Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism
- May 28, 2020
In just a few years pour over coffee has gone from being a bit of an obscure hipster phenomenon to the favorite brewing method for specialty coffee lovers everywhere.
Around 2011 when hand drip started to really gain traction, the selection was quite limited. Everybody was more or less using the Hario V60.
Today you have a lot more options when you’re looking for a manual drip coffee maker.
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at the differences between all these models, and help you find the right one for your needs.
My top pick:
Investing in your first pour over brewer is a relatively simple task. Compared to something like an espresso machine, it’s a tiny post on the budget and it should also be less confusing since the technology isn’t that complicated.
Pouring water on ground coffee and letting gravity do the work is called ‘percolation’. This is one of the oldest coffee brewing techniques along with ‘immersion’ (aka steeping), which is what the French press relies on.
With percolation, the shape and type of the filter will affect the flavor of the final cup.
However, it’s definitely possible to overthink these things. Most of the models out there (except the Clever Coffee Dripper) have a lot in common.
Even though certain drippers may have ‘signature’ flavors it’s definitely possible to steer whatever brewing contraption in a direction you like by using certain techniques and recipes.
For instance: The Clever Coffee Dripper is known for producing less acidic cups compared to the V60 but a different recipe could make up for that.
If you ask me, your primary concern should be the paper filters.
With something like the Hario V60, Kalita Wave or Chemex, you’ll end up using proprietary filters. These can be slightly expensive and difficult to find in your local supermarket. Are you ready for this kind of task or not?
Other models, such as the Clever Dripper, work perfectly fine with a standard coffee filter (‘Melitta’ style).
No matter which model you go for, however, make sure that you get some proper oxygen bleached filters. No, white filters aren’t unhealthy or bad for the environment. Just make sure that they are oxygen and not chlorine bleached.
All brown filters give off a bit of cardboard flavor to the coffee, so getting a quality filter is essential!
|Kalita Wave series 185 Lotto…|
|Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee…|
|Pour Over Coffee Dripper by…|
|Tetra Portable Coffee Drip,…|
|Clever Coffee Dripper and…|
|CHEMEX Bundle – 6-Cup Classic…|
The Kalita Wave was the first model to challenge the dominance of the Hario V60.
The Wave is named after the special shape of the filter. The idea is that the filter shelters the brew bed from the cone, and thus creates a more stable brew temperature as well as an evenly extracted brew bed.
Compared to its rival, the Wave is often praised for being more newbie friendly. The three small holes in the bottom make it more forgiving when it comes to technique – or at least that’s the idea.
Personally, I think it’s actually more difficult to use than the Hario V60. The Wave is better suited for advanced home baristas, if you ask me.
The stainless steel version is the most common one, but I don’t recommend it since the filter has a tendency to get clogged and therefore slowing down the drip rate. Read more about that issue here. Especially, the bigger steel version named ‘185’ suffers from this issue.
Instead, I’d opt for the ceramic version which has a much more consistent flow rate. The glass model also brews great coffee but it’s very fragile. If you’re just a little bit clumsy – like most of us are in a caffeine-deprived early morning state – then go for the ceramic one.
The Kalita Wave is an excellent hand coffee dripper – just make sure to avoid the big stainless steel version, which suffers from a design flaw.
Also, in spite of its reputation, I think the Kalita Wave is less beginner-friendly than the Hario V60. Jump to the bottom of this article to see an in-depth explanation.
That being said, it’s still a great device that I often use myself. However, I don’t recommend it for people who aren’t serious about specialty coffee. Make sure to check out my Kalita Wave recipe here.See more reviews
The Hario coffee dripper is the undisputed king of manual drip coffee. And for a good reason. The flavor is rich and nuanced at the same time with just the right amount of acidity.
I recommend it to all beginners, since it’s easy to find recipes and instructions specifically for this model online.
The V60 gives you full control over how your coffee ends up by letting you manipulate brew time, water flow, and the water temperature. This control means you can end up with the perfect cup of coffee. But remember that you need a gooseneck kettle to get the full benefits!
It has a ridged vortex shape that is designed to stop the paper filter from sticking to the side of the cone while you’re brewing. This feature ensures that the grounds get extracted the right way every time. Because of the shape, it is sometimes called a pour over coffee cone.
You can get the V60 in either ceramic, glass, metal, or plastic, and it comes in several different colors. The material doesn’t really matter and many elite baristas prefer the plastic model. However, if you like something more premium then consider copper or ceramic.
The V60 has a sleek design that is convenient, and it is easy to store. Additionally, it comes in three different sizes – most people prefer the medium sized one, intuitively named number ’02’.
Often you can find it in a bundle deal – a so-called coffee pour over kit or set at a good price.
If you want to brew world-class filter coffee you have to consider the Hario V60. This pour over coffee dripper has been favored by a majority of the recent world champions (aka Brewers Cup winners) for a good reason.See more reviews
You might think that this is just yet another V60 knock-off. That was my first thought, as well.
But I decided to give the Flower dripper a chance since Cafec also happens to be the brand behind another very cool product.
It’s a well-known fact that the quality of Hario’s paper filters started to go downhill a few years ago.
Cafec, a new coffee company from Japan, stepped in and launched a cone-shaped filter made with the game-changing abaca-material instead. It quickly became a favorite in the specialty coffee community.
For that reason, I decided to try the company’s dripper. At first, I wasn’t sure if there were any distinct differences between this and the trusty old V60.
However, over a couple of days, I ran head-to-head tests simultaneously, and it turned out that the Flower dripper has a slightly better balance and integration of mouthfeel and aftertaste compared to the original.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Flower is a better brewer, though.
I think it gives a more neutral representation of a given bean, while the Hario V60 has more acidity and sweetness, but in a slightly exaggerated way.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the Cafec Flower looks like a work of art, and is available in some colors that young people would call ‘dope AF’.
Cafec is a brand to keep an eye on; they are doing exciting things right now.
If you’re already an experienced pour-over barista, using mainly light roast single origin, I think this would be an appealing option for you. However, if you’re a newbie, mostly brewing medium to dark roasts, you should stick with the V60.See more reviews
I adore this dripper by the Japanese brand Munieq. It’s created specifically for the travelling or outdoorsy coffee lover.
When you disassemble the three parts, it takes up almost no space and the weight is around the same as a regular toothbrush.
Even though this pour over cone is meant for travel it still produces an excellent cup. It extracts more flavor than the Hario V60 so the flavor profile tends to be full-bodied yet fruity.
It uses the cone shaped filters like the Hario V60 and Cafec Flower, so the two models do have a bit in common flavor wise.
The Tetra Drip is also available in a cheaper and even lighter plastic version.
If you travel a lot and want to have great coffee on the road, get this dripper. If you solely want something for home use I’d probably go with one of the more traditional models.See more reviews
The Clever Coffee Dripper technically isn’t a pour over coffee maker. Instead, it’s a mix of immersion brewing and filter coffee. However, for all intents and purposes it is the same, so that’s why we have included it on the list. Plus, it’s a pretty great device.
The dripper is made of safe BPA-free plastic, and it comes in a large and small size.
The way it works is that you pour all the water in at once. There is an easy shut off valve that holds your coffee until the brewing process is finished. Once you place the dripper on top of your range server, the valve releases the beverage.
This model seamlessly pairs the functionality of a French Press with the convenience that comes with a coffee dripper for a full-bodied, smooth taste.
This coffee dripper can appeal to all levels of coffee drinkers. It has a sophisticated look, and it is easy to operate and use again and again. This smaller coffee dripper might be an excellent choice for someone who only drinks one or two cups of coffee at a time. Read my Clever Coffee Dripper review here.See more reviews
The Chemex Coffee Maker is a classic and probably the most iconic drip coffee maker of all time. Nowadays, it comes in various designs but the glass and wood-collar version is the OG.
The wooden collar acts as a heat blocker, and it can prevent you from getting burned when you handle it. It attaches to your Chemex brewer with a nonchalant leather cord, giving it that sophisticated look.
You can also opt to get the Chemex classic with a handle instead of a collar, but honestly, I much prefer the unique look of wood and glass.
It is relatively easy to clean and use. You insert the special filter into the Chemex, boil your water and pour it over your coffee grounds in the filter and watch it brew. Just make sure that the thick side of the filter is on the same side as the spout. You don’t want the filter to cling to that ridge, because it will also block the flow of the liquid while you’re brewing.
Tastewise it’s close to the Hario V60, but a bit more on the thin side. The proprietary Chemex filters are thicker, and therefore take out more of the coffee oils. If you like this or not is up to personal preference, however, I prefer V60’s flavor a bit more.
The Chemex Coffeemaker is a great choice if you want to brew larger batches of delicious pour over coffee and have a penchant for stunning design.See more reviews
Some people say that it’s easier to brew with a flat bottomed dripper (Kalita style) compared to the cone-shaped one, because there’s some flow restriction going on. Personally, I don’t think that’s the case at all.
In my opinion, beginners are better suited with cone-shaped brewers such as the Hario V60 since they are more likely to brew darker roasted coffee or coffee of lower quality.
Both shapes have their own pros and cons, and I use them for different purposes. Let’s use an audio analogy to better understand what’s going on:
Which dripper I prefer depends on the mood and the beans that I have at hand.
A good rule of thumb, though, is that coffees under 82 points often need the extra oomph you get from the cone shape — attributes like increased acidity and complexity in the aftertaste.
Some models have a permanent mesh type filter. These manual drip coffee makers aren’t the best if you ask me, because they allow a lot of coffee oils to enter the cup. They tend to produce coffee with less acidity and clarity – two of the most distinguishing trades of a good cup of pour over.
Pour over coffee makers are typically made out of the following four materials. They all have their pros and cons, so you should also keep that in your mind before making any decisions.