An Expert Guide to Pour-Over Coffee Makers

Published on 05/26/2023 · 12 min readPour-over's are a simple and popular way to perfect your morning brew! Read on for a deep dive into pour-over coffee makers from Coffee Expert Hannah Ramsey.
Hannah Ramsey, Coffee Expert
By Coffee Expert Hannah Ramsey

Pour over set up made of a plastic Hario V60, with an unbleached paper filter and a Hario glass carafe. Photo by Andrew Welch

When selecting the best pour-over coffee maker for your lifestyle, it is important to consider various factors. Stable designs are important for preventing spills and should fit securely on cups or carafes. Additionally, it is wise to avoid coffee makers which require proprietary or hard-to-find filters. For those who want the craft and taste of a pour-over coffee but have limited time, options such as Chemex Ottomatic 2.0, Technivorm Moccamaster Cup-One, and OXO Pour-Over Brewer are great choices. For those entertaining guests, brewers such as the Chemex Classic and Stagg Pour XF are recommended due to their larger capacity and attractive showpiece quality. Finally, for those on the go, Miir Pourigami and Stanley Perfect Pour-Over Set are great options due to their durability and compact design. Whatever your needs may be, there is sure to be a perfect pour-over coffee maker that will provide you with an enjoyable brewing experience!

When I first started in the specialty coffee industry nearly 14 years ago, I was an intern at a direct trade coffee roaster. As an intern at a coffee company, coffee runs look a bit different. My first-ever responsibility and main duty during that six months was mastering and keeping the pour-over brew bar. As my time in coffee went on, I found that though techniques and ingredients vary, if you use a good recipe and quality gear, anyone can achieve a cup of excellence. My passion is sharing my knowledge about products and connecting people with their dream setup so their love and appreciation for coffee can grow one pour at a time!

What Is a Pour-Over?

A pour-over is a manual coffee brewing method where hot water is poured over ground coffee beans in a filter, allowing the coffee to drip through into a mug, cup, or carafe. A pour-over coffee maker thusly is a device designed for this brewing method, typically featuring a cone-shaped filter holder and a receptacle for the brewed coffee. This method offers precise control over brewing variables like water temperature, grind size, and pour speed, resulting in a clean, well-extracted cup of coffee with a distinct flavor profile compared to other brewing methods.

3 cup chemex coffee maker with glass mug. Photo by Nathan Dumlao

What to Consider When Buying a Pour-Over Coffee Maker

1. Do You Prefer Reusable or Disposable Filters?

Coffee filters can impact both the taste of your coffee and the environment. Reusable metal filters are eco-friendly and cost-effective but may let more sediment through. Disposable paper filters are convenient and provide a cleaner cup but generate waste and recurring costs. Decide which filter type aligns with your taste preferences and values.

2. How Much Should a Pour-Over Coffee Maker Cost?

Prices vary significantly, from $10 for basic models to $60+ for designer options. At lower price points, expect basic designs with fewer features. Mid-range models ($20-$60) typically offer better materials and build quality. High-end options can reach the hundreds, often having superior heat retention, unique designs, brand recognition, or automation. Determine your budget and decide which features are most important to you.

3. How Many Servings Do You Need?

Consider your daily coffee consumption and whether you typically brew for yourself or multiple people. Some setups are designed for single servings, while others can accommodate multiple cups or a full carafe. Choose a size that matches your brewing habits to avoid unnecessary hassle or waste.

4. Is Ease of Cleaning Important to You?

Different pour-over coffee drippers have varying degrees of cleaning difficulty. Consider how much time and effort you're willing to invest in cleaning your coffee maker. Some models are dishwasher-safe, while others require hand washing. For instance, a reusable metal filter will require more thorough cleaning than a disposable paper filter.

5. How Much Counter Space Do You Have?

Pour-over machines come in various sizes and shapes. Assess your available counter space or storage options, and choose a coffee maker that fits comfortably in your kitchen without creating clutter or inconvenience.

Different Kinds of Pour-Overs: Glass, Ceramic, Stainless Steel, and Plastic

As a coffee expert and experienced barista, I'm glad to help you understand the different types of pour-over vessels, so let's dive into the benefits and downsides of each vessel type.

1. Glass

Glass pour-over coffee makers are visually appealing, allowing you to see the brewing process. They have good heat retention but can break easily if dropped or mishandled. Glass doesn't retain or impart any flavors, ensuring a pure coffee taste. Popular options include Chemex and Hario V60.

  • Benefits: Watching the brewing process can be mesmerizing and therapeutic, like a coffee lava lamp. Glass can give your kitchen a sleek, modern aesthetic, making it the coffee showpiece of your countertop.
  • Keep in Mind: Glass is fragile and sensitive to stress, which can crack due to sudden temperature changes. It's also a fingerprint magnet, so you may need to polish it frequently to maintain that pristine look.

2. Ceramic

Ceramic pour-overs offer excellent heat retention, keeping water at a consistent temperature throughout the brewing process. They are durable, but like glass, they can break if dropped. In addition, ceramics don't absorb odors or flavors, which ensures a clean coffee taste. The Hario V60 also comes in a ceramic version; however, the Bee House coffee dripper is the most popular.

  • Benefits: Ceramic pour-overs come in a variety of colors and designs, adding a personal touch to your brewing experience. They're also great at retaining heat, ensuring your coffee won't suffer from a sudden case of "the chills."
  • Keep in Mind: Ceramic pour-overs can be a bit heavy, making them less travel-friendly. Also, they can chip or crack, so handle them with care, or you might end up with a sad brew and a frown to match.

3. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel pour-over coffee makers are highly durable and lightweight, perfect for travel or camping. They typically retain less heat than glass or ceramic, but some models feature double-wall insulation to help maintain temperature. In addition, stainless steel is less likely to break and is usually dishwasher-safe. However, lower-quality stainless steel may impart a metallic taste to your coffee. The Kalita Wave is a popular stainless steel option as well as the Hario V60.

  • Benefits: These coffee warriors are built to last and can withstand the occasional tumble. They're easy to clean and, with their sleek design, can make you feel like a coffee-brewing superhero.
  • Keep in Mind: They may not hold heat as well as their glass and ceramic counterparts, so you might need to preheat them with hot water for optimal brewing. As mentioned, lower-quality stainless steel might give your coffee a metallic aftertaste, so choose wisely.

4. Plastic

Pour-over drippers made from plastic are also lightweight and have a high level of durability which enables them to be taken almost anywhere and are perfect for those who may be on the clumsy side. These are mainly top-shelf dishwasher safe but also very easy to clean by hand. Like stainless steel, there is little to no heat retention, so they are highly sought after for cold brew or iced coffee. The most popular options in plastic are the Clever and Melitta coffee drippers.

  • Benefits: Most of these drippers come in clear plastic and will give the same effect as glass without worrying about breakage. These also tend to be the most affordable option in brewing materials.
  • Keep in Mind: Plastic, even BPA-free, can break down over time and is vulnerable to coffee acid, resulting in flavor and scent absorption and staining.

Each pour-over type has its unique charm, so consider what matters most to you—appearance, durability, heat retention, or portability—and let your personal preferences guide you to the perfect match. When helping someone decide, I'd consider their lifestyle and priorities to recommend the best material for their needs.

Pour over being made with a ceramic Hario V60 into a ceramic mug. Photo by Zachary Keimig

Features to Look For in a Pour-Over Coffee Maker

Now that you know the different materials you can find pour-overs in, it's time to look a little deeper into what features to look for in a dripper. Some important things to consider will be:

  1. Consistent Water Flow: Opt for a coffee maker with a well-designed drip mechanism to ensure even water distribution over the coffee grounds. This will give you a perfectly balanced extraction for that exceptional coffee flavor.
  2. Ribbed Walls: Some pour-over coffee makers have grooved or ribbed walls in the filter holder, which help air circulate between the filter and the walls. This promotes even extraction and a smoother coffee taste. It's a subtle but oh-so-worth-it feature!
  3. Wide-Pouring Lip: A wide-pouring lip on your coffee maker means more surface area for your grounds and can make it easier to pour hot water over the coffee grounds, giving you better control, bloom, and precision. Say goodbye to splashy messes, and hello to a more enjoyable brewing experience!
  4. Double-Walled Insulation: Stainless steel pour-over coffee makers with double-walled insulation can help maintain the ideal brewing temperature longer. This added feature helps you achieve the perfect extraction while keeping your coffee hot and ready to enjoy.
  5. Flat-Bottomed Filters: Some pour-over coffee makers, like the Kalita Wave, use flat-bottom filters, which can provide a more even extraction and consistent brew. This design slows down the water flow, allowing for a more immersion brew-like coffee experience.
  6. Built-in Scales and Timers: If you're into automation or precision brewing, some pour-over kits come with built-in scales and timers, making it easy to weigh your coffee and time your pour. This feature is perfect for coffee aficionados who crave a consistent and controlled brewing process.

Get ready to embark on a flavorful adventure by considering these fantastic features and technologies in your quest for the perfect pour-over coffee maker!

Features to Avoid in Pour-Over Coffee Makers

While there are many amazing features to consider, you should also avoid a few things when selecting your pour-over coffee maker. Let's take a look at some of these potential pitfalls:

  1. Poorly Designed Drip Holes: Steer clear of coffee makers with drip holes that are too small or irregularly shaped, as they can lead to uneven water flow and inconsistent extraction. You don't want to play favorites with your coffee grounds!
  2. Flimsy Material or Construction: Watch out for pour-over coffee makers made from cheap materials or weak construction. They may not withstand daily use or temperature fluctuations, leading to cracks, breakages, or worse—a subpar cup of coffee!
  3. Complex Assembly: While some pour-over coffee makers can be straightforward to use, others might have overly complicated assembly processes. Save yourself from brewing headaches by choosing a model with easy setup and maintenance.
  4. Difficult-to-Find Replacement Filters: Be cautious with coffee makers that require proprietary or hard-to-find filters. You don't want to be stuck with a fancy pour-over coffee maker you can't use just because the specific filters are out of stock or discontinued.
  5. Unstable Design: Some pour-over coffee makers may have wobbly or unbalanced bases. Opt for a stable design that fits securely on your cup or carafe to prevent any unwanted spills or heart-stopping near-misses.

By considering these potential issues, you'll be well on your way to finding a pour-over coffee maker that delivers the smoothest, most satisfying brewing experience possible. Cheers to great coffee and wise choices!

How to Choose the Best Pour-Over Coffee Maker for You

Photo by Kayla Phaneuf

Now that you know what to look for and to avoid, you may know what will work best for you but may still need help deciding. Here are a few three scenarios to better understand the different applications of these products.

Raquel

Needs: Likes the meditation of a slow-poured coffee and also likes to entertain. They have a lot of space but don’t want any unnecessary gadgets.

Features to look for: Look for a pour-over dripper that easily accommodates a large pour and something more of a nice showpiece.

Products to consider:

  1. Chemex Classic: Beautifully crafted or hand-blown glass with a built-in carafe. Chemex has options between a 3- to 13-cup brewer.
  2. Stagg Pour XF: This kit includes a ceramic dripper with a class carafe perfect for a single or double pour.
  3. Kalita Wave Style: This set has a gorgeous glass dripper and carafe for up to two cups.

Michelle

Needs: A travel-friendly dripper for early mornings on the road.

Features to look for: Look for something durable and space-saving with minimal waste.

Products to consider:

  1. Miir Pourigami: This stainless steel dripper folds flat, making it easy to make a cup of coffee straight into a cup or travel mug.
  2. Stanley Perfect Pour-Over Set: Removing the need for a filter, this stainless steel dripper is a winner for coffee on the go paired with a rough-and-tumble double-insulated coffee mug.

George

Needs: Wants to enjoy the craft and taste of a pour-over coffee but has very little time for the process.

Features to look for: Something incorporating automation without removing consistency, precision, or control.

Products to consider:

  1. Chemex Ottomatic 2.0: This brewer was created by Chemex for an even and slow extraction in a classic Chemex coffee maker.
  2. Technivorm Moccamaster Cup-One: Professionally rated brewer with a large surface or coffee bed for an even extraction makes you a single cup of coffee like a hand-poured barista, bonus it comes with a five-year warranty.
  3. OXO Pour-Over Brewer: This non-automated ceramic brewer has a water reservoir for a hands-free slow pour.

Conclusion

There is a lot to consider when selecting the ideal brewer for your lifestyle. Whether you are just getting into hand-crafted coffee or looking to upgrade, plenty of options are available, no matter your budget, time, or skill level. Don't hesitate to ask which pour-over coffee maker is your perfect fit! One of our amazing Curated Coffee Experts, or I, will gladly help you figure it out. Happy Brewing!

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