresso that Keurig was to coffee.
Are automatic drip feed coffee makers just not doing it for you?
For some people, it’s all they know and all they drink.
But you’re chasing a higher caliber of coffee, something that’s handcrafted, fine-tuned to your taste specifications. Sounds like you’re in the market for a pour-over coffee maker.
A pour-over brewer is a form of manual coffee making.
That idea doesn’t get too many people excited, but if you savor every sip of your coffee and enjoy it ‘til the last drop, then you want consistent, powerful flavor all the way through.
We’ve tried, tested, and gotten our daily caffeine fixations off of each of these pour-over coffee makers. Now it’s time to manually craft your own coffee and get that perfect taste every single time.
Best Pour Over Coffee Makers
Chemex Classic Glass Coffeemaker
Originally, we thought a ceramic pour-over coffee maker was going to peak the list, but Chemex came out of the woodwork to steal the spotlight.
Speaking of wood, take a look at the central point of contact in the center of the hourglass design.
That’s softwood. It’s not porous thanks to its coating, but it is soft to the touch, so you can confidently pick up your Chemex glass coffeemaker without worrying about bumps or breaking from pressure.
That’s also due in part by the hyper tough borosilicate glass.
Borosilicate is basically the king of all glass—it doesn’t absorb flavors, it doesn’t absorb odors, and even if you get a scratch in it here and there, the divots won’t harbor bacteria the way the traditional glass will.
You get a good 64 oz, or 8 cup capacity so you can brew like a madman until the last drop is done.
When it comes to actually brewing, Chemex must have known this was going to be a revolutionary pour-over coffee maker, because they only made it fit with their own brand of filters.
You cannot use universal filters with this, at least, none that we’ve found specifically designed for high volume pour-over coffee makers.
Coffee Gator Paperless Pour-Over System
Lattes and cappuccinos are fantastic, but most of the time you can only enjoy them when you buy them from a coffee shop.
As a hand drip coffee maker, Coffee Gator wanted to differentiate from the rest of the rabble. They’re sick of paper filters entering landfills by the millions every single year, so they did something about it.
This super simple pour-over system saves you money on the filter while also helping the environment at the same time.
Designed with a BPA-free glass construction, everything is completely heat-resistant. Well, everything except for the stainless steel mesh filter.
While they can’t magically ensure that metal won’t conduct heat, they did throw a cool tough grip on the removal tab on the side of your filter.
This means no burning your fingers while trying to get the grinds out.
The filter is easy to clean, and the entire system is technically safe to put in the dishwasher, but eventually, the Coffee Gator logo is going to disappear from the outside of the glass.
Now, it’s good enough for one or two people to enjoy coffee, but the volume is only at 14 oz. That’s a 7 oz cup per person with room for cream.
The whole unit is great, from the heat resistance on the glass to the handle, but the pour spout on the front dribbles down the front of the glass sometimes.
|Material||Glass, stainless steel|
|Universal Filters||No filters required|
OXO Brew Single Serve to pour-Over Dripper
OXO may not have won the spot for the best pour-over coffee maker, but this little wonder is basically the perfect solo companion.
OXO doesn’t require you to use filters with this unit at all. Instead, they provide a metal mesh screen that sifts out all the grounds for you.
Pop it on top of your cup, and just fill the top tank. It’s going to drip down into your cup as Keurig brewer would. The thing I like about this is that you can switch it to pour out at two different speeds.
Each will give you a well-brewed cup of coffee, but the difference is that you can make it go just a bit slower for a stronger flavor. That’s something you can’t do with an automatic drip machine.
But this does come with its problems. It’s inexpensive, sure, but that comes at a cost. The entire unit is plastic apart from the metal mesh filter system.
It’s not something I would put in the dishwasher. There’s no official warning that says you should or shouldn’t put it in the dishwasher, but it’s fairly thin plastic. I would hand wash only.
|Universal Filters||No filters required|
Osaka Pour-Over Coffee Maker
For a manual drip coffee maker, it doesn’t get any better than this. First of all, you get the entire glass container made out of borosilicate glass, just like the top pick on our list.
Borosilicate glass ensures that odors and flavors won’t get absorbed due to its specific processing method, so you won’t taste the ghosts of coffees past every single morning.
They did something unique here, which is that they gave you a glass lid. Most brands don’t do that.
This helps you prevent spills if you’re bringing it from the kitchen to the living room during dessert, but it’s also just good for storage purposes. No dust is going to get inside of this thing.
Confidently grasp onto the cool-touch handle that covers about 80% of the hourglass shape in the center, allowing you to pour with ease.
The spout is narrow and the edges are rounded, so if you don’t pour, you’re going to dribble down the side of your carafe.
For the overall design, this model shape allows you to store more coffee at the bottom of the basin than traditionally styled glass pour-over coffee makers.
37 oz is also a pretty high capacity, all things considered. That’s enough for you to drink almost four ten-ounce cups per day, or entertain a small group without having to brew more.
|Material||Borosilicate glass, stainless steel|
|Universal Filters||No filters required|
Gourmia Fully Automatic Pour-Over Coffee Brewer
This one’s unique as can be. You get an electric and automatic heating system, but it doesn’t do anything for the coffee itself.
This is like a really big water heater that drip feeds water through the carafe, which is its own standalone glass carafe with a mesh filtration system that rests in the center of the archway.
This coffee pour-over set doesn’t exceed temperatures of 202° F, which is considered the top of the range for brewing quality coffee, resting just 10° below the boiling point.
You can also adjust it within a reasonable margin of error, so you can make custom brews. If you enjoy a slightly lower temperature, and therefore a lighter-tasting brew, you have that option.
For what it is, I will admit that Gourmia is asking for quite a bit. It electronically heats water within a single degree, and that’s important for coffee, but it’s not actually brewing the coffee for you—it’s just supplying the water.
With that, you do get a high water capacity in the reservoir, up to 33 oz. Your carafe holds up to 30 oz, giving you the ability to account for evaporation and vapor.
Dispense coffee more slowly to get a richer flavor, or have it flow through quickly to get a lighter cup and reuse those coffee grounds after the fact.
There’s one feature that they advertise which just doesn’t make any sense to me: a 24-hour timer function, so it can start brewing coffee early in the morning for you when your feet hit the ground.
But that means you’d need to leave freshly ground coffee out overnight, oxidizing rapidly in the open air, for about eight hours at a time.
It kind of defeats the purpose of grinding your own coffee, and might even taste staler than pre-ground. It’s pricey, but it’s premium. It’s the best automatic pour-over coffee maker you can get.
|Volume||33 oz reservoir, 30 oz carafe|
|Material||Stainless steel, glass, rubber|
|Universal Filters||No filter required|
Pour-Over Coffee Maker Buying Guide and FAQ
How do You Use a Pour-Over Coffee Maker?
Any pour over kit will work the same way. Even electric water heater units that drip coffee for you (a water tank on top of the archway that drips onto a traditional pour-over coffee maker) still operates in the same method.
- Start by setting up your carafe. Put it on a clear surface with plenty of room around it to avoid cluttering and accidental spills.
- Load up your brew basket/mesh screen. Some might require a cone-shaped paper filter, which is usually brand-specific and not universal.
- Grind and measure your coffee. You should have a 1:18 coffee-to-water ratio every time. Ground size matters, but having the right volume is important. For some context, if you wanted to use one ounce of coffee, which is 28 grams, you would need roughly 500ml of water.
- Heat your water in a kettle. Get it to exactly 200° F, but do not get it to the boiling point, which is 212° F. Once it reaches this temperature, pour over the grounds immediately. If it’s in an insulated kettle, it shouldn’t lose its heat during your 1-2 minutes of pouring.
- Pour in a circular motion with a slow pour. It all runs down to the bottom of the cone-shaped filter (for paper), and for mesh, it might leak out of the sides. Either way, it needs to be evenly dispersed over all of the grounds to extract an even amount of flavor.
- Enjoy your coffee after 1-2 minutes of pouring.
Why is Pour-Over Better Than Drip?
Because you start with the perfect water temperature. Drip machines are designed to pull in water, hear it quickly, and then dispense it.
It’s not designed for temperature control (hence the hot plate on the bottom to try and regulate it). It just doesn’t brew the same way.
Now, there are some drip machines that do have temperature control. They’ll have digital timers, temp control gauges, and a display that shows the current tank heat.
Those are machines that cost upwards of $200, whereas good quality borosilicate pour-over coffee maker won’t cost you more than a fifth of that.
Better quality coffee with temperature control and save a ton of money—that’s a no brainer. The only negative is the slightly longer brew time and the fact that you have to be present for the entire thing.
What Type of Coffee is Best for Pour-Over?
Light and medium roast arabica or robusta coffee. Darker roasts generally taste the same from pour-over coffee and drip machines.
You have some machines with different grind sizes, like percolators (fine powder) or French presses (coarse) that impact the flavor, but pour-over coffee traditionally uses standard coffee ground size.
So can you make a darker roast in a pour-over coffee maker? Absolutely. There’s just no clear benefit over another type of coffee.
One of the problems with drip machines, which is particularly why pour-over models are so much better for light and the medium roast is that you have a heating plate constantly cooking the coffee at the bottom.
The only heat during the brewing process should come from the 200° F water in your kettle, and it should slowly decline from there while brewing to about 185° F. The hot plate just adds unnecessary heat to your coffee.
Light and medium brews have more acidity than dark roasts, which means that they’re more susceptible to gaining a sour taste if you brew them improperly.
Darker roast has less acidity, but also less caffeine (the two are related) so you won’t see a noticeable difference regardless of what brewing method you choose.
What is the Point of Pour-Over Coffee?
Pour-over coffee is handcrafted. It’s something unique that you can manipulate the flavor of.
If someone told you to change the way the coffee came out of your automatic drip brewer, you can’t do much other than adding more or get a new flavored coffee bean.
But with pour-over coffee, you control the strength. Apart from that, these are some pretty good benefits of pour-over coffee:
- Saves Money: Most pour-over coffee makers cost approximately 43% less than a middle-of-the-road automatic drip coffee maker. The initial cost is different, but the ongoing cost is different as well. You’re not using electricity to power your pour-over coffee maker for five minutes every day. That means 1,825 minutes of low-volt power that’s not ending up on your energy bill every single year.
- Easier to Clean: You can clean an auto-drip coffee maker coffee pot, but the actual brewer itself is generally a pain to clean. We even wrote a whole guide on it. Pour-over coffee makers have fewer working parts, and you can see absolutely everything to inspect its cleanliness. There’s no water pump tubes to be replaced or grime that gathers from condensation in the lid. It’s simple, and that’s wonderful.
- Better Environmental Impact: If you make one pot of coffee per day, that’s 365 coffee filters or about 0.6 lbs of paper that you’re contributing to landfills every year. Considering that almost every home in America is brewing coffee in the morning, that’s hundreds of millions of pounds of paper waste every year.
- Flavor Control: As I said before, you’re not at the mercy of preprogrammed machines and brewing options that you don’t really care for. You can control the strength, the flavor, and let it cool at room temperature without a hot plate interfering. If you’re brewing this for iced coffee, this comes in handy.
- Borosilicate Glass: Borosilicate glass isn’t used in many automatic drip coffee pots, but it’s something that people come to expect in pour-over units. This glass doesn’t hold onto odors or flavors, so you can clean it easily, and rest assured that you’re not going to taste anything from your last brew. If you’re someone who experiments with different coffee bean flavors and roasts, this is a must-have feature.
Is Pour-Over Coffee Stronger Than Drip?
Not necessarily. It can be, but it isn’t inherently stronger.
You could use 300ml of water in an auto-drip coffee pot and 300ml of water in a pour-over coffee maker, and end up with the same tasting coffee. You could also end up with something completely different.
The strength of your coffee depends on how quickly and evenly you pour it. Automatic drip coffee makers have a spray head that evenly dispersed water in eight to twelve directions.
It drips onto different points of the coffee grounds, saturating small pockets that eventually touch. Then they swell and release the runoff of coffee evenly through the bottom of the brew basket.
But with pour-over, you can make it stronger without the hassle or extra cleanup.
Pour slowly in a clockwise motion to steep the grinds for as long as possible. This process can take a bit longer and be tedious, but you end up with the strength and flavor of coffee that you want.
If you don’t notice a difference between that and drip coffee, you have a unique opportunity to fix that without making a mess.
Take your brewed coffee and place it in another container, then put your mesh coffee ground basket back into place.
Pour your coffee back over the grounds, mimicking the same speed and motion of your initial pour.
You can do this, which is sometimes referred to as over-extraction, or you can simply use more grounds next time.
The first drop of coffee that enters your carafe during brewing is usually the strongest because nearly all of the grounds need to be wet before any drops are produced.
It’s like a concentrate that slowly dials back and gets thinner as the brewing process goes on.
You can only really pour-over coffee grounds a second time before you’re just letting your coffee get cold without much-added benefit.
Your Next Best Cup of Coffee
You’ve seen the best pour-over coffee dripper models on the market, but now it’s time to make your decision.
Pour-over coffee takes a little bit of time to master, but once you get it down pat, you’re going to create handcrafted cups that no machine can do for you.
Manual coffee is very artisan and is something you should absolutely know if you ever plan on pursuing a career as a barista.
Start enjoying your coffee again instead of just drinking it for the buzz; start making it manually.
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