Time and time again the subject of pour-over coffee comes up here at Coffeeness.
But it wasn’t until recently that I realized there was something missing: an ultimate guide to the best pour-over coffee makers.
I’ve written this guide as a companion piece to my article on the best filters for pour-over and my guide to preparing pour-over coffee. (When you’ve read all three, you can consider yourself an expert.)
Who knew there was so much to say about this humble manual brewing method? Well, I did, of course!
Pour-over coffee makers continue to grow in popularity. And now, with so many shapes, sizes and filters to choose from, you might just want to give up and flip on the drip coffee machine instead.
Don’t worry, though. I’ve selected the best pour-over coffee makers, ranging from simple classics to hybrid devices. I’ll also give you some advice on what equipment you’ll need to start brewing delicious and consistent pour-over coffee.
What’s So Great About Pour-Over Coffee?
With all the hype surrounding pour-over coffee these days, you might wonder whether this manual brewing method is really all it’s cracked up to be.
And the answer is, yes, it is.
Sure, I admit to getting pretty annoyed by all the hipster posturing and elitist snobbery that this manual method incites. But after all, the fact remains that pour-over coffee makers have been around for a long time — and for good reason.
Those who try a well-prepared cup of pour-over coffee for the first time are often blown away by how much they can actually taste.
Pour-over coffee made with freshly ground, high-quality beans reveal a depth of flavor that most other brewing methods simply can’t achieve. Not only that, but the coffee continues to become more complex as it cools.
That said, let’s take a look at the advantages of the pour-over method:
- Produces consistent coffee that’s clean, well-balanced and complex.
- Cost is usually very affordable.
- Suitable for travel or camping — these don’t take up much room, and you don’t need electricity to use them.
- Come in a variety of different shapes and sizes.
If you’ve ever ordered a cup of pour-over coffee from a third wave coffee shop, you’d be forgiven for finding the whole process rather intimidating: the barista stands at the slow bar and conjures up your coffee, concentrating with all their might while conducting what appears to be a science experiment.
I’ll let you in on a secret: that’s all just for show.
While it does take practice to achieve great results from a pour-over coffee dripper, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.
That said, there are some disadvantages, like:
- You’ll need to invest time in developing your pour-over technique to get consistent results.
- You’ll need to invest in additional equipment (if you don’t already own it) to make pour-over properly.
How to Choose the Best Pour-Over Drip Coffee Maker
In my ultimate guide to preparing pour-over coffee, I explain in detail the different characteristics to look out for when choosing a pour-over coffee maker. But for the purposes of this article, I’ll give you a quick recap. There are four variables to consider when searching for the best pour-over coffee maker:
- Size — Pour-over drippers are available in different sizes, ranging from mini versions to coffee makers for more than one cup. Choosing which size suits you best really comes down to how much coffee you’ll need to prepare at once.
- Material — You can choose between materials like ceramic, glass, plastic and copper. I prefer a ceramic coffee dripper over glass and plastic, though I’m partial to my copper Hario V60 — it just looks great on my Instagram feed.
- Type of filter — For the most part, paper filters for pour-over coffee makers are affordable and easy to obtain. That said, you can buy reusable filters that are eco-friendly and more cost-effective in the long run.
- Shape — You can choose between a cone-shaped dripper or a flat-bottomed model. I prefer the former because I find the conical filter gives a more even and well-balanced extraction. That said, you can use Melitta filters in a flat-bottomed dripper, which often makes it a more affordable option.
What Additional Equipment Do I Need?
Making pour-over essentially comes down to carefully pouring hot water over a bed of ground coffee.
But there is some additional equipment that’ll help you achieve consistent results.
If you don’t already own a good coffee grinder, you should definitely make getting one your number one priority in life. Seeing as pour-over coffee makers are so great for traveling, I find myself using my Comandante hand grinder even when I’m at home.
That said, if the thought of spending $350 on a hand grinder makes your hair stand on end, consider the Hario “Skerton” or the Porlex Mini. You’ll get great results with either of those, and both are quite affordable.
You’re also going to need a kettle.
Now you can try to muddle through with a standard model, but I highly recommend investing in a pour-over kettle. You can decide on whether you want a stovetop or electric version, but what’s important is the gooseneck shape of the spout. It’ll allow you to pour slowly and evenly, which is essential.
I love my Hario Buono coffee kettle and use it every day, even though there are plenty of other gooseneck kettles out there.
Sure, you can achieve excellent pour-over coffee without weighing anything, but you’ll add an extra element of control if you use a coffee scale. You can read all about making the move away from measuring spoons in my complete coffee scale guide.
The Best Pour-Over Coffee Maker: Classic Dripper
The classic single-serve pour-over coffee maker was popularized by Melitta in the early 20th century, and the German manufacturer is still going strong. It has even started selling a porcelain “Heritage Series” dripper.
That seems a little like bandwagon-jumping to me. But still, facts are facts. Melitta filters are affordable and easy to find, making them a great option for many classic drippers.
Hario V60 Coffee Dripper
I’ll admit that the Hario V60 is, hands down, my favorite pour-over coffee maker.
It’s a timeless classic that not only looks great but also produces superb, well-balanced coffee. This is largely down to the fact that the affordable conical filters help control the flow rate perfectly.
I usually find myself reaching for the ceramic model whenever I’m in the mood for a little precision pouring, but I also love my copper Hario V60.
This Japanese pour-over coffee dripper comes in two sizes — the smaller 01 and the larger 02 — though I’d recommend the 02 size, as it’ll give you more flexibility. And while if you’re just starting out, you may be tempted to buy the plastic V60 “Starter Set,” I say don’t do it!
After all, you can pick up the larger ceramic dripper on Amazon for little more than $20. Then you won’t have to worry about ingesting microplastics along with your coffee.
Kalita Wave Coffee Dripper
The Kalita Wave is also available in two sizes — 185 and 155 — and is one of the most highly rated pour-over coffee drippers on the market. Plus, I have to admit that it’s easier to get the hang of this thing than the Hario V60.
It has a flat-bottomed, three-hole design, meaning it’s more forgiving when it comes to achieving an even extraction. On top of that, you don’t have to be quite as precise when pouring.
That said, even the 185 Kalita Wave is on the smaller side. So if you’re using fresh, gassy beans, you run the risk of an overflow. The glass Kalita Wave is available on Amazon for less than $30, but I just don’t like the way it looks.
I’d recommend spending a little more on the $40 stainless steel version, which won’t smash if you knock it off your countertop.
Blue Bottle Coffee Dripper
This ceramic dripper is instantly recognizable, thanks to the Oakland-based company’s baby-blue logo on the side.
I have to say it looks really well-designed, but it’s on the thin side. And while I never worry about putting my Hario V60 in the dishwasher, I think I’d clean this dripper by hand. Carefully.
Like the Kalita Wave, the Blue Bottle Dripper features a flat-bottom design, but it only has one “precision nozzle” for the coffee to pass through. Still, the company claims to have spent a long time developing this thing, so it must have thought it out.
Although the Blue Bottle Coffee Dripper is an affordable $25 on Amazon, a 30-count package of its proprietary bamboo filters costs an eyebrow-raising $6.
That said, I’ve heard that Melitta filters work just as well in this dripper and can even improve the taste of the coffee.
The Best Pour-Over Coffee Dripper: Chemex and Friends
There are times when one cup just won’t do.
Enter the Chemex — one of the best ways to prepare larger quantities of pour-over coffee. It’s also one of my favorite manual brew methods. In fact, I love the Chemex so much that I’ve dedicated an entire guide to this timeless design icon. There, you’ll find out all about the Chemex as well as tips on how to use it.
An 8-cup Chemex Coffeemaker will run you around $45 on Amazon, which is pretty reasonable in my opinion. But as I mention in my guide, the trademarked filters are quite costly, even if very high-quality.
So if you’re going to use a Chemex every day, you might want to consider buying a reusable filter, such as the $28 Barista Warrior.
Given its elegant design and enduring appeal, it should come as no surprise that the Chemex has inspired quite a few imitators.
For less than $20, you can get the Bodum Pour-Over Coffee Maker, which comes with either a cork or silicone collar. Even though the Bodum Pour-Over Coffee Maker just looks like a second-rate Chemex to me, I like that it comes with a permanent metal filter.
I’m also a big fan of the Hario Woodneck, which costs just over $35 on Amazon. It only has a 4-cup capacity, but it does come with reusable cotton flannel filters — a real plus in my opinion because these have neat handles to make brewing easier.
You can also choose between an olive wood or acacia wood collar, both of which look pretty great.
When Pour-Over Isn’t Really Pour-Over: Hybrid Devices
Though it’s true that hybrid pour-over coffee drippers like the Vietnamese phin dripper have been around for a long time, it was inevitable that a new generation of devices would come along, claiming to make pour-over without the hassle.
The Clever Coffee Dripper
I’m really not sure how to feel about the $40 Clever Coffee Dripper. With its conical shape and paper filters, this manual brewing device resembles a pour-over coffee maker but actually uses the immersion brewing technique.
What makes this device so “clever” is the stopper valve in the bottom. You place a filter in the dripper, pour hot water over the grounds and then leave the whole thing alone for a while.
Once you set the Clever Coffee Dripper (carefully!) onto a cup or carafe, the valve opens automatically, and the coffee releases.
What sets the Clever Coffee Dripper apart from other immersion methods is the use of paper filters. You can control the body of your coffee by varying the immersion time while still getting clean, pour-over-style coffee.
From the Clever Coffee Dripper’s popularity, this is obviously a dream come true for many. But I’ll stick with my French press and Hario V60, thank you.
OXO Brew Pour-Over Coffee Maker With Water Tank
This is another device that’s meant to save you time, energy and guesswork.
Though for me, preparing pour-over coffee is when I’m in complete Zen mode, and I feel like the effort is well worth it.
That said, a little practice is all it takes to master your technique. Still, there are folks who’ll appreciate the OXO Brew Pour-Over Coffee Maker and how very simple it is to use.
Like the Clever Coffee Dripper, you add all the water at once. But this time, the water goes in a separate tank at the top. Plus, there’s a precisely designed hole pattern to make sure the water drips at a controlled rate and distributes evenly.
I’ve heard that the resulting coffee is surprisingly good, and at a little over $14 on Amazon, this dripper is very affordable.
Vietnamese Coffee Dripper
When I’m in the mood for something sweet, cold and caffeinated, Vietnamese iced coffee always hits the spot.
Though all that sweetened condensed milk means lots of calories, so I usually have to go on a run afterward.
The device used to produce the intense, dark coffee for Vietnamese iced coffee is called a phin filter. And its stainless steel slow-drippers come in a variety of sizes, even though it’s most common to see a single-serve filter sitting on top of a cup or glass.
Here’s how it works:
- First, place the ground coffee so that sits directly in the chamber, and then place a metal filter on top.
- After adding hot water, it takes about five minutes for the dripper to produce a few ounces of coffee.
- Finally, you’ll want to dilute this with either hot water or milk — unless you enjoy the side effects of instantaneous over-caffeination.
Plus, a phin filter is great for camping, and it doesn’t create any paper waste.
You can pick a single-cup filter on Amazon for less than $10. Unless, of course, you’d prefer spending more than twice that amount on a sleek, graphite-colored model that has the hipster stamp of approval.
Conclusion: What’s the Best Pour-Over Drip Coffee Maker?
Though I’m a huge fan of portafilter machines and super-automatics, I feel like a pour-over coffee maker is the best way to really taste coffee.
Sure, there are now some innovative coffee makers, like the Technivorm Moccamaster, which achieve the same results as a pour-over dripper. But I just love the simplicity and portability of my trusty Hario V60 ceramic coffee dripper.
All that to say, deciding between a ceramic, copper or glass coffee dripper is really a matter of personal taste. But I think it’s worth having at least one of each.
That said, I’m really not a fan of plastic — whether or not it’s BPA-free. Why? Because not only do I dislike the way plastic drippers look and feel but also the idea of plastic and coffee mixing at high temperatures.
People often ask me about the best coffee beans to use for pour-over. Well, the answer is, you should opt for light and fruity beans with a medium roast profile. Something from East Africa or Latin America will work nicely because you’ll be able to brew clean, medium-bodied coffee with an incredible depth of flavor.
What’s your experience brewing with pour-over coffee makers? Do you have a favorite device that I’ve overlooked? Leave your questions and comments below! Thank you for reading!
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