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 $20.92)—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 like the Chemex (which, incidentally, made our favorite cup of coffee during our tests)? 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 find out, we picked up 10 top-rated pour-over coffee makers and compared them to each other. We were shocked to find that each one created a unique cup of coffee, some of which were definitely better than others.
Here are the best pour-over coffee makers we tested ranked, in order.
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 we tested. 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 tested 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. Considering it was priced at $20 during the time of this testing, it’s also an incredible value for the money.
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.
You may have noticed that Chemex wasn't our runner-up choice in the rankings, and it lost more than a few points during our scientific tests. It 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 we did manage to brew a tasty cup using regular old cone-shaped filters, but they were difficult to remove and made a bit of a mess. You’ll want to buy the Chemex filters (sold separately) for the easiest brewing experience.
Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef and total caffeine addict. After living in the Pacific Northwest for four years, I developed an affinity for good coffee. I don’t like to call myself a coffee snob, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m just shy of the title! My favorite way to enjoy high-quality, locally roasted beans is by using a pour-over coffee maker, so I was thrilled to help find the best of the best.
We selected 10, highly-rated pour-over coffee makers of all different materials, shapes, and sizes. Most of them were designed to brew directly over a standard coffee mug, but we also selected two hybrid models. These hybrids brew coffee in an immersion environment (similar to how a French press works) before draining directly into the coffee mug. To round out the group, we picked two larger glass carafes capable of brewing more than one cup at a time.
To test each pour-over’s ease of use and brew quality, we placed 24 grams (about 3 tablespoons) of coffee grounds in each filter and slowly added 400 grams of hot water (heated to just before boiling, or 205°F). We timed the process to see how long it took to brew coffee when we poured all the water in at once, and we also used an infrared thermometer to measure the side of each pour over to register temperature loss. Then, after taking the final temperature of each cup of coffee, we tasted each cup and assessed the color and character of the finished product. Although we were sufficiently caffeinated after one round, we repeated the process three times to see how the coffee makers worked under a variety of conditions.
After brewing three cups of coffee with each pour-over, we were stoked that not a single coffee ground made it into our cups—I know my automatic drip coffee maker doesn’t have that kind of record! That being said, there was a surprising distinction between the flavors created by the different pour-overs, even though we used the exact same coffee grounds and identical brewing conditions. Some produced thin, bitter coffee while others created complex, full-bodied cups. We awarded bonus points to our favorite brews, as well as scoring each one on how well it balanced on the mug, whether it was easy and comfortable to use, if the filter stayed in place as we brewed, and overall ease of cleaning and storage.
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.
Other Pour-Over Coffee Makers We Tested
OXO Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Water Tank
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 forgot to order 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.
I can’t say the Clever Coffee Dripper’s hybrid immersion pour-over design was my favorite, but it did brew a decent cup of coffee. It was surprisingly thin given that the grains steeped in the water for two minutes, but increasing the steeping time to four minutes didn’t improve the mouthfeel (it only increased the bitterness). After steeping, you can drain the coffee by placing it directly over your cup. The mechanism clicks into place and it's ready to drink a minute later. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Clever didn’t drip when we finished draining, although you can set it on top of the lid just in case. Although the Clever was easy to use, store, and clean, it lost points because we weren’t stoked about the size. It was so small, we could only brew half a cup of coffee at once.
As compared to our winning Hario ceramic coffee maker, the Bee House model just couldn’t compare. The very small holes in the bottom of the cone took forever to drain, causing the cup to taste bitter. Other than that, it was simply a thin and unimpressive cup of coffee. Couple that with an uncomfortable handle and a rectangular base that sat awkwardly on top of our cups, and this one just didn't impress us.
Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker with Permanent Filter
A few years ago, I bought a Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker with Permanent Filter for my camping box. It was an upgrade from instant coffee, and the low price meant I wouldn’t be upset if it broke! I’ve never tested it side-by-side with other pour-over coffee makers until now, and I’m rather disappointed at its performance. The Bodum didn’t even come close to being comparable to the other products, and in general, it lacked that robust flavor you expect out of a pour over. If the pitcher-style model is your jam, I’d recommend spending an extra few bucks and getting a Chemex instead.
If I never have to use the Zevro Incred ‘a Brew again, it'll be too soon. Like the Clever, the Zevro uses an immersion brewing system, but the built-in filter didn’t work as well as intended—it clogged multiple times, requiring us to move the grounds around with a spoon to get the product to drain. That same construction also made it incredibly difficult to clean, and its bulky design didn’t do it any favors, either. Honestly, I considered only testing this unit once, but the scientist in me persisted and as a result, my kitchen drain is full of coffee grounds. Since the coffee tasted pretty unremarkable, we’ll take a hard pass on this one.
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