Fresh, single-cup pour-over coffee is one of the biggest joys in coffee drinking when done right. Some drip coffee brewers have been with us for decades and are still growing in popularity, while many others have only recently come onto the market.
The following reviews outline what makes certain pieces of brew equipment stand out from the rest and aim to help you find the best pour-over coffee maker for your needs.
The Hario v60 is one of the most iconic pieces in the history of coffee brewing.
Often touted as a big influence in taking third wave coffee to where it is now, the Hario V60 Coffee Dripper is a coffee brewer that has built its reputation on being able to bring us the most delicate flavours that high-quality coffee beans have to offer.
Available in one, two or three cup sizes, you have the choice out of multiple colours and materials that can match almost any price point.
Coffee lovers who have only just started experimenting with specialist brew methods can wet their toes with the lower price point plastic drippers, and make their way up to the favoured porcelain version if they want to invest a little more in a brewer that can last a lifetime if looked after well.
Glass and metal versions are also available, and each, whilst having its own charm, will all effectively deliver a beautiful, delicate profile in the cup.
The Kalita Wave Dripper has long been seen as the alternative to the Hario V60.
The main difference between the two drippers is that the Kalita Wave has a flat base which can reduce channelling in the coffee bed.
This Kalita Wave 155 Dripper is made of durable stainless steel and will brew excellent pour-over coffee without any worry of the dripper breaking in any way, making it a travel-friendly option for pour-over coffee lovers.
Some users have modified this dripper, finding that the three holes it is set with are not enough so drilling a couple of extra holes to help release the water from the brewer easier.
Its first release in 1941, the Chemex has embedded itself in coffee brewing history and is still a favoured coffee dripper for making pour-over coffee for thousands of professional and homebrewers around the world.
The design of the Chemex has barely changed since the original, its figure-eight shaped glass carafe and two-piece wooden collar, held together with a leather lace, creates a beautiful design reminiscent of a vase.
It has a very specific style of filter that seems to help this pour-over coffee maker offers a cup of coffee that is full in both body and complexity as well as being able to brew larger batches than most other pour-over coffee makers.
The Kalita 102 Ceramic Coffee dripper is a ‘Melitta style’ pour-over coffee maker that is a little more accessible for the larger market of home coffee lovers.
The Kalita 102 coffee dripper is very easy to use compared to other more specialist pour-over coffee makers, like the Hario v60, as it doesn’t require a gooseneck kettle or delicate pouring technique to get a great cup of coffee.
Simply adding a small amount of hot water to the coffee grounds and giving it a quick stir, waiting for thirty seconds then adding the rest of your water and waiting for the water to fall through the bed of coffee is as easy as it gets when it comes to pour-over coffee.
The Hario Woodneck Drip Pot is another finely crafted piece from the Japanese glassware specialists.
The design, similar to the Chemex, is paired with a reusable delicate cotton flannel filter, which is intended to slow down the extraction process.
This unique brewing process helps to maintain the oils in the coffee grounds, giving you a rich and full-bodied cup of coffee.
It is available in two different sizes to suit either single or double cup amounts and has the option of two wooden knock finishes, dark or olive wood.
The Frieling Coffee Gold Plated Coffee Filter is a robust, travel-friendly option for all those outdoor adventuring coffee lovers.
It has a built-in 23 carrot gold filter that makes it easily cleanable, a good heat conductor, and won’t absorb any of the flavours of the coffee after regular use.
Its clever little design is very easy to use and as long as your grinder is up for the task, can easily create fantastic cups of coffee without the need for any other specialist equipment.
You simply pour your coffee grounds on top of the filter, put the BPA free plastic water regulated flow controller in place, pour in your hot water and see the final product drip out below.
It also comes with a handy little lid to keep your hot water at a constant temperature and is top-shelf dishwasher safe.
The Bee House Ceramic Coffee Dripper is a ‘Melitta style’ dripper brought to us from Japan.
The ceramic material makes it able to endure high temperatures when brewing.
In a similar way to the Kalita 102 coffee dripper, the Bee House Ceramic Coffee Dripper is a style of pour-over coffee maker that is great for coffee lovers who don’t want to worry too much about the techniques needed to brew great coffee, as the shape of the brewer does a lot of the work for you.
The base of the brewer has small ‘viewing gaps’ that allow you to see how full your cup is getting.
The Sivaphe Stainless Steel coffee brewer is a standalone coffee dripper that doesn’t need a separate filter to brew great pour-over coffee with, by using a tight-knit mesh filter, similar to that of a French press, to keep coffee grounds out of your cup.
It is made of stainless steel, which is a good option for those who want to stay away from even the most remote chance of contamination from the material a brewer is made from.
This pour-over method has a mid-century modern feel to its design and sits comfortably on top of any cup or carafe with its separate non-slip stand to make sure the brewer stays stable when making a cup of coffee.
The reusable filter can also be used with several other brewers if preferred, sitting nicely on a Hario v60 or Chemex, eliminating the need for filter papers if one chooses.
Pour-Over Coffee Maker Buying Guide
In the following buying guide, we attempt to help you understand the finer details of pour-over coffee.
Every brewer has their own personal preferences which can easily be tailored towards a desired flavour profile or ethics.
Do you know how the colour of a filter paper affects water flow? Or what extra equipment is needed to really get the most out of your new coffee dripper? If not, keep reading to piece together the intricacies of brewing the perfect pour-over.
How much coffee?
When choosing the size of a pour-over coffee maker to suit your needs, the one thing you have to ask yourself is ‘How much coffee do I want to make?’.
All brewers will have cup sizes listed, so the more cups of coffee wanted, the bigger the brewer you will need.
If you’re making coffee regularly for more than just yourself brewing larger amounts of coffee in one go will save you a lot of time and effort.
Just remember that different size brewers will require different sized filters.
The shape of a pour-over coffee maker is what usually separates one from another.
Using the Hario v60 for example, the name of the coffee brewer comes from its shape and design. It is a coned ‘V’ shape coffee dripper that sits at a 60-degree angle.
The v60 style of pour-over coffee maker has been replicated by many companies, each adding their own small twist on the design.
This design of coffee dripper requires some research and technique development to get the most out of it. The danger is that without proper technique when you pour, your coffee bed becomes susceptible to channelling, which leads to an under-extracted cup of coffee.
A flat bottom pour-over coffee maker is designed to help with eliminating the potential of channels being formed when pouring.
The flat bottom gives the ground coffee a solid base to sit on while brewing. The water flow is then controlled by the small holes on the base of the brewer.
‘Melitta style’ coffee brewers are one of the oldest designs of paper filter drip coffee makers. The classic design that holds a long slender base and angled walls have been adopted by numerous manufacturers for their own coffee brewers. Moccamaster is a great example of this.
Using a ‘Melitta style’ brewer can be advantageous for people who want to keep things simples.
The filter papers needed are often found on supermarket shelves and you’ll generally find that the brewers that take this style of paper filter are less finicky when brewing with.
Pour-over coffee brewers are usually available in several different materials, even if all are of the exact same design.
The material that a pour-over coffee maker is made from will affect three things; The price, heat transfer and durability.
Plastic coffee drippers are always the most affordable option when purchasing a brewing device. They offer all the same design features as other higher quality materials, and have often been praised for the way that they heat up quickly, and retain heat.
Ceramic coffee brewers are often touted as the best balance in quality and price. The overall design is always appealing and it keeps in a good amount of heat as long as you pre-heat before brewing your ground coffee.
Ceramic is also very easy to clean and is dishwasher safe.
Glass has most of the same qualities as ceramic drippers, but you always need to be conscious of how well you are taking care of your glass pour-over coffee maker. Dropping ceramics or glass is never going to end well.
Metal coffee drippers are likely going to be able to last for a very long time, no matter how much of a beating they take. Often found in copper or stainless steel, both metals have positive qualities. Copper is a fantastic heat conductor, which helps keep your brewing temperature more consistent, whilst steel is very easy to clean.
Filters come in all kinds of sizes, materials, shapes and colours, so understanding the differences can save you from the headaches that choosing the wrong ones can cause.
Bleached vs Natural Paper Filters
Classic, bleached paper filters are always white. The bleaching process helps to thin out the coffee filter, which in turn takes away a lot of the potential issues you may find if switching to natural filter papers.
Natural paper filters are brown in colour and are usually a lot thicker than bleached.
This one small detail can make a massive difference to your brewing as the thicker paper restricts the speed of water flowing through the paper, and can easily add over a minute to your brew time compared to using bleached paper filters with the same coffee.
Natural paper filters also taste a lot more like paper and require extensive pre-wetting to get rid of the residual paper taste.
Those with an environmentally conscious mind who want a lower waste coffee experience can comfortably find a solution in reusable coffee filters. The two materials that dominate the market are cloth or metal.
Cloth coffee filters are available for most coffee brewers and are great if you want a reusable filter for your pour-over set up that is not made from metal or plastic.
A lot of people have found that cloth filters allow more of the oils to pass through which will give more body to the cup of coffee you have brewed.
Metal filters by design look very cool. Often made of easy to clean stainless steel, are usually available in gold or silver.
Metal filters can be used with several other pour-over coffee methods although the drawback here is that the metal filter acts as the brew method, taking away any flavour characteristics that may align with certain coffee drippers.
To get the most out of your coffee maker there are a couple of complementary pieces of equipment that will raise the quality of your daily cup of coffee.
The addition of a good set of scales is the first. Monitoring the precise amount of coffee and water you use to make your brew will help in bringing out consistently high-quality cups of coffee time and time again.
Temperature control kettles are a welcomed addition if looking to finely tune the variables of your coffee making.
Certain styles of coffee react better to different temperatures. Roasters will often give access to all information needed on how to get the most out of their coffee and at the top of that list will be the exact temperature of hot water needed to brew with.
Gooseneck kettles have quickly become the go-to, precision tool to be used on pour-over coffee.
The curved spout allows you to control the flow of water coming from your kettle which comes in handy when you need to pour in a delicate circular motion.
Coffee drippers like the Hario v60 and Chemex will require a gooseneck kettle for precision pouring in order to get the best out of the brewing process.
Different pour-over coffee brewers will need different grind sizes to match.
A lot of home coffee brewers use conical burr hand grinders which are able to produce a very consistent grind size helping to create an even extraction from the coffee.
Some home espresso grinders are unable to go coarse enough to match a lot of popular pour-over coffee brewers.
Make sure to research how coarse your grinder can go before investing in new brew equipment, or you may find that a new grinder quickly follows your latest coffee purchase.
The internet is packed full of useful coffee brewing guides. We now all have access to ‘celebrity’ coffee geeks who are able to give insight into their ‘perfect’ way of brewing pour-overs.
Often requiring a gooseneck kettle, experimenting with different pour techniques is one of the most enjoyable things when getting into fresh single cup filter coffee, but once you have found a style that suits your taste it will be worth sticking with and perfecting that pour technique.
With technique comes consistency and by eliminating variables like the pouring method and hot water temperature the only thing left to think about will be your grinder setting.