Buying Guide | 19 min read

Best Pour Over Coffee Makers – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Did you know that the pour over coffee you know today is more than 100 years old? Melitta Bentz invented it in 1908 Germany. The story goes that Melitta wasn’t keen on the coffee markers of that time – percolator-type devices extracted the coffee and espresso machines that allowed a minute amount of coffee grinds and fines through the cup. While linen filters did exist, she felt that they were out of date and cumbersome to clean.

What Melitta did was take paper out of her son’s exercise book to make a filter from it. She took a brass pot and used it as a brewer. The rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward to today, there is a plethora of pour over devices on the market with an array of various features, build materials and shapes. Today, we’re going to look at their differences and help you to choose the right brewer for you.

Manual Pour Over vs. Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

Both an automatic drip coffee marker and manual brewer operate in a similar manner. Coffee is placed in a brew basket of some type, and both have hot water poured over it. The coffee drips out into a vessel and gives a cup of coffee with similar strength. The differences in these devices are the brewing process and the coffee’s flavor.

The beauty of automatic drip coffee makers is that you set it up and forget. Just add water and ground coffee, turn it on and let it go. The machine showers water over the coffee in the basket. This, then, drips through the coffee and into the carafe. In most cases, when the coffee is done, the machine turns itself off.

Manual pour overs, on the other hand, are completely manual. You boil the water, rinse the filter and add the coffee – you pour the water (as well as the love into it). You’re making the coffee entirely by hand - you’re in control of everything about it:

  • Speed at which you pour
  • Brew time
  • Stir or not stir the coffee bed

Everything you do affects how the coffee turns out.

Immersion vs. Infusion

Now, manual brewing can be broken into two different categories – immersion and infusion.

  • Immersion – This is any brewing technique where all the ground coffee is extracted with all the brew water at the same time for the whole brew cycle. The coffee extracts over time. Some examples of immersion brewers include Aeropress, clever coffee dripper, syphon and the French Press. It’s an easier brewing method, but you give up some control of how the coffee is going to taste.
  • Infusion – Pour over coffee brewers, by nature, are all infusion brewers. The Kalita wave, the Hario V60 and the Chemex – each one uses fresh water poured over the ground coffee bed in order to extract the coffee. This means the automatic drip coffee makers are also using the infusion method. This method overs more control, but makes minute adjustments to sweetness and strength through how much water is poured and when, in the brew cycle, that water is poured.

3 Types Of Pour Over Coffee Filters

Paper – The most common, and preferable, tasting filters for the pour over method are paper filters. These can be bought in various shapes, sizes and materials. And, they can vary greatly in quality. Paper filters, for the most part, will result in more delicate coffee in a cup. The paper filter doesn’t allow the coffee’s oils and ultra-fine silt type particles get through into the cup, which means the coffee comes out lighter than coffee brewed with a metal filter.

Metal – Metal mesh filters, such as those on the French press, allow everything except most of the grounds into the cup. This means the oils and super fine particles extracted during the brewing process go into the cup. This changes the coffee’s taste as well as its mouthfeel. In essence, it’s a heavier coffee.

Cloth – These filters don’t tend to resonate well with coffee drinkers. Yes, they create much less waste and maintain the oils in the coffee while catching the fine coffee silt, but they also absorb the flavor and aroma. This causes the coffee to taste like a sock. They are also hard to clean. They are usually used with a syphon, but is usable with any manual pour over device the coffee “sock” will fit into.

Coffee Essentials: Fresh Coffee Beans and Grind Size

As with all other types of brewing – good, high-quality, fresh coffee is essential. The sweet spot for coffee freshness is anywhere from five to 15 days after the roasting date. Any time before this, the coffee will be degassing. The degassing process takes place after roasting and causes the produced CO2 to release rapidly. Coffees brewed during this five-day major degassing period may extract unevenly (because of the CO2 release) and can taste fairly flat. ..

Grind size is really important with all brew types, and the pour over is no exception. For pour over coffee, as a rough visual cue, we’re looking for a grind that is around the same size as crystal sugar granules. If your coffee is brewing too quickly, your grind will be finer. If it’s brewing too slowly, and the filter is becoming clogged, we’ll go courser.

How To Choose A Suitable Pour Over Coffee Maker

Now that we know the key points of what a pour over device is, we need to look at what we personally would want from a pour over coffee maker and take into account when we review a pour over device. The kinds of things we look at include:

  • Material type
  • Portability
  • Ease of use
  • Brew time
  • Budget
  • Brew capacity
  • Taste
  • Cleaning and maintenance
  • Accessories

Material Type

This is a hotly debated topic for home coffee needs and baristas all around the world – what is the best material to use in developing a pour over device? While this boils down to preference, there are a few things we know for sure:

  • Metal – Metal is durable, light and heats up quickly. However, it’s also more expensive and, depending on the material, doesn’t retain its heat very well. For great coffee, the brew needs to be even. If a brewer cannot maintain the same temperature and loses heat during the brew, it’s a bad thing. Also, depending on the kind of metal (copper, for instance), it may add flavor to the coffee – good or bad. Copper does, however, transfer heat well, which is why some people say a copper brewer gives the coffee a more even overall heat.
  • Ceramic – This material type is extremely popular, and it's not surprising as to why. It looks good, is typically cheaper than metal and retains heat pretty well. However, it does have its drawbacks. Ceramic brewers are very fragile. Plus, they take longer to heat up than a plastic or metal brewer. If you fail to clean the brewer regularly, they can become stained by the coffee.
  • Glass – The biggest drawback to glass is how fragile it is. Still, it’s got numerous positive things going for it – heats up quickly, retains the heat and makes you feel like you’re in a science lab making coffee. It’s also easier to clean than ceramic and won’t stain like ceramic does.
  • Plastic – Plastic retains heat very well, and they heat up quickly. They are cheap and can last for years. For instance, I’ve had my red plastic V60 for years, taking it camping and rock climbing. I’ve thrown it around, and it still looks like the day I bought it. Of course, it’s plastic, which means it’s not as nice to look at.

Portability

Do you want a brewer you can take with you camping and traveling? Is the brewer going to have a special place in the kitchen? How portable a device is can be based on its size, but that’s not all – heaviness and material will also determine how portable it will be.

Ease of Use

All pour over devices can be either easy or complicated to use – depends on you. You can add some coffee, not so carefully, pour a rough amount of water over the beans you’re using to make your decent cup of coffee. Why settle for decent when you should be going for amazing?!

The learning curve for making a great cup of coffee is steep for some of these devices. However, some devices still can do some of the work for you – automatic drip coffee brewers, for example.

Brew Time

It may be easy to think, when it comes to brewing coffee, that faster is better. Whatever device gets coffee into my hands faster is awesome!

The fast cup option may be a key point for people on the go, but if you want a great flavor from your coffee, you need to allow it to brew for a certain amount of time.

According to the SCA (specialty coffee association), for a two-cup pour over, all brew water should be poured within a three-minute window with a completed brew time of around three and a half minutes. This gives the coffee plenty of time to extract, but not enough time to produce a meaty-bitter, burnt, dry flavor that can happen.

Knowing this window also helps to get the right grind size. If your brews are going beyond the window, you need to adjust the grind. Too slow of a brew causes a courser coffee while too fast of a brew causes a finer output. You can learn more about the SCA brewing protocol here.

Budget: Immediate and Ongoing Costs

When thinking about a device’s cost, you need to consider more than just the upfront cost, such as the ongoing costs that come with using it. For example, capsule coffee makers are affordable machines, but the cost of buying the capsules is typically less cost-effective than if you were to buy fresh, high-quality coffee beans.

And, that’s an ongoing cost.

Don’t forget the paper filters for the manual brewing devices. Another ongoing cost, and is something you must be mindful of when you chose your device. You can use reusable metal mesh filters, so all you have to do pay for is the coffee and water.

Brew Capacity

Who are you brewing for? It is just you, a couple of people or a group of individuals. This is certainly something you need to consider when choosing your brewer. I personally don’t want to make two or more cups of coffee in a row – individually. I’d rather have a brewer with the capacity to brew a small or large amount at one time. This will save you time, and it means everybody gets their coffee at once.

Taste

The single biggest difference with many brewing methods is the way the coffee is filtered. Some devices use mesh, some use paper and some use cloth – all of which will change how your coffee tastes. If you like a lighter, more delicate coffee, you want a device that uses a paper filter. If you love strong, heavy coffee, a mesh filter is what you’re after.

Another thing that greatly affects the coffee flavor is the shape of the brew basket – flat bottom or semi-conical. The Hario V60 has a semi-conical brew basket while the Kalita Wave has a flat bottom brew basket.

Which one is better? Which one produces better coffee? Well, that’s really subjective and debatable. Some say a flat bottom brewer will produce a stronger coffee and extract more evenly. According to users, the flat bottom is the reason. All the coffee has an even time with the water. Semi-conical brewer fans say the same thing.

A study carried out at the University of California Davis Coffee Center sheds some light on the subject.

Cleaning and Maintenance

With many brewing devices, cleaning is as easy as cleaning a coffee cup. Since many devices on the market use paper filters, the brewer never comes in contact with the coffee itself, which means it never gets dirty. Once you take the filter away from the brewer, the device just needs a rinsing.

On other devices, however, the cleaning and maintenance are difficult. That’s because they use multiple parts, made of a material that can become stained or the brewer is a carafe that can be hard to get inside of and clean.

Accessories

Every brewer could benefit from being used alongside scales, as these devices provide a deeper level of accuracy and consistency. This can help with getting great coffee.

Many pour over devices can benefit from being poured with a gooseneck kettle – an increase in control is the reason. Many devices need filters. These are all the things you need to take into consideration when choosing your devices. After all, it’s not just the devices that make the great coffee, but the accessories that go along with it.

10 Pour Over Coffee Makers To Consider

Here’s our curated guide of 10 different pour over coffee makers:

Hario V60 Plastic Coffee Dripper

Hario V60 Plastic Coffee Dripper

The Hario V60 is our everyday manual coffee brewer. It’s versatile, inexpensive and can produce amazingly clean sweet coffee.

Pros:

  • Budget - Under $20
  • Portability - Very light and durable
  • Brew time - A cup can be ready in about three minutes
  • Brew capacity - Comes in multiple sizes
  • Taste - Great results can come from the Hario V60
  • Cleaning and maintenance - Easy to clean

Cons:

  • Ease of use - Fully manual
  • Accessories - Need to have filters and, for best results, scales and a gooseneck nettle for more controlled pouring

Hario V60 ceramic coffee dripper

Hario V60 ceramic coffee dripper

If we mention the plastic, we have to mention the ceramic Hario V60! The same design and functionality; just made of beautiful ceramic.

Pros:

  • Budget - A little more expensive than the plastic, but still very affordable at under $30
  • Brew time - Around three minutes for a cup
  • Brew capacity - Can brew between one and six cups
  • Taste - Beautiful way of brewing sweet coffee

Cons:

  • Ease of use - Fully manual with a steeper learning curve than an automatic machine
  • Accessories - Need filters and preferably a gooseneck kettle and scales
  • Portability - Ceramic, so it’s unlikely you’ll be taking it out of the house very often.

Kalita Wave

Kalita Wave

While the Hario V60 has a single hole in the bottom and is cone-shaped, the Kalita Wave has a flat bottom brew basket and three holes. This flat bottom gives the water longer contact time with the coffee, producing a richer resulting cup.

Pros:

  • Budget - Around the same price as the ceramic V60
  • Brew time - Completely user controlled with a cup in about three minutes
  • Brew capacity - Comes in various sizes
  • Taste - Results can be very rich
  • Portability - Made of metal meaning the wave is durable
  • Cleaning and maintenance - Very easy to clean

Cons:

  • Ease of use - Certainly a learning curve to produce a great cup
  • Accessories - You’ll need filters and, preferably, scales

Chemex Glass Drip Coffee Maker

Chemex Glass Drip Coffee Maker

The Chemex is a rather beautiful, glass coffee maker with a gorgeous wooden handle. It is one of the oldest pour over coffee maker. Invented in 1941, it has remained, pretty much, the same design.

Pros:

  • Taste - Great flavors are possible with the Chemex
  • Brew time - Entirely manual; you choose your brew time
  • Brew capacity - Comes in multiple sizes

Cons:

  • Budget - More expensive than its rival drip coffee makers
  • Portability – Made completely of glass and very fragile
  • Ease of use – Steep learning curve
  • Accessories - Need paper filters and preferably and gooseneck kettle and scales
  • Cleaning - Narrow-mouth carafe makes cleaning difficult; may need a bottle brush to clean properly

Melitta Pour Over Coffee Brewer

Melitta Pour Over Coffee Brewer

The Melitta pour over coffee brewer is another popular and well-known name in the pour over game. It is one of the least expensive pour over devices around. It is plastic and has a cone shape with only one small hole in the bottom, which slows down the coffee while brewing and makes it stronger.

Pros:

  • Taste - Like all pour over devices, how good it tastes is up to you. Beautiful results are possible
  • Portability - Super light and durable plastic
  • Cleaning - Easy to clean
  • Budge - Very affordable
  • Brew time - While the brew time is slightly longer than the V60, it still falls inside the acceptable brewing window of around 3:30
  • Brew capacity - Comes in multiple sizes

Cons:

  • Ease of use - Takes practice to get great coffee
  • Accessories - Needs paper filters. For best results, also use scales and gooseneck kettle

Melitta 10-Cup Cone Coffee Maker

Melitta 10-Cup Cone Coffee Maker

This is essentially the largest Melitta drip coffee maker with a carafe to brew into.

Pros:

  • Taste - Capable of brewing good coffee
  • Budget – Although it has a carafe, the Melitta 10 cup is very affordable
  • Brew time - Brews the whole carafe in an acceptable time window
  • Brew capacity - Large capacity

Cons:

  • Ease of use - Fully manual
  • Portability - While the dripper itself is very portable, the carafe isn’t.

Kinto Carafe Coffee Dripper

Kinto Carafe Coffee Dripper

The Kinto carafe coffee dripper is similar to the Chemex, with a few differences. The filter on the Kinto is stainless steel, not paper, which can make coffee heavier with more oils coming through. The metal filter cone sits inside the carafe when brewing.

Pros:

  • Taste - If used correctly and a good brew time is achieved, resulting coffee will be good
  • Brew capacity - Comes in two sizes; up to 600ml of coffee. Perfect for two people
  • Accessories - Doesn’t require paper filters but recommended to use scales and gooseneck kettle
  • Brew time - As long as you grind your coffee fine enough, brew time should be acceptable

Cons:

  • Cleaning - A bottle brush must be used to clean the Kinto properly
  • Portability - Made of very thin glass; extremely fragile
  • Budget - More expensive than other drippers but don’t have to buy filters again
  • Ease of use - Trickier than others; grind size matters, as too course of a grind and coffee brews too quickly

Fellow Stagg Pour Over Coffee Dripper

Fellow Stagg Pour Over Coffee Dripper

This is a nice-looking, flat bottom pour over device from Fellow. It comes as a set, with a steel dripper, a double-walled glass cup and a ratio aid. The ratio aid is their way of measuring beans to ensure you are using the correct amount. This is, of course, flawed because all coffee beans weigh different amounts.

Pros:

  • Taste - Really good coffee can be made with this
  • Brew capacity - It comes in two sizes; single cup and carafe
  • Brew time - Well within recommended brew times
  • Portability - As long as you just bring the metal dripper and not the included glass cup, the device is very portable
  • Ease of use - Can be used like a V60 or a Kalita wave, but in a simpler manner. One option is to fill the dripper completely and wait for the coffee to drip. Comes with the bean measuring cup so that you can guess the correct amount of beans

Clever Coffee Dripper

Clever Coffee Dripper

The Clever coffee dripper does live up to its name. The clever part of the Clever is in the way it brews. First, add your coffee and pour all your brew water into the Clever. The water will stay in the dripper until it is placed on a cup. Placing the device on a cup opens up the device and allows the coffee to flow out. This will result in a coffee that is similar to a French press and V60.

Pros:

  • Taste - Really good tasting coffee can be made with this
  • Budget - Reasonably priced for what it does
  • Brew capacity: Comes in 2 sizes
  • Brew time - Entirely manual; you choose your brew time
  • Portable – Perfect companion for travel
  • Cleaning and maintenance - Very easy to clean
  • Ease of use - Much easier to use than others mentioned in the list

Cons:

  • Accessories - Needs paper filters. For best results, also use a scale.

OXO BREW Single Serve Pour Over

OXO BREW Single Serve Pour Over

The OXO brew is another interesting brewer with a unique offering. It’s similar to manual automatic drip coffee maker and comes with a water tank on top. Add the coffee to the dripper, add water to the tank, and it’ll do the rest!

Pros:

  • Budget - Very well priced
  • Ease of use - Much easier to use than a V60 or Kalita Wave
  • Cleaning - Easy to clean
  • Brew time - Designed to release the water with correct timing

Cons:

  • Capacity - Only comes in one size, which brews 12oz of coffee
  • Taste – Produces great coffee, but the ease of use means making sacrifices - less control to customize the coffee the way you want it.
  • Portable - While it is plastic and relatively durable, it is a bit bigger than some brewers.

We’ve used many of these devices for quite some time, and to be honest, we would be happy using any and all of them. It’s pretty common to see a specialty coffee shop or home barista coffee set up with many of the devices we’ve listed.

Our Four Top Picks

Best Value For Money

Hario V60 Plastic Coffee Dripper

Hario V60 Plastic Coffee Dripper

The Hario V60 comes in at under $20 and is everything I would want in a dropper. And, in all honesty, I would not change a thing about it. I can’t praise it enough, and hands down, it’s my top pick!

Best For Beginner

OXO BREW Single Serve Pour Over

OXO Brew Single Serve Pour Over Coffee Maker

As far as coffee nerds go, the OXO Brew Single Serve Pour Over is our choice for beginner coffee makers. After all, you don’t have to do much, as the dripper does most everything. It’s a good entry machine for drip coffee makers. Best of all, it’s got a reasonable price, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Best For Outdoors and Travel

Clever Coffee Dripper

Clever Coffee Dripper

Due to its simplicity, the Clever coffee dripper is the best option for outdoors and travel. You don’t need a special kettle or water vessel to pour the brew water with precision. Just add the coffee and water, and wait.

Best For Coffee Geeks and Home Baristas

Hario V60 ceramic coffee dripper

Hario V60 ceramic coffee dripper

The ceramic Hario V60 is an essential part of any coffee geek setup. It can make a delicate, but beautiful coffee while looking good at the same time. It’s the ideal coffee maker!

Tried any of these Pour Over Coffee Maker? Share with us!

Have a favourite pour over coffee maker that you simply adore? Or have you brewed up a secret recipe that simply explodes your taste bud? Leave us a comment below, and tell us what you think!

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