The Best Pour Over Coffee Makers – Reviews and Buying Guide
The hottest trend in the coffee world right now is pour over coffee (also known as hand drip or manual drip coffee), and with good reason. With just a little skill and know-how, you can achieve a cup of coffee that tastes beyond amazing.
First things first: you’ll need to know how to find the best pour over coffee maker for your needs. Here’s our list of the best available right now, and a guide to help you choose the right one for your needs.
Want to achieve a more consistent brew? Even if you’re a beginner? Try the Kalita Wave Dripper. It’s small, portable, and forgiving of mistakes. Best of all – it’s affordable.
How To Choose the Best Manual Drip Coffee Maker
New to pour over brewing? If so, we’d recommend first reading our beginner’s guide to pour over coffee.
Before you get all excited to join the pour over 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!
Any barista will tell you that the most important tool in making kickass coffee isn’t the brew method – it’s the grinder (1). Consistent coffee grounds are critical to make this work.
…always grind your beans as close to the brew time as possible for maximum freshness. A burr or mill grinder is best because the coffee is ground to a consistent size.
True coffee lovers know that good quality burr grinders are essential for brewing the best cup of coffee possible (2). For something quick and easy that’s also great for traveling, go for a hand/manual burr grinder. But I’d recommend investing in a good burr grinder.
Ok. Now onto the factors to help you choose the right brewer:
“Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” (How Patient are you?)
We live in a time-poor society. When choosing your pour over brewer, think about the overall time that will go into making your coffee. Most pour over methods take on average 3-5 minutes for measuring, grinding, and boiling water, followed by another 3-5 minutes to brew the coffee. All in all, that’s closing in on 10 minutes dedicated to your brew.
Paying attention to the details, following the steps, slowing down just a bit so you’re not rushing, carving out the right time—this is what makes the difference.
Make sure that you know how much time you want to dedicate to making coffee. Some coffee makers need less time to brew, and some need more. If you subscribe to the BS mantra ‘time is money,’ choosing the wrong brewer will piss you right off.
Portability – Where will you Brew?
If portability is important to you, you need something that can easily fit in your bag and doesn’t need any special tools to brew a “good enough” cup of coffee anywhere. You also want to go for plastic or stainless steel drippers. Ceramic and glass pour over brewers are great for home use but are way too fragile for constant traveling. Choose wisely.
I’ve created a rating system for portability in each brewer summary below. It’s on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being if your house was on fire and you had to save one thing, this could easily be taken with you. 1 indicates you should leave it behind.
Technique Required vs Your Skill Level
Because pour over is a manual brewing method, there are a ton of variables you need to think of in the brewing process: time of brew, weight of ground coffee, aggressiveness of the pour, water temperature, and other variables can make it challenging to brew the same great-tasting cup of coffee time after time (3).
Mastering a pour over coffee is no easy task, so be prepared to practice with your new brewer.
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, although it means a higher chance of screwing up while you’re learning. In contrast to this, if you want something that will give you consistently 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, those instructions suck.
If you want to master pour over, you’ll need a few extras. Depending on the pour over coffee maker you choose, you can skip a few extras.
A typical pour over setup might include:
- A good gooseneck kettle (most brewers require this but not all).
- A serving vessel (for large-batch brewers) – insulated if you need to keep it hot for a while.
- Filters: some take regular paper filters, others have mesh filters and some require special paper filters that you can only order online.
- If you really want to get hipster, create or buy a pour over stand like one of these.
Michael Phillips, head trainer at Blue Bottle Coffee, gives a good overview of the equipment needed to make a good cup of coffee:
- How many cups of coffee do you want to brew? Some brewers are best for single use; others are best for making larger batches. You’ll see this below in the ‘capacity’ section
- Is the material important to you? It should be as it can make the pour over ritual more enjoyable. I prefer the ceramic coffee drippers from the list below; but you may prefer a glass coffee maker (or plastic if you’re a nomad)
- Choose the right coffee beans – don’t make the mistake of setting yourself up with a nice pour over kit and then ruining your cup of joe by using average beans
Best Pour Over Coffee Makers 2020
It seems there’s a new pour over brewer released every week as they gain popularity and traction in and outside of the coffee shop. The following 9 are still the most popular and best-performing manual coffee drippers:
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 pour over 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 (4).
To see just how worth it, check out our brew guide here or the video below:
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. Read our full Hario V60 review here.
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.
If you like slow coffee, but don’t like the meticulous nature of the V60, go for the Wave.
The Kalita Wave was designed in response to the market demand for a pour over method that was easy to use, efficient, and addressed some of the extraction issues present in conical designs. Like other pour-over drippers, you’ll achieve a very clean and beautiful tasting brew (when done right), just with less effort.
The design of the Kalita wave is clever. With its flat bottom, as opposed to conical shaped, it brews with longer steep times and removes some of the margin of error. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it simply means you’ll consistently get a great brew, even with a half-assed ‘in-a-rush’ attempt. Read our full Kalita wave review here.
The Bee House is yet another ceramic Japanese import with a lot to offer. It comes in two sizes, large and small, so If you’re a home barista without a lot of room to spare in your kitchen the smaller size can be very handy. A huge plus of this brewer (which the V60 and the Kalita Wave can’t offer) is the ability to use any old standard cone coffee filter with it. This is important because if (or rather: when) you run out of filters you can easily find them in a grocery.
It’s wedge-shaped, with vertical ridges along the bottom half of the dripper only and two drip holes at the bottom. The wedge means better heat retention and more consistent contact between the grounds and the water. This results in an evenly extracted brew with very minimal effort.
The main selling point, however, is ease of use. Forget fancy kettles, forget strict brew time rules – this coffee maker delivers a gorgeous brew without the hard work. Read our review of the Bee House Dripper here.
A classic, all-in-one glass carafe brewer that requires your time, a willingness to learn and some medium-coarse grounds. It’s not portable because of its size, but that’s also one of the highlights of this product since you can brew larger quantities of coffee in one go.
The Chemex classic filter is like no other filter you’ve seen before, and it all adds to the magic. The double-bonded paper makes this the thickest filter you’ll come across, and it adds two benefits:
- It will keep the bitter oils out of the coffee for a much smoother cup.
- It prevents the water from flowing through the grounds too quickly – meaning you get the opportunity to taste the hidden flavors of the coffee (without the bitterness)
Fun fact about this brewer: It’s part of the permanent design collection at the Museum of Modern Art. So, having it on your kitchen counter is not only functional but a statement too. All in all you’ll get a very clean great tasting coffee that is balanced and full of body. Perfect for large households, offices, or art snobs. Read our full Chemex review here.
The Clever Dripper is the best choice if you’re just getting started in the world of pour over coffee. It’s easy to use, even easier to clean and delivers time and time again, regardless of your skill. The main difference between the Clever Dripper and other brewers on this list: a stopping mechanism that stops the coffee flowing until it has been placed on your cup. This allows you to customize your brew based on steeping time, rather than pouring skill.
Think of a French press, but without the silt or sediment. And, for the price, you really can’t go wrong. Read our full Clever Dripper review here.
Looking for a quick, easy and cheap way to make fancy coffee? Look no further than the Melitta Ready Set Joe: the most newbie-friendly brewer, and the most inexpensive option on this list. The simple nature of the Ready Set Joe is its strong point – but it’s a double-edged sword; there aren’t any special features to get excited about. You simply put in a filter, put in your grounds and pour the water all in one go.
Easy? Yes. But can you control the final brew? No.
This un-pretentious dripper is (very) cheap, easy to use and portable – meaning it’s a great fit for anyone who likes to camp or travel without baggage.
Important – this is just a cone, as you can see from the image above. You can use the Kone to make pour over as is, but I recommend you try the Kone Brewing system. 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.
If you love the minimalistic way of thinking, you can just plonk your Kone filter directly into your cup, throw in your coffee and start brewing.
The Kone filter works with the 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 (5).
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!
The Walkure Brewer; it’s the Cadillac of pour over brewers. It was designed by a German artist so it combines style with an easy way to brew.
Sure, it costs a bit more than your average dripper, but you’ll find the added price is worth it because it’s easy to use, delivers a very high-quality brew and requires no accessories (not even filters). I love the Walkure because it’s a true all-in-one system. Just add your coarse grounds and hot water; no carafe or filter needed.
The even saturation I mentioned earlier comes from the “dispersion plate” that allows the water to spread out and wet the grounds evenly – ingenious – those Germans really know what they’re doing. First gummy bears, now the Walkure Pour Over Brewer. Danke.
The Woodneck is a glass pot system from Japan that creates small quantities of effing high-quality coffee. Apart from its very Japanese inspired design, what separates the woodneck from the pack is the fact that you use a cloth filter for it. This produces heavy coffee with a lot of depth of flavor – all from a medium-fine grind. It looks and sounds expensive and difficult to use. But it’s not.
The Woodneck represents great value for money, and is surprisingly easy to use. It comes as a complete system with the mentioned cloth filter, the holder and the serving vessel – all in one.
When it comes time to brew, just add hot water and follow simple instructions. Read our full review of the Woodneck here.
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.
- It’s 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!
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!
The best coffee for pour over is a single-origin bean. The beauty of pour over coffee is its ability to highlight intricate flavors when compared to other brewing methods. The extraction process allows the water to naturally draw out the coffee’s oils and fragrances, which are then caught in the filter leading to a cleaner cup of coffee.
How much coffee you use in a pour over depends on the device and the amount of coffee you’re wanting to brew. Most coffee experts will recommend a ratio rather than giving volumetric measurements. For that reason, we’ll recommend a coffee to water ratio that lies between 1:15 – 1:17 (6), allowing lots of room for experimentation.
You can make your pour over coffee stronger in two ways: increase your brew ratio (more coffee grounds but using the same amount of water) or try a single-origin from a different region with a stronger taste.
- Mazzarello, B. (2018, April 04). The Right Grinder for You. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://blog.bluebottlecoffee.com/posts/the-right-grinder-for-you
- How to Perfect Your Pour Over: Stumptown Coffee Roasters Blog. (2015, October 29). Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://www.stumptowncoffee.com/blog/how-to-perfect-pour-over
- Soque, N. (2019, February 06). Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Pour Over Coffee. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2019/01/everything-you-need-to-know-to-brew-great-filter-pour-over-drip-coffee/
- Sinnott, K. (2010, December 23). Hario V60. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://www.coffeereview.com/hario-v60/
- Demos, C. (2014, October 23). Kone Brewing System: Coffee: KThe Weekend Edition. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://theweekendedition.com.au/food-drink/kone-brewing-system/
- Coffee Basics: Brewing Ratios – How much water to coffee to use? (2018, June 13). Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://counterculturecoffee.com/blog/coffee-basics-brewing-ratios