Ask 100 people about the best way to make a cup of coffee, and you’re likely to receive 100 different answers. While most coffee drinkers are familiar with automatic drip coffee machines, you might prefer manual brewing methods like French Press or pour-over coffee makers (sometimes called coffee drippers). A few years ago, I would have told you that I don’t have time for those types of coffee making, even if it improves the quality of my morning cup of joe. As it turns out, using a pour-over coffee maker—like our top pick, the Hario V60 Coffee Dripper 02 Ceramic(available at Amazon for $24.90)—is surprisingly easy. So easy, in fact, we wrote a step-by-step guide to making pour-over coffee.
It’s not just about ease of use, either. Many coffee aficionados prefer pour-over coffee because it allows you to control every aspect of the brewing process, from the temperature of the water to the specific amount of chosen coffee grounds used per cup. And, depending on how much time and attention you want to put into it, it’s possible to achieve brighter, bolder flavors by slowing down or speeding up the steeping time. The only problem with pour-over coffee makers is that they can be confusing. Do you want glass, ceramic, plastic, or stainless steel? Should it fit over a coffee mug or is it better to spend more on a carafe-style, multi-cup pour over? What kind of gear do you need to make it all happen, and, in the end, does any of that actually affect the flavor? To help you decide, we found some of the best pour-over coffee makers for your daily cup.
The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.
Hario V60 Coffee Dripper 02 Ceramic
The Hario V60 Coffee Dripper 02 Ceramic pour-over coffee maker’s design doesn’t appear to be unique. At first glance, it looks exactly like every other over-the-mug model. What sets this model apart (and puts it at the top of most coffee enthusiast’s lists) is the interior spiral ribs and extra-large drip hole. Most of the pour overs we've seen have had one to three tiny holes in the bottom, which slow down the draining process. With the Hario’s large drainage hole, you can brew coffee as fast as you like! Not only that, but those ribs give the grinds more room to expand, increasing the amount of water you can hold in the cone.
Fast isn’t necessarily better, but it does give you more options. You could brew a cup in less than two minutes, or you can slow down the rate at which you pour the water and draw things out to a full four minutes. At the end of the day, both our fast- and slow-pour tests resulted in a delightful cup of coffee with a rich mouthfeel, a robustly fruity backbone, and almost no detectable bitterness.
We also liked that a standard paper filter fit perfectly in the cone, and the ceramic construction retained the water’s heat well enough to create an even brewing process and a hot cup of coffee. And since the Hario also happens to be low-profile enough to store amongst your coffee cups and it was one of the easiest units to clean, it was a shoo-in for our pick as Best Overall.
If you’re looking the for the best tasting cup of coffee, it’s definitely made in the Chemex Eight Cup Classic. By far, this beautifully designed pour-over coffee maker created the most well-rounded, full-flavored cup of coffee in the group. We were worried that using it to brew a single cup of coffee might be overkill (it's large enough to brew coffee for a crowd), but our small-batch brews didn't affect the quality in the slightest. We tasted notes of chocolate and berries that were barely detectable in the other cups! And there’s no denying that it’s a gorgeous piece of art, too. In fact, it’s actually featured in the MoMA, so there’s that.
The Chemex wasn't our runner-up choice in the rankings, and was out-performed by other pour-overs because of it's large, hard to clean design and use of proprietary filters that have to be purchased separately. But, many of these factors don't matter if you're simply interested in having the best-tasting coffee, so we awarded the Chemex with our Editor’s Choice for Best Cup of Coffee anyway!
It’s worth noting that it's possible to brew a tasty cup using regular old cone-shaped filters, but they are difficult to remove and make a bit of a mess. You’ll want to buy the Chemex filters (sold separately) for the easiest brewing experience.
The OXO Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Water Tank is a great option for lightweight, on-the-go coffee brewing. Because it’s plastic, the OXO didn’t retain heat as well as the ceramic and glass models, but this model has a leg-up on the competition: a water tank that completely takes the guesswork out of monitoring the brewing speed. This removable option lets you pour the hot water into the tank and it'll take care of slowly dripping over the grinds. I was skeptical at first because it took nearly twice as long to brew (which, still only took about four minutes), but the coffee we brewed using the tank had significantly more depth than the one that quickly brewed without it. The slow brewing speed created a bold, thick brew that lacked any touches of bitterness. Couple that with an easy-to-clean design and a budget-friendly price tag and we had little to complain about!
The Kalita #185 Wave Glass Dripper was definitely in the running for our favorite pour-over coffee maker. It’s smaller and more lightweight than the ceramic pour over models, but its glass construction helped it retain heat just as well. It brewed a fantastically robust cup of coffee, and it fit perfectly over both our regular and to-go coffee mugs. If you’re not into the heftiness of the ceramic pour-overs or our winning model is out-of-stock, this pour over is an excellent choice. Although the Kalita has its own proprietary wavy filters to create a flat-bottom brewing experience, we didn't use them and still thought the coffee tasted fantastic!
Yitelle Stainless Steel Pour Over Coffee Cone Dripper
While I definitely don’t recommend using the Yitelle Stainless Steel Pour Over Coffee Cone Dripper without a filter, it brewed a great cup of coffee when we used one. Because the design features hundreds of tiny holes along the side, this pour over drained more quickly than most of the competition. As we saw with the Hario, that gives you the option to brew coffee at a variety of speeds controlled by how quickly you pour the water. In addition, the stainless design held the water’s heat quite efficiently during the brewing process, resulting in a more even brew. And while you technically don’t need to use a paper filter with the reusable metal basket, the coffee we brewed without it turned out murky and way too bitter. Adding the paper filter improved both the flavor and the texture of the brew, catching some of the oils as they released from the beans.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, no-frills coffee brewing method, the Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over Coffee Brew Cone is the way to go. Its plastic frame is light and small, so it’s easy to store or take with you on-the-go. It was also the only pour-over coffee maker we tested that fit on our oversized coffee mug. It wasn’t the best cup of coffee in the group, but it certainly wasn’t the worst, either.
What You Should Know About Pour-Over Coffee Makers
Pour-over coffee makers, automatic drip, French presses, and espresso machines; with so many options on the market today, how do you know which coffee maker is right for you? Ultimately, it comes down to a few factors: time, patience, and quality of the brew. While using an automatic drip coffee maker might seem like the quickest, easiest, and the most hands-off way to brew a cup of coffee, it will also never make the world's greatest product. The water gets way too hot, and there are too many factors you can't control. Once you get your gear in order, using the pour-over will seem just as easy as using the machine, and it tastes a thousand times better!
Like a French Press, you’ll need a kettle, a coffee grinder, and a tiny bit of patience to bring it all together. Once you’ve selected your pour over coffee dripper, you’ll also need some filters. Most of them work with the standard paper cone fare, although a few have proprietary filters. After running our tests, I’d recommend using a paper filter over the reusable filters. It might not be green, but the paper prevents the coffee from becoming murky and oily.
After filling the pour-over with ground coffee (we like 24 grams, or about 3 tablespoons, per cup), bring the water to the point just before it boils–200 to 205°F degrees. If you accidentally boil it, no worries; you can let it cool for a few minutes before pouring. Then, slowly pour the hot water over the grounds, allowing most of the liquid to drain before adding additional water. Depending on how much of a rush you’re in, the process could take anywhere from two to four minutes.
By regulating the water temperature and steeping time, the pour over method will give you ultimate control over the quality of the brew, creating a coffee that’s as robust or complex as you like. You can also experiment with the fineness of the grind, but that’s a whole other conversation.
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