Still using the same coffee machine your parents used growing up? If so - we need to talk. With the current renaissance happening in the Coffee industry (from beans to brewers) there is no reason you should still being using an archaic brew pot machine.
The hottest trend right now is pour-over brewers (AKA hand drip or manual drip coffee makers) and with good reason; with just a little skill and know-how, you can achieve an amazing cup of coffee from the comfort of your home.
First things first, though – you’ll need to know how to find the best pour over coffee maker for YOU (not for your neighbour who likes a quick coffee, not for your buddy who's into strong sharp tasting coffees, for YOU)
Here's How To Choose the Best Manual Drip Coffee Maker
Before you get all excited to join the pour over coffee revolution, consider the following as it will help you make the right choice, but first we need to make something crystal clear:
Your Grinder is Still the Most Important Purchase!
Talk to any Barista and they will tell you that the most important tool in making kickass coffee isn’t the brew method - It’s the grinder. It makes sense, right? A Lamborghini is a fast car, yes, but if you’re filling the gas tank with cool-aid it ain't going anywhere.
Ceramic burr grinders are ideal for brewing the best cup of coffee. Even with the best or most expensive brewer on the market, without a good grind you will be missing a vital step in quality coffee brewing - and hence won't ever achieve...
So go ahead and make sure you have a half-decent burr grinder before attempting drip coffee.
For something quick and easy that’s also great for travelling, go for a hand/manual burr grinder – we've looked at a few great hand grinders right here.
If you’re like me though a hand-grinder will piss-you-right-off with daily use, so you’ll want an electric burr grinder for your kitchen bench top. They can be relatively cheap ($100 -$150 will get you started with something decent) but if you want
"Ain't Nobody Got Time For That"... i.e - How Patient are you?
We are a time poor society.
When choosing your pour over method, think about the overall time that will go into making your coffee. Most pour-over methods will take about on average 3-5 minutes to brew your coffee and about 3-5 minutes to prepare the coffee after measuring, grinding, and boiling water.
All in all, that's nearly 10 minutes dedicated to your brew. Make sure that you know how much time you want to dedicate to making coffee.
Some need less time to brew, and some need more time to brew. If you subscribe to the BS mantra 'time is money', choosing the wrong brewer will-piss-you-right-off.
One small tip - avoid the Chemex if you're a rush individual.
Portability - Where will you Brew?
Sometimes you don’t have enough time and have to make coffee on the go. You need something that can easily fit in your bag and may not need any special tools to brew a “good enough” cup of coffee anywhere.
Brew methods like this usually will include helpful tools built into its portability. They will also be made out of plastic or metal. Ceramic pour-overs are great for home use but are way too fragile for constant traveling. Choose wisely.
Want to bring your [pour over] baby with you? The Kalita Wave or the Hario are highly portable.
Consistency & your Skill Level
Because pour-overs are manual brewing methods, there are a tonne of variables that need to be thought of in the brewing process. Time of brew, the weight of ground coffee, aggressiveness of the pour, the temperature of the water, and other variables can make it challenging to brew (continuously) the same great tasting cup of coffee time after time.
New to pour over brewing? Check out a beginners guide to pour over coffee, here.
If you think you've got what it takes to brew the best of the best, choose something that will allow you to customize the brew a little more, but remember that this means a higher chance of screwing up when you're learning.
In contrast to this, if you want something that will give you consistent great results without too much effort, go for something a little more forgiving.
Yes - you'll get instructions with each pour over contraption you buy, but in general,
There are some great guides online that will hold your hand through the process, our favorite being the brew guide videos from Stumptown coffee.
4. Extra Equipment / Accessories Required
If you want to master the pour over you’ll need a good gooseneck kettle, a set of scales, and specialised filters (depending on your pour over brewer).
It’s important to check this before purchasing because adding all of these items will 3x the cost of your pour over brewer before you even get started.
Do some research before purchasing and see what accessories are needed to make the process not only more convenient, but to ensure you get a great tasting brew with ease.
- Do you need to buy an extra stand to hold the brewer above the cup?
- Are there special filters only available through special order coffee sites or can you pick them up locally?
- Do you need a scale to measure the coffee or is free handing it ok?
- What type of kettle should you use to achieve a clean and quality tasting cup?
Keep in mind that the pour-over brewers we talk about below mostly require all of the extras. The reason? They are the best-quality brew methods, so what they lack in convenience and minimalistic features, they make up for in quality of brew.
Michael Phillips, head trainer at Blue Bottle Coffee, gives a good overview of the equipment needed to make a good cup of coffee:
Below, in our reviews of the best pour over brewers, we’ll let you know what accessories you need for each to make sure you’re prepared.
Some Extra General Tips
Before we get into looking at different brew methods it is important to talk about some general guidelines that all manual pour over methods adhere to.
Sweet Marias, a green coffee buyer and seller, has a great framework on brewing the best cup of coffee you can.
Keep in Mind:
- Cleanliness: Make sure all of your equipment is clean and removed coffee oils
- Grind size: For most manual pour over makers a medium fine grind is ideal
- Water just off boiling is ideal for brewing (boil, and wait 30 seconds before brewing)
- Be consistent in how you make your coffee to produce repeatable results (get yourself a coffee diary and record your experiments)
- Try preparing your coffee in different ways, you will be surprised at what flavors you can find in your coffee!
- Pour over newbie? Check out our beginners guide to pour over coffee right here.
There are many different resources available to help you how to learn to use your new pour over coffee brewing equipment. Two of the best resources on the market are Blue Bottles Craft of Coffee Book and Scott Rao’s Everything but espresso
The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee Book
Everything but Espresso - Pro Coffee Brewing Techniques
The 5 Best Pourover Coffee Makers of 2017 (in no particular order)
POUR OVER COFFEE MAKER
Plastic, Glass, Copper, porcelain and wood
Glass or stainless steel
6, 8 and 10
It seems like there is another pour-over brewer being released every week as they gain popularity and traction in and outside of the coffee shop.
The following 5 brewers however, are still the most popular and best performing manual drippers:
#1 The Hario V60
- Material - Plastic, Glass, Copper, porcelain and wood available
- Required accessories – Hario filters, gooseneck kettle
- Type of grind required – Medium/fine
The V60 is arguably one of the most iconic pour-over coffee brewing methods available – you'll see it being used in cafes around the world.
Made in Japan by a Hario ('Hario' translates to 'King of glass' in Japanese) means the glass or ceramic drippers are of the highest quality - however, they also come in a range of different materials.
It requires a meticulous pour over routine, complete with timers and gooseneck kettles, but boy oh boy is the end result worth it:
With its conical spiral design and triangular paper filters, this coffee maker produces a great cup of coffee and is an amazing conversation starter in cafes.
Extras you'll need: Gooseneck kettle, burr grinder and a scale.
- The triangular shaped filters extract coffee through a center point. This helps develop a clean and bright cup and leaves out the thick texture you can get with a french press.
- The conical design helps to better accentuate coffees with floral or fruit flavor notes.
- There are many different variations of stands that you can get for the v60, if you want. One of the most beautiful is designed by the Coffee Registry. With beautiful brass necks on solid American Walnut blocks, they are definitely a nice countertop accessory.
- Consistency is challenging unless you have the right equipment and technique.
- V60 Filters are not readily available at stores and need to be ordered online
- Extra accessories like stands can be a costly endeavor (but they are not essential)
#2 The Kalita Wave
- Material - Glass or stainless steel
- Required accessories – Kalita wave filters, gooseneck kettle
- Type of grind required – Fine – similar to table salt.
When you're looking for a pour over coffee maker but aren’t interested in turning it into such an involved process with scales, manual grinders, and spouted kettles, then consider using the Kalita wave – of course, we don’t want to discredit this dripper - it's kickass.
The Wave was designed in response to the market demand for a
The design of the Kalita wave with its flat bottom, as opposed to conical shaped, means it brews with longer steep times and removes more of the margin for error. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it means you’ll consistently get a great brew, even with a half-assed ‘in-a-rush’ attempt.
Extras you'll need: Burr grinder and a scale.
- Flat bottom helps produce an even coffee extraction for consistent cup
- Very forgiving to an inaccurate pour and will still produce a good cup
- The metal version is ideal for transportability and take’s up little space.
- Although it’s a very forgiving brew method, some coffees may come out “flat” tasting and lack the subtle notes that are enjoyed. Particularly notes of floral or berry may suffer.
- Coffee filters are not readily available in stores and need to be ordered online
#3 The Bee House Ceramic Dripper
- Material - Porcelain, and available in a range of colors
- Required accessories – Kalita wave filters, gooseneck kettle
- Type of grind required – Medium fine works best
Very functional for even the most novice home barista, the Bee House is fast becoming a favorite in this space due to its sexy design (which also makes it more forgiving and less involved) and the unique, clean tasting brew it leaves you with
Available in large sizes and small sizes, meaning you’ll be able to keep your household happy and caffeinated no matter how big or small it is. Oh, and you can use standard filters, available from most grocery stores, which only adds to the convenience.
Extras you'll need: Gooseneck kettle and a Burr grinder.
- Due to the nature of ceramic, the Beehouse will better retain heat through the whole brew process.
- Because of its unique wedge design, you will be able to control a more even and gentle pour.
- The wedge shape also creates viewing areas into your cup to prevent any overflow.
- Although it is easier to use, it still requires proper pouring technique to prevent over/under extraction and bland tasting coffee
#4 - The Kone Filter (and brewing system)
Important - this is just a cone, as you can see from the image below. You can use the Kone to make pour over as is, but I recommend you try the Kone Brewing system (keep reading)
- Material - Stainless steel – silver or gold available
- Required accessories – A cup or serving vessle and a gooseneck kettle
- Type of grind required –Medium/fine.
Able Brewing had a goal to create a sustainable and reusable coffee filter – because don’t we all feel guilty every time we throw out a paper filter? The answer was the Kone coffee filter; a stainless steel filter that allows for more oils than a paper filter, resulting in a fuller bodied cup of coffee for your dripper.
The Kone filter works with your Chemex and Hario v60 – however you do have the option to purchase it with the Kone brewing system a super sexy looking, functional pour over coffee brewer inspired by Japanese mid-century design.
In fact, if you love the minimalistic way of thinking, you can just plonk your Kone filter directly into your cup (providing its deep enough), throw in your coffee and start brewing!
When using this brewer, it's important that you use a finer grind and a controlled pour. The finer grind will help make sure that you fully extract the coffee and get a full flavor of coffee. Because of its conical design, again it is important to stress a steady circular pour pattern.
We thought we’d include this here because if you’re going to use any type of manual drip coffee maker, you may as well get a reusable filter!
Extras you'll need: Gooseneck kettle, burr grinder and a scale.
- The Kone filter can be used as a filter for the Chemex or Hario V60. A 2 for 1 deal!
- It’s made out of a thin stainless steel sheet so it’s reusable and sustainable.
- Allows more oils to penetrate into the coffee creating a fuller body feel similar to a French Press.
- With its unique laser cut holes, the brewer minimizes but does not eliminate all the sediment from the cup. Be careful with fine grinds.
- The Know brewer is very expensive - $150.
- Because it is a metal filter, it can be difficult to fully clean all the residue and grounds out.
#5 - The Walkure Brewer
- Material – Porcelain
- Required accessories – Nothing
- Type of grind required – Coarse is recommended but you can go finer thanks to the filter
Talk about a sustainable and easy to way to brew great tasting coffee! The handmade, porcelain Walkure pour-over brewer takes a lot of the technique variables out of pour over brewing to produce a clean, intense yet pleasant cup of coffee.
It’s another great example of German influenced innovation and quality; the ceramic screen eliminates that paper taste you may notice from paper filters while keeping your brew hotter for longer. Just add water and coffee, and your on!
To properly use the Walkure, place your grounds in the middle unit. The top section is a water dispersion plate that will allow you to pour your water evenly over the grounds. All you have to do is then make sure that you measure out your water before you start pouring to prevent overflow in the bottom serving carafe.
- Due to its two part filtering process, the coffee is evenly extracted and mitigates the need for paper filters.
- Unlike the Kone reusable filter, it filters its own sediment out leaving a nice clean cup and reducing paper waste to zero.
- Ceramic has natural heat retention properties keeping your coffee nice and warm.
- The Walkure is both brewer and serving vessel making it a good all in one purchase
- It’s expensive. Hand made in Germany meaning it sits in the $100+ range.
- Very fragile, being made out of ceramic and could easily break with improper use.
- Since it’s not a very well-known brewer in the home market, there may be few resources to help you learn how to use it.
THE VERDICT - What's The Best Manual Drip Coffee Maker?
So, for the burgeoning home Barista looking to get into the world of pour-over coffee, which one should you choose to help you start your day?
For Us, It's the Kalita Wave Dripper for the following reasons:
- It’s designed to help you achieve a consistent brew without too much technical know how
- Its small, portable and light, meaning you can take it anywhere
- You have more flexibility with grind size due to the flat bottom
- It’s affordable!
WINNER: The Kalita Wave
Ease Of Use
...Closely followed by The Hario V60 (however, the Hario requires your pour over skills to be a little more developed, so we suggest starting with the Wave, and graduating onto the V60)...
With that being said there is no right or wrong option in the world of pour over coffee – you’d be a fool to try just one as each has its own strong points and leaves you with a different experience and brew.
After reading this piece on the best pour over coffee makers we hope, like us, you’re excited to try more than just one! What's your choice? let us know in the comments below!